With spring break approaching you’re going to see a bunch of expert blog posts about how we all should put down our phones and take in the views around us. Don’t worry; this isn’t one of those posts.
Smartphones have become a necessity, and there is no denying that they are convenient. They keep us connected to family, friends, our jobs and keep us up to date about what’s happening in and around our world. Our phones also tie us to those things with an invisible string that can seem impossible to escape.
Which brings me to my point: Every other generation of parenthood could completely disconnect. Think about that. Vacations used to mean detachment from everyday stressors (even those stressors we adore, like our children.)
This thought came to me before taking a very, very rare trip alone with my husband. I was struck by how parents of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, could go to a resort (or a hotel or out to dinner) and that was it. If there was a problem, the children’s caretaker, their friends, their work would have to call the resort (or hotel or restaurant.) There was a clear and logical, albeit temporary, break. There was no instant access, there was no, “pics or it didn’t happen” and, no pressure to show off how much fun you were having. Rest and relaxation didn’t come with proof of concept.
As my husband and I were prepping and packing for our first vacation sans kids, the first time we were going to be away from our kids in a meaningful way, we realized that we were both at capacity with work, and tapped out emotionally with the day in and day out stress of running a two-career household with busy kids. So, before the trip, we made a pact to put the phones away.
I have “above average” anxiety about the health and wellness of my kids, so this wasn’t a no brainer, and it wasn’t something I took lightly, but I’m so glad we committed to a phone fee vacation. Here are my very, nonscientific tips for giving your phone a vacation whether or not you have any intention of paying attention to the world around you:
1. Pick one phone to stay charged
If you’re traveling with a partner or friend, pick one phone to be charged. I’ll be honest with you, I let my phone die. The battery was gone, and it sat in a safe for seven days. Because I’m on my phone so much for work, and because I manage social media accounts, I literally cannot check my facebook without also checking my clients. It’s like going down a rabbit hole every time. My husband, who has more self-control than I do, left his charged, but also in the safe.
2. Schedule “proof of life” calls.
We scheduled two specific times to touch base with our kids, mainly to ensure they were breathing, fed and in general not making my mother-in-law lose her mind. Spoiler alert: everyone was fine! Other than that, we were offline.
3. Quit caring about creating a social media worthy vacation.
I can’t tell you how freeing it was to get up every day and not worry about what I was going to look like in pictures. We got our cameras out the last night, took a couple of shots together and that was it. I have one sweet shot, and it was all I needed.
4. Enjoy a string-free break.
In this age of information overload, logging off for seven days completely reset my brain and helped me enjoy R&R without having any idea stressing about what was happening at home. I felt completely unconnected from technology for the first time in years. Whether or not I paid more attention to nature, is questionable, but I can tell you I felt entirely connected to my husband and as relaxed as I’ve been since having kids, or a phone, or a job. In fact, I was sad to turn on my phone again.
In addition to being a START parent, K.C. O’Rourke is a Marketing/PR Consultant, wrangling two kids, one husband, a four-legged baby and a career, one carpool/press release at a time.