Back in September 2009 I wrote an article for TravelingMom about Breaking the Crackberry Addiction. I had recently taken a beach vacation where I successfully disconnected from my blackberry and email for a week, a particularly sweet achievement in that “way back then” these two electronic communication tools were the dominant demons of distraction among working moms. So we are hoping fr another successful unplugged vacation.
Zoom ahead to June 2011. For several months I have blocked out a full week on the calendar to take the kids to our recently inherited cottage just outside Cape Cod. I protect the dates like a mother bear protecting her young. It has been too long since we had a full week’s family vacation of fun and relaxation. Here’s the hiccup: reminding the kids this will be the “Family Vacation: Unplugged.”
What an Unplugged Family Vacation Means
There is no cable, Internet or television at the cottage. Sure our cell phones work just fine and texts still come and go in rapid succession. Hoppin’ Hyannis is within a half hours’ drive and there are two Walmarts easily reachable. Neighbors have all the luxuries of home if we run into a jam. Starbucks has WiFi if withdrawal hits hard.
But instead of staring at laptop screens or flipping channels, we instead must stare out the windows at the tranquil pond. We are “forced” to hang out and read, play board games, take walks, swim, talk and go places – together. Redbox becomes our best friend as there is a television with DVD hook-up. I listen to my daughter play her guitar and sing as I pull weeds outside. My son and I take the dog on long walks. My husband, who could only join us for the weekend, gets a break on the home front and can enjoy his electronics “without sharing.”
Benefits of an Unplugged Family Vacation
I will not lie. I did have my Blackberry and would post an occasional Facebook update about the fun we were having or scroll through my “friends” to see their status updates. But I realized most of the updates were not really updates about my friends. There were horoscopes, Farmville, YouTube clips, etc. This is OK, I guess. But I figured out that I really wasn’t missing out on a lot being less connected.
I also recognized I gained an incredible degree of clarity and awareness by disconnecting myself for week. I realized how much “noise” the many channels of communication around us create and how that “noise” muddles our thinking, stresses us out, and prevents us from focusing on things that are most important. Ideas began to flow, solutions to problems became more clear and I actually felt my body AND mind relax without the aid of my yoga nidrah tape.
Plugging Back in after Vacation
Yes, within a day of our return we were all back in our respective “stations,” updating Facebook, catching up on YouTube, watching reruns of Nickolodean shows and falling back into old ways. That’s not a terrible thing. That’s the way we live today and it’s hard to avoid it. But for us, as long as we have the cottage to return to, a Vacation: Unplugged is always a car trip away.
What are your best tips for an unplugged family vacation? Leave your suggestions in the comments.