River walks, beach days, time in the woods. Playing with the dogs, running in the sprinkler, even tie-dye shirts. This is childhood unplugged.
Last week my husband and I decided to officially unplug. We headed to the woods and took two FULL days away from social media, emails, and even family phone calls. We turned off our phones and took advantage of spending time with the kids. And it was the most magical two days of my life.
The first night of our trip didn’t go as planned. Not even a little bit. When we arrived, it was threatening to storm. I had planned out our entire 5-meal menu and on our first night we were supposed to cook spaghetti. Well, with the storm and torrential rain, that wasn’t happening. Instead, I had to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my lap for the family in the vestibule of the tent, and hodge-podged apple slices and chips onto soggy plastic plates. It was a mess. To add insult to injury, a few hours later after the rain subsided and it was time for bed, our neighbors two sites away had a 15-month old kid who cried and threw a temper tantrum all night long. Needless to say, night one didn’t go as planned.
But that didn’t stop us from having a great time. We spent the next day vegging out at the beach, relaxing on a grassy (and shaded) field for a 3-hour picnic where we made what was supposed to be our dinner the night before, and then we finished the day off with a hike. After dinner I laid in the tent and relaxed while my daughter read a book and the boys threw a football. (And luckily the family with the baby packed up while we were making dinner, so no temper tantrums on night two!)
It was incredible to experience childhood unplugged for all of us for those precious 48-hours. Being away from all the anxiety and uncertainty was just what the doctor ordered. And we’ve vowed to make it a monthly goal. We’ve already got our next trip lined up!
If you’re considering taking your family camping, I highly recommend it. Even just one night away does a lot of good. Check out these five benefits to spending time in the woods.
Childhood Unplugged: 5 Benefits to Spending Time in the Woods
1. Unplugging lets you mentally reset.
By unplugging, we allow ourselves time to reset from the constant barrage of terrible news and anxiety-inducing work emails. The first couple of hours of zero technology is completely liberating. We can quiet our minds and enjoy each other’s company. We can just… be.
2. It’s easier to connect with nature when you’re unplugged.
When you unplug, you can connect more with nature. You have time to watch the fireflies, observe the beetles on the flowers, and track the path of the wasps as they build a nest. When you’re not tethered to a phone, or even a watch, you can relax and gaze at the stars. And who cares what time it is? Your body will let you know when it’s tired and when it’s time to wake up.
Pro tip: leave the watch at home, but be sure to bring a book!
3. When adults unplug, kids get a childhood unplugged, too.
The simple act of putting the phone away almost instantaneously gifts your kids a childhood unplugged, too. They learn by example so when we’re constantly walking around with heads down, buried in our phones, they think that’s how they’re supposed to act, too. And yes, sometimes vegging out and watching TV is a good thing. But other times, it’s not. Unplugging is beneficial for everyone.
I’ve always loved the woods. Read more about that here!
4. Anxiety melts away.
Camping is particularly beneficial to unplugging and here’s why: when you prepare for a camping trip, you take the things you need with you and usually not much more. That means when it’s time for dinner, you get out the exact ingredients you need for dinner. There’s no hemming and hawing about what to put in, or if you really “feel” like making whatever it is. There’s no uncertainty because you’ve already packed the ingredients and made the menu. It just… is.
If it rains, you make a decision to do something else. If it’s too hot, you sit in the shade. When you’re camping, you don’t have to worry about charging your phone. You don’t have to plan the day. There’s very little room for vague decision-making. And that in itself is liberating.
5. You can finally relax.
All of these things listed above? They all come together to one very important thing. You can finally relax. You can eat s’mores without thinking twice. Hikes in the woods don’t become a huge production like they can be at home. There are no pressing, urgent work phone calls. You can finally breathe a little easier and walk a little slower.
You can truly relax.
I’m incredibly grateful I have the opportunity to share my love of the outdoors with my kids. There’s truly nothing better than breathing among the trees and sleeping under the stars. I admit when we came back to reality after our trip, and the barrage of technology resumed, it took a few days for me to get back into the swing of things. But I’d much rather take some time off to reset and recharge and slowly reacclimatize than not. After all, I’m trying to live and exemplify a childhood unplugged for my kids.
Do you spend time in the woods?
What’s your favorite leisure activity?