Deep breaths. I took a minute, decided that life will go on, and cleared my head enough to realize I can still write on my word processor instead of the internet. Problem solved, and for once I’m going to just say ‘oh well’ and figure it out later.
I am going to enjoy my time disconnected. As I mentioned, I had been planning this article even before my internet crashed. My #1 pet peeve in this day and age is the constant need to be connected! Every where you look, people are glued to their phones. Every place you pass, a new wi-fi hot spot is popping up. It seems that people are so concerned with the wide world of the web, that they have become totally disconnected from the real world that we all live in. It’s an alternate universe that has consumed modern-day society, and I want out!
Last year, my husband and I took our son to Disney World; the happiest place on earth! I thought that if there was one pure source of happiness left, it would definitely be WDW! Wrong. Everywhere I looked, people were sucked into their cell phones. Excited children tugged on their parents shirts; “Mommy, look! Mommmmmmmy look!!! MOMMY!” Only to be ignored. The best moments in their child’s lives were passing them by, and everyone was missing it. Just so they could catch up on Facebook. Just so they knew what was going on in the celebrity circles.
Then there’s my personal favorite; the selfie takers. “Look how awesome my vacation is! We’re having such a great time!!! #vacation” The caption couldn’t be any further from reality. Mom is too busy picking the perfect filters and hashtags to actually really enjoy her time with the kids. But hey, it looks good, so who cares what’s really going on?
You can’t even go out to dinner anymore without seeing everyone glued to their cell phones. I feel bad for the poor waiters. They can’t even get their patron’s attention to take their order without feeling like they are interrupting them! It’s just so sad to me. Real human interaction is slowly fading away in nearly every aspect of life.
I am by no means saying I am anti-internet. After all, it is how I connect with all of you! And I do own a smart phone that I definitely use. There is also an abundance of great information on the internet, and the convenience of having it at your fingertips is irreplaceable. What I am saying is that the world could use a little balance.
It’s time to start living in the moment. Time passes by much too quickly to lose precious moments, big or little, due to mindless web surfing. Think about the moment that you are in. Is what you are doing really that important, or can it wait? Chances are, if you are honest with yourself, it’s really not that important and it can definitely wait!
It’s time to learn how to enjoy life again, without technology! Think back to some of the best memories in your life. I am willing to guarantee that the most memorable moments are the ones you enjoyed without your phone interrupting the real moments.
DISCONNECT TO RECONNECT
It can take baby steps to learn how to disconnect a bit. After all, phones truly have become addicting! Think about how many times in a day you mindlessly reach for your phone. Here are a few steps that can help you disconnect from time to time.
- Leave your phone at home when you go for a family walk around the neighborhood. I’m sure you won’t miss out on anything during your ten minute stroll.
- During family meal times, feel free to keep your phone in the kitchen with you (I always have mine playing music). But leave it out of reach, such as on the counter, so you aren’t tempted to grab for it. Meal time is such an important time to unwind and reconnect with your family. Keep the focus on what is important!
- Keep your phone in your purse or jacket while you are out at restaurants. It is so sad to me every time I look around a restaurant and don’t see anyone actually interacting with each other anymore. If you are really ready for a big disconnect, leave your phone in the car and out of temptation’s way entirely!
- Family vacation: keep it in airplane mode. Admittedly, I always bring my phone on vacation for the convenience of the camera. We have a ‘real’ camera also, but it is big and bulky and of course my phone is much more convenient. With your phone in airplane mode, you cannot connect to the internet, send or receive texts, or make any phone calls. I do realize that this may not work for everyone, but even if part of the day can be spent in airplane mode you will notice a huge difference! Our last vacation was a cruise where we had no choice but airplane mode unless we wanted an astronomical bill, and we survived. And we enjoyed ourselves! Save the internet for the end of the day when everyone is winding down. Use that time to catch up on any work business, check in at home, or anything else you may need to do.
