It started one day when we woke up in the morning, and I was completely tired of the constant “noise” in our house. I told the family that we would have a TV free day. “Go play outside or in your room,” I said. “Do a craft. Maybe read a book,” I told them. So the TV went off. GREAT!
Well … not so much. It took all of ten seconds for my 10-year-old to pick up her iPad, and about five seconds for my husband to grab his phone. I realized that by saying no TV, their instinct automatically sent them to the electronic devices. Yes, I said “instinct.” Have you ever thought about it as that? I watched it happen right in front of my face. This generation has never known anything other than a world full of electronic devices. That was the day I made the stand.
Our Family Will Have Electronic Free Sundays!
Since that day, we have created a habit in which Sunday’s involve little to no electronic anything. On Sunday morning, we each get 30 to 45 minutes on whatever electronic devices we have to check email, catch up with the news, play a game, watch a show on TV …whatever we choose to do in those 30 to 45 minutes. Once that’s done, everything goes OFF! TV, iPad, phone, even the Leapster!
The thing that happens is exactly what I wanted to happen … we go back in time, and my family does what families did on Sundays 20 years ago. I have watched my girls pick out a board game to play together until lunchtime. I’ve seen my husband teach our 5-year-old to ride a bike and our 10-year-old to have a better volleyball serve.
It’s Our Instinct Too
Something else happens that surprises me though. My husband and I realize how much of an “instinct” electronic devices are for us too. We catch each other grabbing our phones to check email or look at Facebook. The funny thing is that until the other person points it out, we each don’t realize we even pick up the phone. It is just “instinct.”
The other thing we notice almost immediately is how other people react to our electronic free Sundays. Part of not using that device all day also means no text messages. You can imagine what kind of messages we had that first Sunday night when we finally responded to all the texts that had come throughout the day.
Have you ever noticed what happens when you don’t respond to someone’s text immediately? The infamous, “Are you there?” or “Did you get my message?” start coming through. Our new “electronic world” gives us the freedom restriction of always being “available.” Responses are expected now, and when they are not received now, it means something is wrong.
We’re Not Perfect
Now let me share some truths about our Sundays. Not every single Sunday ends up being electronic free. Not even every single minute of those Sundays goes with no electronic device. We’re not perfect. We don’t expect our kids to be perfect. I mean let’s face it, we are in 2015. But … Electronic Free Sundays have given us a starting point. It’s given us a goal. And most importantly, it has given us awareness! Awareness of our surroundings, awareness of our loved ones sitting right in front of us, awareness of time and how much it flies by if you’re not paying attention and awareness that above all else, we are human and our “natural instinct” is and always will be human, not electronic interaction.
I was sitting around with my wife and 3 kids tonight all together in the living room….I looked up from my phone and realized everyone was on a device and none of us were engaging. I felt sadness as I realized not a single memory was being made, and guilt for allowing it. I sat up asked the crew to shut off iPads so we could engage in family conversation. Well I was quickly informed by 2 of them, that they had the abilities to chat and still use electronics. When I said “no” I wanted them off I heard moans and saw sad faces and even tears!!! We sat silent for about 60seconds then the Bop it game was thrust into the mix… within 3min the laughter was filling the room and my youngest yelled “this is better than electronics”
Your article has given me hope that we may be able to do this weekly and encouragement knowing I’m not a big ogre with an opinion nobody else agrees with.
Thanks for article