Only recently did Parrish and Tom Chilcoat realize just how bad the habit had become. As soon as they would get home in the evening and reconnect with the kids, they also would go back to monitoring work. “I'd be trying to check work emails while making spaghetti in between,” Parrish said. “Tom would be in the living room ‘playing' with the kids, but I knew he was checking emails, work projects, not to mention Facebook! It all felt wrong.”
The result, Tom said, was that “after long days at work we'd come home to this chaotic and unorganized time at home.” So a few months ago the couple agreed to ban all electronics in their Los Angeles home between 5 and 8 p.m. Now that time is devoted to board games, reading and making dinner with their kids, ages 3 and 6.
“No more checking email or Facebooking during that time,” Parrish said. “It's a work in progress, but I'd say we are more focused, unified and happy as a family.”
Families who declare laptop-free zones or phone-free periods have company. House rules may vary — no iPad at the breakfast table, no laptops during prime time in the living room, no BlackBerries in bed — but the goal is the same. Stop work life from seeping into family life and be fully present for one another.