We are a family who loves our rituals and rhythms, no doubt about it — our candlelit breakfasts, our Friday night homemade pizza, even our Monday morning laundry overload. These rituals give a form to our days and weeks that, I notice, root us into a lovely connection with each other, and make enough of life familiar and predictable so that the rest of the details can be filled in with a sense of both ease and adventure. These rituals — the daily ones like a story before bed, and the seasonal ones like a trip to the pumpkin patch — provide context to the ever-changing weeks, and a sense of belonging in our home. I love declaring them, and I also love changing them up when they get stale. There is, perhaps, no ritual I cherish more than our computer-free weekends.
We began this practice several years ago, and for the most part, have stuck with it. At first, like anything, we noticed our urges — how many times a day on a given Saturday we were tempted to turn on the computer and look something up or check our email. We noticed how urgent these urges felt, how necessary. Over time, though, we learned to make both tentative and firm plans for the weekend, and then stick with them — jotting down a few possible movie times, or the address of a restaurant we might want to visit before the end of the work-week so we wouldn’t be so tempted to log-on. Soon enough, we realized that almost any email can wait until Monday and the weather is going to do what the weather is going to do whether we know the predictions or not. Soon enough we started operating just a little more like how we did for the years and decades that made up the bulk of our lives before we had such constant computer access — by writing things down, relying on our memory, making plans, improvising, and keeping things simple. Lo and behold, like so many lifestyle changes, the practice of being computer-free on the weekends went from challenging to easy to downright wonderful.
The plain truth of it is, I love that moment on Friday afternoons when I know that our two household computers are being turned off and won’t be turned on again until sometime Monday morning. I love knowing we are, officially, unplugged, and will remain that way for two delicious days. We aren’t electricity free — far from it — we use our oven, I certainly use my sewing machine, and we both definitely utilize weekend days to catch up on phone calls. But, we do remain screen-free for two days and three nights at the end of the traditional work-week and I dare say, feel more relaxed at the end of the weekend for it.
There is, I’ve learned, something inexplicably powerful about the Off switch — knowing we actually don’t have the whole-world -as-internet available all the time; knowing there pieces of information we might (gasp!) even have to wait until Monday to find out. I know, someday all to soon, we’ll be forced to replace our not-as-smart phones with “smarter” phones as they will be the only thing available. I know this day is coming and it will be a sad one for me, because it very well might be the end of this beloved ritual. But, for now, as long as we can last with it, this little corner of our lives — our internet-free days that remain relatively untouched by modern technology — are sacred and beautiful and the very days that make me feel the most in-touch and electrically-charged.
By the way: Portlanders! If you have a baby already or a baby on the way, come to my 1-hour Elimination Communication workshop this Wednesday night from 6:30 – 7:30 at Alma Education Space. We’ll have a ball and you’ll learn a fabulous new skill. More info here.