From Left to Write: A Family Unplugged

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…

So I was reading Arianna Huffington’s Thrive and, mean as it sounds, her advice to unplug and sleep more made me laugh. I mean, come on now — we live in an age where everyone’s smartphones are practically glued to their hands, and I can probably count on two hands the number of times Joshua has slept through the night since New Year’s Day. There’s no way I can do either of these things…right?

And then our cable and internet went out.

AND, not OR.

Joshua’s favorite show (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) is on Netflix, and it keeps him occupied while I’m putting away my mini-Mount Everest of laundry every few days. Watching Scorpion or Scandal helps me to unwind after a long day. I spend a lot of time checking email and social media, even if I don’t have something to contribute. These things are part of our daily routine.

Now take all of them away. What’s left? A cranky kid who just wants to sing the “everyone is big enough, big enough to do something!” song for the 8,372nd time this week and one suddenly very frustrated mama who can’t make anyone happy. Having the cable go out or losing a connection on the router can suck big time, but being a stay-at-home parent who loses both of those things at once can spell total disaster. However, it also forced me to get creative with finding ways to keep Joshua busy. He started telling more diverse stories with his beloved cars and planes than ever before, and he also wanted to spend a lot more time snuggling with me. We read stories and took selfies, cooked together and played with his train table. At some point during the week, Joshua even mastered riding a tricycle!

So here’s what I learned during the dreaded Week of No Signal:

1. We rely way too much on our technology. Of course, internet access is necessary for things like email and website maintenance, but we definitely reduced our TV time that week. (We couldn’t even watch basic channels — it was an issue with the wiring, and a cable had to be replaced and buried underground.) I still charged my phone on my nightstand every night, because I prefer keeping it close in case there’s an emergency overnight.

2. Even without the technology, Joshua didn’t want to nap. And if he wasn’t napping, I wasn’t, either.

3. But without the technology, he got more creative. He started doing some really interesting things with his toys, books, and art supplies. He proved that week that technology can definitely stifle children’s creativity.

4. Spring can’t come fast enough! I tend to keep my phone hidden away in my pocket when we’re on the playground, walking around the neighborhood, or at Grandma and Pop Pop’s backyard pool, because Joshua tends to run and getting hooked on Facebook or email provides the perfect opportunity to lose track of him. That said, there’s a lot more room to run around, climb, play, and burn energy outside than there is inside our little house. The sooner the weather stays sunny and warm, the better!

So now it’s your turn to tell me about your experiences! Have you ever tried unplugging for a week? How did it go?

This post was inspired by Thrive by Arianna Huffington, who challenges women to unplug and sleep more to create a balanced life. Join From Left to Write on March 19th as we discuss Thrive. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

  • The good thing is that you survived! I’d go crazy since most of my work–ok, all–requires internet.

  • Tanya M

    A week of no signal is tough and glad that’s behind you. I rely too much on technology for myself. Blogging keeps me sane and is my me time. We keep the TV off most of the day but about 4 o’clock when big kids get home and need quiet to do homework, the littlest gets to watch PBS in his room (and I need the peace and quiet too)!

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  • And go crazy, I did…..but it’s over now. I need an “I Survived Being Unplugged” t-shirt!

  • I tend to feel like I’m going a little crazy without the background noise, but Joshua mainly listens to the music without actually watching the show most of the time. (Unless it’s Daniel Tiger, then all hope is lost. lol) I just hope something doesn’t go wrong with our wiring and makes this happen again!