Six Ideas for Unplugged Time

Not so long ago, we packed books of mazes, small games, or other diversions when we needed our children to quietly while away some time in a doctor’s office, at a restaurant table, or during a sibling’s violin lesson. The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets has brought ease to creating diversions and with it some peaceful moments. However, we’ve probably all had qualms about what we’ve traded for this convenience, especially when it feels like we haven’t had direct eye contact with our children for hours, with each of us staring at the slab in our hands.

Reboot has begun a National Day of Unplugging. The hope is that by not checking in on our digital communities for a full 24 hours we will instead connect with the people in our homes and those we meet through the day. The goal is to enjoy uninterrupted meals, games, and conversations.

At Nova, we want to invite everyone to participate in #unplug To give those of us who rely on screens to entertain our families, pass the time, or divert a wiggly child, we offer a few ideas. We also celebrate any chance to strengthen our connection to our families and communities.

  • Take a walk. Whether you have a lively conversation or quietly take in the scenery, a walk is a beautiful way to spend time with a friend, child, or spouse. Saunter along the sidewalk, hike up the mountain or skip through the park. You are sure to make a memory about being really together.
  • Play a game. You can learn a new game or bring out a favorite. If your family has not spent much time with games, pick an easy-to-learn one, like dominoes or go fish.
  • Share a skill. Have you taught your child how to knit? Or tie a knot? Do they know how to climb a tree? Pound a nail? Have they ever rolled out bread dough? There are so many skills that you probably take for granted that they might enjoy learning or at least appreciate later in life.
  • Watch the birds. When we really notice our environment, we feel our connection and we value it more. Noticing and naming birds can be a 2 minute or 2-hour activity, depending on the interest of the participants.
  • Fly a kite. I have very strong memories of the 3 or 4 times my mother spent a Sunday afternoon setting kites into the sky and then just sitting on a blanket watching them. It takes time to get a kite into the air and it takes time to bring it in. The activity is simultaneously purposeful and pointless. You might want to be at the park so your child can play on the swings in between checking the progress or holding the kite string.
  • Try something new. Go bowling, skate, play mini golf. Even if what everyone learns is that these things are harder than they look, you’ll have the shared experience.
  • Visit a friend or relative or invite them to your house. The preparation for travel and the change of scenery can take up a surprising amount of time. Once everyone is together, try any of the above with your loved ones.

So tuck away the phones, power down the laptop, and spend from midnight March 1 to midnight March 2 screen free; unplug from the digital world and fully engage with the world outside the slab.