Weekend bonus shot, 08.28.11 (Monday edition)


Sunday morning, Berkeley, CA.

Ever since I began to read about digital sabbaths (and later, thanks to Gwen Bell, sabbaticals), I was convinced that observing one regularly would be critical to my mental health. Both the beloved and I work at home a great deal, using the internet and communicating via email incessantly.  Our big win, up until recently, had been to not answer the phone (or the smartphone-delivered email, or text message) during dinner. A lilliputian accomplishment.  

After years of stealing time to write or work while acting as caregiver to the kids, I had become uncomfortably familiar with the feeling of their being a pestering distraction from what I wanted or felt I needed to do on the computer.  Since I began my job six months ago, they’re now cared for by others during all my work-from-home hours.  Still, during this first half-year on the job, I’ve often continued to work up to, through, and after dinner.  I never really left it on the weekends.  Even when I wasn’t at my desk, my mind was.


I recently took a week’s vacation from work in early August–my first, since starting.  I’d cleared the third and largest of a series of work hurdles, and could finally take a rest. Freshly reflecting on Gwen Bell’s teachings around mindful internet use, I persuaded the beloved to observe a weekly, day-long break from all glowing screens and the ingress they provide to our busy-busy-busyness. Our kids complained only once, when they wanted to play a game on the computer.  But then they saw that both of us were completely, unequivocally available to them from sunup to sundown (we chose Sunday). We all had one another’s company and attention, to bathe in and draw sustenance from. The kids quietly, obviously, began to thrive.  And so have we.

We just observed our third digital sabbath, and I am a rabid convert.

5 thoughts on “Weekend bonus shot, 08.28.11 (Monday edition)”

    • Thank you, Lynda: I appreciate the encouragement. We’re just at an embryonic state with this as a family, and I still have a lot more self-reflection and discipline ahead of me regarding how I either steer myself or get steered (by what? whimsy!) online.

      It seems clear that the digital delivery to our pockets or purses of–you name it: other people’s ideas, voices, reminders, analysis, requests, complaints, revelations, approval, attention, and even (yep) reflections on life and parenting in a blog–stands as a heckuva challenge. Worth rising to, and paying close attention.

  1. Three cheers for sanity, and for uninterrupted and un-electronically mediated real life person-to-person time. Well worth drawing a line in the sand.

  2. Hip, hip, hooray!

    Have you seen this chart? We may have ten stations of the cross to get through, as it were, but at the end there’s still face-to-face conversation. Of course #10 is most intimate, #1 is least. That might go w/ out saying but you never know who’s reading! (Looking someone in the eye and really listening is hard enough in the first place without the speed bumps and simulacra! But lard love us we can still keep our eyes on the prize.)

    todays communication infographic 10 Levels of Intimacy in Today’s Communication

    [Source: OnlyInfographic]

  3. Heya, LD, the site’s looking great!

    And I love this post. We talk about this a lot in our house, especially since one of us has real concerns around the appropriateness of various forms of communication – facebook vs. email vs. face time. We are just recovering from a tropical storm, and 56 hours without power… I have to admit that for the sake of reassuring distant family, having the “smart” phone was awesome, but it was equally awesome to not have a television. We played cards by candlelight after the kidlet went to bed, and really got to talk. Fantabulous.

    I think, though, that in this here above-chart, I’d swap texting and emailing. My sweetie has reconnected closely with an old college friend who’s going through some tough times, and they send a lot of long, well-thought-out emails – something that wouldn’t be possible by text.

    Good luck with your sabbath keeping. In my experience, I find that traditions help – always going for an adventure, or having friends over for dinner, or having a late-night dance party. 🙂 Keep us posted on how it goes!

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