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Happy Family Habit #3: Go Unplugged for a bit everyday - part of a series on how to become a happier family 21 days at a time.

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:

Silence Your iPhone with Do Not Disturb and iOS 6's New Phone Features

  • 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.

What do you say?  For the next 21 days can you find time to put the phone down each day?

Who knows, by the end of the 3 weeks the all mighty smart phone may not have such a pull on us. It might even be like when we were kids – if we were out of the house when someone was trying to reach us… they just called back later.  Remember that?!

P.S. Speaking of happy families – if you’d like to try MPMK’s Continuing Ed featured course: “Raising Happiness” from Dr. Christine Carter of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, you can register here and use the code MPMK10 for 10% off any of the 1 month modules (use code Messy10 for 10% off the full 32 week course).

Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 5.16.20 PM

You can also view our MPMK Continuing Ed Course Catalog which contains our full review of the Raising Happiness courses, as well as info. on all of MPMK’s preferred courses for nutrition, parenting, finances, and more.



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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim @ The Educators' Spin On It May 9, 2013 at 1:45 am

Thank you so much for sharing these tips about our phones, it’s a new distraction that many of us love but at the same time are learning how to balance it’s convenience to the digital world. I’d love for you to share this on our Screen Free Activities and Resources Link up. I just pinned on our Screen Free Board too. http://theeducatorsspinonit.blogspot.com/2013/04/screen-free-week-activities-and.html


gina May 9, 2013 at 10:28 am

Can you send this to my Husband?? He is ALWAYS on his phone – drives me batty!!


Julia Deering May 10, 2013 at 7:18 am

Great idea. We get terrible cell (mobile) phone signal in our house – which I’m constantly moaning about; missed texts, invitations to things, not knowing about calls till much later – but it does mean that I get time disconnected from that particular piece of technology at home. But I definitely need to be stronger with my PC. My default position is at the table at my computer. You’ve inspired me to try stepping away from that more. Thank you.


Kamelia Johnson May 12, 2013 at 7:48 am

You’ve inspired me too. I really need to do this. I have always thought about unplugging at a particular time each night, rather than going to bed with my technology by my side…;-)


Faigie May 13, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Both my husband and myself refuse to get smart phones. Theres not too many of us left but we have the regular old phones that just have texting on it.No internet either. We spend enough time on or PC’s to do what we have to when we are there


Carrie August 4, 2013 at 5:25 am

Love all of your ideas, thanks for sharing! I just recently started doing this a few weeks ago. I grabbed one of the baskets from the garage and hung a label on it reading “Dead Time”. I got the Dead time idea ironically from the PRS show on TV…haha
At random periods through out the day I call out Dead Time, the kids know to power everything off including remotes, phones, and tabs. Then they put all of it into the basket, and the basket goes into my room to which I shut the door. I find that out of sight out of mind works in getting my kids to enjoy whatever activity or idea I have planned for them!


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