This weekend just gone, Sara and I were lucky enough to be invited to spend a weekend with her family in a delightful cottage in Studland, Dorset. Not only were we surrounded by the beautiful Dorset coastline for a long weekend, Robert and Freddie got to spend some time with their cousins in a very child-friendly setting.
As I have taken the entire half term off work, the topic of how much I should ‘switch off’ from the office has been a regular one in the weeks running-up to my time off. But as this visit was during the weekend, that shouldn’t (theoretically) be an issue, right?
Well, aside from Friday (I had taken the day off to pack and make the journey down to Dorset) that was definitely true. So when Sara challenged me to spend the weekend ‘off grid’, with no phone, email or the like, I have to admit I felt a little nervous. But, never one to turn down a good challenge, I accepted.
And as you can tell by the fact that I’m writing this blog, I survived – in fact, I relished it!
Not only did getting untethered from the digital world give me a feeling of freedom, it naturally meant I spent all that attention I was devoting to my phone on other things – including the children of course. I didn’t have to check my emails 5 times each day, I didn’t check-in to all the interesting places we visited, I didn’t keep up with the news (though I did read a newspaper – who knew THOSE still existed, eh!?) and I didn’t tweet or instragram any pictures.
The secondary benefit to being free of my phone was that it also managed to free Robert up from the pull of the electronic world. For several weeks now, Robert has been spending more and more time enjoying ‘screen time’ – either through the Cbeebies website on our PC or playing a variety of fun/educational games on both of our phones. As you’ll know if you’ve read my previous musings on the subject (“The Trials and Tribulations of Toddlers and Technology“), I’m not really against kids using technology – it is, after all, going to permeate every part of their lives – but on occasions like this (a holiday in the countryside, with other children) we really didn’t want him sat on a sofa staring at a screen when he could be running around having fun. And sure enough, my digital untethering had precisely that effect.
So could I do it for longer? I like to think I could, yes – though it’s very easy to say that. My brother recently did this for a week (and promised to write a post about his experience… I’m still waiting!) and raved about it – and I suspect that being in another country would certainly help. I don’t know if I could do it during a week at home, but I think I could give it a good try.
I’d be very interested to hear from any of you if you’ve also tried this – or perhaps you’re better than me, and you switch the digital world off the moment you arrive home in the evening? Or maybe you’ve done a fancy ‘digital detox’ holiday? Whatever the way, let me know – I hope I’m not alone!