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Commit to Daily “Unplugged” Time to Boost Distraction-Free Parenting

mom laying on the floor reading a book to her child
fizkes/Shutterstock

We all want to be more present, mindful, and attentive parents. But let’s face it, that’s hard to do with our phones constantly beeping, buzzing, vibrating—always pulling us back in. Add in the lure of entertaining children’s shows and exciting apps, getting our kids to unplug feels impossible, too.

The answer? You just gotta pull the plug. Not all day, but for stretches of time. That means letting all those notifications, emails, and texts wait. Don’t worry. They’ll be there when you’re done with your “unplugged” time.

First, start by figuring out what times of day are best to unplug. Don’t set yourself up for failure. For example, if you’re used to your kids watching TV while you cook dinner, then go ahead and keep that as part of your usual routine. We want you to maintain your sanity (or at least part of it) throughout all of this.

We suggest cutting out technology and screen time during the morning routine, when you’re eating meals together, and during the bedtime routine. Start there, trying to add in a dedicated hour once you get the ball rolling.

Here are a few quick tips for success:

  • Hide your phone: That’s right, physically put your phone in another room. Turn it on silent. Once it’s out of sight, you’ll be less likely to impulsively check it every five minutes.
  • Unplug the TV: Actually reach behind the TV and pull the plug! This little ritual might seem silly, but it will signify that “unplugged” time has begun, pushing your family to find new and creative ways for entertainment.
  • Turn off the Wi-Fi: Unplug your Wi-Fi while you’re at it. This will remind you, and everyone else, this is time to pause and be present.
  • Set the timer: Knowing that “unplugged” time isn’t forever will help you, and your family, get through it! Start with 30 minutes if it seems like a real struggle, eventually working up to a full hour—or even two or three hours.

Unplugging is a great start, but it’s not the only way to parent more mindfully. For more tips and tricks, check out our guide to parenting mindfully by minimizing distractions.

Jill Chafin Jill Chafin
Jill Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »

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