Imagine the perfect holiday scene: the fireplace is crackling with fresh logs, the tree is glittering with lights and all the children are giggling happily while baking cookies together in the kitchen. Or does it look something more like this? Your teenager is Snapchatting with her friends, the little ones are watching a movie and you’re texting your other half to pick up some frozen cookie dough. We all have our idea of the perfect holiday, but often real life and technology gets in the way. This holiday season, why don’t you try our five favorite tips for limiting tech and five ways to replace that with more quality time?
Set the Example
We cannot expect our kids to go tech-free when they’re on break from school if we’re not willing to do the same. Make a conscious effort to show your kids what it’s like to interact and spend time with family without a phone in hand.
Tech Free Weekends
We won’t ask you to give up your phone for the entire month of December, but what about on the weekends or in the evenings when together as a family? Call a family meeting, talk about the benefits of going tech-free during certain hours and agree on a rule for the month.
Put the Phones in Time-Out
If your phone is anywhere near you it will be too tempting to use it. Place it out of reach and eyesight and turn the ringer off. Some families like to have a box that everyone drops their tech devices in when it’s time to be together as a family. It’s a physical reminder to disconnect from the outer world and focus on each other.
Turn off the TV
We’re all for watching holiday-themed movies as a family. But having the TV on in the background throughout the day or during family gatherings is a distraction that can limit positive family interaction. Unless the TV watching is intentional, make a point to leave it off.
Take a Social Media Fast
We left the hardest one for the last: take a break from social media, whether for a weekend or for the whole month, to focus on family and the reason for the season. We absolutely understand the allure of social media but it also can be a big time waste.
So now what do you do as a family without phones or television? We’re going to suggest a few of our favorite ways to enjoy the holidays without technology. Maybe one will become a new family tradition!
Read Holiday Books Together
Pick out a few classics from the library and collect your kids’ favorites from years past. Read them together in the evenings as you snuggle together and unwind from the day. Use this time to connect, to share stories about your own childhood and plan your holiday celebrations.
Gather your closest friends and family and spend an evening baking together or making homemade hot chocolate. Or let your children pick out their favorite recipes and cook a holiday family meal together. It doesn’t have to be fancy to become a special tradition.
Look at Christmas Lights
Hop in the car together and drive around the city looking at Christmas lights. Listen to the holiday radio station, bring mugs of hot chocolate or spiced apple cider and enjoy the simple pleasure of admiring others’ light displays.
Serve Together as a Family
Find a non-profit organization that resonates with your family and offer to serve together. This is a good way to connect as a family by connecting with others. Or choose another family you know and surprise them with baked goods, dinner or free babysitting. Take the focus off receiving during the holidays and teach your kids to give with an open and joyful heart.
Family Game Night
Dig out your board games and a few decks of cards and have an old-fashioned game night. Learn a new game together, make festive drinks and tell stories as you take turns rolling the dice. Let the littlest ones make up a game and the rules and see how long the adults can actually follow them. Be silly with one another and enjoy having a simple night at home together.
Use technology less during this holiday season and truly be present with one another. Don’t let this season pass in a blur but be intentional with your time together. It’s the greatest gift you can give one another.
Kate Saffle and Melissa Risenhoover, two best friends who met as neighbors in Oklahoma City’s Belle Isle neighborhood, share a passion for guiding families toward stress-free parenting through simplifying. They host the Cohesive Home Podcast as well as offer resources for crafting a happier, values-driven home. Find out more on their website and connect on Instagram @cohesive_home.