I know we blame the new millennium kids for being on their screens constantly, but I am secretly just as guilty as them. Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram is a constant, never-ending flow of information and most of us have FOMO. (Fear of missing out… for those not so tech-savvy!) My son has even recently started an album on his Iphone where he takes photos of us using our phones “unnecessarily” in public places. In today’s busy life we feel like standing in a queue in a shop, or waiting for food at take-away restaurants, even waiting in the car for kids at school or sitting in a waiting room, is a total waste of time and we would rather be on our phones. We never switch off! So here are a few tips or reminders on how to create easy, quick, cheap tech free zones or tech-free hours in your home. Maybe you can just pick one for this weekend, and at least make one change!
1. CREATE ONE SMALL OUTDOOR SPOT
Let’s be honest, none of us have the time to spend hours in the backyard. It takes me about 3 hours just to get one part of our backyard ready before people come over for a BBQ. So why not create one spot just for yourself? It should not be more than 4 sq meters. Just a chair. One spot you can quickly clean and go sit down with a cup of tea, a glass of wine or a book. NO tech. Just stare at the garden… Think about life and not all the spider webs, leaves and dirt in the rest of the garden.
2. CLEAR THAT DINING ROOM TABLE
Is yours a dumping site? Yep, we all know the feeling. We have seen the weirdest uses for dining room tables in our job. We might get sued if we publish those photos, so we’d rather not! Unfortunately this means families spend less and less time together having meals. Make it work, even if you have to dump everything in a box just before dinner. Or give everyone 5 minutes to put their stuff somewhere else before you eat. Eventually they will dump it somewhere else (next problem I know!) because they don’t want to clear the table every night before dinner. Make sure you eat together as a family at least once a day. No technology allowed. Even if it’s just half an hour, you will be amazed how much you learn from each other again! And mum, if the dining room table is full of YOUR paperwork, make sure you set a good example for your kids and make a plan to get more organised.
3. CENTRALISE YOUR CHARGING STATION
Finding USB cables in our house is always a big fight. So you can solve two problems at once by getting a central charging station. Don’t allow charging any other place in the house. Place the charging station in such an uncomfortable position that no-one can be able to be “plugged in” and be comfortable on a sofa at the same time. Make it a rule that when you charge your phone or tablet, you have to do something else. Yes, teenagers will get used to being in a different room than their phone.
4. GET YOUR “FAMILY TIME” ZONE READY IN AN INSTANT
If having a family games night sounds like too much planning ahead or finding stuff you’re not sure where it is, you must get your act together and get organised! How? Sort out all the board games you have, chuck away the ones everyone hates anyhow, save about four and then also go buy one new exciting game. (It costs less than taking everyone to a movie!) Store these “ready to use” games in your living room, easy to access. Also get a basket where everyone in your house has to put books or magazines they love or are busy reading. (At least they will now also be able to always know where it is!) When it’s games or family tech free night, grab the basket or board games and you’re ready to roll. Remember to switch off the TV and rather put on some music. With Spotify and AppleMusic you have no excuse to have an instant DJ in the house. The living room becomes your tech-free zone for an hour or two.
As you can see, a little planning and a few small changes can make a big difference. To start is always the hardest. This weekend, pick one of these tips and see if you can make it work for your family.
Until next time,