Imagine a family holiday without devices. No Youtube Kids, no iPad games, no worries. You can see more than just the top of your child’s head, because their eyes aren’t permanently attached to a screen.
If this sounds like fantasy to you, you’re not alone. Many parents struggle to separate children from electronic devices. Even on the most exciting roadtrip, the lure of bright colours and new content can be irresistible.
Even five years ago, there were many places in regional Australia with limited connectivity. Travelling out of range offered a welcome and unavoidable reprieve from our collective screen obsession. While such places still exist, they are increasingly rare.
If you can’t find a black-spot, it can be tempting to hand over the iPad for a bit of peace and quiet during a long roadtrip. However, it doesn’t need to be that way. We want you and your kids to have an amazing holiday – without distractions. These four tips to disconnect will have you saying “Ah, the serenity” before you know it.
1. Leave the devices at home
We’ll start with the most extreme option – complete abolition of electronic devices during your holiday. This means leaving the iPad and Nintendo Switch at home. Undoubtedly, you’ll want to be contactable during genuine emergencies, so you may need to keep your phones with you. For the best of both worlds, swap your sim from a smartphone to a dumbphone (a basic device that can only handle calls and text messages). If you’d prefer to keep your personal devices handy, a password the kids don’t know is essential. Warning – strong willpower is required.
Modern RVs are often equipped with televisions, which is wonderful – but counterproductive when you’re trying to disconnect. We suggest unplugging it. If your kids are dexterous or tall enough to plug it back in, you can purchase childproof outlet covers and door locks.
Naturally, this strategy won’t necessarily make your holiday enjoyable, but it will make it device free. Read on for more options.
2. Embrace retro roadtrip games
We can thank electronic devices for the demise of “Are we there yet?”, a curse endured by road-tripping parents throughout the 20th and early 21st century. Resuscitating this historic horror is the risk you take when you don’t have a screen handy. However, wily parents have always known clever distraction strategies. If you’re old enough to have children, you probably recall classic roadtrip games such as I Spy from your own childhood.
Why not revisit these on your next trip? Similar games include Punch Buggy, Sweet or Sour and Don’t say it. Other retro distractions to consider are colouring books, regular books and simply chatting about where you’re going next.
3. Try electronic rationing
As with any addiction, it’s hard to give up electronic devices cold turkey. Slowly reducing time spent in front of a screen can help limit the shock. Ironically, there are myriad apps on the market specifically designed to limit screen time. These apps can be your best friend if you want an in-device solution.
However, these apps are also controversial, with some using game-like mechanisms and rewarding kids with screen time. Some studies suggest this can be counterproductive enhance the addictive nature of electronic devices.
The good news is, you don’t need to use an app. You can absolutely limit screen time the old-fashioned way; all you need is a timer. You may also wish to introduce rewards for desirable behaviour and consequences for poor behaviour. However, again, using screen-time as a reward can result in unwanted behaviour.
4. Make the alternative attractive
Utimately, a trip without devices should be a pleasure. The best way to ensure your kids put down the iPad, is to make the trip itself more interesting.
Children have a natural curiosity about the world around them. Point out fascinating landmarks and tell them stories about where they are going; you may also learn something new! Consider lining up exciting kid friendly activities for the tribe to look forward to. After all, half the pleasure of doing something fun is in the anticipation.
In this connectivity-obsessed world, finding a quiet pocket of time to spend with the family can feel impossible. These four tips are simple, but can make all the difference between a fun family getaway and a technology nightmare. We hope your next trip is one to remember for all the right reasons.
Do you need a little help planning your next family holiday? Campstay can help you find, compare and book family friendly caravan parks. Check out the website here, or download their android or itunes app. You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or join the group – Everything Holiday Parks! Australia.