Unplugged :: What I Learned During a Week without WiFi

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I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Wow, she did it. She went a week without WiFi for <insert grand reason here> and she’s going to tell us about it.”

But it’s not like that. I wish I could say I chose to do this grand social experiment in which I plunged myself back into the dark ages (it felt like) on purpose. But that’s not how it went. I found myself without home internet for a week not on purpose

What I Learned During a Week without WiFi

I don’t know if “learned” is a good word. Maybe “observed”. And most definitely “did” (and did not do) during my week. So . . .

What I Learned Observed and Did During a Week without WiFi

I still had my phone, so it wasn’t total dark ages. But I became very aware at how bad using my phone for internet is without WiFi — apparently I don’t have the best coverage at home, but I never noticed because at home I’m always on WiFi.

But . . . 

I spent less time on my phone.

Having to wait forever for the Facebook feed to refresh or Instagram pictures to load got old by the first afternoon. So without WiFi, I certainly spent less time on my phone. 

I was intentional with what little WiFi time I had.

So, I work from home. WiFi is a “necessary evil” when you need it for work. So I had to strategically plan trips around WiFi. I used WiFi for short bursts of time at the library, Chick-fil-a, Panera Bread, and our local coffee shop.  

Sometimes at home, I hide behind “work” to get a few minutes of “everyone leave me alone so I can get this work task finished” when secretly, I spend about 10 minutes lost in recipes I’m never going to cook on Pinterest or watching funny cat videos on YouTube. 

I couldn’t do that when I was having to use WiFi away from home. Knowing I had one or two hours before I had to be done and on to something else made me more intentional about my WiFi use. I got the important things done. I answered the emails, I wrote the articles, I scheduled the social media stuff, done. No mindless scrolling of Instagram. No getting sucked down the rabbit hole of Facebook drama. 

I learned (oh! here it is! a lesson!!) that I don’t need as much time for “work” when I’m intentional about how I use my time at the computer. Even though WiFi is restored now, this is one area I’m trying to fix at home. 

Normally, my laptop is open all the time. Sitting on the kitchen table, desk, bed, wherever, it’s open so that at the click of a little button I can wake it up and dive in. When we didn’t have WiFi at the house, my computer stayed closed. I couldn’t do anything on it. So it stayed closed. One day it stayed in my backpack all day.  

So one thing I am trying to do now is to make sure at some point during the day, I close the computer. It’s less tempting to just “check one thing really quickly” when it’s not so easy to get to it. 

I didn’t watch ANY television.

We don’t have cable. Our t.v. viewing is strictly Netflix, Hulu, Prime, and MoviesAnywhere. So without WiFi I wasn’t a slave to entertainment. No more being tempted late at night by that “Continue Watching” box on Netflix or the “Up Next” autoplay on Hulu.

I read more.

Without t.v. to watch, I read more. I actually really love to read and always have, but it’s become one of those things that’s really hard to “find time for”. But in truth, the time was always there. I was just filling it with other things.

I slept better.

Having no t.v. to watch or Facebook to scroll on my phone meant when it was time to go to bed, I got in bed, turned off the lamp, closed my eyes, and went to sleep. I slept WAY better in general (there must be some truth to those articles you read about artificial light messing up your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle!) and I went to sleep early because I didn’t have the distraction of t.v. or phone to keep me up.

I was “all in” with my kid.

I’m a pretty hands-on, “seize the moment,” make memories, “enjoy the little stuff” type parent. We even homeschool!  So I’m with my kid all the time. But without WiFi at home, I realized how much more “all-in” I could be with my son. No checking what’s new on Instagram while waiting for him to take his turn in a board game. No “just a minute” when he asks me to come look at his new LEGO creation, but I’m in the middle of reading a Facebook news article. In fact, my phone became a lot like my computer; unless we left the house, it pretty much stayed in one spot. 

So if I could summarize my “take away” from this week . . .

I am trying to take what I observed during my week of no WiFi and use it to better myself. 

I would call these, “Ways to keep Wi-Fi from Ruling You”

  1. Be intentional online. Don’t get online just to fall down a rabbit hole and lose yourself for an hour. Say, “I am going to check my email, order oatmeal from Amazon, and Google a slow cooker chicken recipe I can make tonight.” Do those things, and then get off.
  2. Close out sometimes. Close the computer, dock the phone, hide the iPad, whatever you need to do. Set hours — say, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. — where devices are tucked away and force yourself to leave them be. (No “Just one quick thing . . .”)
  3. Try to eliminate screens before bed. I slept so much better that I would encourage everyone to put away screens an hour or so before bed. 
  4. Pick up a book. If you get lost in a good book, you’re going to be hooked on it and not on what’s going on on the internet. 

So how about you? Do you feel like you have a good handle on your internet activity or do you struggle with drowning in Pinterest pins/Instagram pics/Facebook drama?

Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? (Really, I’m still looking for tips!)

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Tabitha has spent her entire life living in various parts of St. Clair County . . . small town life but close enough to the city to enjoy all it has to offer. She's been married to her high school sweetheart for 13 years. Tabitha spends her days as a blogger and homeschool mom to Gavin, a 5th grader who loves animals, books, geography, LEGO, Disney, roller coasters, museums, pirates and karate. Indeed, he keeps her life interesting! Part of what makes it interesting is homeschooling an only child - it's a unique journey! Tabitha loves libraries, good books, history, traveling, coffee, Disney, sometimes cooking (but never cleaning up), being a "karate mom", more coffee, scrapbooking in her free time (ha!) and naps. Around town, you're likely to catch her "field-tripping" with her son at one of the libraries, a park, the Birmingham Museum of Art, McWane Science Center, the Birmingham Zoo, or one of the other dozens of interesting places in the city - and she'll probably have coffee.