<h1 class='title'>Unplugging as a family: How you can become closer with your loved ones in 2014</h1>

Unplugging as a family: How you can become closer with your loved ones in 2014

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How often do you go out with friends or family and see them constantly checking their phones? You think: “Maybe if I stapled their phone to my head I could actually get them to pay attention.”

Or maybe it’s you that’s sucked into the endless barrage of emails, text messages, social media alerts and calendar reminders.

There’s no getting around it. We live in an always-connected, tech-obsessed world. I’ve even seen elementary students with iPhones. Elementary kids!

Don’t you sometimes wish you could go back to the days without the internet? Well, folks, here’s a piece of advice for you, and something I plan to put into practice myself:

TURN OFF YOUR PHONES!

And while you’re at it, why not turn off the TV, iPad, computer or whatever hot new gadget you’re addicted to and really engage with your loved ones?

Imagine having a true conversation with real, actual words. What a novel concept.

Your family knows when you aren’t engaged. You might think you’re hiding it well or a stealth multitasker, but kids have a sixth sense about these things. If you’re paying more attention to your phone than you are to your loved ones, you’re sending a clear message (whether you mean to or not).

“I care more about technology than I do about listening to you.”

Family connectedness is a known deterrent against risky behaviors, including drug and alcohol use. Why not make it a New Year’s goal to spend more (distraction-free) time with your family? Instead of wasting a gorgeous day with your nose in a screen, go on a winter hike or check out a Knoxville Ice Bears game.

Years from now, what are you going to remember most? The smile on their faces or Kim Kardashian’s latest Instagram pic? You miss so much of life’s natural beauty when you’re staring at your little rectangle box.

If unplugging for a whole day is too much for you, that’s okay. It’s better to know your limits than to set an unachievable goal that will do nothing but frustrate you. Start small. First go for 15 minutes, then 30 then an hour. The more you practice unplugging, the easier it will be.

Looking for some great family fun ideas? Check out these 50 ways to unplug and play courtesy of the Abundant Mama.

And don’t forget the power of touch. It’s a natural stress-reliever. Hug and kiss your loved ones today.