This week is the annual Screen Free Week. It’s a great time to try and live life with as little technology as you and your family can, when not in school or work. It’s actually a tough challenge. Screens are everywhere – stores, restaurants, hotels, gas stations. However, annual week’s like Screen Free Week allow us to all reconnect without so much technology and come out the other side with more awareness of ways we can live life a bit less plugged in.
Here are some of my favorite tips for what you can do any time you feel the need to unplug, during a national cause like this week, or any time during the year:
1 Enjoy a completely unplugged meal with the important person or people in your life.
2 Go for an unplugged walk, alone or with family or friends. This is a great activity for body and mind and can be very weather independent because most malls open up a few hours before retail stores to allow for walkers. And, malls have music playing so you don’t even need your MP3 player, which often is in your phone!
3 Read a book or magazine with pages. I know – old school but refreshing to read without a screen once in a while and avoids the temptation of checking social media sites. Even 20-30 minutes a day of “real reading” can truly free the mind.
4 Turn on the tunes – perhaps use the MP3 player NOT in your phone to resist temptation. Then either close your eyes and let your mind wander and relax, or do something unplugged while enjoying the music.
5 Family Game Night: Pull out a game, a real game with a board or a puzzle, sit around the table and enjoy the fun.
6 Take a bubble bath complete with candles and music. This is your time to chill. The phone kills the mood so make sure it’s completely out of sight!!
7 Plan lunch with a friend and use the cell phone game to resist peering at them. The game is simple. Stack the phones face down on the table. The first person who looks, pays the bill.
8 Run your usual errands without your cell phone.
Once upon a time this is how we all lived. It doesn’t always seem like it, but the world will not stop spinning if we don’t check and respond to a message immediately. Give it a try.
9 Go to a local coffee shop and have coffee doing something unplugged: read, write some real cards, meet a friend and talk (if you do this, use the phone stacking game in #7).
10 Grab a real camera, one not in a cell phone or tablet, and explore somewhere interesting – snapping frequently. You’d be surprised how liberating viewing the world through the lens of a camera – any camera – is.
11 Make a ritual to have hot chocolate with your kids after school and chat about the day – sans any technology! After a moment of awkwardness, they’ll love having you to themselves to chat with. Just let them take the lead and be open to where the conversation goes.
12 Spend an hour with a hobby you “never have time for”, or try a new one. A couple years ago I tried Ukulele and find it one of my best unplugged activities.
13 Take in a concert or show. Some of our favorite spots are local restaurants that feature local bands. Without the distraction of the plug, the experience is so incredible.
14 Visit a museum in your area. Perhaps there’s an exhibit you’ve wanted to see or a museum you never get to.
15 Find a lecture or talk on something new and different. So many museums, centers and adult-ed centers have experts giving talks on all sorts of topics. It can be fun to just go to one once in a while and expand our circle of ideas.
If you hate the week, you can go back to your old plugged in ways. I have a feeling, though, you may just find life without so many screens is the way life was meant to be lived.