I was watching my children “watching” television the other day. The cacophony was ridiculous. The show was blasting and each of my two sons were simultaneously watching sports videos on their phones. This was the complete and utter opposite of mindfulness. Ugh… Try as I do to make my sons unplug, all too often the din of the TV is the background noise of our lives at home. Now that summer vacation is officially less than a week away, I am going to attempt to alter not only my children’s digital behavior, but my own as well. Here is the plan of attack.
1. Absolutely no electronics for at least an hour before sleeping. I usually do read before bed, but I’d be lying if I said I never got lost on online shopping shopping sights well into the wee hours. It is proven that the blue light given off by LED screens disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms, which tell the body it is time for sleep. And your brain registers pixelated text differently than ink text on a book page.
2. Physically leave the phone in one spot of the house. I have gotten into the habit of literally schlepping the thing from room to room which is just so very unmindful. I even have multiple chargers in various locations throughout the house. The mere presence of the phone is a distraction. At work I leave it out on my desk which is another bad habit. In one room it will stay!
3. Absolutely NO devices during meals. This will be a tough one to enforce, but I am determined. In order to get the kids away from the television, I plan to serve our meals outside as often as possible. We have a cozy patio with a pond view that is perfect. This leads to the next plan…
4. Get into nature as often as possible, WITHOUT the phone. Now even though I don’t often use the phone to answer calls and go onto social media when I am out hiking, I do like to take lots of pictures with my phone. Snapping nature shots, although awesome, can detract from the mindful outdoor experience somewhat. After each shot, I must make sure to pause and take in the scene with my own two eyes, with accompanying sounds and subtle movements. (As far as my sons are concerned, this may involve physically locking them outdoors. Wish me luck!)
5. Turn off social media alerts. I will schedule the time to check up on my friends’ latest Facebook posts. I refuse to let it consume my days. It is rare that any real, significant info comes through there. All of those postings about people’s latest meals and travels can surely wait!
6. Carefully evaluate the usefulness of the time I am connected. I was more than just a little horrified at the amount of time I spent on online browsing, without even shopping. Eww! And Pinterest…
Now don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of technology and have the utmost appreciation for the novel ways we can stay connected with friends, and forge new connections with people we’d never encounter in person (I am a blogger, after all), but when the mindless surfing and constant distractions interfere with our ability to be present, subtle changes have to be made. I am grateful to be in a profession that affords me time to unplug and unwind. Happy summer, all!