Unplugged Summer

Hi everyone! Many of you have reached out this summer to say hello and ask where I’ve been (you’re so sweet!). I’ve been right here, I’ve just been unplugged. Let me explain…

Remember my little Plumblossom?

Well, she’s five years old now and starting kindergarten this fall. Time has flown by, and it’s given this mama a wake-up call.

Last summer was a whirlwind of activity following the release of my book. I dropped my daughter off at camp each morning, then rushed home to do interviews and radio shows and answer countless emails. When she came home in the afternoon, I’d often set her up with an activity so I could squeeze in another phone call or two.

With these precious years slipping by so quickly, I wanted this summer to be different. I wanted us to have the kind of summer I had as a child—a summer before the Internet existed, before screens commanded our attention 24/7. So I dialed back my digital commitments, and woke up each day with no plan other than to spend it with my daughter.

Modern life seems to be all about “getting things done,” so I’ll tell you what Plumblossom and I have gotten done in the last few months.

We’ve made flower crowns and danced around our backyard. We’ve written stories about unicorns and dressed up as fairies. We’ve blown bubbles, played hopscotch, and decorated our sidewalk in rainbows of chalk. We’ve wandered our neighborhood, frequented our local park, and met many a new friend. We’ve made and consumed significant amounts of popsicles and lemonade, and eaten as many Oregon marionberries as humanly possible. We’ve put in long hours laying on the grass and looking at clouds. We’ve even, on occasion, been bored.

I’m having the most unproductive summer of my adulthood and it’s been glorious.

So that’s why I haven’t updated my blog or Tweeted or Instagrammed in what seems like ages. Do I feel guilty? A smidge. But the memories of this summer are far more precious to me than gaining a few more followers on social media.

This summer, I gave myself permission to do less—and I encourage you to do the same.

As this season draws to a close, give yourself a little time off—if not from work, then from all those digital distractions that consume the rest of your day. For the next few weeks, turn off the TV, ignore Facebook, forget Twitter. Don’t feel pressured to answer every email or keep up with the news.

Decluttering isn’t just for cabinets and countertops; it’s for all those minutes in your life that can be spent in a more meaningful way.

Remember those unplugged summers of your own childhood and relive some of those memories. And if you’re so inclined, share them with us in the Comments!

22 comments to Unplugged Summer

  • It sounds like you had the perfect summer making memories with your daughter. I had an unplugged summer too. I’m a lunch lady and right after school ended a friend of mine started a local rock painting group (where you paint and hide rocks for people to find). I discovered that I had an artistic talent that’s been hidden all my life because I’ve always been so “busy.” I actually spent every day of my summer break painting rocks and now I’m selling them as well as hiding them. It’s a very relaxing hobby and it doesn’t require a lot of stuff to buy. Just rocks and paint.

  • Actually Francine, you have not done less, you have done something different – spent precious time with your daughter that you will never regret. She has got to know you better, you have got to know her better and that is what she will remember when she is older. Much more productive than being on a computer! We do get our priorities confused don’t we? “Work” can wait, parenting cannot.

  • Wow, it sound so fascinating- dressed like fairies and creating stories. I do this almost every weekend- unplug when I don’t feel the pressure of replying to Emails or being active on Social Media. I have not opted for mobile data network and this helps me a lot to be away from Internet. And yes this is a productive thing to do :)

  • We only have our little ones with us for a short time. I’m glad you spent the summer with your daughter. I had to smile at the bubbles. I don’t care hold old you get, blowing bubbles is fun!

    I’ve been unplugging from noise lately. Somehow I had gotten into the habit of having background noise like the TV or the news radio station while doing things around the house or a work related task. Without the noise, I definitely notice more energy at the end of my chores or task.

  • zizgag

    Many summers from now when your lives have taken you in who knows what directions, both you and Plumblossom will look back on this time spent together and cherish the memories!

  • Betsy

    Francine, what a smart decision you made. If we keep the stuff in our world less we have the time to look at the stars, color, paint popsicle sticks and read classic children books. I provided care the first few years of my granddaughters life while her parents worked. She finished kindergarten and heads to first grade in the next few weeks. I don’t know where the time has gone. Any time that I get with her now I savor like its gold. It sounds like you’re having a summer you will always remember.

  • This sounds absolutely wonderful, I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer. We love to go “unplugged” too and we do a lot of walking and spending time in nature together. It’s great and really helps us to reconnect as a family. Some of the best times this summer have been spent just on the beach watching the kids build sandcastles or paddling in the sea…totally relaxed with no urgent places to be or urgent things to do.

