Sunday 26th June marks the UK's second National Unplugging Day. Parents across the country will be urged to turn off the tech for 24 hours. The aim of the new awareness day is 'for everyone to come together and release their inner child, break free from technology and re-connect with themselves and those they love'. With the campaign branding itself as a 'digital detox', will you be pledging to #GoGadgetFree?
A recent study surveyed over 2,000 parents and found they spend on average five hours a day firmly attached to their smartphones. The study also confirmed that children who are exposed to similar screen time, which not only negatively impacts on quality interaction with their family but also damages early communication skills necessary to their social development.
As parents, it's hard not to occasionally use the telly as a distraction to allow time for chores, meal prep or just having five minutes 'me time'. Here are some suggestions for taking your family back to basics and embracing a simpler, gadget-free lifestyle (if only briefly):
Be a tourist in your own town: Plan a day of activity with your family exploring the local area. It doesn't have to cost the earth; there will be plenty to do free of charge whether it's parks, museums or nature reserves. Check out the touristy things to do on your doorstep.
When possible, involve the family in household chores: Older kids might enjoy cooking whilst little ones love mimicking their parents. Turn vacuuming into a game or try naming ingredients and utensils as you prepare food together.
Make an activity basket: Fill it with things that you can enjoy together: books, puzzles, and toys or sensory activities such as play-dough. Keep the basket hidden away and bring it out as an alternative to screen time.
Take to the outdoors for a picnic: Great for boredom-busting and bringing the whole family together. Incorporate some tasty food, fresh air and games such as football or Frisbee®. Best of all, fresh air and exercise are both great for promoting a good night's sleep - the Holy Grail of parenting.
Build a fort: There is something about four walls made of pillows or cardboard that kids can't get enough of. Create a secret hideaway to unleash their imagination. Perhaps incorporate a tea party for younger ones or spooky ghost stories after dark for older children.
If the idea of National Unplugging Day appeals to you then, however you choose to spend it, make it fun for the whole family. Take time to connect with your loved ones and be present. Increasingly as a nation, we live our lives in fast-forward, connected by the touch of a button. Perhaps it's time to slow down and appreciate the simplicity of creating your own enjoyment.
Caroline is a mum, writer and mental health practitioner from Hampshire with a particular interest in health and wellbeing and all things parenting.