In this age of modern technology, there are so many amazing things that can be accomplished. Noah can connect with his grandparents on FaceTime and they get to see him grow even when they're not close by. I can find my way through an unfamiliar town using location services. This comes waaaayyyy in handy when I'm driving by myself and need to figure out where I am! I can look up a business and call without ever having to dial the number on the keypad. I can listen to music or watch a video- anytime, anywhere. I can look up a product or recipe in less than a minute. I can stay in touch with friends and send family members pictures of Noah. Needless to say, there are a million other ways that technology is useful and wonderful.
But I'll be the first to admit- I'm a bit hooked. I always have my phone with me and it's what I resort to first when I'm bored. It's a common theme at any gathering I've been to lately- everyone has their phone and almost everyone is on it at some point- and I'm guilty! There are times I've been with family or friends and either one or both of us is distracted by our phone, iPad, or computer. The art of verbal communication, eye contact, social cues, and just good old quality time together seems to be fading and in its place is texting, updating social media, and browsing the internet. We have this need to be entertained and want that entertainment in the form of as little use of our brains as possible and we want it right now.
I love my family and friends too much to continue this, especially when my time with them is limited to eight hour trips every couple of months! I want to sit down, look them in the eye, hear what they're saying, and respond from the heart without either one of us worrying about if the other one is really paying attention. It won't be an easy thing to do, but that's why it takes intentionality.
Here are a few ways I plan to intentionally unplug this season (and probably should for life!):
1. Cut the umbilical cord!
That sounds weird and gross, but seriously- the phone is not an extension of me. It doesn't need to always be in my pocket or in my hand. I will survive if - gasp!- I don't have my phone with me! I need to set the ringer on high (in case of emergency or necessity), stick it somewhere I'll be able to hear it, and forget about it! I will say, though, that I take a ton of pictures on my phone. The key for me will be waiting until later to post it somewhere!
2. Interest over Pinterest! (aka "Don't bring it to the table!")
(catchy, huh?) Michael and I have the habit of bringing our phones to the table with us. We aren't on them, but they're there, waiting to alert us in case of an important......oh you know...text, e-mail, twitter update. How ridiculous does that sound? If I'm at dinner with my family, I want them to be my priority, not worrying about seeing that Facebook comment reply the second it's sent. If I'm at coffee with a friend, I want her to know that I care more about what she has to say than the comment on my blog or if someone is re-tweeting my tweet!
3. Get creative!
We spend most of the down time with our families in the evening, once guests have gone home and events are over. We usually end up watching tv or browsing our computers. This year, I'm going to make more of an effort to close the computer, shut down the iPad, turn off the tv (if that's allowed!) and think of creative and fun ways to spend time together that doesn't revolve around electronic entertainment. Hopefully that will look like board games, long conversations, or even gathering around the fire in my dad's garage. Whatever it is, I hope it's together, fully present.
It's so important to me that not only around the holidays, but all year round, we are intentional about our time together. I've had to address and conquer this in my own life during my time home with Noah. I don't want him to grow up remembering Mommy with her nose stuck in her phone and I don't want memories to revolve around the tv. Those things are obviously not bad, but I want more for my family, for our families. I'm excited to implement these personally, even if nobody catches on or follows along. I at least want to be able to say that I was present, fully, and gave all that I had to give of myself.
Do you struggle with unplugging sometimes?
Are there ways you can be intentional about being more present with your loved ones?