I had a humbling experience recently when we first moved to our new house. We had incredibly limited cell phone reception and phone service, and it was VERY eye opening to see how I felt in that situation. I felt so disconnected! I know it didn’t help that we’d just moved across the country AND it was the holidays, but I felt so lost. It really opened my eyes to my own problem with technology! If I had a minute to just relax on the couch, I’d pick up my phone or laptop for scrolling instead of a book or a card game.
Around this same time, my kids had just watched a tonnnnnnnnnnnn of television while we made our trek from Oregon to Florida and it was clear to me that our family was in dire need of a screen time reset. I shared this over on Instagram stories, and could not believe how many of you said you felt the same way. I have to admit I was super relieved, because I was a little embarrassed to share how badly I was struggling with this. You guys made me so much better by sharing that it’s a problem in your homes as well so I wanted to put together some content here on the blog with some tips and ideas for really using screen times with purpose and intention.
Purpose & intention– yup, that’s what I was struggling with. You see, I’m an anxious person so it’s VERRRRRRY easy for me to try to shift my focus from what’s stressing me out to something that helps me zone out. The phone makes this very easy for me. I realized I was using it as a diversion, and that was very eye opening for me. My kids have this shirt from a bible school they attended last summer that says, “Be still and know that I am God.” That verse has stuck out to me since, and I’ve started plastering it any place I might see it. Still is probably my word for the new year, I want to learn what it feels like to rest and to be authentically content. I want to let my mind wander again, to read a book without doing anything else while I read it.
So with these goals in mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to monitor not only my sons’ screen time but my own. Here are a few strategies I’m putting in place in this new year. You’ll see that we aren’t really going I just want to shift our habits at home, not necessarily ban all forms of technology!
All technology stays downstairs for bedtime- Maybe you’ve seen the statistics about quality of sleep when you’re not around blue light before bed? I just don’t want to check my phone thing in the morning! BUT it is hard not to when you’ve already picked it up to turn off your alarm clock and it’s already in your hand at 5 am.
Family Charging Station or Drop Zone- We are still sorting through a good system to use for this, but essentially we plan to just have an area for everyone to leave their devices plugged in and out of sight.
Spaces that demand your attention- I have board games, puzzles, crafts, and books in very obvious places. I want to retrain my family to pick up those items instead of their devices.
We aren’t getting rid of family movie night- We are going to keep our family movie night tradition so we have something to look forward to and don’t feel deprived of anything.
Delete a bunch of apps- I deleted several apps that ding and ping and alert me to anything and everything. Instead I’ve set aside some time each time to attend to those things.
Make like my hat, and use the do not disturb option- Turn off as many notifications as you can. Did you know you can even set your phone to only tell you when certain people are calling, like your husband or your kid’s school.
There are some amazing books out right now about this topic, but one that I wanted to mention for this audience is called “the tech wise family.” I’m reading it now, and really learning so much!