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Week 15: Unplug

If you listened to my recent PodCast on SWITCHing the Narrative, you may remember one of my tips to find more time in your day was to stop online scrolling. The truth is, I didn’t realize just how much time I actually spent “online” until I started paying active attention to my phone’s weekly screen time report; a handy feature that comes standard on any recent iPhone model. With the advancement of technology, the amount we can do through one device is amazing, but also a little scary at the same time. I was recently reading an article about the Top 10 ”Mom Tools” and I wasn't surprised in the least to find ”smart phones” at the top of the list. When I first read this article, as well as when I was drafting this blog post, I wrote ”iPhone,” but as the week progressed I realized this isn't strictly correct. It isn't the phone as a piece of hardware that's the must have, it's the software and applications the phone contains, all of which are driven by the all-powerful Internet and create the outlet where I personally end up wasting so much of my precious time. This week however was different. Being totally truthful, I did have a little help this week as we were on-board the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship for a family vacation. For anyone that’s sailed on a cruise ship before, you may remember that internet service, especially when out at sea, is either nonexistent or costs an arm and a leg. This week, I simply turned my phone to airplane mode when we arrived at the airport and didn't turn it back on until we arrived back at the airport the following Saturday. The result of doing this was a mixed bag of pros and cons.

Starting with the pros, the one that stood out the most was I found myself much more present with my family and always on the lookout for fun and different ways to entertain ourselves. Some of the highlights included card games, "I Spy", swimming, sports, and a whole lot of "Bingo!!!" Other benefits included more time for rest and relaxation, better conversations, more complete listening that led to increased learning, and from the standpoint of my older two boys, less fighting and moody outbursts.

As for the cons, I found initially I was stressed during mealtimes with my youngest because when he's not in the mood to eat, a few of his favorite YouTube videos usually increase his compliance. On a similar note with my older boys, on long car rides and downtime between activities, I hadn’t realized how dependent they are on YouTube to keep themselves occupied, which resulted in my stress going up as they complained about having nothing to do. Other cons included lack of accessibility to news, educational articles, stories, workout videos, and a general connection to the outside world (especially the contractor in charge of our home renovation).

Overall, it was nice to unplug and focus on the here-and-now. In future, I'm hoping to find more balance with the reliance on the internet as a token to pass time or entertain the boys. The need to check in on others, or to log into Facebook/LinkedIn to monitor the number of visitors to the blog or likes on my posts is definitely time lost and something I hope to minimize moving forward. The extra time talking and engaging with each other was something special and as I told the boys my favorite part of the vacation!

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