The quintessential mother is expected to be grateful for any gift she receives from her children on Mother’s Day, and not hope for anything more. But Boss Moms know better! We’re not talking about material expectations here. We’re talking about the family being together in one place, both physically and mentally, and not in virtual social media feeds - a day to disconnect so that you can reconnect. This Mother’s Day, give yourself the perfect gift - a family-wide technology fast!
You could be doing the technology fast any day. Why are we suggesting Mother’s Day? One, your children feel obligated to listen to you (go on, guilt trip them into doing it *wink wink*) and two, you deserve it - a day full of unadulterated fun, just like in the pre-technology days!
Here are a few things you can keep in mind to stay on track during the fast.
1. Find the purpose of the fast
Anything without a purpose is naturally something to which people are less committed. This makes it crucial for your family to establish the purpose of the fast. Sure, it’s Mother’s Day and you have managed to get your family to agree to a tech fast but it also helps if your family collectively reflects on the true purpose of the fast - to get out of the virtual rut and enjoy the real world for a change, together. To ensure that you stay accountable for the whole exercise, you could get a family friend involved. Talk to him/her about the purpose of the fast and ask them to remind you of the goal when the fast gets hard (which it will).
2. Engage, don’t isolate
Once again, going back to the purpose of the fast, it is important to remember that the fast is not to punish your family but to engage and bond with them. With children being constantly hooked to their smartphones, parents are increasingly feeling a disconnect with their young ones. A technology fast is the most direct and effective way to deal with the communication gap. You can also use this as an opportunity to show them how much fun your childhood was!
We never had the temptations of the virtual world and, yet, we seemed to have enjoyed our childhood better than our children are now enjoying theirs. Get them involved in board games, physical sports, stargazing and the several other things you were passionately involved in when you were young. If all goes well, your children might even eagerly look forward to the next technology fast!
3. Define the fast
Now that the purpose of the fast has been established, the next thing is to conclusively decide what you are going to fast from. For your family, what does technology encompass? Smartphones, iPads, Kindles, smart toys, even TVs - there are so many devices vying for your family’s attention. Which of these are strict no-nos and which ones get a pass? We suggest that you take a comprehensive fast and refrain from using any form of technology at all. However, if you anticipate resistance from your children, try an incremental approach instead. A gradual procedure could help ease the process.
4. Observe the effects of the fast
Do you see yourself reaching for your phone? How often do you do it? How are your children holding up? Does the fast affect their eating and sleeping habits? These are a few parameters you can observe to monitor the results of the fast. If you observe any adverse reactions from your children, it is time to look further and understand if there is a deeper issue at work. Depending on what you observe, you might have to take up the issue with a pediatrician or a child therapist.
This point of concern might make the fast seem less like a “gift” and more like a form of exercise or diet. But moms are never really off-duty, are we? Enjoy your technology fast and its attendant togetherness, but, at the same time, keep an eye out for issues that could affect your children’s physical and mental growth in the long term.
Moms, keep these points in mind for a successful and happy technology fast. If you are looking for more information about fasting from technology and its benefits, read more here. Understand also that there is no one right way to do a technology fast. Know your own limitations and the limitations of your family members to pull this off. Work on methods that work for everyone, without taking anyone’s feelings for granted.
Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Mother’s Day!
Writing credit: Authored by Anitha, a mother of two children with interests in EdTech and a strong advocate for Digital Citizenship.
Keep in touch with the latest on parenting, technology, and education. Subscribe to the Mobicip newsletter. Learn more at www.mobicip.com.