I’ve been lured by the idea of screen-free vacations in the past, but though we’ve loved our 2-3 night unplugged camping trips, our family has never committed to a full week sans device. We’ve decided to kick off this summer with a weeklong break from phones, iPads, and laptops, and I’m really happy about it. I know several families who have done a screen-free week (or more!) at home, and that’s something I’d also like to try. But for now, I’m grateful for the change of scene, and personnel, that will make this a fun, and hopefully easy, travel experiment.
This Friday, our three kids (8, 10 and 12) will finish up their last day of school and then we’ll join my parents for a week at a rental cottage on Lake George. We’ll also bring the beloved 22-yo college student from Argentina for whom we serve as host family. Since she’s pursuing a career in child psychology, and not a person typically tethered to her phone, she’s been enthused about this tech plan–especially since she thinks it’ll increase the likelihood of more rounds of her favorite board game, Clue.
I realize we are stacking the deck a bit by bringing along the “big sister without the bickering” bonus kid and the much-adored grandparents, and we’ll be lakeside with kayaks and grandpa’s boat and lots of other summer-fun accoutrements, so our digital detox is perhaps less meltdown-bound than some trips. But it’s something new to us, and I’m glad we’re taking the plunge. We’ve had fun talking about which games and puzzles to pack, and I feel my pulse slow a bit every time I picture us dispersed with our stacks of books.
I’m eager to see how I, personally, will be impacted by being that unplugged. I can almost taste the feeling of being truly “in the moment” and of allowing myself to listen indulgently and without distraction to my loved ones. I admit, it’ll be a stretch for me to go on solo walks (and even do dishes) without my usual podcast accompaniment, but I suspect that’ll lead to some beneficial reflection time and the chance to notice birdsong, and maybe I’ll even capture some of the elusive zen of dishwashing.
As I sat down to write this post, I decided to see if there were other handy resources I could share with families preparing for the summer ahead. If you’re also considering a break from screens, you might appreciate the many tips in this piece I found, called How to Take a Screen-Free Vacation. I identified with the writer’s urge for a break from fighting about technology, which while thankfully not a huge part of our lives is still one of the larger sources of disharmony.
What is your family doing about technology this summer? Are you anxious about the prospect of filling those less-structured days? Does the idea of a screen-free week make you itchy? Here’s a gentle alternative from from one of our favorite sources, the Tech Talk Tuesday blog, about resisting digital compulsion by simply turning off notifications. This other piece from the same blog has some great general advice on how to handle technology over the summer.
I’ll be sure to report back on our screen-free week, and we’d love to hear from others who’ve experimented with unplugging a bit. We at PSTT wish you all a smooth transition into summer!