Hi, Matthias Brendler here, transdisciplinary designer blogging what's interesting or significant relating to: Design, Education, Culture, Technology and Business (as well as anything that's really cool).

PARENTING: Happy Family Habit #3: Go Unplugged Every Day

Wow – hard to believe we’re already on Happy Family Habit #3!  So far we’re sharing our stories more and working on our gratitude.  What’s next?  Mini doses of mindfulness each and every day.

This time around I’m challenging you/me/us to try to find just a few minutes each day to step away from the phone/computer/tablet and pay 100% of our attention to the moment.  Notice, I said “to the moment”, and not, “to the kids”.

While I certainly think it’s a great idea to spend a lot of this time connecting with the kids – it’s also OK to spend some of it doing things you really love but never make time for; reading a book (even if it’s only a chapter), taking a long bath, or just sitting on the porch with a cup of Jo.

Don’t feel guilty about doing nothing – you’re setting an example for your kids and showing them it’s important to unplug and power down for a bit each day.

One of my favorite tips for success is to turn off your phone instead of trying to ignore it.  If that sounds a bit stressful to you (raising my hand), then you’re probably someone who could MOST benefit from doing so – even if only for 20 minutes a day.

Ironically, today’s technology actually has some great features to help you unplug.  Familiar with the iphone’s “Do Not Disturb” function?  Just go to “settings” and slide it to “on”.  (You can read a lot more about it here.)  Two very cool features that I love are:

  • If you’re not cool with being completely out of touch (maybe your child’s at school and you want to be reached in case of an emergency),you can create a VIP list of people who won’t be blocked by the setting.  And you can set it up so that anyone calling more than once within three minutes (meaning, it’s likely urgent) can get through.
  • To help you get into this habit you can actually program the Do Not Disturb setting to kick in at the same time everyday until you are.

Another way to make it easier to turn you phone off more often is to make a habit of catching up on texts/voicemails/emails at the same time each day.  If you know you’ll be getting back to people once the kids are in bed each night, keeping up with all the messages while you’re out at the park won’t seem so necessary.

One last note – as you get better at turning off your tech, try to get in the habit of doing it whenever you’re spending time with the kids.  I know I said this habit isn’t specifically about kid time, but eliminating your phone as a distraction makes succeeding at regular quality time with them so much easier.