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Do You Need a Technology Time-Out?

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“I’ve found it to be true that when I hold on to the wrong things, the wrong things hold on to me.” – Emily Freeman, Simply Tuesday

Do you ever worry that life will pass you by when you have your phone in your hand?

There are so many ways to get distracted with today’s technology. There’s the internet, phone, TV. The list goes on. Is that the way you want to be remembered? Phone in hand, distracted, not listening?

There are so many articles about the amount of time parents should spend with their children every day. Many studies indicate that, although parents are spending more time with their children than ever, they are still concerned about how much time is enough.

An article in the Washington Post found that the quantity of time parents spend with their children was irrelevant for children ages 3-11. The article then advised spending six hours of family time a week with adolescents.

This is a comforting statistic for both working and stay-at-home parents.

Regardless of the amount of time parents need to spend with their children, the studies all found that quality time spent had a greater impact on children than the quantity of time spent.

At the end of the day, have you actually spent quality time with your kids? Have you sat down and really paid attention to them? And by paying attention, I don’t mean nodding and saying “mmm-hmm” as you scroll through your Facebook feed, stress over laundry, or freak out because the house is a mess.

I have a confession. I love to multitask, and I find that I rarely focus on one thing at a time. I listen to podcasts or talk on the phone while I fold laundry. I catch up on Facebook or complete my Amazon Subscribe & Save order while the kids play dress up.

Multitasking is great when you’re doing housework. But when I should be playing with my kids? That’s when I know my priorities are out of line.

I haven’t taken my own advice and made being present in my kids’ lives a priority. How much time do I truly spend playing “princess tea party” or Lincoln Logs with my kids?

If you feel like your priorities have gotten out of line, or if you need to take a technology time out like I do, here are three easy ways to enjoy life as a family (without the use of technology).

How to Do a Technology Time-Out

1. Read or snuggle together

One of my goals for 2017 is to read three books a day with my kids. My kids love to read and I look forward to the extra snuggle time. There’s nothing greater than having your kids pile onto your lap as you hold them close and laugh together over a good book. The best part about our reading/snuggle time is that technology is not involved.

While we’ve always enjoyed reading together, I decided to increase the amount of books that we’re reading. Most nights, I would only read one or two books. My kids go to bed fairly early, so it was hard to make the time to read. However, just by starting our bedtime routine twenty minutes earlier, we’ve been able to make the time to squeeze in extra reading time.

Another easy way to squeeze in extra snuggles is just to climb in bed with your kids. Sometimes, as I’m putting my son to bed, he’ll ask me to sleep with him. His bed is lofted, so this is an experience in itself considering my fear of stairs (I fell running up three stairs last week. How does that happen?!?), but I love snuggling under the covers. We never actually sleep. More often than not, he ends up laughing and getting revved up (not the settle-down experience that I was hoping for). Even so, it’s a great way to hear about his day, find out his thoughts, and just spend time together!

2. Make family mealtime a priority

Mealtime is important in our family. Every night, we make an effort to eat together, even if it’s just leftovers.

Dinner is our time to sit as a family with the technology off. We don’t have a TV in our kitchen. We can’t stop the phone from ringing, but, for the most part, dinner is our family time.

Dinner is sometimes rushed as my husband heads to the farm or the kids go to swimming lessons. Even so, this is the time when we talk about our day and enjoy life as a family.

3. Have a designated family night

I’ve had this in my weekly planner for years, but most weeks I skip it. Why? It’s easier to dig into the dishes or let the kids splash a little longer in the bath than it is to make a conscious effort to bond together.

Last night, we spent 45 minutes playing with Play-Doh. The night before, we had a popcorn party in the living room (messy, but fun). We started going to Family Night once a month at our local YMCA.

The kids look forward to these evenings together.

Family nights don’t have to be complicated. The point is that you’re spending time together doing something that you don’t always do.

How will a technology time-out help?

I started trying to read more to my kids, keep technology put away during dinner, and have one family activity night on the weekends.

It’s not a huge time commitment, but the benefits have been huge. I’ve noticed a difference not only in my kids, but also in myself.

All in all, I made a point to spend about an hour of technology-free time with my kids daily (with an extra 30-60 minutes on the weekend). I was spending that time with my kids before (as in, I was sitting next to them in the room), but I wasn’t being mindful of our interactions.

Now that I’m being more intentional about setting aside my phone, I realize what I was missing.

It’s nice to take the time to actually enjoy each other. The “busyness” of life just isn’t worth missing out on the kids’ laughter, snuggles, and extra “I love you, Mommy” comments. I’m learning to cherish these moments (without technology).

What are you holding on to? A better question is what do you want to hold on to? Your phone? Or the chance to make memories with your kids?

In the next few weeks, I challenge you to take a technology time-out. Set aside a designated time every day to spend time enjoying your family. Let me know how it works!

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