MOMMYHOOD: The great "unplugged" family experiment

On our recent vacation to Michigan, we rented a different cottage than we typically do. Because we were new to this cottage, we were not sure what amenities there were. The write up said "cable" TV and a DVD player. We also figured we would be able to get WIFI somewhere if we needed it. Well, we were in for some surprises.

My daughter had the culture shock first. "What do you mean no cartoons whenever I want?" Basic cable meant BASIC. Like, 2 home shopping networks, CSPAN, a VERY local news channel, the travel channel, WGN, FOX, NBC, CBS & ABC. So no Cartoon Network, no SCIFI, no Nickelodeon, no Turner Classic Movies, no weather radar, no MSNBC or Bloomberg. So it took her a bit to adjust. She just had to play outside more, and get creative with her time. This turned out to be a good thing for her. I noticed her less moody, cranky and aggressive without the television or computer. It was a nice change. The funniest thing was to watch her get all excited once Saturday morning rolled around and she found cartoons on TV, like we used to do! Yup kid, we had to wait all week for Saturday cartoons and WE LIKED IT!

But make no mistake-my husband and I found being unplugged challenging as well. The first night there was an ugly storm that came through, and I was going through "weather radar withdrawal". There is a nice sense of security you get when you are able to check the radar during bad weather any time you want. So this was tough for me. I also am a political junkie-and I was having trouble getting used to not having MSNBC and the BBC playing all evening and knowing what was going on in the world. My cell only worked if I walked up the road and held out my phone to the sky-no kidding. And I was anxious to hear about a friend of mine in labor with her first baby. So having no cell or e-mail was very hard. My husband's phone was not working at all, and come Thursday he could not take it anymore. He broke down and went into town and got the paper (yes, paper– made out of trees, kind of grey and makes your hands dirty...) to see how the stock market was doing. This turned out to make matters worse because all he wanted to do after that was be online and sell off stocks! And we were a couple of towns away from any Internet access.

Now through all the withdrawal symptoms our little family had during this vacation, I can honestly tell you it was one of the most relaxing vacations we have ever had. My husband and I marveled at how we felt that the length of the stay seemed very long and drawn out-a rarity with any vacation. We noticed how we lost our tempers less with our daughter, and that she was more patient with herself and others. We did lots of other things together-because we had to. We were made to slow down and take time, to live in the moment and not be distracted. Maybe these things happen naturally when on vacation, but I do think the lack of electronic distractions around our family made us come together closer and enjoy one another in a quieter capacity. Overall, a rocky yet successful experiment.

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