real life

ANDREW DADDO: Why I switch off to switch myself back on.

Thanks to our brand partner, Ford

Was life that much better when we were kids? Really?

Was it more fun? Were we born free, wildly roaming the neighbourhood until the lights came on? Was there actually a time when the world was perfect and sunny and we ate with our fingers for most meals? Because just about every old Baldilocks will wax on about how that’s exactly how it was.

I bet the kids of today will do the same with their kids. They’ll talk about these things called phones you’d use to talk to each other. Mad!

It’s not like comparing apples with apples, though. There is no back to the future, or future to the back or however that might work.

But then, maybe there is.

How about we switch stuff off? Not necessarily march up the hallway hitting all the lights that are on, which’d be a decent start. But switch off the anchors that have hold of our attention.

To be sure, it’s going to take courage and a few deep breaths. Maybe frightening, but fine. It’s like I’ve got seagulls in my guts instead of butterflies, but there’s something kind of cool about that, too.

Switch off to switch on, eh? It’s pretty amazing what’s happening around us when we let it in.

Beaut last day of school hold with @jasperdaddo #favyoungestdaughter

A post shared by Andrew Daddo (@andrewdaddo) on

“Bvvvvvvvvvvvv.” Someone’s left the fan on in the bathroom. “Bvvvvvvvvvvv.”

There’s a family of magpies living just up the street, I think the cousins have spilled into the Jacaranda out the front; they make the most beautiful chatter in the mornings. You can really hear them without that fan droning away.

A lie in and have a big listen. Those kids are going to hate it when I turn the telly off in about five minutes, but they’ll survive. We did when we were their age. I might send them outside and pretend to lock the back door, force them to find something to do out there. Hit a ball against the fence. Pretend to discover the backyard. Stand on their hands and see the world from a different perspective.

Find a clump of bamboo and push it around ’til it groans and creaks, there’s nothing like it. Climb a tree, pull a weed, do a chalk drawing on the footpath.

Make something. Who cares if it’s crap? And on it goes.

We’ll have to escape. Get out from under the digital clutches that hold us so tight. Walk down the street and leave the phones on kitchen bench. Organise to meet someone and actually turn up without having to call or text your progress. “Nearly there. Almost.” And then, “I’m here. Where are you? Oh, I see you, can you see me? I’m in front of you.”


Bloody tops my family… makes being a dad and a son a delight

A post shared by Andrew Daddo (@andrewdaddo) on

A bike ride would be nice. There’s something about the crunch and grind of a family working the chain up and down the cassette of a bicycle. The panting of a hill, hearing your chest work properly, feeling the beginning of a burn in the legs, and supping on the reward later in some café being served by hipsters.


Or get in the car. Escape for real, right? Literally lob your phone in a box with everyone else’s phones and kick it under the bed. Grab the car keys and strike out for somewhere you can all discover together. Turn the radio off, listen to the gentle purrr engine of your car at the lights. Or not. Cross your fingers and hope an old V8 Fairmont will pull up beside you and share the “blublublublublub” of yesteryear.

Hear the gentle thunk of a gearstick finding its place in the world.

I’m lucky, I reckon. I’ve still got an old battler from 1966. It sings to me. The radio’s not good enough to use so we don’t bother, and that makes room for talking and telling stories, and gives us a chance to think. Even the kids think it’s cool.

My kids think I'm cool...I swear. Image: Supplied.

Switch off and look up. Look around, see the signs and the neighbourhood and bore your kids rigid with what you used to do when you were their age. Go back and point out the spots where stuff happened. Get out of the car and relive it. They listen, even though all that bluster and boofiness suggests otherwise.

Throw an arm over a shoulder, share a secret or a wish instead of a social post.

See if you can make it last five minutes more when you get home. See how long the phones can stay under the bed or the laptops can stay shut. Then try it again next Sunday.

What's your strategy for switching off? Or better yet, getting everyone else in your family to switch off too? Share with us below.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Ford.