Next week is Screen Free Week. The concept is a cousin of the National Day of Unplugging, except it occurs for an entire week.
It can be easy to become overwhelmed with the concept of reducing screens with school and work in the mix. After all, we all have some screens we have to use to do our jobs and our kids have some screens they need to use for homework and school, especially since books are now on e-readers. Don't worry about those screens. It's a given that those screens have to be used.
It's the recreational, extra screens we want to reduce, and there are a huge amount of those. Think about all the non-work, non-school screens and digital devices we all use in a give day: TV, Internet surfing, online shopping, social media, texting, cell phone cameras and uploading, video games, iPad apps. We cut out these and replace them with screen-free, offline activities and the week will be a success. In fact, even if we can't pull it off all week but more than we are doing now, we can consider the week a success.
I'm a realistic person and not someone to judge a week like Screen Free Week as "all or none." Stuff comes up and, let's be honest, I'm not giving you much notice. So, do what you can and any reduction is a victory.
If you are not sure where to begin for unplugged, screen free time with your families, let me remind you of the 15 ideas I posted about before March's National Day of Unplugging:
1. Enjoy a completely unplugged meal with the important person or people in your life.
2. Go for an unplugged walk, alone or with family or friends. This is a great activity for body and mind and can be very weather independent because most malls open up a few hours before retail stores to allow for walkers. And, malls have music playing so you don't even need your MP3 player, which often is in your phone!
3. Read a book or magazine with pages. I know -- old school but refreshing to read without a screen once in a while and avoids the temptation of checking social media sites. Even 20-30 minutes a day of "real reading" can truly free the mind.
4. Turn on the tunes -- perhaps use the MP3 player NOT in your phone to resist temptation. Then either close your eyes and let your mind wander and relax, or do something unplugged while enjoying the music.
5. Family Game Night: Pull out a game, a real game with a board or a puzzle, sit around the table and enjoy the fun.
6. Take a bubble bath complete with candles and music. This is your time to chill. The phone kills the mood so make sure it's completely out of sight!!
7. Plan lunch with a friend and use the cell phone game to resist peering at them. The game is simple. Stack them face down on the table, first one that looks, pays the bill.
8. Run your usual errands without your cell phone. Once upon a time this is how we all lived. It doesn't always seem like it, but the world will not stop spinning if we don't check and respond to a message immediately. Give it a try.
9. Go to a local coffee shop and actually have coffee doing something unplugged: read, write some real cards, meet a friend and talk (if you do this, use the phone stacking game in #7).
10. Grab a real camera, one not in a cell phone or tablet and explore somewhere interesting, snapping frequently. You'd be surprised how liberating viewing the world through the lens of a camera -- any camera -- is.
11. Make a ritual to have hot chocolate with your kids after school and chat about the day -- sans any technology! After a moment of awkwardness, they'll love having you to themselves to chat with. Just let them take the lead and be open to where the conversation goes.
12. Spend an hour with a hobby you "never have time for," or try a new one. I recently learned Ukulele and it's one of the best unplugged moments of my day!
13. Take in a concert or show. Some of my favorite venues are the local ones and many are at restaruants. You can grab a loved one, eat and enjoy some live music or a show after. Without the distraction of the plug, the experience is so incredible.
14. Visit a museum in your area. Perhaps there's an exhibit you've wanted to see or a museum you never get to.
15. Find a lecture or talk on something new and different. So many museums, centers and adult ed areas have experts giving talks on all sorts of topics -- it can be fun to just go to one once in a while and expand our circle of ideas.
If you want to download these ideas, click here.
Use next week to remind you and your family that the real fun stuff in life is offline. Once you get a flavor of unplugged life again, I guarantee you'll want to make sure you sample it often.