10 tips for an unplugged home (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/smswigart/)

Your home is your haven, a space for relaxation and recharging. But when you’re connected to the rest of the world within seconds by a device in your back pocket, it’s easy for work and other worries to follow you home. Staying plugged in even when you’re at home can interfere with your personal relationships, increase stress levels, zap quality relaxation time, and even interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.

Staying connected at home can have its drawbacks. But on the National Day of Unplugging from sundown March 4th to sundown March 5th, everyone is encouraged to unplug and enjoy life unencumbered by emails, social media, texting, and other connected activities. This is a great opportunity to make your home more comfortable and stress free. On this day — or any day — use these tips to focus on making your home an unplugged zone, if only for a few hours at a time.

  1. Create a drop zone at your front door: Want to unplug as soon as you get home? Create a spot by your front door where you can leave your phone, laptop, and other devices. Take it a step further and add a charging station with a power strip where you can plug in your devices and then leave them there until it’s time to head out again.
  2. Build a home library — and use it: Create a space in your home where you store books, and if space permits, add a chair that’s just for reading and relaxing. Fill the space with your favorite books, magazines, newspapers. Commit to spending time there unplugged and reading, such as an hour or two every evening or on weekend mornings.
  3. Enjoy movie night as a family: Watching movies is technically still screen time, but enjoying a great movie can be an immersive experience that feels unplugged. Too often, families spend their time watching TV on two screens, scrolling through phones while watching a sitcom or drama. Throw together some popcorn and blankets and ban devices from movie night so you can focus on enjoying the show.
  4. Cook an elaborate meal: In many busy houses, cooking is simply a matter of survival. Getting dinner on the table and cleaned up can be a speed race, but every now and then, schedule a time to slow down and cook leisurely — without using recipes on your phone or mobile device. Open up an old fashioned cookbook and take your time enjoying using your kitchen.
  5. Charge devices in a drawer: Store your phone and other smart devices in a drawer where they’ll be out of sight and out of mind. Simply thread cords through the back of a drawer to plug them in.
  6. Ban phones at the kitchen table: Make your mealtimes unplugged. This is the simplest way to get started unplugging at home. Ask every family member to leave phones out of reach during dinner and other meals eaten as a family. Having trouble staying committed? Consider stacking devices on the table face down, and whoever reaches for their phone first has to clean up after dinner.
  7. Schedule your screen time: Whether you’re paying bills, catching up on emails, scheduling playdates, or just checking in with friends and family on social media, sometimes you just need some screen time at home. But it’s easy to let that time get away from you if you’re not careful. Plan ahead to schedule when you’ll use your phone, TV, and other devices at home, then stick to it, shutting down when your time is up. Need some help? Use a router that allows you to schedule Internet curfews.
  8. Play board games: Remember when you played games without a TV or mobile device? Reignite your love for board games with your family and play a few board games at home for unplugged fun. Or, have some friends over for a full game night with snacks and drinks.
  9. Turn screens off in the evening: Unplugging is especially important at night, when the blue hue emitted from screens can interfere with your sleep quality. Turn screens off at least two hours before bedtime for your health and comfort at home. At the very least, avoid keeping your phone next to your bed, where you’ll be tempted to check it at night or first thing in the morning.
  10. Use a real alarm clock: Many people use a phone or other mobile device as an alarm clock. This can be convenient and effective, but unfortunately, also encourages screen time before your feet even hit the floor in the morning. Use a real alarm clock instead of your phone and avoid the temptation to check in early in the morning.
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