There have been many, many times over the past year when I’ve gathered up my resolve and decided to cut down on my non-work Internet time.  It’s not like there aren’t a million other, more productive things I could be doing instead; there’s the ever-growing pile of laundry, the toddler  covered head to toe in washable (I hope) paint, three dogs that need to be fed, and dishes threatening to spawn colonies of fruit flies in my sink.

I set laptop-free hours – there would be no computer before work in the morning and none between punching out and my daughter’s bed time. For a few months this worked out great, though mornings still found the toddler and me sacked out on the sofa in front of PBS Kids until my second cup of coffee had fully engaged. I’d spend my requisite 8 hours in the home office, sprinkling my productivity with quick hits of Facebook, personal email, and a little online shopping.  The evening belonged to my family, and only when Anna had been read to and tucked into bed, I’d catch up on gossip blogs.  

And then I got an iPhone.

The new device allowed me to cheat – sneaking peeks at new emails, scrolling quickly through my Facebook newsfeed on a tiny little app, updating my status – all without once opening the laptop. I’d let Anna play with the phone’s koi pond or flash cards but otherwise this  was very much Mama’s Super Special Toy.

My husband began sighing loudly whenever I’d breeze past the phone, unable to leave it in its resting place, eager to see who might be trying to reach me. To appease him, and realizing how I’d been slacking off on my resolution, I turned off the little ‘ding’ that indicated a new email.

While I never ignored my daughter’s needs, I’m sure she got too many “Wait one second”s from me. When I heard her tell her doll to “Hold on baby, I’m so busy,” I decided it was time to strengthen my resolve.  I decided on a new challenge.

I invite you, always-connected parents, those of us who consider each milestone a Facebook Moment, those whose Blackberries and iPhones are rarely silenced and never out of reach, to join me in attempting a device-free weekend. Take two days to just disconnect. Leave the house without your phone (remember how we used to do this all the time?) even if it’s just a small trip. Let your Facebook status go off the air for two days, make your friends wonder what kinds of adventures are keeping you from updating. Let’s take this weekend offline.

About the author: Brenna Jennings is an experienced photographer living in Portsmouth with her husband, three spoiled dogs and almost-two-year-old daughter. Visit her blog at for advice and musings on parenting by surprise.

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