Unplugging to Get Closer with Your Family

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Written by Scott Lee, Lead Counselor for Project Sanctuary.

Sure, we spend time with our kids and spouse, but are we really with them? Attending your child’s soccer game or being at a school performance counts, I guess, as being there. But are you really there? Sitting on the sidelines, “liking a post on Facebook” does not count as being there. Sure, you might raise your head when you hear the crowd cheer to see what is going on, but then you look back to see what important things are happening on Instagram.

Your children notice this, wishing that you were there when they got that great hit at the t-ball game or listened to what they had to say at the dinner table. Being in the same room or car or location does not count as being there if you are on your phone or tablet.

I have seen way too many times kids at the store given an iPad to play with while shopping is done. Has the iPad taken the place of interacting with your child? What is wrong with having your children help with the shopping at the store instead of having the dinosaur eat the small city on the latest game?

Here are some tips for getting unplugged with your family, and, who knows, your family might actually become closer and learn more about each other:

1. Go on a walk as a family. This does not need to be a long, pack-a-backpack kind of walk or hike:  just go around the block if time is limited. Leave the electronics at home, or turn them off. Ask the kids what they see, smell a flower, count steps, do something interactive.

2. Do an activity together. Go putt-putt golfing, play a game of soccer at the park, go bowling. You could even just go for a drive and play “I spy with my little eye….”

3. Cook dinner together! Have each person pull another person’s name out of a hat or bowl, and they get to make that person’s pizza (within limits of course). Then sit at the table and talk.

4, If you are picking up your kids from school, ask what they did, and LISTEN. Who knows? You might learn what it is like to dissect a squid, or you might find out who has a crush on whom.

5. Have a no-electronics night once a week. No phones, no computers, no tablets. Play a board game, or if you want, rent a movie and have the entire family watch it together.

The important thing is that you are together, without any disturbances. Your family will come closer to each other, and 3 hours an afternoon or evening is not going to hurt. People will say, “what if there is an emergency?” There were emergencies long before people were plugged in 24 hours a day, and things were just fine.

What is more important, a text or a Facebook post…or your family?


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