Unplug to Become the “Summer You” All Year Round

 
Summer You
 
Last month I wrote an article exposing some of the less-than-perfect parts of my life. This article is about one of the most perfect parts of my life… my family.
 
I love being an art teacher. It is one of the greatest jobs in the world. It is hard work. It is under-appreciated work, but it is good. From August to May my school life gets a lot of me. It gets the extra hours on the weekends and the late nights working on grading or lesson plans. It is always on my mind.
 
I love being a mom. It is the greatest job in the world. It is hard work. It is under-appreciated work, but it is great. From August to May my home life has to share me. My kids (and hubby) get the stressed out, tired, thinking-about-school-stuff version of me. My kids get lectured about what to do and what not to do based on what my school kids did during the day. My husband gets to be my sounding board for all things school-related.
 
This may sound like some horrible version of me, but I promise, it’s not. I like to think it is the version of me that my family would always have if I didn’t have my summer time off. This had me thinking about the summer me vs. the school-year me. The summer me reads books that have nothing to do with education. The summer me says yes to a lot more stuff. The summer me is outside. The summer me is unplugged from the online world.

The last thought really got me thinking about unplugging. During the school year, I am on the computer every single day. I am checking email, creating documents, updating my blog, tweeting, etc.
 
unplugging
 
During the summer, I can go days and even weeks without reading a blog, tweeting or checking email.

A quick google search lead to 297,000 articles on the “benefits of unplugging” and while I didn’t read them all,7 Important Reasons to Unplug by Joshua Becker and Taking a Technology Sabbath by Ken Lane really stood out to me. Then there was this youtube video.
 

 
Finally, there was the 23 Bad Habits Moms Can Break article with #2 hitting a little close to home.
 
My hubby and I talked about it and agreed that we have a short amount of time with our kids and plenty of time to return phone calls, send emails or connect with people online.
 

We have started choosing one weekend a month to unplug.

 
We turn off the computers, the iPads, the t.v.’s and we put our phones on silent. We spend time together playing games, working on projects, and just being. It is like when I was growing up… and it is awesome.

We use Sunday night when the kids are in bed to catch up on the happenings of the weekend. Sure we have one or two more things to do during the following week but they seem easier to do after having a restful weekend. My favorite part has been the time spent together and the memories made.
 
 

When was the last time you unplugged?

What is your favorite offline thing to do?

 
 
 

Jennifer Carlisle

Jen is a middle school art teacher from Norfolk, NE who loves exploring and teaching art through traditional and digital art mediums.

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  • I too love the summer to disconnect from the world a little bit. We’re lucky to have some time to embrace the world around us and not be glued to our screens!

  • Juli

    Great article! And, I just have to say, when I first glanced at the photo of your classroom, I thought it was my own! We have the same arrangement (location of desk in relation to the smart board), the same chairs, our grade books look the same- with the highlighted columns and I have a shelving unit in the corner near the smart board. Crazy! haha

  • Mr. Post

    I know this will sound like radical, crazy talk, but I don’t own a smartphone.

    I think of them as interrupters. They interrupt whatever it is that I am doing at the moment. I like connecting with people on the net as much as the next guy, but I like it to be on my terms. When I walk away from my desk I don’t want my computer following me. When I am in my art studio it is like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude – I want the quiet, I want my thoughts to be longer and stretched out. I want that drill-down focus that comes from concentrating on one thing and not being distracted by a million other things calling for my attention.

    At a school staff meeting covering emergency lock down procedures we were told to report kids who might be in the halls or bathrooms to the office using our smartphones – naturally I was the only teacher on a staff of 50 who doesn’t have one. I have a flip-phone that I take on long car trips, but I only pay $20 for that every three months – and I don’t carry it with me daily.

    It’s surprising how much time you can find when you pull yourself away from the screens.

    I worry about the kids I teach – the play with blocks on a screen (MineCraft) instead of playing with actual Legos. They play games on screens by themselves instead of playing games outside where they would have to solve disputes, make up rules and come to an agreement about who is out and who is not. I am glad my son played a crazy game with parking cones, a football, two soccer balls and a variety of kickballs on our front lawn with this friends. This crazy game was the collaborative invention of all the kids playing it and it had rules only they understood. The called it Lukie-Ball – it was named after one of the kids playing it. Think about how much more imagination went into the creation and implementation of Lukie ball contrasted with pushing buttons in a computer game…

    I am a big advocate of unplugging – I wish the kids I taught lived a little more unplugged – boredom is sometimes a great spur for creativity and making something up yourself.

    • Charmaine Boggs

      Good for you, Mr. Post! I, too, am one of the last hold outs who still uses a flip phone…if and when I can find it….assuming it has been charged. I have a desk top and an iPad at home and a laptop and iPad at school. They can become a major distraction for me, so I can only imagine how easily they lure our students into time wasting screen time. I certainly know that the last thing I need is a smartphone singing it’s siren song every few minutes!

  • Ina Isn

    I totally relate! Great post, Jennifer