How often these days do you unplug? We mean unplug from your electronic devices and just talk, or play, or spend quiet time the old-fashioned way. It’s not easy, even for baby boomers who grew up without the immediacy of cellphones and iPads. And our kids, let alone our grandkids? That’s a real challenge! Waynesville, North Carolina writer Carol Viau has found one way to pull it off. One way to unplug, unwind, and breathe.
Everyone seems addicted these days to their personal electronic devices.
Take a look at people on the street — adults, teens, and children are looking down at their phones.
Okay. So maybe they are playing Pokémon GO. But it’s a common sight to see people dining out with their cell phones sitting on the restaurant table. Even at family gatherings, children and teenagers are glued to the cell phone — not engaged in conversation, just transfixed with whatever is happening in texts or online.
We ought to try to disconnect — for just a while — and see if we can lose some stress and strengthen the family bond by talking with each another.
If you feel you can’t, try going someplace in nature where there isn’t great cell phone coverage. See what happens when you decompress from your busy life.
My husband’s and my own teenaged grandkids are prime examples of kids glued to their cell phones. During a recent visit, we took them to a place called the Cataloochee Guest Ranch above Maggie Valley, North Carolina. We weren’t sure how they would cope without cell phones.
Cell phone coverage there is limited, and when first-time guests arrive for a stay, general manager Mary Coker sees that they’re “a little nervous” about filling time and finding activities.
“If it’s their first time at the ranch, it takes them about 12 hours to disconnect,” Coker says. “They arrive exhausted, tense, and maybe wound up tight. Then they go to their cabin with a glass of wine and start to decompress.”
She sees the biggest transformation with families and children. The limited cell coverage helps families connect with each other.
“Family life is crazy,” Coker says. “It’s up to the parents or grandparents to set the ‘no electronics’ rule. At first the kids grimace, but if the parents can hold strong and get the kids to leave the electronics, it doesn’t take long for the for the kids to move on to other things.”
And what are children and families to do without electronics? Boomers will remember that back in the day, we used our imaginations and we played outdoors.
The same is true at the ranch, where children go exploring and use their imaginations. Children can build forts, go fishing, watch frogs and ducks in the pond, play horseshoes, ping pong, corn hole, and volleyball.
Then there are the family-style meals, which encourage real conversation. There is no doubt the family bond gets strengthened when people put down the cell phone and communicate with each other.
Renewed family bonding is a wonderful sight, like seeing a grandfather and grandchild playing chess or checkers on an old wooden chess board. This is the stuff memories are made of.
Try disconnecting for a while. Your mind deserves some downtime.