I nearly dropped the phone. I think my heart literally stopped beating for about two seconds. I paused, exhaled and tried to breathe in.
It was all too late. The hotel was already booked and paid for. No refunds. And. No. Internet.
Running your own business means you never really ‘get away from it all,’ no matter how far away from it all you are.
I should have checked. But I took for granted that everyone has internet these days, right? Wrong!
Suddenly, I was no longer looking forward to 11 days in Fiji.
For a self-confessed workaholic, this is the stuff of nightmares. 11 days without internet. 11 days!
One small beacon of hope… ‘We do have internet in the hotel lobby – but it’s sketchy at best.’
And so, in fear and trepidation, I boarded the flight.
Okay, so to understand exactly what this meant for me… I was the mum-to-be literally sending emails whilst in labour… writing proposals in the maternity ward. I make business calls at Play Group, and fall asleep clutching my iPad.
This was going to be like a digital detox of the most excruciating kind.
Thankfully, we arrived on a Friday night so I had a weekend to get used to the idea… knowing clients wouldn’t be expecting to hear from me. By Sunday night, my stress levels were peaking.
Monday morning I was awoken, not by a text message, but by my kids. Sunlight glowing through the curtains. They were eager to pull on their bathers and get poolside.
But instead, we all lay in bed, talking quietly about the day ahead. Snuggling. Joking. Laughing.
We ate breakfast together. Unhindered by phone calls and emails. My attention fully on my kids and husband. I realised I spent most mornings pouring over my phone, rather than my family. This was a nice change.
For the whole day… and the rest of the week. We spent quality time together. As a family. Never once telling my kids to ‘shoosh’ so I could hear a phone conversation or think clearly about a response to a critical email.
Yes, I did make my way to the lobby each day to make sure there were no major client dramas to contend with.
But that was it. I learned to let go of my phone. Like the time I took off my watch and then kept looking at my wrist to check the time, it took a while to get out of the habit of ‘connecting’ every couple of minutes and instead enjoy uninterrupted ‘face time’ with my kids.
They loved it. And I loved it too.
As our plane touched down, I must confess that the first thing I did was turn on my phone. And yes, it lit up like a Christmas tree. As if possessing telepathic powers, someone called my phone as the plane’s doors opened. I ignored it. Still in the afterglow of my digital detox.
They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. 11 days certainly wasn’t enough… but it was a good start.