Christine Koh

Hello!

I'm Christine Koh, a music and brain neuroscientist turned multimedia creative. I'm the founder + editor of Boston Mamas, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, and creative director at Women Online. Drop me a line; I'd love to chat about how we can work together!

8 Tips For Unplugging Your Family

Did you know that National Day of Unplugging runs sundown to sundown March 7-8? Even if you can't pull the plug for this particular 24 hour window, I still believe that being more mindful about technology consumption and also designating unplugged time can result in a meaningful and positive shift for your family. Today, Jane shares 8 tips to help you get there:

Do you have a small panic attack when you misplace your phone? Do you spend more waking hours in front of a computer, tablet, or TV than outside or with friends and family? Yeah, me too. While there is good and necessity in connectivity (hello, I have teenagers), obsessive technology insanity is what led our family to an official unplugging schedule, also known as "blackout hours" at our home. Here’s how you can do the same, and reclaim together time:

1. Take a stand. At ages 6, 10, 13, and 15, my kids would have sooner volunteered to go without food, water, or shelter than lose their technology. But my husband and I took a stand; remember, you’re the grownup! You can set the rules!

2. Create a schedule and specific rules. Specific blackout hours will help prevent ambiguity and repeated requests around technology. We still haven't nailed down the perfect schedule, but what we try to do is a blackout period from 3-7pm on weekdays unless needed for homework (you may need to monitor to help them stay on task!), tech-free meals, and specific blackout hours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

3. Model the rules. Plain and simple, you can’t set blackout rules for the family and not follow them. Lead by example!

4. Rediscover what you’ve got at home. There really and truly is plenty else to do at home instead of going face down in technology. Read, play board games, have craft time, build forts, do yoga, cook together…find a fun thing to work on together and go!

5. Make plans. Instead of web surfing, shopping online, playing games, or writing emails, make plans to visit with friends and family. Getting away from your everyday routine and being with people in real life will help break you of reaching for technology as a crutch.

6. Set a stop time in the evening. Staying on your computer or phone right up until bedtime interrupts your sleep. The light emitted from your screens actually trick your brain into thinking it needs to stay awake and alert, reducing your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Set a stop time well before bedtime or try unplugging for a whole day and treat your brain to a little less mindless distraction. Your sleep will be peaceful, and you’ll awake refreshed and ready for another day.

7. Remember that there’s always tomorrow. One of the classic tech pitfalls is becoming a prisoner to the e-mails, calls, and text messages that pile up during the day. But really, for the most part, the world will not end if you unplug for a while. Remember, you can always respond tomorrow. 

8. Experiment with quiet. Do you always exercise with your iPod? Keep the TV on in the background even when no one’s watching? Try experimenting with quiet. Clutter can extend to the auditory realm too. I’ve found that it’s incredible how many creative thoughts I can have or how much quicker challenging tasks can be taken care of by me or my family when there’s no electronic distraction.

Have you tried unplugging? What’s worked best for you? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

Image credits: thumbnail via FreeDigitalPhotos.net; compilation photos by Christine Koh


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