Remember to Unplug Regularly!

Submitted by Bedford Youth and Family Services

Unplug during November – Image (c) JMcCT, 2015 all rights reserved

It is easy to get busy and stay busy in this vibrant community of Bedford, especially at the beginning of a new school year.  In fact, it was because of this busy-ness that the Bedford Community Partnership (BCP) began a program called “Bedford Families Unplugged” in October 2004.  Supported by the Bedford Selectmen and Bedford Public Schools, Bedford Families Unplugged boasted a long list of endorsers and supporters. Due to the success of the program over the years a second Unplugged day was even scheduled for two springs with the full support of the Selectmen and School Committee. After 11 years, it seemed the time had come for Bedford families to work towards this goal on their own with their children as no acceptable November date for Unplugged 2015 could be found.  We are continuing with that expectation and encouraging local families and organizations to develop their own ‘Unplugged’ time.

According to Bedford Youth and Family Services Director Sue Baldauf, who coordinated Unplugged efforts on behalf of BCP, the goal of Unplugged was to increase and improve family connection and relationships.  “BCP remains interested in supporting families being connected to each other, especially in terms of providing support to our children and youth, not in mandating that people do nothing.  We know that when kids have access to caring adults, they do better socially and educationally.  We want our adults to remember that not only on Unplugged days but always.”

Based on a program started in Needham, Bedford Unplugged Together hoped to remind people that life holds more than what is on the other end of a plug, be it a computer, a television screen, or a phone.  The goal of the evening was to encourage various activities families can do together without electricity and that emphasize person-to-person interaction.  Bedford Public School students had no homework, evening sports, or required activities and the School and Town had no required evening meetings. Parents were encouraged to be home for dinner and families could have a night off from their respective “daily grinds” for engagement and fun.  The School Committee had arranged for the no homework and no sports in the past while the Selectmen asked all Town boards and committees to reschedule any regular meetings on that Wednesday night.

Families are still encouraged to plan activities together just as they did with the original Unplugged day in November and the second spring one, the goal being to build activities like the Unplugged activities into their daily lives, whether the Town or the Schools declare “Unplugged” or not.  If you have questions about the program or would like more information, contact Youth and Family Services at 781-275-7727.

For a sample list of activity ideas, consider the following:

  • Eat dinner backwards, starting with dessert first!
  • Have breakfast for dinner one night
  • Make your own pizza night
  • Have an indoor picnic
  • Play a board game with the entire family
  • Kids plan & cook dinner for parents
  • Eat out – kids’ choice
  • Read a book out loud together
  • Eat out – parents’ choice
  • Wander in the Bedford Town Forest
  • Go text free – talk face-to-face the whole day
  • Illustrate a song that inspires you
  • Go email free – talk in person instead of on line
  • Make a card for someone you love
  • Go fish – get out the cards & play your favorite card game
  • Design a family Jeopardy game or trivia contest
  • Clean your closets & donate coats & clothes you don’t need
  • Take cover – build a fort out of tables & blankets
  • Count the geese at Great Meadow Wildlife Preserve
  • Tell 5 people why you are thankful for them
  • Take a walk around the block by the light of the full moon
  • Turn off all the lights & have a conversation in total darkness
  • Organize a relay race or scavenger hunt for your neighborhood
  • Send a thank you note to someone who has helped you
  • Draw family portraits without looking at the paper
  • Frame something you have been meaning to frame & choose a spot to hang it up
  • Take a mini-vacation to Boston – visit a museum, walk the Freedom Trail, or explore
  • Learn more about another culture & cook a meal from that country or region
  • Visit Bedford Public Library & check out a book for the family to read
  • Volunteer as a whole family at the Food Pantry, a church, or some other favorite charity
  • Make a statement day – Put your favorite quote on a white t-shirt
  • Trust Walk – Build trust by taking turns being blindfolded & being led around
  • Puzzled – invite your neighbors to a puzzle & pizza party
  • Organize a neighborhood clean up & recycle cans & bottles for a favorite charity
  • Camp out inside – make popcorn, use sleeping bags, tell stories by flashlight
  • Help a family in need with a donation of food to the Bedford Food Pantry
  • Sign up for a Trails Committee walk in one of the Bedford conservation areas
  • Walk in a conservation area near you – download a map from the Trails website
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