On a Saturday I woke up and did my morning meditation. My intention for the day was to become more patient with my family. My girls were in the kitchen making pancakes. You can probably guess the ending to this “happy” story.
I do encourage my 8 and 5-year-olds to cook, but my hubby was on duty. He’s basically just there to make sure the kitchen doesn’t catch on fire. Once I saw what was going on, I lost it, and the barking started. I went mad over the pancake batter. There were drippings on the stove, drippings on the floor, and I found some drippings in their hair. At this point, no meditation app could calm me down. The contrast between my intention and reality was so great that I realized, I’m human, and sometimes I will crack.

After freaking out and wasting even more time cleaning up, we were rushed and late for the
opening act of the School of Rock. A friend of mine had even arranged for our group of girls to meet the lead actor (Andrew Kober) after the show. Something that was planned to be special became quite flawed. The pancake mess is an easy scapegoat, but the reality was that I had wasted valuable time browsing Facebook after my morning meditation when I should have been mindful of the time.
My daughters with Andrew Kober from School Of Rock 

As we drove to the show I realized that I had left my cell phone at home, and we weren’t going back for two days. Time was of the essence, there was no chance of retrieving it. But what seemed to be a complete nightmare at the time became a blessing in disguise. I’ve become very accustomed to using my cell phone every free (or not free) minute of the day. I didn’t know how to function without it, I had become a cellphone-aholic. Being forced into a Digital Detox was the perfect breakup.

The benefits of a Digital Detox are wonderful. It clears the mind of chatter, you become more present and more able to connect freely with the ones that matter the most, those little monsters we call children.

A Clear Mind
Putting your electronics away will allow you to distract your mind from the stress of current events, free you from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and cut off the social media propaganda. We are currently dealing with one of the worst flu seasons in decades, and everyone knows it and talks about it. My mother insists that my children wash their hands twice and that we should all get the flu shot, twice. Just kidding, sort of. However, she is passionate, and her intensity level has increased to the max based on what she sees and hears online and from the media. This doesn’t mean we don’t remain vigilant, wash our hands, eat healthy food, sleep 8 hours a day, and perhaps get the flu shot, if that’s your cup of tea. Luckily we haven’t experienced any flu-like symptoms yet (knock on wood) but I’m staying far away from all the jibber jabber. Do you believe in mind over matter? The more time we spend on technology and feeding our souls with glorified and dramatic news, the more we become the victim of unnecessary fear and negativity. Don’t play the victim card.

A Present Mind
My phone beeps, buzzes, or vibrates for every text or notification. It’s my indicator that someone is trying to get a hold of me or that there’s an update. Instead of finishing what I’m currently doing, I immediately stop and check my phone. For some people, multi-tasking is an excellent resume buzzword. However, I find myself not giving 100% focus to the present moment. Putting my phone down allows me to have the full experience. During homework time with my children, you’ll find me busy looking at my phone and casually checking over their work. My youngest is in Kindergarten, and I have made tons of mistakes when helping or correcting her math worksheet. I’m thoroughly embarrassed; how do I tell my 5-year-old daughter “Sorry kid, but Mommy was busy on Instagram.” Or do I keep quiet and let them think I’m not equipped to handle a 5-year-old’s math worksheet? Either way, I need to do better. How do I know I make mistakes? Because my geeky husband keeps us in check (gosh I’m so lucky).

A Connected Mind
During my Digital Detox weekend I had more time to communicate with my family. We agreed on a no-technology rule, so instead we spent time playing indoor tennis, building forts, cooking, and going out for dessert. We were able to connect and talk freely without interruption. Less fighting occurred, and I noticed less annoyance from my girls. They were exhausted from all the family time and went to bed early. Date night was in order, and my husband and I were up for it. It was terrific, especially because we don’t have a babysitter in NYC yet. At the restaurant I realized that when people are out together, they are technically out with their cell phones. Five minutes of conversation and fifty minutes of Facebook, and maybe a quick selfie. Date night or going out with friends is an opportunity to connect, listen and enjoy each other’s company. And maybe, if you’re on a date, you can steal a kiss or two. I’m challenging myself to connect more by putting my phone away.

My 2018 Digital Detox Plan:
1. Every night, I place my cell phone away from my bed. I put it on silent after 8:30.
2. Every Sunday after 5 pm(ish), I turn off any electronics for the family.
3. The last weekend of the month, I put my cell phone in airplane mode and try to only turn it on for emergencies. I don’t completely take away all electronics though. I might write for an hour or check email before bed.

I now long for my Digital Detox. I find it liberating, and it gives me a chance to reboot, clear my mind, be more present and feel the energy of human connections. Give it a try. I know for many, it’s not possible to be away for many hours or even days, but start with baby steps. Do what seems comfortable, and if you like how it feels, continue to expand your detox. I’m hoping this will become a habit of mine and soon I will no longer be labeled as a cellphone-aholic.

Originally published at www.raising2hapagirls.com


  • Melanie Dungo Barrows

    Children's author, blogger, former elementary school teacher, and co-founder of Pop The Bubble 2020

    Melanie Dungo Barrows is the mother of two hapa (mixed) girls, one ageless beta fish, and a teddy bear puppy. She recently published a children's book, "Roja Steals The Show" and writes and speaks on how to encourage creativity, gain mindfulness, and spread kindness. She's a co-founder of Pop The Bubble, an organization that empowers children through education, empathy, and action, building the foundation for an inclusive and compassionate youth community.  Follow her on Instagram @melaniedb.28 and to read more, visit: www.raising2hapagirls.com