Eleven days ago, my husband and I packed up the family car and loaded in the kids for a 72-hour-break from our busy, tech-connected life in the suburbs.
Embarking on an internet- and cable tv-free weekend, I initially felt as lost as my children acted. I’ve become increasingly attached to my writing schedule, using my laptop for word processing, internet research, and emailing with my phenomenal critique partner. Of course, I also write this weekly blog and am on Facebook and Twitter daily. At night, I generally relax a half hour or so by tuning into HGTV or Travel Channel if there aren’t any ESPN highlights to capture my interest.
Why not pack up the gadgets and bring ’em along for the trip? To be honest, I considered it. A LOT. Facing a five-hour ride, I was pretty tempted to use that time to meet a self-made deadline for my work-in-progress. Yet I’d been inspired by a writer friend’s suggestion. Ashley Cockerill had posted this tip on her blog and I wanted us to take on her challenge as a family:
Take a computer-free day once a week to help reduce stress and eye strain. No cellphones. No e-readers. No computers. No TV. Disconnecting for a day is tough, but worth it.
As mom to an autistic son and very typical college-age daughter, this was easier said than done. To ease their worries, I brainstormed with them all the things we love about the Adirondacks. I wanted our back-to-simple-pleasures weekend to be just that–a pleasure. In addition to seeing loved ones, we agreed that making s’mores was our favorite activity. I promised to make it happen and promptly bought the three simple ingredients. (Could it really be this easy?)
We arrived upstate and enjoyed a lazy summer afternoon in the country. The kids and we picked blackberries, checked out Grandpa’s John Deere lawn mower, ate lunch, and visited with relatives on my dad’s comfy porch under a cool awning.
A rain shower later that day threatened our much-anticipated marshmallow roast. Standing indoors around a microwave, waiting in thirty-second increments for our chocolate and marshmallow to melt, wouldn’t have been quite the same experience. Heck, we could do that at home and play Wii to boot!
Thankfully, the storm passed and the quest was on for dry kindling around the property. Soon a fire blazed in the cement block fireplace used for all our outdoor family gatherings since I was a little kid. Adults and children alike sat around the fire in awe as it licked at the logs to gradually die down, leaving a small flame with glowing embers. Perfect for what we had in mind.
Twirling marshmallow-tipped sticks over the fireplace, my children enjoyed making roasted creations to order. At first, my son was nervous about the fire, its heat intense if he stood a smidge too close. With his dad’s help, he prevailed and proudly made marshmallows for Mom and himself. My daughter giggled as she ate her gooey chocolate concoction. I did, too. S’mores are yummy, and I generally don’t eat such decadent sweets.
We had a wonderful night by the fire, with family and food. I must admit we didn’t make it through our weekend completely tech-free, however, using googled directions (thanks to a nice hotel receptionist) to find our way to my niece’s beautiful wedding the following day (as highly anticipated as the s’mores, I might add).
Was our “computer-free weekend” worth it? I cannot speak for my kids, but I believe it was a success. We returned home relaxed and rejuvenated. I was more productive that week than I’d been the past few. Maybe there’s something to be said for taking a day or two off from my internet-dependency. Once in awhile.
What summer treat do you enjoy with your family? Do you make a concerted effort to “unplug” for a day now and then, or would you consider it?