Unplug Your Family

by Guest Contributor

How often do you unplug…on purpose? Guest contributor Amanda from High Impact Mom talks about making unplugged family time a priority.

Plugging in to each other

In our family we don’t have television service. Now that isn’t to say that we don’t have a television or that we don’t watch television, it simply means that we don’t pay for cable or satellite; instead we’ve opted to be a little more unplugged.

Since all local television went to a paid subscription, our family has been reaping the rewards of unplugging from electronics and plugging into one another. While we still have Netflix, various video gaming systems, and an ever growing population of DVDs, our family makes a point to unplug completely once a week every week, for an entire weekend once a month, and for an entire week once a year.

The connections we feel with one another as a result are amazing.

An entire week without electronics??

Does the idea of an entire week without electronics sound overwhelming? It might be a pain to begin with and honestly, every year it’s a pain when we begin, but by the end of the week we’re calmer and more connected (wirelessly) than we were before we got started.

You don’t have to start out taking an entire week off though! We started unplugging once a week for Family Game Night when our kids were very small in an effort to reconnect after a week of working long hours and missing out on the oh-so-important family time that our girls deserved.

Every Friday or Saturday night, starting from the time Daddy gets home we turn off all of our electronics, cell phones included, and cook dinner together, play board games, read books together, and generally just spend time together.

Occasionally I do really well and plan a craft for our family to do together, but it’s not mandatory. The whole idea is for us to spend time together reconnecting with each other in a stress-free environment.

Earth Hour

Each year we celebrate Earth Hour, which is really just an hour that is set aside each year for everyone on the planet to shut down, shut off, and unplug. Our monthly weekend-long unplug started out this way, by our participating each year in Earth Hour. Our family enjoyed it so much that one year we decided to spend the entire weekend celebrating Earth Hour.

Over the years, we’ve strayed from totally unplugging for the entire weekend, but we have started practicing our own version each month. We turn off the computers, televisions, and video games and spend time just being a family the entire weekend.

No electronics for a week

After having brought Family Game Night and Family Weekend into our lives the yearly TV turnoff week doesn’t seem like such a difficult jump. Once a year, for an entire week our family stays away from electronics and spends time just playing games, doing crafts, cooking together, and reading together. We also spend some of this time alone doing devotionals, journaling, napping, or whatever else we want to do that isn’t electronic.

Our favorite game to play when we’re unplugged is “Hide-and-Seek in the Dark”, just make sure your house is clean before hand or it becomes “hospital time in the dark”.

Whether you decide to unplug once a week, once a month, or once a year I strongly encourage you to take time out away from the electronics we’ve all come to rely on and spend time reconnecting with the ones you hold dear. It’s not time you’ll regret, I can promise you that. I am a better mother, wife, and friend (I’m probably a little saner too) for the time we spend together without any distractions.

Bio: As Chief Executive Blogging Mama at High Impact Mom, Amanda encounters all sorts of madness as she goes to bat for education, corrals two busy daughters, manages a successful social media marketing company and co-owns IT consulting company with her husband, attends college fulltime, and occasionally even finds time for a date with her husband. Amanda is a social media addict, a compulsive volunteer, and a hard rocking-Jane Austen reading devoted mama…she might also a little bit crazy.

Image Credits: LifeSupercharger & meddygarnet



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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenn B August 12, 2011 at 7:31 am

Our girls, 1 and 4 aren’t really “plugged in” at this age however my husband and I try to have what we call “technology-free Fridays” and turn everything off and just spend some quality time together. I’m sure as the girls grow up well start implementing TFF with them too.

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2 sandra August 12, 2011 at 7:41 am

Hard to go unplugged these days. Good for you! Raised my kids in the “unplugged era”….my big effort was no TVs in their rooms…only the family room. So glad I stuck by that one. Visit my Blog Hop today.

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3 Amanda August 12, 2011 at 7:50 am

Jenn B: Our girls are only 8 & 4 and aren’t what you’d call super-plugged in, but we started implementing it for the adults in the beginning so we would have some QT with just the kids. Our girls do love their Netflix & DS’, but hardly miss them and beg for those Family Game Nights. Can’t wait for my DH to get home so we can have it again tonight!

