Having had a completely analog childhood (rotary telephones…with cords, film cameras, boom boxes, overhead projectors), I feel pretty protective of my kids’ childhood and ensuring they know how to do things without relying on a device or an app.
Actually, it’s not just my kids. Personally, I started getting pretty annoyed at how often I was having to find my phone in order to tell the time because I’d stopped wearing a watch at some point. So when Will bought me a watch for our 10th anniversary in 2019, I was delighted and felt like I was some strange blend of old-fashioned, classic, and old-school all at once.
I feel something similar when I reference a paper wall calendar, write a thank you note in cursive, or slip a record onto my newly acquired turntable. A little nostalgia, a dash of reverence, and if I’m being honest, a hint of smugness….because I had the privilege of growing up analog. I’m totally dating myself here, but I had the privilege of growing up in a material world where this material girl was rocking fluorescent from head to toe, a naturally-curly side pony, and a walkman built so well my kids are still using it to this day. They really DON’T make them like that anymore. Believe me, I’ve tried ordering walkmans off Amazon and they break if you so much as look at them. I’d recommend finding a thrifted one if you’re after 90’s walkman.
All that to say, if you are tired of being so device dependent and want to outfit your home and life with some stone-age tech, here are the things we’ve integrated into our home so we can kick it old-school and gift our children with a simpler childhood.
“Technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story…” — Steven Spielberg
“Keep notepads and pens around the house so that when something comes to mind, you aren’t instantly looking for your phone to do a search, make a call, or open an app…Tackle your tasks when you have time to do them efficiently.”
- Buy a walkman for your kids or dig out an old one and then hit up friends and family for old cassette tapes. You could use a discman too, but they’re probably better for older kids and not littles who tend to drop things! My kids have loved my old walkman because it’s about the size and colour of a digital device (but obviously a lot chunkier, because, um it’s from the 90’s!
- Purchase a record player and go on the hunt for vintage records. I’ve been wanting one for years and finally bought one during the pandemic. I wanted music to be a more tangible experience again…not just a digital one with a never ending playlist (don’t get me wrong, I love it, just not all the time). My kids were fascinated by the spinning disc and the needle and the short play time!
- Get a CD player and set it up for you or your kids outside/at quiet time and dig up your old cds. Hours of entertainment with nary a screen in sight.
- Bring real instruments into your home. The piano and the banjo are used all the time in our house even though Will and I didn’t necessarily grow up as musicians. But we’re enjoying them now and it sets a great example for our kids. I’m seeing ukuleles and harmonicas in my kids’ near futures!
- Purchase a real alarm clock and use that instead of your phone. Will and I each have an analog alarm clock that does nothing but tell time, wake us up, and let us hit snooze.
- Buy a kitchen timer and use that instead of telling Siri how long to set the timer for.
- Use an hourglass to time kids’ clean-up, music practice, or attempts to get out the door on time. This is great for kids who can’t tell time yet.
- Hang real clocks in your house. I’m on the hunt for two…one with numbers all the way around so my kids can learn and one with Roman Numerals, also for my kids’ benefit.
- Wear a (non-Apple) watch again! It’s so refreshing to not have to look at a phone for the time. Also as a photographer, this is my opportunity to stand on a soapbox and say that Apple phones look so tacky in professional portraits. If you’re getting them done, take it off and put it in your purse or bag (NOT your pocket) and either wear no timepiece at all, or swap it out for something timeless or trendy, just not a screen on your wrist.
SCHEDULES & TO-DO LISTS
- Put calendars around your house…ones to write on, ones to reference, or both.
- Use a dedicated address book for contact info and (if it has this option) a section at the back for important dates. Update every year when new Christmas cards come in the mail.
- Keep notepads and pens around the house so that when something comes to mind, you aren’t instantly looking for your phone to do a search, make a call, or open an app. Compile your notes and tackle your tasks when you have time to do them efficiently…as in all in one swoop without being interrupted. Batching your to-dos is a major time saver as switching gears and multi-tasking these sorts of things is proven to be a highly inefficient way of getting things done.
“I feel something…when I reference a paper wall calendar, write a thank you note in cursive, or slip a record onto my newly acquired turntable. A little nostalgia, a dash of reverence, and if I’m being honest, a hint of smugness because I had the privilege of growing up analog.”
A Note on Defaulting to a Device When Bored…
Honestly, it’s good for all of us to be bored. It inspires creativity and allows us to think deeper. When I’m well-rested and out of the habit of defaulting to a device, I’m more likely to pick up a book, grab some paints, plunk away at the piano, or peruse some cookbooks. But when I’m bored and need something that takes minimal effort and minimal brain power while trying to avoid staring at a screen, magazines are a great choice. I always keep a couple new ones on hand and have them easily accessible so I can grab one when I’m feeling bored and tempted to let my eyes glaze over in front of a screen!
For more of my thoughts on Boredom & Creativity, you can jump over here
I am passionate about coming alongside others to inspire them in their creative journey. With 15 years’ experience as a creative entrepreneur, I have been able to cultivate a strong repertoire of strategies to boost creative output and help others tap into their creativity. If you would like to have me speak either in person or online at your upcoming conference, workshop, or retreat, please email Jaime Fenwick at firstname.lastname@example.org