Last week we spent our first few nights as a family in our "new" house. It is not anything fancy, and it is not really new at all…just an old brick farm house somewhere in Middle Tennessee. And it is not even ours, since we are only renting this year. But it will be home for a little while, at least, once we get everything moved and can find our bearings. This first trip felt kind of like vacation at a cottage or cabin, where you are working with very limited supplies and furnishings. The difference was that we did not really take a vacation at all. We worked. Hard. There was a lot of dust and dirt on the floors that needed swept and mopped away. There were boxes and other heavy items to be moved into the house. There was carpet to vacuum and shampoo. At the end of each day, we were all hot and sweaty and dirty and tired. We collapsed into our makeshift beds, exhausted, and fell right to sleep.
But do you know what? Even though we physically worked hard, those days were some of the most peaceful and restorative days we have had in a long time. Why? Well, for one thing, we were working as a family toward a common goal. The kids were either busy playing with toys they had not seen for a couple of months, or exploring new spaces in and out of doors, or just watching Mommy and Daddy work. Also, it was a chance to get a taste of our new life and feel freedom from some of the past difficulties in Illinois. There was a sense of adventure, which I think is normal when moving to a new area, but that has been sorely lacking in our lives for a long time.
Also of note, we have no wifi at our rental house. We are going to be changing how we get internet access, and it means we will be much more limited with our online time. Don't worry! I will still be writing and posting here a few times a week, as well as catching up on social media daily. But we got a chance to break from our bad habits of picking up our phones and scrolling through Instagram and Facebook every spare minute of the day. And this was good, very good. It forced us to look around at our surroundings and the people in our family and listen to each other more. It forced us to spend those in between moments actually thinking, resting, listening, looking, talking. . . We were present and making memories rather than posting about what we were doing online. We were paying attention to each other instead of listening to the many voices on social media. Yes, we do still need to use the internet occasionally for work and even for entertainment and education. But we also need to disconnect from all the distractions and noise so that we can reconnect with ourselves and each other.
I know that this is not a new concept and that plenty of people discussed the need to unplug and step away from the virtual rat race, probably since the dawn of the internet age. I have done my own fair share of social media fasts and been offline for vacation plenty of times. But somehow this time was different. Maybe it was because my husband was so intentional about being offline as well, being the huge techie that he is, and noted how much better he felt as a result. Maybe it was because we knew this was a decision we were making to take a step back from our screen time usage as a whole family, not just for a week or even a month, but for the foreseeable future. Whatever the case, disconnecting to reconnect was good for our family, and for me personally. And I look forward to seeing how our family culture changes for the positive as a result!
As I said, though, I am not abandoning this website! I will still be blogging regularly, although maybe not as frequently during the actual moving process because we are traveling back and forth so much right now. But I would love to hear your comments and thoughts on limiting your online time, especially as a couple or family. If you have tried it for an extended period, what kind of affect did it have on you and your family? If you have never intentionally significantly reduced your family's internet usage, what motivation would help you give it a try?