Saturday, April 28, 2012

Our Great Experiment

A few months, a friend told me about a project she is part of that really piqued my interest. The group was making lists of things they wanted to do in their life, not exactly like a “Bucket List” but similar to that. Instead of only wild things they wanted to accomplish, like skydiving or bungee jumping, each made a list of somewhat more simple things they wanted to do. Each shared their list and helped one another accomplish their goals if possible.  

I went to their website to read what it was all about and started my own list. One of the things on my list was to paint a picture with my dad, which I accomplished on my visit to see my parents in Washington in early February. Another item on my list was to spend a day without any technology. Yesterday was my day and what a day it was! 

Brian was at work all morning, played golf in the afternoon, and then headed to a hotel that evening (he had a sprint triathlon near the hotel early the next day). Ashley was at school all day, had an activity in the afternoon, and planned to spend the night at a friend’s house. Each had made their plans before I thought about doing our technology-free day. So, it was just me and Brielle with no disruptions to Brian and Ashley’s routine. 
We started at seven in the morning. However, before we started, I brewed my coffee (no I wasn’t giving up all technology AND my coffee!) and checked e-mails and the social networking site I often go on. Then, our adventure began! 

What we went without:
-      All high tech items such as the computer, MP3 players, cell phones, and my notebook
-      Appliances such as the stove, oven, microwave, and all portable appliances (no, I didn’t turn off the freezer, refrigerator or water heater!)
-      Anything electric such as lights (I had to put painters tape over switched just to remind me) and AC (that got tough around 4pm when the temperature inside the house reached 80 degrees)
-      Anything that used batteries such as land line telephones and even our electric toothbrushes

Our “cheats”:
-      My camera and camcorder (I just HAD to document the day!)
-      A flashlight at night when we camped in the backyard (for safety!)

What we did all day:
-      I read the paper with my coffee instead of watching news show in TV and browsing the Internet.
-      Our usual homeschooling routine most of the morning.
-      Sat on the back deck. Brielle wrote in her notebook, colored and practiced math facts with her flash cards while I stamped/sealed Ashley’s graduation announcements (she had done everything else in the weeks before), wrote in my journal (I was months behind and had PLENTY to write), and wrote letters/card to five friends (another item on my “list” is to write a letter to one friend each week and I was behind on that).
-      After lunch, we played together. We put together puzzles, played “Go Fish” and other card games, and played dice games (adding, subtracting, and comparing the numbers of each roll).
-      I cleaned the house, which is my usual Friday routine (although I vacuumed the day before).
-      We read a few chapters together in a new book in her favorite puppy series.
-      Late in the afternoon, we put up the two-man tent my sister-in-law gave the girls over 10 years ago. (Thanks, Tracy!) We planned to camp out in the backyard that night but watched the darkening sky carefully.
-      I read a new book from my favorite author (Jennifer Chiaverini - She writes generational stories about quilting often set in historical times - I read the first few chapters of her 18th book!) and sipped wine (couldn’t do without that!) while Brielle looked through her teen magazines.
-      After dinner, we got ready for our campout and headed out back to the tent since there had only been a few sprinkles and the sky was clearing up.
-      We slept outside in the tent! Our dog, Cooper, loved it as much as Brielle did! (I was terribly uncomfortable all night even though we had lined the tent floor with pillows as our mattress)
-      We woke up around 6am to the sounds of birds, goats (a nearby neighbor has about 10), and barking dogs.
-      We were in the house and anxious to go back to our technology items at 7am. 

When we got back to technology, I had missed two calls on the landline, had 11 new emails, one message and 13 notifications on a social networking site, no texts, and no missed calls on my cell phone. Life went on without us being plugged into it!

What we learned about a day without any technology:
-      It takes a little planning. The day before, I printed out her math worksheets, vacuumed, made sure we had plenty of things to keep us busy, and prepared my friends and family.
-      We missed technology more and less than I thought. I didn’t realize how much we use technology. I go on the computer to check the calendar and look up simple things, even to check the spelling of words. I text little notes to family and friends while I’m thinking of them and I just had to make a list of things to contact people about later. I had to do math by hand (eek!) instead of using a calculator.
-      We use technology automatically. I had to put painters tape over the light switches or I would have flicked them on without a thought. Some tasks were difficult without lights such as accessing our homeschooling supplies in the windowless laundry room and cleaning the house especially dark hallways and bathrooms. In addition, I realized lights just add a sense of warmth and not feeling alone. I hadn’t expected those feelings.
-      Our senses were heightened. The house was incredibly quiet without the white noise of the fan on the computer, the sounds of the washing machine, dryer, or dishwasher, or just the constant “clatter” of the TV or radio being on as background noise. Instead, we heard birds, bugs, cars, lawn mowers, wind in the trees, kids laughing as they got off the school bus, and ice dropping in the freezer. We even smelled the blooming trees and bushes in our yard and a neighbor doing laundry through the open windows.
-      We stayed busy. At first, I was antsy. But, then we settled in and only got a little bored late in the day. There’s plenty to do without technology!
-      We slowed down and appreciated quiet time. It was amazing just how relaxed I felt as the day went on. No rushing from one thing to another. I even read aloud to Brielle at a slower pace than I usually do without noticing at first!
-      It can be done and it can be fun! We had a great day together.

Will we do it again? Yes! However, I think next time we won’t go quite as extreme. A day without the interruptions and time sucking qualities that the computer, phones, TVs, and MP3 players have would still give us a great break from our usual hectic days. I highly recommend a day without technology, no matter how extreme you go!

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