  • Frances

    I always used to take the summer off to be with my son when he was small and I’ve never regretted it. They grow up so quickly and very soon they spread there wings and fly away. My son is now 31 and a professional musician traveling all over the world but he still makes time to come a see his Dad and I frequently, in fact we’re all going on holiday together in about a weeks time along with my 90 years young Mum x

  • Hi Francine!

    Where can we find your interviews? Have you been a guest on any podcasts? I would love to read/hear those!

  • reba

    “I’ve had the most unproductive summer of my adulthood and it’s been glorious”! Good for you! That is magnificent. People use the expression “stop and smell the roses” but do they apply it to their lives on a regular basis? Most would admit, probably not. I am an absolute minimalist and as many of these friends have said, it is very definitely an ongoing thing. I’ve always had these tendencies but when I was young, I did not even know there was a word for it. My parents were and are world class pack rats and so are the rest of my family members. Cannot figure out how they ended up with a child like me. With my parents health declining, I sold my house and moved back in with them in 2008. I immediately began cleaning out . . . this was a long process with a little bit of resistance along the way. After my dad’s passing in early 2016, I made it my mission to finish cleaning up and out our home and our yard. This was akin to the “how do you eat a rhinoceros” . . . one bite at a time. And the summers of my childhood were spent outside with the pups and just playing and having a childhood, you know? Fireflies, endless nights and flowers. Absolutely splendid. This choice you have made doesn’t come with regrets. Have always enjoyed the reading. Thank you from us all for what you do and for making us think.

  • This. This is what minimalism is about :)

  • cathy

    Plumblossom is 5? Seems like yesterday you were telling us she was on the way. Yes, I know that statement makes me sound old. What fun to make flower crowns & dance in the yard. Enjoy these times, they slip by way too fast.

  • Barb

    Sounds like a perfect summer!

  • Sara

    Sounds like a wonderful summer! :)

  • Mike

    That sounds an awful lot like the summers of my youth. A lot of the time, my friends and I would be playing in our back yards, walking or biking to each others’ houses, going up to the neighborhood school to use their fields, or going to the corner store for some candy. Kickball was a near-nightly event in our yards. Occasionally our parents would take us to a nearby park or out to the beach for a day.

    I can’t recreate those days on a 24-7 basis now, given that I need to work for a living; however, my sig other and I have taken to heart the message to live meaningfully. These days, we cook each other meals, and the only sounds that you’d hear are that of food prep. That flashy, loud box in the corner is off. When we eat, we keep all devices off, and talk about our days. No phones, no laptops, nothing to distract us from each other. After dinner, we play a few rounds of cards, and usually crash in bed reading books. Whenever we can, we walk to the local library, which affords us a lot of time with each other, and the opportunity to browse the stacks. We sometimes end up at a local pub, usually for “anything can happen Thursday”, in which we take our time and savor our meal.

    We’ve taken two vacations together this summer: a long weekend in July and a week in August. On both occasions, freed from the constraints of daily work, we literally took the time to stop and smell the roses. We walked or biked everywhere on our vacations, which is a much more intimate way to see the locale, rather than through the glass and steel box of a car. In fact, when we were poking around one neighborhood looking for a beach, we ran across some locals, with whom we stopped and chatted up for a while. We did find a beach nearby, and the line for autos to try and park at the beach was about a half-mile long. The parking lot full of cars, but we rode right in on our bikes. I literally pointed and laughed at the “lot full” sign on the way in. The bike racks were nearly full, too, so we weren’t the only ones with that same idea. The bikes helped us get to the beach quickly and enjoy our time out on the sand. Oh, and they saved us the $10 parking fee : )

  • Tina

    I help people declutter as long as they make a donation to charity. That way, they are committed to a block of focused time. I have done a basement, an office, a small closet and now, my biggest project, a whole house. Too often, when one or two of something will do, people buy 10, 24, or 48 of an item. Recently, I moved 2 big boxes of empty bottles and 48 identical placemats out of a bedroom so an older woman ( I’m 68), could remember she had them. And the bags and bags of clothes people have. True hoarders don’t ask for my help, these are people downsizing or just looking for more space. I’ve also entertained my grandsons and taught art classes for kids, taken classes, and taken trips. It has been a busy summer.

