I Took My Family’s Cellphones Away!
First off, I have to give props to my fams (my in-laws and my first family). They are great! We are quite a group of varied quirks, interests, passions, hobbies, habits and opinions. From artists to entrepreneurs, marathon runners to movie buffs, there’s always someone in the group we can turn to for some kind of help, encouragement and random information. I’m going to be real and say we’ve had our fair share of struggles – some that have included being estranged for long periods of time. But in the last few years, with the addition of a new generation, we’ve all grown up and grown together. In other words, we’re no different from any other family.
One of my greatest gratitudes is how often we get together as siblings and parents. Between birthdays and holidays, our formal get togethers run about 5-7 times a year. Add in impromptu visits, and it gets to be a fair bit. I’m so thankful for that. I’m happy for my kids, as much as I am for my husband and me. And sometimes I am so blown away at how much these people must love me…because at yesterday’s gathering, they let me take away their cellphones!
Inspired by a book I just read and reviewed, The Joy of Missing Out by Christina Crook, my husband and I decided we would have a JOMO box at home, where our cellphones rest while we connect with the world around us. Our kids painted this lovely box, and I just love the messages they came up with:
With our annual Navroz (new year) celebration coming up on the first weekend of Spring, I thought we’d try this box out with our extended family and see how it went over. I sent out an email ahead of time to
warn let everyone know that they would be asked to place their cellphones in our JOMO box upon entering our home. They were allowed to keep their phone ringers on in case they got a call (because in an emergency, they’d get a call, not a text). The response was fairly quiet, so I wasn’t sure how it would all go down…
My brother showed up first. I saw his car pull up so I went to the door to greet him. I caught him through the window, sending a text before he knocked. “One last text,” he smiled, as he walked in. Gotcha. My dad also sent his one last text before adding his phone to the box. One of my brothers-in-law had let his social media peeps know that he’d be offline. My sister-in-law came up with the idea that whoever touched their phone first had to do the dishes! Considering there were 11 of us eating a huge smorgasbord of food, that was not a risk anyone was willing to take! 😉
After said smorgasbord was consumed and we cleaned up, the dining table transformed to a craft station for our activity. For about the first 6 years of our Navroz gathering we painted eggs, as this is a custom for those who celebrate the first day of Spring as a new year. But we’re kind of over that. So, this year, we decided that we’d each come up with 3 goals for the next 12 months, write them down, decorate the page and add it to a box to be opened next Navroz.
What I loved about this activity was we each got to share with each other the things that are really important to us – things we want to work toward, and things we hope we can achieve by the following year. It’s amazing how being vulnerable like that can inspire a cooperative mindset. Now that we know what we are each working on, we can support each other if need be.
After the activity was done, everyone headed to the basement for a sports-palooza: foosball, floor hockey and laundry. Oops. How did that get in there? (Ok, I admit, I folded half a load…it was right there).
As everyone left, they grabbed their phones and I asked for feedback. Nobody had anything negative to say, nobody had missed their phones and everyone seemed to appreciate having fewer distractions. I think it’s safe to say that this is a ‘go’ for future gatherings!
Is a JOMO box something you’d consider for your home? What kind of stipulations would you have around it with regard to specific times or situations? I’d love to hear your thoughts!