Sandra: TV’s in the bedroom has been our one downfall, but we’re strict with them and haven’t seen any problems so far. We’ll see as they get older!

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4 Real Life Sarah August 12, 2011 at 8:36 am

Brava, Amanda! I think we might just do that this weekend! I’d love to take the kids out for a hike or something, and then do a family game night! I wish I could get my husband to do a camp fire in our backyard!

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5 Jen L. August 12, 2011 at 8:38 am

Yay, Amanda! This is great. I have to tell you, when we were potty training my son, we completely unplugged for a long weekend so we could watch him for signs of, well, potty business. We enjoyed it so much that we now do it at least one day a week. No tv, no laptop, no phones, just each other.

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6 Amanda August 12, 2011 at 9:19 am

Sarah: We LOVE camping in the backyard and even built a a fire-pit just for those times when we need to get outside! Hiking is another of our favorites, but one I’ll have to save until it cools down. You’ve got some amazing places to hike where you live so I imagine it’s a favorite there too!

Jen L.: What a great idea! Can you imagine what you would have missed if you hadn’t been so attuned to your son’s cues?? Shew!

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7 Rajean August 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I think the game of Life (love the metaphor too) is still one of my all-time favorites and we’ve tried game nights. We’ve loved them but admittedly, we’re not consistent. You know why? Letting them be plugged in is easier. And we’re too plugged in. There, I admit it. BUT I’ve never allowed my kids to have a TV in their rooms. We also went cable free about 6 months ago, and while I still miss some programs or networks, honestly, the longer you’re without, the more you realize you don’t NEED them in your life.

We will try to bring game night back, tonight! Another great game to try for 8+ is Set (a card game, with special cards). It has been a big hit on vacation. Not sure why, but we do play a lot more games on vacation. Need to do more of that at home. Great post.

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8 Cami Checketts August 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Thank you! What a great article. I work really hard (and it is work) to keep my boys entertained with minimal multimedia. I love the idea of one day a week, one weekend a month, and one week a year without any electronics.
Thanks,
Cami

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9 Kimberly August 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm

We haven’t tried going unplugged yet but I know that we should. I don’t know who would suffer bigger withdrawals though…me or my son! Good reminder though to take a break of some sort from the electronics.

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10 Susan August 12, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Oh my gosh, those photos are amazing!

I actually unplug tons with my girls. They are only 3 and 6 and don’t like to be on the computer for more that about 15 minutes at a time.

Since I work online, I do enjoy time offline.

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11 Jessica August 12, 2011 at 9:31 pm

I am a boardgame person so I am in total agreement with you on family game nights (unplugeed). In fact, my family made up our own boardgame during our family time and we are in the midst of self-publishing it! But it was so fun to do – and to have my 4 1/2 year old get so involved in the game’s characters. We are having a ball – and on occasion – some creative differences as we finalize the game to go to print.

Family time is really important – focus onvwho is in front of us – not on the cellphone or on the computer.

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12 Becca Bernstein August 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I’m really bad about unplugging. In fact, I’ve never been able to do it. And while I LOVE board games and fun family movie nights, I tend to keep my phone w/i arm’s reach. Of course, having jobs that require me to monitor online sentiments of my customers makes it really hard. But I know I need to schedule a weekly unplugged event for myself. Thanks for the reminder!

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13 ConnieFoggles August 13, 2011 at 11:25 pm

We’ve been working at this too in my family. I find it easier to do when older family members are with us (grandparents, etc.). They are used to a long meal where we sit and talk, with no TV and especially no internet. They help me and my husband make the example for our daughter.

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14 olfa August 24, 2011 at 11:26 am

Thank you for these great tips!! I enjoy unpluggin time and kids too: It’s a great time to reconnect all the family together. The kids reconnect with their offline games!!
When we unplug, we try to go outside. We usually go cycling for few km. The kids love it and us too!!

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