If you’re looking for a way to really test your kids’ creative mettle, I have the project for you.
Recently, I read about something called “National Day of Unplugging.” It’s described as a 24-hour global respite from technology. The premise is that by disconnecting from all of the digital devices in our lives for a single day, we can reconnect with ourselves, our loved ones and the world around us. Televisions, tablets, phones, computers and gaming systems all get powered down from sundown one day to sundown the next.
The concept intrigued me, but it was only a whisper of a thought until I made the suggestion to the kids at dinner one night. That resulted in my son, Declan, storming out of the room in protest.
When did we get so dependent on our screens that even the mention of a single day without them ends in tears? By the way, I tried to explain that we’d be asleep for 10 of those 24 hours anyway. It was his knee-jerk refusal to even entertain the conversation about going tech-free that told me this was something that needed to be done.
My 7-year-old daughter said she was game, but I thought maybe it had less to do with actually wanting to try a day without technology and more about showing up her brother’s negative reaction.
In the end, Declan never actually agreed, but with a swift vote of 3 to 1, the motion carried for the family to make a go at unplugging.
I’m not going to lie — I was a little nervous going into it. This was an idea I sold as something “fun” to try. I made promises of playing board games in front of the fire, baking brownies and making crafts, but 14 hours is a lot of awake time to fill.
We started off at 5:40 p.m. on a Saturday. We ordered pizza and ate it in front of the fire during our first marathon session of the board game “Clue.” We read stories, ate dessert and made it off to bed without any complaints.
The next morning, we went out to brunch, shopped for new sneakers for the kids, picked up more firewood and came home to bake brownies and make a ridiculous number of Popsicle stick God’s Eye crafts. We played more “Clue,” the kids practiced their instruments and read books.
Then, before we noticed it, sundown on Sunday rolled around and the kids had actually forgotten about turning on the TV.
Eventually, the screens starting lighting up around the house and we all scattered into our separate digital worlds. But for one day we had fun with no mention of boredom — and it was all without a single electronic device. It got me thinking, “Maybe we don’t have to wait a whole year to try another tech ‘fast.’ ”
I’m not crazy enough to think we could pull this off every week, but maybe when it seems like we are all getting a little too caught up with our screens again, we can give it another go.
Molly Cavanaugh of Channel 94.1 FM’s “Big Party Show” in Omaha is a mom to two children living in Chicago. She writes weekly for Momaha.com.