So, how was it to be unplugged? / by Kate Brightbill


Wellll let me tell you!  

The whole unplugged thing came about suddenly, when last Wednesday I realized I'd spent a whole heck of a lot of time staring at my phone/computer/ipad and thinking I was wasting time but not putting the darn things down for a good bit of time. I said, we've got to stop this, cold turkey. Pioneer ourselves all day Thursday. Nothing is coming of me looking at my phone. Am I looking at some awesome DIYs? Yes. Am I reading about really interesting topics? Maybe even healthy things? Yes. Fabulous pictures? Yes. Is it varied? ALSO yes. But is it truly productive? NO. 

It's not. Simple as that. And what IS productive? Being in the moments. Being undistracted. Being present. Being unplugged.  

I'll admit, I thought I'd at least get a clean house out of being unplugged, and I definitely got the opposite there. We made messes. We were a bit more extravagant in playtime because I devoted my whole self to doing the extras. 

Was it hard? Yes and no. It was so simple at 7am, and SO difficult at 10 (10am felt like Tuesdays- not the fresh start of the week, but not anywhere near the end). So simple between noon and 4, so hard near dinnertime when the world is melting for little girls who are on the brink of hunger but not quite there. All in all it was simple. 

It makes life simpler to keep the phone in the other room and only check it when it rings. It makes life simple to not concern myself with what the world is doing and with what they're thinking, or sharing what I'm doing. It made it simple to be inspired. It made writing and crafting simple. It refreshed.

If I'm to be a blogger, I'm not to be unplugged so very much... but there are BETTER ways to do this technology stuff. Discipline is a hard thing to come by when I'm the grown-up and I make my own choices. I have to really make conscious effort to discipline myself because no one else is going to do it for me. So here's how I've decided to adjust the technology consumption and live an unplugged lifestyle, while still somehow being plugged in and productive around here: 

  • Take at least 30 minutes for myself when the girls go to nap and to bed. During the day it allows me to have peaceful quiet times, to pray, to read books, to nap... whatever it is that will refresh me. In the evening: to spend quality time chatting with Brian or just being with him, not distracted. As a mom, I think it's easy to say "ok they went to bed, I have to get everything done and I have to move FAST." Not true. I have to take very intentional breaks, and really enjoy peaceful moments. It will make me a better mom and wife. (Erin Loechner's insight on the subject has stuck with me).

  • Create set times to do social media. Set my alarm for five minutes, three or four times a day. During those times, do all the pinning, sharing, tweeting, whatever... very intentionally- and give the girls boundaries of staying in one place and entertaining themselves until the alarm goes off. I've found I can actually do MORE in those five minutes than I would if I aimlessly picked up my phone to do it throughout the day. The girls are also learning the disciplines of entertaining themselves for short periods of time, which I've found to be incredibly healthy for their imaginations.
  • I only have my personal email on my phone, and I've unsubscribed from most mailing lists (including most notifications! That's a big one- why would I need to be notified whenever I get a repin or tweet or something?), so when my phone dings (not quite so often), I can feel comfortable checking because it isn't constant anymore.

  • Write only during set hours. At night a few times a week, and one hour during naps per day. Also with an alarm set, so there is purpose, rather than distracted writing. 

  • Get up and shower before the girls awaken or shower at nap time. I generally just had the girls watch a Dora or Curious George during my shower, but I want ipad-watching to be the treat, rather than the norm. I disciplined myself by disciplining Sophie to not watch anything for two days after she disobeyed, and it's surprisingly easier than it seems.

We're a work in progress. I think it's important to realize that we use technology for work, social, reading, news, writing, and everything in our modern cultures, and it just adds up so quickly. Practicing the discipline of becoming unplugged is such a good kickstart to balancing the day-to-day better! 

There you have it. The little tidbits I've learned... all from one day of unplugging.