Monday, October 1, 2012

What to do with a day of freedom?: No Technology Sunday- Part 2

Recently, I detailed my experiment to turn off technology on Sundays.

The rules I made were no computer, no TV, no cell phone. (You can see below that I did allow myself to take photos on Sunday so I wasn't 100% technology free. I was just trying to eliminate the technology that felt intrusive). You might be wondering what did I choose to do with the abundance of free time on Sunday? Mostly, I didn't try to fill the empty time with something else. I didn't try to make plans ahead of time. I just tried to be more present in each moment... very zen, right?

Saying "Yes" More 
On a typical day, I find that when Clara asks me to do something while I am working at my computer that I often ask her to wait for whatever she wants to do, and sometimes this means that whatever she is asking to do doesn't end up happening at all. Since starting my no-technolgy Sundays, I found myself saying "yes" much more often than usual, and it felt good.

Sunday #1: Clara about to fly away at the end of a church picnic.

Clara: Will you read another book to me? How about a third book? A fourth book?

Me: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Clara: Can we do an art project together with tape and glue and markers and paint? (This means taking down the big art bins from the top of a closet- not a big deal but something that requires a chunk of time to clean up so it tends to happen monthly rather than weekly).

Me: Sure.

Clara: I want to look at every box of snacks in the grocery aisle and pick a special snack I want for school.

Me: "OK," I said, as Clara carefully and proudly placed a bag of baby goldfish crackers in our cart.

It was interesting to me how these slight shifts in our interaction felt so significant in their impact. I liked the feeling of shopping for groceries without any rushed sense of urgency. Even if others around me were walking at lightning speed, I felt relaxed knowing that whether it took me 30 minutes or 50 minutes to finish our shopping that it was OK- we had enough time. We enjoyed the experience more- I let Clara push the cart herself until it became too heavy for her to self-navigate. 

Less Technology= More Time for Creativity
Later, at home, I had fun curling up on the floor next to her and making artwork for her dollhouse together as part of our "art project." And I loved being able to read book after book to her since on a regular day, we usually only read one.

 Sunday #1: Making Artwork for the dollhouse.

 Sunday #1: Some art for the dollhouse dining room table.

 Sunday #1: The Upper floor of the dollhouse gets an art makeover.

Sunday #2: Picnic at the beach as the sun sets.

 Sunday #3: Clara chose to return to the beach the next week.
I found that the time we spent away from technology on these Sundays seemed to be in inverse relation to the amount of time we felt we had. Each moment of the day felt longer and fuller. I know it's not fair to totally blame technology for feeling rushed. This experiment wasn't just about giving up technology but also about being very mindful about how I spend my time with the emphasis being on spending time with Clara. Nonetheless, it felt especially freeing to be apart from my computer, cell phone, and TV during this time. I felt like I gave myself permission to be more creative with my time.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Technology-Free Sunday is so appealing to me. I have always had an affinity for "old-fashioned times" often feeling that perhaps I was born in the wrong century. When I was seven or eight years old, the power went out at my house, and instead of lamenting about the lack of heat and TV I decided to create an old-fashioned inn in our house. My siblings and I made menus for the inn, and we designed programs for a musical performance to provide entertainment for the evening. I remember proudly handing out our handmade programs to our small, but captive audience- our parents. When we got older, we expanded our cast to include three of our cousins, and our audience expanded accordingly to grandparents and our aunt and uncle. These performances remain some of my most cherished memories from childhood.

For the past few Sundays that Clara and I have tried this experiment, I found that these Sundays provided a sense of self-renewal as well as a renewed sense of connection between Clara and me. I can't be sure how long I will keep it up, but for now, Sunday is my favorite day of the week.



  1. This makes me (as always) long for those endless summer days in Ohio, the swing set, and 'play room' under the stairs.

  2. Also, I love the artwork hanging in the doll house!

  3. I love the doll house, it's just beautiful. Ellyn, I love how you are spending time with Clara, especially on Sunday. Very good article, brava Ellyn.