I am not against screens. My kids spend a fair amount of time in and around electronics during the summer. With various week-long camps comes exhausted evenings in front of movies and the off-weeks spent on the PlayStation playing Minecraft “with friends.” When my husband suggested we go to Vermont to his family’s chalet in the woods for a week, I thought it was a great idea. Until I remembered there was no access to electronics.
You heard that right. No Wi-Fi, no internet, no Netflix or Hulu or even cell service. NADA! Let me set the scene for you: two Grandparents, two parents and four children ages 3-11 in an approximately 600 sq ft log cabin.
Psyching Myself Up
A few miles from the little town, our mobile phones stopped connecting to service. I started to feel good about the decision. We can do this. We’ll just play games and play instruments and go for walks and explore nature. It’ll be fun!
And it was. So much fun. We got on each other’s nerves, especially when it rained. But more often we simply enjoyed one another.
Here are 5 reasons to take an electronic-free family vacation this year!
1) Learn New Things
In our time without electronics, we learned new card games and mastered tricks. One kid learned to shuffle and one learned to deal. We each had new experiences and learned Grandma’s favorite card game. There’s so much I can’t wait to teach them!
2) Spend Time Face to Face
We played board game after board game. Challenging each other, pushing ourselves and helping the littles learn to follow the rules was awesome. We began to realize that we have a whole pile of competent little kiddos on our hands. It was nice to sit down and talk to them face to face, uninterrupted. I even learned that one of my kids’ favorite color had changed.
3) Get Creative
We played instruments every day and jammed together. Our 10-year old got lots of piano practice in. The grandparents learned the kid’s songs and we learned theirs. We colored and drew pictures. The grown-ups worked on the house and painted rooms and hung fixtures. Being able to be creative together was an awesome experience.
4) Practice Self-Control and Patience
We found areas of personal space and learned to communicate a little better (no texting the eldest to come down to dinner, LOL). Each of us needed to be able to say we needed a moment to ourselves in the small space. The kids needed to learn to ask nicely for someone to play a game with them for the 400th time and how to handle it if they were told no.
We took daily walks up and down the hill. On one end, there is even a barn with cows and cats and other animals. We walked through the woods until we lost the path and climbed over fallen logs and slid down giant rocks. We swung on the rope swing out front and played corn hole till we couldn’t move our arms any more.
We’ll Do It Again
We will definitely be going back and have thought of a handful of other device-free things to try next time. Maybe we can even implement some at home one of these days!
I wonder if you know how wonderful an experience this is for Grandma and Grandpa, too?? That you would come all this way and spend the time exploring, and immersing yourselves in this place… that now holds memories from three generations of Mengels. Thank you – I’m so proud of you, Josh and each one of your beautiful kids – love you so much!