Sunday, 27 September 2015

Unplugging and Reconnecting

My family has a really busy schedule this year.  Like a lot people I know we are busy most week nights with activities and our weekends are pretty full as well.  When I saw how our weekly schedule was playing out with at least one of us being out every week night I proposed that we make Friday nights family night.  With the idea that we could add some flexibility.  If there was something going on a Friday night we could move our family night to Saturday or Sunday.

During these nights we would have a fun dinner - pizza, at home pub night, appetizer dinners - you get the point.  We also do activities together, playing board games, a movie we all watch together or a dance party.  Everyone has been on board so far, and we plan in advance the movie we'll watch or what we'll make for dinner together.  These family nights are a chance to wind down from the week and relax together.

The other key thing with our family nights is that no one is allowed to have their electronic devices.  Not one of us.  I've watched my kids isolate themselves playing Minecraft or watching videos on their phones and iPads, plugged into their headphones and then I look at both my husband and I checking our twitter feeds, Facebook and Instagram accounts and realize how none of use are relating to each other even while we are sitting in the same room.  I think that many people and families are like that.  We do have a rule, no devices or TV during any meal.  But I wanted the chance for us to reconnect a bit more.

So Friday nights all of us unplug even my husband and I.  We've been doing this for three weeks now and I admit the first few hours I found myself reaching for my phone when I was  looking for a bit of a break.  But after the first little bit, I don't miss it.  It is interesting to watch the shift that happens in our family dynamic without the distraction and isolating nature of our devices.  The biggest thing that happens; we actually talk to each other.  Even if we're watching a movie, we talk about the movie.  We discuss our days and the upcoming week.  Removing the device in our hand gives us a chance to connect.

It has made me think though, how many times has the distraction of our phones take from where we are and prevented us from being truly present with those around us?  I've gone for dinner with people and had the other people I'm with check their phones constantly and I do find it frustrating.  But I've also been that person as well.  I try to explain if I need to check in why I'm doing.  But still checking for texts or emails takes from where I am and who I'm with.  

It really is all about finding balance with our priorities.  I love my phone.  It is a number of things to me; my watch, my camera, how I communicate with other people, a source of entertainment, how I check in with my clients for work and I don't see myself going without my phone for an extended period of time in the near future.  But what I'm going to work toward over the next little while is making sure when I'm using my phone I'm not missing out on what is going on around me.  Instead of taking a picture of a sunset and immediately tweeting it, I'm just going to enjoy the moment.  When I'm with people, I'm going to be with them and not checking what is going on the in the digital world around me.  Ultimately, I'm going to be present with where I am and those I'm with.  

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