Well, we did it! We survived No Phone Family Day and no one was harmed in the process. Was it easy? Hell, no! Did it go exactly as planned? Uh, not really. Did we learn a lot? Absolutely!
We spent the weekend in Kananaskis enjoying the mountain views, tubing at Nakiska and taking advantage of the hot tub and sauna at the hotel. So, after a great weekend, our Family Day was spent packing up and driving home. Not ideal, but what are you gonna do?
I decided not to wake up with my phone (as I usually do) or even look at it yesterday morning. We’d agreed that whoever wanted to “check in” first thing in the morning could do so, but at 8:30 am we took the phones away. Our plan was 12 hours without our phones and we made it until 7:30 pm. Eleven hours – not bad. Actually, I think that is the longest we’ve gone without our phones since our 24-hour “off the grid” fishing trip back in 2015.
Here are some things I noticed during #NoPhoneFamilyDay:
- the things I missed most about my phone – the clock, my weather app, my calendar and my favorite podcasts! How do I fold clothes without Happier by Gretchen Rubin?? This was surprising to me. I didn’t realize how much I relied on my phone for these things. I thought I would miss social media the most, but I didn’t. I love my family and friends, but it was actually kind of nice to have a break from everybody else’s life and just focus on my own!
- the kids spent more time interacting with one another – at one point during the day I found the three of them holed up together in the bathroom. One in the bathtub, the other one supervising the candles and the third curling her hair. They were chatting and giggling just like they did when they were younger. This was hilarious to me – I haven’t seen the three of them do something like that in a long time. Sister bonding at its best!
- we were more productive as a family – my husband and I hung pictures (that have been sitting on the floor for months!), re-arranged furniture and got groceries among other household tasks. And you know what? The kids were a big help. This is weird, but it was somehow easier to ask them for help because I anticipated and received less of a fight. They helped out with chores, helped with meal prep…it was awesome!!
- they missed their phones the most when they were bored – the older girls just accepted the reality that their phones were gone so, at one point, they went for a nap! The youngest actually seemed to have the most difficult time dealing with her frustration. She got a bit sulky, declared she was bored and said, “What’s the whole point of this anyway?” She did, by the way, end up finishing a book and drawing.
- we conversed more – our 1.5 hour drive home from the mountains without phones was something the kids were dreading. It actually went by fast and we talked the whole time. We talked about upcoming summer vacations, summer jobs and we had a chance to find out what they were missing most about Houston and enjoying about life in Calgary. As a family, I think we spent a lot of quality time together, but I can see that we would talk even more if we decided to ban electronics on long car trips.
By 7:30 pm, we declared #NoPhoneFamilyDay to be over. One daughter needed to Facetime with a friend about a project they were working on and the other daughter wanted to respond to a babysitting request for later in the week. I was proud of them for lasting as long as they did. We ended the day by going down to the Glow Festival and taking in the cool light display all over downtown Calgary. And, yes, we did bring our phones to capture some cool shots!
Thanks Parenting Power for issuing us this challenge. As a family that loves their phones, it was empowering to see that we could go without for several hours – that we could make a conscious and difficult choice and stick with it. I think it taught the kids that what they thought was so “urgent” wasn’t really urgent at all. You can survive the day without non-stop snaps, texts and videos from friends.
What I found most interesting was that the kids spent more time with one another, without the distraction of their cyber friends. And, I was more inclined to ask them for help around the house. I didn’t feel like I was competing with this powerful distraction and I didn’t get the push-back that I normally would. “Ok, in a minute Mom…as soon as this episode is over…” You know what I mean?
I’m thankful for my family and I’m thankful for the convenience of technology. I think the two can co-exist, but I do think setting limits is a good thing. This experiment makes me think the #NoPhone policy is something we should do once a week and not just once a year!