Trade 47 | Family Unplugged

I never had to set an alarm during my week in France. Every morning at 8.30am a warm beam of sunlight would strike my face, opening my eyes and easing me into the day. That and the kids were always running around screaming and shouting from about 7am. Beginning each day like this Paul would greet me with a wry smile as I walked into whatever chaos he was trying to manage at the time.

Paul, Mary and their four children - The Dancer, The Tree Climber, The Snappy Dresser & The Last One - had relocated from the UK to the South of France. Beach one way, skiing the other. More recently Paul had left his job in the UK to take on the stay at home Dad role while working on his new project -  Family Unplugged - at its simplest distilled to "Swapping screen-time for human-time".

I could hand out the phones and iPads and they’d be quiet for hours but it’s not something I’m willing to do.
— Paul Clifford

Managing screen time was an important issue. While this importance was mostly stressed in the context of a young family, developing children and the role technology played... as I found myself climbing around the rocks alongside the river as we explored Gorges du Loup one day, it was pretty clear the therapeutic effects of their new French outdoors focused life was felt by adults too.

With this life they had started for themselves I could not weigh in with any parenting insight whatsoever. It's about 10yrs too soon for me. Perhaps the only insight I could offer was eating around the table every evening was always important to my own family growing up. Unaware of the significance as a kid it would eventually become the highlight and staple of returning home to this day still. So their evenings with the dinner table left covered in penne pasta shrapnel would always be worthwhile.

Kids bilingual and able to ski will probably come in handy too.

familyunplugged.co.uk

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Spéracèdes, France

"I popped my cherry today; I kissed my first frenchman"

Trade

"Welcome to the battle-mobile"

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Film

Trades 42-48