Unplugged Parenting

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Unplugged Parenting

“Mama, can we go outside? Can we go sledding?!?”

After several months with hardly a nod to old man winter, we finally got our first notable accumulation of white stuff this week. (I’m not complaining.) I groaned as the children tugged at my shirt hem and scrambled for boots.

“Not right now guys,” I answered, stalling. “I’ve gotta take care of a couple things first.”

I mentally tried to work up the gumption to get the three kids snowsuited, hatted, gloved, and bundled. My inner sluggard despises the preparation and supervision needed for outdoor winter play, especially when I’m trying to keep an infant warm too.

I had just gotten the baby to sleep when the kids asked to watch a show on Amazon. I said yes, with great relief, and set them up in front of the computer. I’d much rather do that than deal with bulky layers, potty needs, icy fingers, and wet play clothes.

It was a lazy mother moment, to say the least. I let them be content with another episode of Daniel Tiger on the screen, instead of the chill and crispness of a winter’s day with fresh snow on the branches, and the promise of coming inside for hot chocolate and a warm bath afterwards.

It’s an example that’s indicative of my own problems. I’d much rather sit down in front of Facebook than knit. I’m more addicted to my smart phone than my music practice. Email can easily suck away the time that could be spent building blocks or playing dragons with my children.

What’s more than that, I find that too much “tech time” can put a real damper on all of our moods- mine included. We get cranky and irritable after staring at a screen. None of us want to be distracted from that which is entertaining us. It’s ugly to see it in a 2 year old’s temper tantrum when a show is turned off. It’s even uglier when a parent doesn’t want to be pulled away from his or her own “toys.”

We talk often about creating an “unplugged childhood” for our kids. What about unplugged parenting?

When my kids are grown, what memories will I want to look back on? Hours of scrolling through countless news feeds, communications, beeps and notifications? Or doing, being, loving, living together?

I think the answer should be obvious.

I’m going to commit to going the next 40 days (yes, inspired by the Lenten season) in not being on the computer or smart phone unless the kids are asleep or having quiet time. I usually think these kinds of rules feel a little silly, but sometimes it helps me to make changes if I have a concrete plan. Plus, if I make a public commitment to do it then it will be good motivation to follow through. 😉 All the blog and social media posts that you see from me for a while (including this one) will be pre-scheduled.

Technology can be quite useful, and it isn’t inherently bad. However, it’s become far too much of a distraction for our family, and that needs to change. Anyone care to join me?


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