Jul 18, 2019

Unplugging - Minimizing Technology Usage and Increasing Quality Family Time

My alarm goes off and I grope around for my phone, barely cracking one eye open. My mind has yet to emerge from its haze where it believes I'm still asleep. Despite the unpleasant glaring of the screen on my tired eyes the first thing I do is plug into social media. 

I don't say good morning to my husband and I don't immediately check the baby monitor to see if Bug's awake. No, instead I check Facebook and my game apps

(Credit: Unsplash)

Throughout the day I'm on my phone. Letting the TV entertain my toddler while I stay plugged in. When I go to another room for any reason my phone accompanies me. It's as if it's tethered to my hand. I go to bed at night and instead of ending the day talking to my husband about our day and the upcoming one I am on my phone again. 

I don't enjoy constantly staring at a screen, so why do I keep doing it? I want to break this cycle of constant distractions and make memories with my family. I don't want to be a slave to technology. 

Sound familiar?

The Ugly Reality

I struggle with reducing our time spent on phones and tablets at home. But I'm trying to change that. I'll have a week where I am able to cut it out of our daily routine but then we fall back into the pattern again. I don't feel as if technology and screen time benefits us as a family. I don't feel that any value was added to my life when I put my phone down. If anything, I feel guilty

What Example Am I Setting?

I start to wonder what I'm teaching my daughter. What kind of behavioral traits she's learning from my bad habit. I wonder how many times she's glanced at me during the day only to see me staring at my phone instead of watching her learn, play, and grow. How many times has she done something she thought was amazing, wanting to share that joy with me, only to see me staring at a phone and not paying attention? How many times has her little mind thought that she has to compete with tech for mommy's attention or affection? Does my husband miss me even when I'm sitting next to him? Does he miss our small talks that have faded over the years? It breaks my heart every time I ask myself that. 

There's Nothing More Important Than Family.

Nothing. There are NO apps, games, books, or activities that will ever be more important than my husband or kiddo, yet I act like there are by giving my attention to my phone. No more. Easy to say, right? How do I make that a reality? It's easy to start, but how to you maintain a tech-reduced home? I've found a few tips I plan on implementing and I wanted to share some of them with with you. 

Minimizing And Downsizing Technology Usage At Home.

  • Cutting The Tether: I have found that the best way to not be on any device is to never have it in the same room that you're going to be in. If' I'm spending time playing with Bug in the living room, the phone and tablet gets tossed in the bedroom. I cover them with the comforter for extra measure. Out of sight out of mind. I don't want to see them when I walk through the bedroom and be tempted. 
  • Charging Station Relocation: Relocating where we charge our phones is a great way to prevent ourselves from laying in bed on our devices when we should be sleeping or starting the day. We set up a charging station that's in the living room where our phones go overnight. (an entry area would be ideal, but we don't have an outlet in ours) Let's face it. Phones by your head at night isn't really that healthy anyway. Buy an alarm clock for the bedroom if you need to. It's a better trade-off. I promise.
  • Less TV Time: The TV doesn't need to be on all day. There's nothing wrong with a little quiet. Open the windows, listen to the sounds outside, look at the trees in the wind i/.f you have any. Inspire boredom, I like to say. When you're bored, you're more likely to go into a creative state of mind. Yo/ that of your loved ones without a device acting as a buffer.
  • Daily Schedule: If you're having a hard time staying focused and entertained enough during the day and thinking about your phone more often than not, setting up a command station could be useful. Structure can seem like a total bore, but it's something that the mind craves for some of us. It can be hard going tech-free cold turkey without a fallback activity. Setting up daily schedules that allow you certain times of doing specific activities can help.
  • New Activities: There's no need to stay bored. If you're feeling antsy and need something to do then maybe it's the perfect time to start a new hobby or rediscover one that's fallen off to the side. Perhaps you simply need to get out and about. If you have kids, maybe explore their hobbies more with them. Painting, drawing, singing, dancing, cleaning, exploring toys, going for walks, appreciate nature, or picnics are a few neat things to do.

 Screen Time Effects On toddlers.

There's a lot of debate on how tech and screen time effects early childhood development. While not all of the side effects are noticed right away, that doesn't mean they're not very real or damaging to children's growth. Researching how damaging my habit is for my daughter has been a huge reality slap. One that, although difficult to digest that I'd been potentially harming my child mentally, was a welcome awakening. I could go into this quite a bit more, but that's a post for another time. I'll share a few of the articles that I read, though. They can be found here and here

(Image: All Rights Reserved)

There are so many more articles out there on how technology can negatively impact their social and cognitive abilities later in life. It's been shown that tech time will impair a toddler's memory development and ability to focus on a task. Simple skills that they need to learn aren't being developed as smoothly because there are too many distractions

A kid who's watching TV or a tablet show isn't eating as well as a kid who's sole focus is their food. They're too busy watching the show to remember to take a bite. A toddler who's potty training and allowed to have a tablet will not be paying attention to their body and learning it's cues. Accidents will happen more often and potty training time will be prolonged. Ask me how I know? Yeah, that was fun.

Technology Free Family Time Ideas:

  • Go to the park
  • Explore nature
  • Read a book in a tree
  • Build a tree-house
  • Plant a little garden
  • Cook a silly or romantic dinner together
  • Go to the public library or one of their events
  • Go to a local museum
  • Have a family picnic
  • Play disc golf (my husband is obsessed and determined to make our daughter a champ)
  • Family bike ride
  • Messy arts and crafts
  • Do a puzzle
  • Music jam session
  • Bake a sweet treat
  • Play a board game
  • Purge the house of items to donate
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Visit a friend or relative
  • Host a sock puppet show
  • Go on a weekend vacation
  • Watch airplanes land and take off (our little girl loves planes)
  • Go on a train ride
  • Explore your town or city like a tourist
  • Visit a zoo
  • Go "Earthing" (which is walking around barefoot to connect more with nature)
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A Wholesome Life.

There's an endless amount of things you can do as a family that does not require a phone or tablet. Social media will always be there, waiting. Don't let the time you could be spending with your family pass you by. Course correcting your family's habitual behavior into a more healthy flow will only increase your quality of life. Less is more. Less distractions, less stuff, less chaos. More focus on family and quality. More free time. But most importantly, stronger and healthier relationships with those who matter the most.

Don't miss out on life, live it. 

What are your tried and true ways to minimize technology usage in your home? How has it's reduction improved your way of life? 

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  1. I found since summer has come. I use my phone less. As I am gardening and getting ready for other seasons ahead. Hobbys are good.

    1. I would love to garden, personally. But I have the black plague thumb. *dramatic sigh*