  • Kathie

    There were 102 kids living in the houses on the block where I grew up in San Diego. I have good memories and bad memories of that, but some of the best were playing Hide and Seek, finding hundreds of frogs on the side lawn of a friend’s house, waiting at the bus stop and joking around, going Trick-or-Treating and being invited into neighbor’s homes for hamburgers or homemade popcorn balls or a spook alley, growing apples, oranges, and large gardens, building outdoor forts with bed sheets and getting caught in the hail (it hurt!), riding bikes wherever we wanted to go, walking to friends’ homes without fear, playing baseball on a nearby corner lot, Pot Lucks, etc. We didn’t have closets stuffed with clothes, or cabinets with DVD’s, but we danced and had jump ropes, red rubber balls, chalk, finger painting, books, games, and loads of friends. We had time to watch puppies being born and opportunities to be trained to do yard work and household chores by our parents. Our car always fit in our garage, along with the washer, dryer, mower and yard tools. We had backyard birthday parties with simple games and simple food. Going to the Zoo was a treat and beach trips were a blast. I remember our home cost $14,000!!! And in grammar school, I learned to play the drums, violin, and flute! Sugar wasn’t a big thing–we only had dessert once a month. Meals were simple, always accompanied by fruit and veggies, and we rarely went out to eat. Life was centered on home, family, neighborhood friends, church, and school, not the mall, Hollywood, or online relationships, which can make some people feel lonely or unaccomplished. My mother was very good to the neighbors and as a result formed relationships that lasted into her 90’s!

  • Maegan Jones

    Hi Francine,

    Healthline would like to congratulate you on making our list of the Best Minimalist Blogs of 2017!

    Our editors carefully selected the most up-to-date, informative, and inspiring blogs that aim to uplift their readers through education and personal stories. We’re glad to have you on the list!

    We’ve created a badge that you can embed on your site to let your readers know about your win. The embed code is at the link below.

    Winners list: http://www.healthline.com/health/minimalist-living-best-blogs-of-the-year
    Badge to embed: http://www.healthline.com/health/minimalist-living-best-blogs-of-the-year-badge

    If you have any questions or need help embedding the badge, feel free to be in touch. Congratulations and keep up the great blogging!

    Warmly,
    Maegan


    Maegan Jones | Content Coordinator
    Healthline
    Your most trusted ally in pursuit of health and well-being

  • It sounds like you had the best summer ever with your Plumblossom! Having a lot of business to conduct online has made it so hard to step away from work life and be present at home. We all need reminders to unplug just as you have. I recently read an article about the actor Aziz Ansari deleting internet browsers, social media apps, etc from his phone to unplug. It’s inspiring!

  • Tina

    I did not work full time until my oldest was 12 and the youngest was 5. Kids grow up so fast. My husband and I retired when I was 53 and he was 55. Our financial adviser said, congratulations,you won.

  • Tina

    Someone asked me why I did so much volunteer work instead of getting a part time job. I said I had enough. She said that was ridiculous, no one ever has enough. Lagom.

  • Roger Mikaelo

    Hi Francine,

    I’m new here and I’m so happy to be part of this family. Wow, it sounds like you went inside a time capsule and journeyed back to the great summers of your childhood (which is basically my kind of childhood too). I’m a 90’s kid so for me, no social media app or online game can ever beat the activities, games, and experiences I’ve had with my family and friends back when I was a kid. I’ve always looked forward to a different kind of summer experience every year. It was thee best summers I’ve ever had in my life. Not that I don’t enjoy summer now but summers are different these days. I know you guys can agree with me.

    It’s been almost 2 years now since I deleted (not deactivated) my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Viber, Skype, We Chat, etc. and seriously, I don’t miss it. I guess, it just shows that I don’t need social media that badly. I’m not a loner or anything, I still have Pinterest and go on Youtube all the time. I’m also sociable but I prefer connecting with friends personally. I noticed that before, my friends chat with me all the time on Facebook but when we all hang out together, we ran out of things to talk about. Hahaha! It was awkward. I had to pull a stunt just to break the ice again. Now, when I hang out with them, they can’t seem to stop updating me with all the news and events happening around them because I’m no longer in the loop. Well, it sure made them preoccupied enough not to lazily scan through their Facebooks just to kill time. :)

    I know that giving up social media is not for everyone. But just like what you did this summer, I’m sure it was very rewarding for you to know there are still things and experiences that the digital world couldn’t tap into.

    I’m inspired by your blog Francine, thank you! I look forward to your next post. May you and your wonderful family have more blessings to come. Cheers!

    P.S. I know that this comment is kinda late, but what the heck, I will comment anyway. :)

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