After the last few years of online school, we felt that our family had become way too reliant on our devices. What would happen if we took them away for a whole week? Was it time for a digital detox?
The night before the detox we decided on the rules. Since the kids needed their iPads for school and homework, we decided that we would be able to use our devices during the day, but once home from school or work, everything would be locked away in a room and could only be accessed the next morning. So in went our phones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches and games consoles – it really is quite surprising how many digital devices you can accumulate! And then we got on with our evening: device free.
That first evening was the hardest – the kids didn’t know what to do with themselves. This led to cries of “I’m bored”, which luckily, we were prepared for. We had planned to play card games together and despite being reluctant at first, the kids did end up enjoying themselves. It was great to have a conversation without being distracted by the screens. We also found ourselves wanting to get outside more, we took time to play football together one evening, which was something we had been meaning to do for a while.
Re-discovery of old toys
At first, I was worried that I would have to keep ‘entertaining’ the kids each evening, but as the week went on, it was great to see the children re-discover their toys without me. The cars were pulled out of their box after many months, along with the dress-up clothes. They even got creative, using the sewing kit to make doll clothes.
How did mum cope?
Needless to say, it felt very strange not to be able to quickly look something up on Google or respond to messages straight away. I found myself automatically reaching for my phone, before remembering that it wasn’t there. It really made me aware of how much I use my device.
But, as the week went on, I began to look forward to my phone-free time. I genuinely felt more relaxed and was able to appreciate just being in the moment which made me, dare I say it …happier?!
The only tricky problem we had during the week was deciding if watching TV was allowed. We tried banning it completely, but found this just a step too far for us! At the end of a busy day, sometimes we just wanted to flop. A good compromise was that we decided if we were going to watch TV, it had to be something we could watch together.
So was it worth the effort? Although it was a bigger challenge than we thought, overall we felt that cutting down on our use of devices was beneficial to our mental health, improved our communication and allowed us find something we really enjoyed doing. I would definitely do it again, it would be good to have a digital-free weekend every now and then.
If you’re keen to give your family some digital time off, why not take them and a few bikes to a park? We’ve listed a some great parks for you here.