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Disconnect to Reconnect

disconnect to reconnectI love technology!  I’ve been active on Facebook for many years (you can follow me there) and love using Twitter @TheFirmforGood to share my views on education, schools, living a balanced life and parenting.

I’ve been fascinated by computers since I first learned how to use Logo back in the early ’80s at my elementary school in Chicago.  I’m naturally a very curious person so I find the information available on the internet on an infinite number of subjects totally captivating!  When I was in Teach for America, I volunteered to serve as my school’s Technology Coordinator because I was shocked to learn that most classrooms did not have working computers and that the internet in our school’s main office was frequently out of service, a particular challenge given that attendance and other important school and academic records were required to be sent electronically.

All this is a long preamble to say that although I am never far from my iPhone or laptop, I do encourage technology breaks!  Two of the best books I’ve read on the subject are Coop:  A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting by Michael Perry and Better Off:  Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende.  While I don’t forsee my husband, Chris, and I moving to a rural community or living without technology, I do see the value in disconnecting from technology, even for limited periods of the day, in order to reconnect with each other and our children.

I’m an extrovert and love sharing pictures, my writing and interesting things I see with my friends on Facebook, Twitter and here on this blog.  But, in the last week, I’ve purposely chosen not to blog and to instead focus on the book I am writing.  Instead of writing an entry each day or every few days as has been my custom since beginning this blogging journey a few short months ago, I’ve used that time to go on 3 runs and two long walks in the hills near my house.  I brought a book with me to lunch and instead of logging on to check Facebook or Twitter, I sat and read for 30 minutes while eating.  It felt great!

Simply put, I’m trying to find a balance between spending time online and time in the real world.  I want our daughters to see their mom’s eyes look straight into theirs without a cell phone in hand. My intention is to live in the moment and to be fully present.  I want our daughters to know that they are worthy of my full attention.

I was struck the other day when I was walking our younger daughter into preschool by an image of another mom walking her child into school.  She was on the phone and clearly deep in a conversation with someone on the other line.  Her child was grasping for her hand and kept alternating between reaching for her hand and pulling on her sweater.  I’m not judging this parent because I know I have done the same.  Who hasn’t? But, in general, I’m vowing to try not to answer my cell phone when I’m with my kids.  Whatever it is can wait.  Our daughters are in school for 5- 6 1/2 hours a day and in the afternoons and evenings when we’re together, I want to be present.  Our daughters are 5 and 7 and I know from my experience as an educator that these years of being the center of our kids’ universe are fleeting.  I know that sooner than I can even realize, our little girls will be teenagers and not interested in opening up and sharing in the way that they are now.

I encourage you to think about small ways you can turn off technology, even for limited periods of the day like breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Consider putting your phone or laptop in another room so you aren’t tempted to check the latest sports score, email or status update.  If you’re able, try going several hours or even a day without being online.  If your work requires you to be available Monday through Friday, try disconnecting on Saturday or Sunday.  It’s freeing and I promise you will come back online with a calmer, happier spirit!

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