I know. I know. I love laying in bed scrolling social media too, my friend. But lately I've been working to incorporate my mindfulness practice into my daily life. It takes work, I'm not gonna lie: vigilance and commitment and a near constant coming back to pay attention to what I'm doing and ask "Does this matter? Does it add meaning? Does it help me to enjoy life or love with greater ease and joy?" You'd be surprised how many times the real answer is "nope." and I learn to set that activity aside and do something that ticks the boxes above. Technology is one of those things. I keep ending up there, somehow?, but I'm not getting what I aimed for in the experience.
So here's the thing: taking a holiday from your technology doesn't have to be about missing out on something, it can actually mean that you are fully present to connect with the things that are really meaningful to you.
You may not be sure you can do it forever, but TRY it for a few days and see what you notice.
Technology Get-away Guidelines:
1. Have a family discussion (or three) about your plans ahead of time. What are the pros and cons of technology, and why might we want to take occasional breaks? While everyone loves their tech stuff (for good reason!), we should also be able to honestly discuss the drawbacks. Big ones for families can be short attention spans, constant distractions, tantrums when it's time to stop, advertising and inhibiting sleep.
2. Schedule it. Put it on the calendar: 4-6 days that your family can dedicate to finding some distance from electronics. Prepare by borrowing plenty of books from the library and dusting off your board games, instruments or knitting projects. You might want to find a kid-friendly recipe or two as well. Finding age appropriate games for a 3 year old has been hard but we've really enjoyed this bingo game and the moon balancing challenge.
3. Get old school. Hard copy. After dinner, put your devices on their chargers and "get curious" about something together. Go for a walk, or play outdoors. Stay inside and give kids choices: clay, cardboard, activity books, play games, or pack lunches and prepare for tomorrow. Once kids are in bed, don't zone out on your usual "restful" activities - read a real newspaper or magazine, have a conversation, bake something, knit, and...
4. Go to bed early. The key is to listen to your body's tired signs. Technology stimulates brain activity while preventing the production of melatonin. So, as you enjoy your non-tech activity you may feel yourself relaxing much sooner than usual. Allow yourself to sleep early and pay off some of the sleep debt you've likely accumulated.
5. Notice. During your short get-away from technology, simply observe what happens in your body and your mind. Allow your observations to inform how you dive back in to your electronics use when you're back from holiday. What will you do differently after this experience?
If you find questions about technology and society interesting, I encourage you to explore the subject more deeply. Recent data shows that while we love our screens, the social, emotional and intellectual effects are not all that great.
Bored and Brilliant from the Note to Self podcast - a program which gives you information and tasks to continue the process of owning your technology and time instead of letting it own you.
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, subtitled: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
Viral Parenting by Mindy McKnight , subtitled: A Guide to Setting Boundaries, Building Trust, and Raising Responsible Kids in an Online World.