- Group functions; family functions, parties, meetings, and large gatherings in public places all warrant a bit of a disconnect. Unless you are pulling out your phone to take some pictures, in most of these scenarios mindless web surfing and Candy Crushing can come across as a bit rude. You came to the event for a reason, stay in the moment and remember why you are there!
- Take ten minutes at the beginning of every day and end of every night to disconnect. Use your time in the morning for yourself, and use the time at night for your significant other or yourself.
- Set boundaries as a family. Only you and your family can decide what is right for all of you in terms of technology usage. But if you make an effort to attempt just one of these small steps, you will be taking one step closer to reconnecting.
Reconnecting is a bit more obvious, and a bit more simple to achieve. Now that you have put away your cellphones and tablets, you may be asking yourselves “now what???” I’m sure at first you will feel like a piece of yourself is missing. Or that you’re missing out on something major. But let’s be honest. How many of us are that popular that during a ten minute disconnect we miss out on phone calls and text messages? I know I’m not!
On the bright side, when you return to your phone, you may actually have some notifications waiting for you! Just like in the “old days” when you would get so excited to pull a piece of mail out of the mailbox. You may actually have a few emails, a few notifications waiting for you.
But back to the reconnecting part; it’s time to start remembering how to enjoy ‘real life’ again!
- Enjoy nature. Go for a walk or a hike. Play with your kids outside. There’s nothing more enjoyable in the real world than the beauty of the outdoors! Especially this time of year. Look around and appreciate all that mother nature has to offer. Live in the moment.
- Really enjoy family meal times. Spend this time reconnecting by recapping each other’s days. What were the highlights and lowlights of the day? Make plans for the rest of the week together. What are you most looking forward to together for the upcoming week ahead? Use this time reconnecting to really get to know one another again and deepen your bonds as a family.
- The same applies for trips out to a restaurant. Use this meal time to reconnect with your dining partner(s). A meal out should be a special time, treat it as such. Catch up on life; see what’s new, lend an ear, have some fun. Enjoy your company!
- Live it up on vacation! Make some memories together. Try something new and adventurous. Spend time just relaxing, enjoying your surroundings, and your company. It’s fine to check in with the rest of the world from time to time throughout the day if need be, but really try to make an effort to limit yourself only to when is necessary. When we were kids, we just vacationed, uninterrupted. And these are some of the best childhood memories; family vacation. Let’s try our best to create the same memories for our kids.
- At group functions and public places, participate! Reconnect with family members, take in your surroundings, socialize and take advantage of everything the venue has to offer. Some of these scenarios may be once in a lifetime opportunities; you don’t want to miss out or forget these moments.
- Your morning and evening ten minute disconnect may be one of the most beneficial tips in this entire article. Use your morning time for yourself, however you see fit. Plan and prepare your day. Take a couple of minutes for some soul care. Do a quick ten minute workout. Clear your mind. Whatever works for you, ten minutes distraction free can really set your day for success.In the evening, use this time again for yourself, or to reconnect with your partner. Personally, my husband and I are busy and it seems always on the go. Granted, we are always together as a family, but with an energetic, super chatty three year old, we don’t get any time for each other. And most days by the end of the night we are exhausted and ready to mindlessly veg out.I do like to manage to squeeze in ten minutes to just catch up on the day with him and talk through any ‘housekeeping’ matters after we put our son to bed though. Some days we get to have a good conversation, other days we just catch up on what’s going on at home. Either way, it’s ten minutes of connecting. Of course when you need more dedicated time to each other, be sure to incorporate date night one or two days a week into your schedule; my At Home Date Night article has lot’s of great ideas for this.
It’s a busy, modern-day, technology filled world. Let’s all take a step back to simpler times. Even 10-20 minutes a day can help rebuild relationships and renew your sense of appreciation for the world around you. I hope this article has given you some inspiration to try out one or two of these steps. Now it’s time to turn off the computer, put the phone on silent and join the real world!
I would love to hear how you take time out of your day to disconnect and reconnect. And as always, feel free to reach out to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org!