Last week, when walking by the sea, I paused to watch family members on holiday enjoying the summer sunshine. Whilst some small children rushed excitedly from one side of the boating lake to the other, and others were playing in the sand, adults often chatted distractedly into their mobile phones.
Cries of ‘Daddy, Daddy!' or ‘Mummy, Mummy!' went unanswered as parents' interest was elsewhere and children became unruly as their attempts to attract attention failed. And so I began to wonder what was the point of a family holiday if parents were so engrossed with their "hi-tech" telephones and iPads that they tended to ignore their children.
Technology has its place and it is wonderful to be able to keep in touch with friends and family wherever we are in the world but it occurs to me that the "off" switch on cellphones needs to be used a little more — particularly when on a family holiday.
We need to learn to discipline ourselves in the same way as we discipline ourselves in other areas of our life. Our 24/7 society often requires us to keep in touch with the office even when away, but as with everything else in life, there is a time and a place for everything!
That poses the question: "Is it the business that cannot manage without you or is it that you cannot imagine you are dispensable?" Either way, boundaries become blurred.
If your boss thinks that you will answer the phone at 10pm, then that is exactly what will happen, in which case, you are "setting up a rod for your own back". Again, if your office think that they can e-mail or phone you on holiday, any time they want — then that is exactly what will happen.
Now I am not saying that there won't be emergencies that have to be dealt with but then this is exactly where technology comes into its own. But it is not usually an emergency that keeps you talking into your phone at all hours, is it?
Making time to go on holiday with the family is a commitment in exactly the same way as we have business commitments. So why do some people just ignore it? It could be that some parents find the adjustment of being with the whole family, 24/7, to be quite stressful.
For a man or woman with a full-time job, they usually only see the children at the end of the day and at weekends, and now when it comes to holiday time, they are faced with having to be involved in family relationships all day — which can be quite a challenge. Then, of course, there is the issue of the husband and wife themselves.
Again, with the exception of weekends, they may only usually catch up at the end of the day but on holiday, it is a time for interactive conversation and 'togetherness' — which can put unusual pressure upon the relationship.
Family time is precious time and having expended the money and time in going on holiday, I suggest that we all make the effort to ensure that both ourselves and the whole family make the most of the "bonding" days, which means rationing the use of our mobile phones.
Once away from the office and officially on holiday, enjoy the opportunity to relax and value the quality time with your family. They will appreciate it and you will also benefit.
Relaxation is an important part of stress management, as is family life — so try switching off your cellphone and leave the laptop in the case — then see how liberating it feels. Look at the smiles on your children's faces when they realise that Daddy and Mummy are really with them on holiday and are involved in their enjoyment.
Actively listening to your children by looking into their eyes when they are speaking, or playing a game with them and giving them your full attention will make your child feel valued and make you, yourself, feel more satisfied.
So the next time your phone rings, before you press the "answer" button, think about your family, and press the "off" button instead! That is your call!
Things to remember
- Holidays and children are both important
- Give your cellphone a holiday as well
- Family time is precious, don't waste it