I’ve gone through social media fasts several times and have never once regret it.

I have craved shutting my phone completely down for an extended period of time but have never been given the actual chance because of my job and my kids. I’m thankful that despite the chaos of our temporary life changes, I was finally given the opportunity to shut off my phone for a week.

My kids are out of school, my husband is working from home and I let my friends and family know that if there was an emergency, they could call my husband. The following morning, my powered down phone went into the junk drawer.

I’ll be honest, day one without a phone was pretty frustrating. A couple family members couldn’t quite wrap their brains around me not being at my phone to answer every call. The guilt of not immediately responding weighed heavy that first day. Even then, I went to bed that night with an underlying peace being able to briefly belong only to my husband and my children.

Day two was as equally as heartbreaking as it was amazing. I found out how much of my kids lives I had been missing. Don’t get me wrong, I am always in the same room as them. But dang it, I was looking down more than I ever realized I was.

Sometimes it was to text back my sister, my mom or my friend. Sometimes it was to take another picture, sometimes it was just me mindlessly scrolling because 10 hours a day is a long time to be engaged in the world of a 5-year-old. “Mommy, mommy, mommy” can only be heard so many times. Or so I thought.

By day three, a fundamental shift was taking place. I realized how much I enjoyed being phone less. I enjoyed being fully present in every moment. I enjoyed not scrolling down amazon prime to order things I probably don’t really need. I enjoyed not scrolling down watching your kids, and just playing with mine without something else grabbing my attention.

I enjoyed that the pull to look at my phone was completely gone; the pull to text, to scroll, to answer a call. It vanished within 72 hours and I was, for lack of a better word, free.

The rest of the week felt like the best week of my life. I was patient, happy and fully present. Finding hours in the day always felt so elusive, but all of the sudden, there was time for everything.

There was no news, no beeps. Just me going to bed without a bright screen in my face, waking up and walking outside to breathe in fresh air instead of responding, scrolling or reading. It was freedom in every sense of the word, from a jail cell I didn’t even know I was in.

Now here’s the scary part: I thought I was present already. My dad taught me the invaluable lesson in my adolescent years — to be present in the moment — so here I was thinking I already nailed it. I’ve steered clear the past few years of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and any other time sucking apps, believing I was doing a bang up job at being on my phone less than what’s considered normal.

I was quickly humbled when I realized just because I was spending my time reading saved info or learning new work outs from my favorite lifting guru on YouTube, didn’t make me any better than Sally-who over there making herself into a puppy on Snapchat.

The point is, we were both mindlessly staring at a screen ignoring those who were actually in front us. It happens subliminally to all of us and we don’t even know it. Most of us grab our phones the second we wake up, before our eyes are even fully open, right?

Maybe you can’t turn off your phone for a week because you have work responsibilities or extended family members that need you to answer. But you can value yourself and your family enough to know — when it comes to your relationship with your phone, somethings gotta give.

So maybe today, it starts with just choosing to leave your phone on the charger for the first and last hour of the day. Maybe the other 22 hours can be digital insanity. Maybe just two hours a day, we choose to not over stimulate our brains by news, newsfeeds, apps and advertisements.

You might feel like you need your phone, but I’m telling you, there is freedom in looking up. Staring at our phones during family time and being fully present cannot coexist. We simply have to choose.

Let’s ditch the illusion of connection and actually experience the moments we’d all one day pay a big fortune to re live. Let’s put our phones down and for once, just look up.

Sarah Guthrie of Roseburg is a mom of three. She works in the local emergency room, but is most passionate about her family.

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