Unplugging for Families
You have probably noticed that all of the Spiritual Practices have a couple of things in common they are all about making space for God, so we can connect with God and so we can be transformed by God. They all require a little (emphasis on little) change on our part. Fasting, Praying, Listening for God, Simplifying and Unplugging are all similar in that they are a step back from the world for a brief break with the divine. Jesus was quite good at this, he very regularly and literally stepped away from stuff and went somewhere quiet to pray.
How will you and your family practice unplugging? Here are some small, relatively easy ideas:
- Put your devices in a basket for a couple of hours around dinner time. Spend a couple of extra minutes at the table talking and sharing about your day, and then read a chapter from the Bible and talk about it!
- Go for a walk or a bike ride without your devices. Before you start out, read some Scripture to think about while you walk, like a walking Lectio Divina
- Declare the couple of hours before bed electronics free, do quiet relaxing non-electronic things so that by the time you are ready to go to bed your mind has slowed down enough to talk with God meaningfully. Added benefit: the time away from the blue screens will genuinely help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.
- One Sunday a month declare genuine Sabbath – go to church, have a Sunday lunch together, discuss the sermon and/or Sunday school lesson (they will all line up while we are using the Follow Me curriculum). Then hang out together as a family with no electronic interference, maybe play a board game or frisbee or go to a pool. You will be surprised how much fun it is, how easy it is, how much your kids will enjoy just being with you and how much easier it is to hear God when all the other noise is turned off.
Unplugging for Parents
I must admit right at the beginning that the irony of me, of all people, writing last week about Simplicity and this week about Unplugging is NOT lost on me. I am terrible at it. I have lots of very good reasons why, and the fact remains, I am still terrible at it. So I am publicly committing that I will really and truly be taking my own advice – honest.
We all must remember this is not punitive, this is to give us time to step away from all the rushing and busy-ness and constant activity of our lives and to rest in the presence of the divine.
Here is my own plan for unplugging:
- no more than 8 hours of screen time a day of any sort, including my Kindle – I am definitely going to have to dust off my library card.
- at least one day each week with NO computer time – when that is simply not possible, I must deduct from another day that amount of time. And that day might be in addition to taking a genuine Sabbath Day each week.
- though I will take my phone with me when I walk for safety’s sake, I will NOT make a call or listen to anything. It will just be me, Eddie (my dog) and God
- I will make quiet time a PRIORITY, time for my own personal reading of Scripture, for listening for God and for talking to God
In some ways unplugging is not that big a deal as I am not a TV watcher and I don’t play any video games. But I do love googling stuff just because I can, and I read A LOT mostly on my KIndle or my phone. I will also admit that I may well listen to music and it will almost certainly be through an electronic device, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to be quite the same thing. Please feel free to call me out if you think I’m wrong – I may be.
I must say I am looking forward to these changes, and I hope you will consider making you own and look forward to hearing what your changes are and whether you feel a change for the better in yourself.
Unplugging for Kids
Most of us, whether we admit it or not, like a schedule. We more or less like to go to bed at the same time, we more or less like to get up at the Same time, we more or less like to eat at the same time and so on. If we know what our schedule is it’s kind of fun to not follow it sometimes – like when we are on vacation – and again, if we are honest, it’s nice to get home and get back to our regular routine.
Unplugging is like a mini-vacation. It means not being near your phone, or your tablet, your laptop, or your tv. It means letting your brain just go where it goes. One of the most important things that can happen when you unplug is that you to slow down long enough, you quiet your brain enough to listen for and talk to God.
Communion is a way of being fed by God – a way of being recharged by God – a way of being filled up by the Holy Spirit. Unplugging is another way – it is a way you do it pretty much by yourself, and communion is something we do with others, but the being recharged is very similar.
Unplugging can mean a lot of different things, but it’s important to learn what it means for you so you can just stop, and listen to and talk to God. Some of us like to do this while we are moving – walking, running, riding a bike, swimming, or maybe even doing yoga. Some of us do this by just sitting still – strange as that sounds to me, it’s true. Some of us can unplug by doing art, or playing music and still some by reading the Bible. None of these is better, and none of these is wrong and it is NOT a complete list.
When you take this time to unplug, and then when you plug back in, it’s like you get to see your life like it’s all shiny and new. You remember how much fun you have playing with your friends and how great it is to have dinner with your family and how nice a warm bath feels at the end of the day. Unplugging helps you remember all the blessings God has given you, it helps you to remember to tell God thank you and helps you be the person God put you here to be.
Director of Children & Young Family Ministries