My screen-free holiday

Author: Carly 
I recently learnt that most maximum security prisoners spend more time outside than the average Australian child. I also discovered that as a mum in her mid-30s I may be part of the first ever generation to have a longer life expectancy than my children (due to unhealthy eating and a lack of physical activity). So it’s fair to say that when none of my kids packed an iPad for our trip these school holidays I wasn’t complaining. The fact they didn’t because they hadn’t charged them (apparently you can only charge them at home) is irrelevant. Now, keep in mind we were travelling for 7 hours to get to our destination and doing so with 4 kids under 9.
And so the trip was spent with them talking, sleeping, coloring in, finding Wally, designing their own mythical creatures, debating which mythical creature was stronger, faster, bigger than the other mythical creatures, the list goes on. Basically it was spent connecting, relaxing, creating, debating and rationalizing. They arrived calm and happy. We arrived exhausted but having learnt so much about them.
Once there, screens were a distant thought. There was lush green grass to run through (a rare treat for those of us used to dead brown grass or bare earth), rainforests to explore and pools to swim in. There were no TVs in bedrooms but one in the living room, with only live tv available there was little interest in ever watching it. I even put down my iPhone and took all my photos on my old SLR. I got better photos and with no way of getting them into my phone til I got home didn’t even bother sharing them with anyone else. We felt so distant from our normal lives and existed in our own little bubble.
We ate out, at cheap pizzarias and more expensive resort restaurants. The kids would play on the grassy lawns til their food arrived, often attracting more children and ultimately enjoying a game of tag that at times consisted of 30 kids that didn’t know each other’s names but were instantly ‘friends’ agreeing on the rules of the game and refereeing it themselves. Perhaps a rare advantage of eating out with 4 young kids is there ability to start a party.
And so I spent an irresponsible week of not answering emails, liking my friends posts or reading the news online. And I missed none of it. I didn’t miss the email notifying me I won the UK lottery, I didn’t miss clicking on a ‘news’ article only to discover the title bore no relevance to the article, I didn’t miss knowing what everyone was eating for dinner that night and I didn’t miss carrying my phone from room to room with me just in case.
Our new simple life was so much calmer. I even got over my need to to know the answer to every question that popped into my head. I no longer shazamed songs to know who sang them or googled ‘best Chinese restaurant’. Instead I started talking to real people, I got directions from locals and took restaurant tips from sales assistants. I told the kids I didn’t know the answer to all of their questions.
It was the most ‘normal’ I’ve felt in ages!
We’re home now and back to the ‘real’ world. The kids iPads still remain uncharged in the cupboard. I imagine they’ll ask for them at some point but their imaginary games have carried through from our holiday and I have no intention on disburbing them.

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