Unplugged and present: The best Father’s Day gift of all. By Camille Preston, PhD
Last weekend, my husband and I had the great good fortune to have lunch with our parent. This never happens, so we decided to make it our Father’s Day celebration. We spent the day at our lake house, boating, hiking and spending quality time together without iPhones, iPads or computers.
It was just us, unplugged and alone together, with no distractions or interruptions. We shared stories. We reconnected. We were present with each other. At the end of the day, both of our fathers said it was the best Father’s Day ever. We all agreed that what made the day great was the fact that we were completely unplugged and completely present with one another. We were all recharged and rejuvenated—that’s the power of unplugging.
Unplugging is paramount to health and wellness, and it is easy to find the time and make it habit. It just takes a little practice and some simple strategies. What better Father’s Day gift could there be than a day of genuine connection, both for dad and the rest of the family? Here are five simple strategies to have an unplugged Father’s Day:
1. Set yourself up for success. Being your best self—present, engaged, and available—starts with planning and preparation. Before you unplug, first carve out time to capture your thoughts and document any outstanding projects. Just like closing programs on your computer brings more power to the machine, emptying your brain of to-do lists and worries frees up mental energy and creates space to be present.
2. When you leave work, leave work. Easier said than done, I know, but it is important to create boundaries at home to prevent work from creeping in. For example: when you get home, make a conscious transition from work. Unwind, listen to music, change clothes, etc. Put all your distractions—smartphone, iPad, laptop, etc., away, either in a home office or another room that is out of sight. You want to consciously contain your work to this room, and try to prevent the expansion of the home office or your work to the kitchen, living room, and bedroom. Last, establish rules about when you will check work e-mail and phone calls. Maybe nothing after 7 p.m., no screens at the table, etc.
3. Create connections. Steve Jobs said that creativity and innovation don’t happen through iPhone and email, they happen through connections and conversations. So whether you’re at home or at the office, put aside your technology and figure out what you need to do to connect deeply so that you can be creating great memories. What do you need to do this Father’s Days to create genuine, authentic conversations with your children, friends, and family members? Put technology aside and literally reach out and touch someone.
4. Lead through example. Father’s Day is all about you, and since all eyes are on you, this is a great opportunity for teaching and modeling. Children watch your every move and learn from you. Whatever you prioritize, they see as what’s most important to you. So this weekend, let your actions teach them what you value most. Put away your Blackberry, turn off the game, and be present with them. Sure, it’s your day, but why not make it a day they will remember with your presence and connection?
5. Have courage. In many ways, our gadgets keep us safe. They keep us distracted. They keep us from having real, connected relationships. Stepping away from the gadgets, the distractions, and the walls they put up can leave some of us feeling naked and exposed. But stepping away opens the space to connect more deeply and meaningfully, and that takes courage. So ask yourself: What memories are you creating this weekend? What connections are you making? What will they remember about you?