Love the One You’re With: The Case for Unplugging

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Image via Galit Breen

They’re overlapped in front of me. Arms and legs and shoulders and even hair puzzle-pieced together. I snuggle in a little tighter — both next to them and beneath my covers. The light of their movie a background to the light of my laptop.

“Watch with us!” Brody says, his tiny fingers cover mine and do exactly what they’re meant to: Give me pause. I look into his hazel eyes, mirror images of my own. They’re hiding behind shaggy, still shockingly blond-ish hair that desperately needs to be cut (who knew boys need their hair cut so often?). His body is heavy against mine, a warm reminder of where I am and how I’m choosing to be here.

But I have to admit: I’m torn.

Fourteen years ago I packed everything I owned (actually Jason flew out to California and packed everything I owned. Tomatoes-Tomahtoes) into a U-haul that I had to crane my neck to the open sky to see the tippy-top of. And on a warm Sunday night beneath that same open sky I danced at a wedding with my future husband. Just a few short hours after leaving that dance floor, I hugged my mom goodbye and drove the airport, my head resting on that future husband's shoulder much in the same way that our son’s is laying against mine today. 

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I moved away from my friends and family (and it has to be said, year-round sunshine) to Minnesota. My youthful heart was so very sure that being with my soul mate, my One, would soften any and every need that I had for the people who saw me through younger, more awkward times.

Today, most of the time, this is, indeed, the case. We've made a family, and a home, here. But every once in awhile, I crave being close to the people who know how my story began. I’m homesick for my parents who showed me how to love and celebrate and laugh and be. And I’m homesick for the friends whose children could have been second generation friends with mine. 

I understand the gentle nudge to turn off technology and be with those around me, especially during this holiday season when our family’s memories are being threaded and what I want them to remember is my eyes glued to theirs, not to my backlit screen.

Sites like Facebook bring these HeartPeople closer to my side, so I have to admit that it’s true, I am, indeed, looklooklooking online more often these days, and the people who are by my side are noticing.

Dr. Jennifer Howard, psychotherapist and author of the award-winning book, Your Ultimate Life Plan, says, “Unplugging from your technology is so important. People are so busy documenting their life, they’re not living it. They’re so busy talking about what they’re doing that they’re not connected to what is right in front of them and their own thoughts and feelings that are happening in the moment.” 

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And I (humbly, but humanly) know this to be true. I understand the gentle nudge to turn off technology and be with those around me, especially during this holiday season when our family’s memories are being threaded and what I want them to remember is my eyes glued to theirs, not to my backlit screen.

But I won’t pretend that this is easy for me. I want to reach through the computer and bring close the people I’ve been so lucky to love who are spread throughout the world, too far for me to reach, and to share memories with.

But this important reminder is ever-there in Brody's tiny, warm fingers resting on my arm, the weight of his body against mine, the tickle of his too-long hair against my chin. So I take it.

Howard says, “If you are with your friends and family during the holidays, enjoy them and savor the time spent, even when some parts are annoying. Really relating to people gives your life depth and richness. You’re creating your future memories, now. Take the time to connect with those around you, as well as to connect within yourself. Unplug, you’ll be so glad you did.”

Noted.

What do you think?

Love the One You’re With: The Case for Unplugging

Galit Breen is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online. She has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in human development and was a classroom and reading teacher for ten years. In 2009, she launched a career as a freelance writer entrenched in social media. Since then, her work has been featured in various online magazines including Brain, Child, The Huffington Post, TIME, and xoJane. Breen lives in Minnesota with her h ... More

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1 comment

  1. Profile photo of KITTYNOLAND KITTYNOLAND says:

    My husband and I have a rule of no electronic devices at the table. The funny thing is that our son is not even 2 yet and I’m due with our second son in March.We know how much more difficult it will be to have to institute later. Therefore, we are giving it a go now before our children are old enough. I have to admit that I often want to turn on Pandora or look at the email while feeding my son . This is much harder than it may seem. Try it for a week, especially if you have not yet had your baby or another child whom you are caring for. Good luck!

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