I wake up in the morning to the ping-ping of my iPhone's alarm, and first thing I do before even getting out of bed to start the family's day is to quickly check in on a few apps for my work and play. What happened in all of those other exotic time zones while I was asleep... did they post and like and friend and swipe without me?
It's so easy to point fingers at the kids for being super-glued and addicted to apps and screens and video games. Alas, with a bit of a saggy-tail, I turn my own wagging finger right back around on myself. I'm as bad as they are. If not worse!
So a weekend without apps is a challenge not only for the generation that grew up on these things, but also for their finger wagging parents like me, who need to practice a little more of what I preach.
Needless to say, I have a strategy in my head of one way to manage this dire situation of needing to turn our apps off occasionally. This weekend we set our personal devices to "Airplane Mode" and we, literally, get ready for take off.
Take off into the Outdoors, that is -- the ultimate and original, interactive app, courtesy of Mother Nature.
I get the kids involved in the project of putting together a camping trip to a local, state park. It's a monumental task. And it's the perfect prescription to wean us and our busy fingers from the personal devices we all fiddle with every second.
So we pull out bins of gear that need to be sorted and re-organized and possibly replaced after last year's unwieldy, final camping trip of the season. We make the most awesome, kid friendly, camping grocery list for the local supermarket and I let the kids meal-plan this year. The list consists mainly of marshmallows, hot chocolate, Ramen noodles, more chocolate, and did I mention chocolate?
We throw it all into The Beast, our giant, family-truckster, and off we head to the mountains.
As John Burroughs, an oft-quoted naturalist and essayist from the 1800s put it, "I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more."
Little did he know how apt his work would be in expressing exactly what my family needs to do occasionally: pry the screens and apps and videos out of our tech-greedy hands and get back to nature. Let the power of nature and the outdoors do its magic in recalibrating and helping us find an equilibrium within ourselves as individuals and as a family unit.
This gives our thumbs and over-stimulated minds a break and allows us to tune back into the parts of ourselves that gets lost in the fast-paced, app-based world.
So at the campfire that weekend, around the two tents we'd pitched in a misty forest made up of giant trees in California's great ecosystem, we "tuned out" to apps and "tuned in" to our senses and our family.
And it was one of the best weekends of the year. Chocolate included.
*Photos courtesy Annie Yearout
The Secret to Having an App-Free Weekend
By Annie Yearout
May 23, 2016
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