Do you ever feel like you are constantly weighed down by your cell phone, “important” emails, social media and all the other things we feel we need to be plugged in to? I know I sure do. All too often I find myself aimlessly scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest and before I know it, it’s been over an hour and I’ve been ignoring my husband and kids! So I came up with 10 tips for unplugging this summer to enjoy more time with your family.
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What’s the Bible got to say?
I recently wrote an article on this topic for a local magazine I do some freelance writing for. Boy, was I convicted as I typed! There are days I spend WAY too much time on my phone. My kids ask me to push them on the swings, and I tell them “Mommy is working right now.” I pass it off as doing research on Pinterest for my next article, but really I’m just aimlessly scrolling. Just the other week, my husband told me he sometimes feels like he’s competing with my phone for my attention. That really broke my heart. Our phones have become our idols and sap away at our relationships and time we can be spending with the Lord. This is what God has to say about idols:
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving-kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”Exodus 20:3-6
While technology has brought us many, many great things, it’s also brought a lot more stress. Being connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is taking its toll on us both mentally, physically and spiritually. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others on Facebook and Instagram, coveting what they have. When clearly the Bible states:
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”Exodus 20:17
I wrote a post all about this last fall. We are Obsessed with Picture Perfect! People only put the best of their best up online. The pictures are staged to look “just so.” We compare our worst moments, the others manufactured “perfect” moments. It’s sad and for me has been a hard road to walk down at times and get to the same realization that Theodore Roosevelt came to. That comparison really is the thief of all joy.
How to Unplug this Summer
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be a constant battle! The Lord has overcome all addiction and obsessions. It might not be easy but, luckily, summer is a great time to take a technology break. There are so many other things we could be doing with our time… especially in the summertime!
Here are 10 tips for unplugging this summer and enjoying more time with your family.
- Start small, schedule the time and make a plan – it’s not realistic to cut technology out cold turkey, so start small. Plan a family game night or outing and LEAVE THE PHONE for an hour or two. Don’t just say ‘’we’re going to go technology free on Saturday” and then have nothing planned. If you are just sitting around twiddling your thumbs, you are going to be MAJORLY tempted. Use the time of no technology to actually spend quality time with your family. It’s summertime… get outside!! If you’re staying home, put the phone on airplane mode in another room. If you’re going out, consider not even taking the phone with you. That way it’s less of a distraction and temptation. Schedule it ahead of time as a “no cell phone” outing. This keeps everyone on the same page. Write it on all the calendars and talk about it ahead of time. No surprises!!
- There are a lot of Apps out there that you can use to control your WIFI usage. Try turning it off at certain times in the day, first thing in the morning, supper time, etc. Turn it off at a preset time each night so you aren’t aimlessly scrolling while trying to fall asleep! The light from cell phones and tablets has actually proven to make it harder to fall asleep anyway, so it’s really not a good idea to be scrolling through your emails before bed anyway.
- Go somewhere with no cellphone reception. A couple of weeks ago, we went to my sister’s cabin. They don’t have cell phone reception there. It is great to be completely unplugged and not worry about checking Facebook or email multiple times a day. We got to really enjoy being with each other and spending time together. We went fishing, went on boat rides, took a nice family walk, sat in the hot tub, and played games! It was so enjoyable. I definitely want to do it at least once again this summer!
- Don’t look at your phone during meals. This is a rule in our house. My kids are still young and don’t have their own phones, but my husband and I have always said no phones at the table. We want to keep that time for family. This can even be your first step in starting small. Make dinner time a NO PHONE ZONE! Put your phone in a different room so the temptation to look is removed.
- Turn off your pings and alerts – as soon as I hear my phone alert me that something happened, I feel like I have to go check it RIGHT NOW! If you turn off all your alerts, unless you have the phone in your hand at that moment, you’ll never know you missed something! And really, it probably wasn’t that big of a deal anyway. It can usually wait an hour or two before you check your phone again.
- Set up an “Out of Office” notice on your email for a few hours every day. This way people are aware you won’t be responding right away and you don’t have to feel guilty. If it’s a true emergency, people who are close to you will know how to get a hold of you. Which brings me to my next point…
- Let people know – when we went to the cabin, we told our families we wouldn’t have access to our phones or the internet. If we needed to be reached, they know they can contact my sister and brother in law who don’t live that far away (45 minutes). If it was a real emergency, they could come and tell us. Some people get antsy if you don’t answer their texts right away, so make sure they know not to expect a reply! People will also be more respectful of your time if you let them know you are detaching from technology for a bit.
- Set time limits for your kids and STICK TO THEM! When my girls are watching a show on TV and the episode comes to an end, they always yell “Another one Momma!?!” I’m often tempted to say “just one more…” But that just one more turns into one more and then one more and then one more. You get the idea. Turn it off when you’re actually planning to turn it off!
- Socialize!!! – Enroll your kids in some fun summer activities! Get involved in a group in your community or church. Volunteer! There are so many ways to actually socialize with people face to face rather than through technology. This is so important for our kids to see us model as well (this is an area I know I need to work on). They need to know how to socialize in real life, the more they see us do it, the better adjusted they will become.
- Read offline – this is one I struggle with. I rarely read a physical book anymore. I usually read on my phone or iPad through apps like Kindle or Kobo. But… there’s always that temptation to just flip over to my email for a second, or check out what’s happening on Instagram. Before you know it, you waste another hour and only get through half a chapter of your book. Go to the library, put your phone in another room (or turn it off) and enjoy reading your books! I have also found some great book off of New Growth Press that I really enjoyed recently.
Books I Recommend
Here are a few books I’ve really enjoyed reading recently. You can get them in hard copy on Amazon. You can also read my reviews of them on my blog, More for Moms by Kristin Funston and She Dreams by Tiffany Bluhm
Benefits to Unplugging
There are so many benefits to unplugging from technology. It decreases our stress, which improves many areas of our lives such as relationships and our physical health. Studies show people who unplug sleep better and are generally happier overall. I look at unplugging from technology like a fast. You can take that time you would normally be answering emails or checking Facebook and instead use that time to spend with the Lord. Use that time to spend with your family. God is all about relationships, and our family one is the most important ones.
Let me leave you with this quote I found…
Get out and enjoy your summer with your family, face to face, not on social media!! What are some more tips you have for unplugging?