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What Happened When I Spent a Week Without My Phone

Photograph by Getty Images

This summer my family headed to a lovely, little family camp on a small island up in British Columbia, Canada. The island is gorgeous and wonderfully relaxing, but with such scenic, off-the-grid beauty comes a caveat that I have a love/hate relationship with: the fact that I actually have to be "off-the-grid." On this island cell and Internet signals aren't all that great and even if they were, using our phones in Canada would mean expensive international charges. And that meant no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no blogging... for an entire week.

A week without contact from the outside world is a tough pill to swallow for someone like me who uses the Internet and social media all day long for work (and, okay, entertainment too.) The thought alone was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat, but I committed. A week filled with family fun and *gulp* no technology was exactly what I was about to get. So I did what any blogger worth their salt might do... I turned it into a blog post (you totally knew that was coming, right?)

So I decided to journal my experience to see what would happen.

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Saturday, August 1st, 2015

I spent the first half of today binging on social media and texting everyone under the sun. If you posted a photo of your cute baby or pet, your delicious waffle cone or your latte art today, you better believe I double tapped that. Must. Like. All. The. Posts. Around noon we crossed the border into Canada and I had to switch my phone off. It's cool. I can totally survive this. No big deal.

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

This morning my children woke me up at the crack of dawn since we're all sharing the same room, but I suppose it's just as well since I wasn't going to be able to enjoy my early morning routine of scrolling through Instagram. Today was OK. I didn't really experience any major tech withdrawal symptoms, but it's only been one day. I didn't take a single photo all day, because I didn't have my phone with me, which was really weird since I usually take at least one photo every day. My kids were probably confused as to why I didn't have a phone in their faces all day.

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

I forgot my phone in our room today, so no photo-taking again. It feels a little strange not to have a phone to time waste on during lulls. I usually check e-mails or text friends while I'm standing in lines or nursing my son or really just any type of waiting situation. I hadn't realized how often I do this, which is a little embarrassing.

I feel a lot more relaxed. I am an anxious person by nature and I think the super fast stimulus that social media provides only serves to increase my anxiety.

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

I actually decided to bring my phone along on today's outings, so I could document our vacation with photos. I will say that having a phone is much nicer than lugging around my big camera. I found that I did take fewer photos though, because I was really just documenting our experiences for myself and not worrying so much about getting the perfect shot to share online. I did experience a bit of FOMO and found myself wondering what my Internet pals were up to, but it wasn't so bad.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Today I realized that I've been sleeping a lot better. I mean, I'm still tired because our kids are waking up with the sun, but I've been falling asleep more quickly, which I'm attributing to the fact that a screen isn't the last thing I'm seeing before I shut my eyes.

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I feel a lot more relaxed. I am an anxious person by nature and I think the super fast stimulus that social media provides only serves to increase my anxiety. I've had time to just sit and be. No agenda. No flashing lights or notification dings. I think I could get used to this.

Friday, August 7th, 2015

I've realized this week that I default to taking out my phone when I feel awkward or anxious in social situations. Without my phone and the ability to pretend to text or check the weather, I'm forced to have more human interactions and I feel like I might even be getting a little bit better at it.

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

One more day until I can turn my phone back on and "re-enter" the world. Not so sure how I feel about it. I've really enjoyed spending more focused time with my kids and I feel less irritated with them as a result. I think my attention is often divided by the pull of my phone and without it we are all benefitting from the intentional interactions.

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Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Crossed back into the States. Honestly I was a little hesitant to turn my phone back on, because it actually ended up being kind of nice being disconnected. After catching up on e-mails and social media, I realized that I really didn't miss out on much—mostly just a bunch of lame junk mail and a bunch of photos of people's food. It was a good reminder to me that the world doesn't revolve around what is happening on Instagram and just because I don't post a photo of it, doesn't make the experience any less wonderful. I can't say that this experience completely changed me or that I suddenly become the world's best mother, but I will say that it has encouraged me to be more intentional with my use of the Internet and the time I spend on my phone. I had a lovely time with my family this week and I would like to continue the trend now that I'm back in the "real world."

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