Now, let me explain how we defined that for ourselves because we did not refrain from every form of media or even every website. Instead, we targeted areas where we felt most vulnerable. My husband makes his living from computers. He always has and probably always will. He started out in computer repair, then sales, and now he writes software, so expecting that we have no use of computers is kind of difficult. So what we did do during this time was limit ourselves from the majority of it.
What we didn't do.
We refrained from any type of video games on the computer or X-Box.
I also gave up social networking including Facebook. I did remain engaged in two local groups which we use for planning between meetings. I absolutely did not read my feed to see what friends were posting and I did not post anything publicly. (I did, however, have to post my reviews on my blog's Facebook page.) Other than those two final reviews I did not write, post, or even read other blogs. I did however, check the news and weather.
As for television. That isn't a huge distraction for us as we don't have cable television, but we did avoid it anyway with the exception of a couple of shows that we watched together as a family which happened no more than once a week. I also let myself watch a cooking or news show if I were on the treadmill.
We also took away Gess' mp3 player so she didn't listen to music all month unless we played some while doing chores or were in the car, which wasn't often. We did have a couple of karaoke nights where we all sang some Christian songs together. I also listened to some talk radio, but much less than usual.
I also took a lot less pictures. I love blogging and sharing about what Gess is learning. I do think it is important for people to see her do the same things that other kids do, but sometimes I just want to enjoy the moment. Therefore I have taken very few pictures. We even toured an entire museum and I don't have one picture to show for it! We do however, have our memories. Memories of me beside my daughter, not behind the camera. Don't worry, there will be more pictures in the future. but stepping back from that too was important. Some memories need to be captured, but some simply need to be treasured.
What we did more of
Leaving the internet, video games, and television behind really did free up a lot of time for me. Things I did to fill that extra time were:
Bible Study/Prayer - This was really one of my goals. To make God a priority. I was getting my morning devotion time in but not much else during the day. With some time freed up I was able to do my Beth Moore Bible study before my husband came home from work each afternoon. We also started doing more as a family. While I would like to see it grow we are now talking more about it at the dinner table. We are also holding each other accountable for memorizing verses.
Visiting People - I keep in touch with lots of people via Facebook, but seldom see them face to face. While I had hoped to do more visiting than we actually did we did have some people over and randomly went and visited others.
Baking - My husband was probably glad about this one. I had not made home made bread in awhile. Now I have made a few batches, among other things. I am also cooking better meals in the evening, though I could still improve on that as well.
Reading - I have read more books this month than I had in awhile. However, this month, when I would normally sit down and watch a show, I read a book instead.
Read Alouds - I always love family read alongs but we don't always make the time. This month we did. We are currently reading The Hobbit as a family several nights a week. We are still busy with other obligations so we don't remember or have time every day. But this has been the most consistent we have been.
Exercise - I used to joke that I seemed to never be able to fit in exercise, Bible study, and chores. I could manage 2 in a day, but not all three. Well guess what. Dropping media made it happen! After my bible study but right before dinner I was able to get in my exercise and by this time my chores were already done. It's amazing!
Write - I took the NaNoWriMo challenge that I will be posting about soon. But what I found is that even in the 15 to 10 minutes I would sit killing time on Facebook was enough to get another scene written in my book, or at least part of one. I hope to keep that up now that the challenge is over and take my time to write something good. Who knows, maybe one day you can buy my book!
What we learned
My husband and I were talking about these changes one evening and he said the thing he noticed the most was that we were more dis-tractable. I liked that phrase. It pretty much said it all. We aren't absent parents. We don't veg so much in front of technology that our daughter is ignored. I have been through phases in my life where I was like that but I identified and corrected it a long time ago.
We always try to have family game night and things like that. In fact, if you notice, playing board games wasn't something we did more of because we always made time for that. It wasn't so much what we did that was the difference, it was when we did it. We now had the flexibility to do it the moment it was asked of us. "Dad, you want to build with me?" "Let's play monopoly." "Can we go for a bike ride?" Those are things Gess asks a lot but this month they were answered with an immediate action to do the thing instead of, "Yes Gess, in a little bit." "We will do that later tonight." Or even, "Maybe tomorrow or this weekend."
I also had the ability to act upon my own inclinations right away. Through my Bible study and prayer time I am learning that to be God's servant I need to be available. So, part of our visits were stirred out of the fact that I had someone on my mind. Instead of just praying for them, or even sending a card or calling I baked them something and saw them in person. I am more willing and able to follow the prompting of the Spirit when I am less distracted by media.
I also learned that while I have a lot to say, no one needs to hear it, at least not all the time. The first couple of weeks I had several things run through my mind where I would think "I need to post that on Facebook." Sometimes it would be something humorous, or a serious slant on a social problem of the day. Other times it was just something I thought people might find interesting. I was faced with the reality that I really did think people needed to hear what I had to say. I realized that so many of my pithy comments were more about building up my ego than about informing or entertaining others. That was a harsh reality to face.
I have to tell you the hardest day for staying away from Facebook was election night. I was glued to my television watching the results online and I had so much I wanted to say. But you know what. No one who needed to hear would listen and everyone who did already agreed. I was OK enjoying the evening alone and instead of giving man the credit, I gave it to God. He is the one who puts rulers in place. Not a one of them will save this country. Only He has the power to do it.
The truth is that life is about relationships and things like internet and social media have its place in assisting us with them, but all too often it ends up replacing them. We interact with more people than we ever have before and at the end of the day people feel more alone than ever before too. So my goal is to log off more often and get out into the real world. See people face to face. Not in a virtual book or on a website but live and in person. That is how God made us. To be together. I hope that I will not lose that perspective as I enter back in.