Chip Gaines is recovering from a breakup — with his smart phone.
During filming season four of his and wife Joanna’s show, Fixer Upper, the contractor found himself in a bit of a sticky situation after agreeing to a dare — to “walk across a beam over the water” in Lake Waco.
“Needless to say, I slipped off that thing and into the lake, clothes and all,” he writes in his Chip’s Corner column in the spring 2018 issue of The Magnolia Journal. “And apparently in the midst of my big macho move, I completely forgot a little something in my back pocket: my cell phone.”
Because he still had a few months left before he could upgrade, Gaines was torn about whether he should pony up for a new model or wait it out. A few days passed, and he suddenly had a scary realization about his unhealthy relationship with the device.
“Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night to check something, and then would inevitably end up responding to emails and messages,” he said. “Before I knew it, there I was scrolling through Twitter at 4 a.m.”
It was then that Chip opted to make a change. “I began to feel like maybe my stupidity of jumping into that lake was now giving me an opportunity to shake things up a bit,” he writes. “I know some folks who have taken breaks from their phones and I thought, ‘Maybe I should do that!’”
The dad of four — the couple is currently expecting their fifth baby — decided to use his old-school flip phone to run out the rest of his contract.
“Let me tell you, it was hard,” he admitted. “I didn’t realize how accustomed I had become to the savvy efficiencies of smartphones until I was without one.”
After a couple months, however, “something unexpected happened,” he said. “I didn’t really need it anymore.”
The biggest lesson he learned? “Constant simultaneous communication leaves us lacking the ability to give one person our undivided attention, and if that one person is my wife or our kids, then I’m in some real trouble.”
WATCH THIS: Chip and Joanna Gaines Explain That None Of Their Success Comes Easy
He admitted that, “This experiment of mine was miserable,” and that “Jo had to bear the load the times when people couldn’t text or email me directly,” but the clarity he gained was worth the struggle.
“This one life is far too precious to be held hostage by what I might miss on the screen,” he wrote. “If I am serving it rather than it serving me, it has ceased to be a help to me at all — no matter how I might want to rationalize it.”
For Chip’s full letter, pick up the spring issue of The Magnolia Journal, on newsstands February 13.