River Haven on the Wolf’s is a remote cabin vacation destination. Our location in the heart of the Langlade National Forest provides a one-of-a-kind getaway for families to reconnect to each other by experiencing the serenity and adventure of nature. However, any parent will say the same thing, “That’s easier said than done.” The digital age we live in makes it hard for both kids and adults to unplug from their devices, leave work or social media behind, and enjoy the world around them. With that in mind, River Haven on the Wolf is offering a few tips on how to unplug your family during your visit to our cabin.
1. Give Your Family Advance Notice
One way to increase engagement with your family is to warn them ahead of time that online time during your vacation is going to be limited or non-existent. Springing a “no devices” surprise right when you arrive can lead to upset and resentment for the rest of your weekend. Make sure that the idea of disconnection from devices is consistently reinforced for days ahead of time, weeks if possible. This way there should be no sudden surprises when internet time is forced to a minimum. With advance notice, the rules are also more likely to be embraced without as much need for enforcement.
2. Make A List of Non-Tech Activities
Plan for time away from personal devices by making a list of, planning, or bringing along activities for the family to engage in together. Fill your vacation with local outdoor activities and spend the nights eating dinners together with discussion followed by board games or even a movie night in front of our cabin’s fireplace. A plan for no personal devices requires alternative activities to keep kids’ (or work-addicted adults’) minds off their phones or laptops.
3. Turn Off Notifications
If it is impossible to leave your devices completely off or at home, try turning off notifications for apps that don’t require your immediate attention. Turning off social media notifications and email notifications lowers how often a lit-up phone screen, chime, or vibration can serve as a distraction. Removing all but the necessary emergency notifications can go a long way in unplugging your family during your stay.
4. Set An “Out Of Office” Reply
Leaving work behind is just as hard for some adults as it is for their kids to forgo their social media obsessions. Set the prime example for your kids by utilizing an Out Of Office reply for your work emails. Your reply can direct clients to other co-workers for emergencies or let them know when you’ll be back in for them to contact you. Leave work at the office and enjoy the much-needed time with your family!
5. Leave Chargers At Home
They can’t use them if they’re not charged! One way to ensure time isn’t spent on devices is to make sure the devices have no power! This should be a notification given in advance. This way family members have to use their battery life strategically. This might be an extreme, but effective method for families who refuse to disconnect. We won’t tell anyone if their chargers happened to be “left at home by accident!”
6. Phone Stacking
Maybe you're not the kind of family that needs to disconnect entirely, but maybe you would like to enjoy an interactive dinner where eyes aren't staring down at their phones for a change. One unique idea to liven family dinner conversation is to make a special pact during mealtimes. This pact asks everyone to set their phones in a pile in the middle of the table until the meal is finished. Once dinner is over and the night is winding down, then devices can be returned (for limited use, of course.)
7. Keep the Tech Inside
One good way to help reduce screen time is to establish vacation ground rules for device usage. Aside from ensuring the safety of these expensive devices, creating a rule that electronics can only be used inside the cabin makes using them as frequently more of an inconvenience. It may also instill some ideas of time management and patience!
8. Work and Plan Ahead
For the adults who are having trouble disconnecting, one way to limit your screen time is to finish as much work at the office or home ahead of time. Minimizing your overhanging obligations will help you enjoy your vacation to its full potential. Worry about work when you're back in the office or about home tasks when you return!
9. Clean Out Your Apps
Cleaning out unused (or useless) apps is a good way to remove yourself from your device for a while. This should be done ahead of your vacation, but anytime is a good time to remove apps that are taking up memory space on your phone and displaying unnecessary notifications. It also removes distractions from your visual field, making you less likely to feel the need to recheck your phone every five minutes.
Setting up rules or instructions for minimizing screen time for the family doesn’t amount to much if the rules are not enforced. Make sure everyone is on board before heading off to vacation, and don’t be afraid to enforce the rules when necessary. If your family winds up on their devices as often as they are at home, then everyone misses out on the benefits and unique experiences offered by the cabin. Worst of all, though, they miss out on the reconnection to loved ones and the natural world around them, defeating the true purpose of an unplugged vacation.
These ten tips can help your family enjoy a device-free (or close to) vacation that reminds both children and adults of what matters most in life – personal, emotional connection to each other and synchrony with our natural world. No other cabin rental destination offers the serenity provided by our unique, remote location along Wisconsin' Wild River. Unplug the family and reconnect with a weekend getaway at River Haven on the Wolf!