Each Sunday for the past six weeks, my family has been having what we call a “Screenless Sunday.” It’s a day wherein we turn off all screens and devices and focus on good, old-fashioned, meaningful interactions with each other. No movies, no TV, no YouTube, no video or online gaming, no email-checking or Facebook-browsing, etc. Even texting is only used on an as-needed basis for me and Hubby— only if it must be used rather than a phone call or an in-person visit.
The hope is that this weekly break from technology will
- Help us and our kids refocus on what really matters in life: human-to-human connection and our relationships with God;
- Force us to use creativity rather than relying on technology to do all the entertainment and thinking for us;
- Slow us down and disconnect us from the ever-present noise going on online and in various media channels;
- Remind us to read real-live books and write in real-live journals with pens and paper and play real-live games with other real-live people;
- Give our physical bodies a break from whatever health damage the radiation emitted from iPhones, etc. might be putting out; and
- Inspire us to get outside, breathe fresh air, and be active as a family rather than the typical sedentary lifestyle that accompanies a life filled to the brim with screen-time.
It’s a “reset” button of sorts— at least that’s our hope. You see, our affinity for screen time has been overtaking us all lately— even the toddler! So we’re working on finding a healthy balance again.
We also try to eat a nice candlelit dinner together that night— and sometimes I even make fresh homemade bread for us to enjoy. It’s a special day that we all simultaneously look forward to and slightly dread each week.
We look forward to all the great parts about it— the joking around with each other, the game-playing, the book-reading, the art projects that tend to arise, the one-on-one conversations that happen, and the soul-refreshment that inevitably comes when the noises of the world are quieted and we can finally hear that still small voice of our Creator again… plus there is always the possibility of homemade bread, so that’s a huge bonus! 😉 But, as you might imagine, we also sometimes bemoan Sunday’s arrival, too— because it is such a break from our normal habits. It means we need to set aside our devices and be a bit more intentional and creative about how we spend our time with one another.
I originally concocted this idea as a way to force my kids to take a break from technology because they were driving me crazy with always wanting to play games or watch movies, etc… But I’ve discovered a disturbing truth in the last month: I, too, have a growing dependence on (aka addiction to) my iPhone. Much to my chagrin, I am finding that, in true Wall-E fashion, this reliance on technology is not only taking over our society— it’s grabbing hold of me, too! Yikes.
So Hubby and I are trying to cultivate an environment which is more conducive to our values.
But I must admit: it’s hard.
It’s hard to not quickly check in on friends via Facebook or shoot out a quick email about something that’s coming up this week. It takes effort and planning for me to make sure I get all those types of tasks done on the other days of the week so that I can keep Sunday screen-free and family-focused.
And… if I’m even further transparent? It’s also hard to not be legalistic and stale about it all. It’s hard to find the balance regarding what part of this whole concept is good and healthy for us and which part of this boundary is merely “having a form of godliness” but is actually just another burdensome manmade rule.
You see, I’ve been enmeshed in legalism in my past and I know what it’s like to follow a bunch of rules that God didn’t actually set up in the first place. That’s a heavy (and unnecessary!) burden to bear. And I don’t want that for myself or my children ever again. So we are flexible about this whole Screenless Sunday thing, doing our best to keep the big picture in mind and remind ourselves about the ultimate purpose of this whole experiment.
That being said… I also recognize that this whole “technology thing” is becoming a problem for myself and my family— it’s keeping us idle and less creative and less likely to interact with each other or pick up a Bible and read God’s Word. So, because those are core values of mine, I’m trying to figure out what I can do to help us all get back to the basics in our hearts and lives.
It’s all a work in progress. “Screenless Sundays” are just one aspect of how our family is trying to revisit the ancient practice of Sabbath. It’s our way of trying to slow down and fill our time up with restful, soul-enriching, true community-enhancing activities.
But like I said a few minutes ago, a practice like this can quickly become either an empty appearance of spirituality or a distracting list of do’s and don’ts to focus on while we miss the whole point. So we are proceeding with cautious eyes wide open. And we are willing to “bend the rules” and “cheat” when we feel led to do so. But so far, for us, this habit has been a great wake-up call— a reminder of what’s important in life. Thus, I believe it is worth continuing to explore as we try to find a healthy balance mixing “real life” and the benefits of technology for our family.
(By the way, as a sidenote: there is nothing magical about having this happen on Sunday. That is just the day of the week that seems to work best for our entire family during this season of our life. A few years ago, when my husband used to work weekends, we did a version of this “family rest day” from dinnertime Wednesday until dinnertime Thursday simply because that was the timeframe that worked out best during that season of our lives. But we got out of the habit after hubby’s work schedule changed and then we all forgot about it until a month ago. So just in case you get hung up on the “Sunday” part of it all, rest assured: that is the least important part of the whole concept for us.)
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What about you?
What can you or your family do to help remind yourselves about what really matters in life? Do you find the constant noise of media and technology mentally, emotionally, relationally, or spiritually distracting?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.