Adventuring Away From The Screen

 In Digitox

We had an unexpected break in the weather last week, and with our two eldest children (Ben and Gabe) away at scout camp, we decided to take the younger two (Jessica and Noah) for a long walk somewhere new.

My Wife (Caroline) is a graphic designer, and is currently putting together a series of circular walks around the Cotswolds for a client – and decided that we should go and explore a six mile circular walk around the outside of Chipping Norton. After a hurried scrabble on the bookcase, we came up with a battered Ordinance Survey map, printed out a draft copy of the walk leaflet and headed off.

When we started to diet our tech, this was the ‘separation anxiety’ point – I wanted to take my phone so we didn’t get lost, use the satnav and share photo’s with family and friends as we walked (and sneak looks at some of my social media feeds too). We don’t feel like that any more – but one phone always get taken in case of emergency, and for photo’s along the way. The sharing happens on Monday….

It’s amazing what you see and who you meet when your face isn’t buried in the phone. As we stepped out of the car, we noticed that there were odd knitted objects on doors and railings – and by strange circumstance found ourselves chatting with the Chipping Norton Yarn Bomber as we walked along.  I’m not making this up – you can find her on Twitter here…. and with a literary festival happening (the amazing ChipLitFest), she had created bookworms to go with the theme. She kindly gave the children a heart each, and I’m told it’s not unusual to find such unexpected gifts on the door should it be your wedding anniversary, birthday or any other special occasion.

It took us three hours to stroll six miles through the countryside, past ruins, over streams, through farmyards and at one point getting covered with pollen in a rapeseed field.  Along the way the children got a crash course in reading a real map, and not a thought was given to the gadgets left behind.

The weather was a bit dull, and we managed to get caught in a shower along the way – but being outside is always a good way of removing the tech temptation, especially when the phones are left at home (or in the car).

In the book I talk about how hard this process was for us at first – with objections ranging from ‘I need to do homework’ to ‘what about my snapchat streak?’ Often the older children would encourage us to leave the house so they could try and sneak onto the web for their fix, although unplugging the router seemed to solve this challenge nicely.

After a few weeks the separation anxiety gets a little easier to deal with, and addiction is easier to step away from when you have high levels of distraction.

If you’re just starting your Digitox journey, then the spring and summer are going to help you a lot. Buy (or borrow) a real map, get outside, leave the phones behind and see what new adventures you can find nearby.

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