You’re busy. Your kids are busy. Everyone is busy. Too busy. But are we, really? Or, are we just occupying ourselves so frequently with unimportant things we have no time for what is truly important? Advances in technology bring wonder and efficiency to our world, but they also breed attachment. Carving out time to free ourselves from our phones, TVs, game consoles and other tech darlings can, believe it or not, help us regain a portion of our life back, and tech pioneers themselves are helping to lead the charge -- separation anxiety not required.
The first rule to organizing a tech-free day is this: everybody participates. Mom, Dad, Junior, Sally Sue, Ralphie-the dog – everyone, or else it won’t work. So, if you’re hoping to get the kids to reducing their time spend in front of a game console, you’re going to have to trade in one of your tech-habits as well. Maybe you’re the big gamer as well?!
Have a story to tell. Why is a tech-free day important to you? Do you miss getting to know your kids over family dinners? Are you troubled by the fact that your once treasured hobby hasn’t received any attention from you in months, or worse, years? Or, maybe you’re thinking this is something you might try simply because you’re reading this article right now. If that’s the case, a good story to share is this one about Steve Jobs being a “low-tech” parent. Who would have figured!
Go easy on them, and be tough on yourself. With your kids, start with something they’ll miss the least. This way, they’re less likely to see it as punishment. And, start with a weekday. So, instead of no TV on Monday, try no TV after dinner on Monday. This works a bit like setting your alarm clock a bit earlier each day. After a few weeks, you never notice the change. You could also ask your kids what they’d like you to give up. Trust us, it can be very insightful, as you’ll see in this endearing spot from IKEA.
Quantify it. Your kids will want to know this ridiculous idea of yours has benefits… and, so will you, frankly. So, keep track of how different life is as this experiment plays out. Notice how much time you spend on hobbies, or in conversation with your children. Are you learning things about them you would have missed earlier? Are they learning things about you? Maybe even something as simple as what you do at work all day. Run a recap every week to keep tabs on your progress. Keep it loose, but be sure to do it. Like all goals, you’ve got to measure to see results.
Get serious. Once you’ve gone tech-free for a weekday evening, try half a Saturday, then the whole day. Then, if you’re really serious about this thing (and why not?), try two, then three days, etc. Why not the whole week?! If you’re laughing hysterically now as you read this, remember that in 2006, and for several years prior, people who used their cell phones incessantly were called Crackberry-addicts. Then in 2007, when the iPhone was introduced everyone seemed to forget that label as we all got sucked into the place where only type-A business types seemed to live. Remember that when you hit a snag. Keep going, you can do it! Heck, if the inventor of the iPhone thought it was a worthwhile experience to unplug from technology every now and then, maybe you should too.