Every Monday, our family prepares for Family Home Evening. What is Family Home Evening? In the Mormon church, we have one night a week, usually Monday, dedicated to spending quality time with our family. There really is no certain way to do it, but it typically begins with a prayer, followed by a song, a short lesson, maybe a game or other fun activity, and a treat! (My husband’s favorite part!)
I had family home evening in my home growing up. It wasn’t every Monday, and sometimes it wasn’t perfect (My brother and I used to fight a lot!). It didn’t always have a lesson, but the important part was we were spending time together and forming a bond as a family. That’s what I remember most about it. As the years have gone by, the purpose of family home evening has not changed. However, the way in which we spend it together has.
OK, I have a confession. I love my smart phone. Phew! That one hurt to say out loud. My parents live in another state, so I love texting, and being able to Skype with them! Technology is great and I love it. I do not love the time it takes away from my family.
Like with any job, sometimes you need a mental break. I love being at home with my daughter, but some days I just need “Me time.” Me time, for me, includes kicking my feet up on my couch, eating my dark chocolate (has to be Dove!) and floating away into virtual land. I don’t think that’s too much to ask every once in a while! But it can be if we let it take over and cut into our family time.
It seems today the definition of family time has changed. When we did family home evenings, we played games, had talent shows, and really spent quality time together. Now when we spend time together, family time is being interrupted by taking a minute to upload a picture to Facebook, or sending a quick text. I know on one more than one occasion I have said, “Hold on. Let me look it up really quick!” during family time. I have discovered how quickly 1 minute can turn to 5, to 15, to 30.
Knowing this is a struggle for me, and trying to be a little better every day, I had an idea! I thought to add up the minutes I spend on my phone or computer when I say “I’m going to check something really quick” and see how much time was cutting into family time. Are you ready? I couldn’t do it. I was completely frightened by the idea that it would be more than I could handle. I was afraid I would be faced with the fact that I didn’t spend quality time with my family.
I was reading a friend’s blog the other day and she said something that really struck a chord with me. She was talking about having time for her hobbies now that she is a mother of two, but it really helped me gain perspective in regards to this “internet obsession”. She said one day she will have plenty of time to do the things she wants to do but right now, is the only time she has to raise her children.
That statement was an eye opener for me. This is the only time my “baby” will be 2. One day when I blink, she will be asking me if she can go on dates. Then she will ask me if she can get married. Then, she will be out of the house and I will have an empty house with way more time than I will know what to do with. Those are the days I will look back and realize all the time I missed because I was on the computer, or on my phone. I don’t want to have those regrets.
Upon having this realization, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I dropped everything I was doing, bundled up my daughter, and we went outside! I left my messy kitchen, I left my pile of laundry (which I refer lovingly as Mt. Everest) and most importantly, I left my phone inside as well. We played in the snow and brought some inside to make chocolate snow ice cream! We had so much fun!
In that moment I felt so happy. It was a happiness I don’t get from surfing the computer or my phone. All that gives me is mindless entertainment and a headache! My daughter, she brings me so much joy and she teaches me things while I am teaching her. All she wants is to spend time with me and only me. There’s no replacement for that. I learned I will not take advantage of the time I have with my family and friends and spend time with them and only them.
I challenge you to take some time with your family and, whatever you’re doing with them, do it and nothing else. No more checking your phone and calling it playing with your kids. No more playing on the computer with your husband in the same room and calling it spending time together. Let’s take the challenge together and serve our families by spending quality time together–technology free.
I am sure if I had added up all the minutes it wouldn’t have been as bad as I thought. I tend to suffer from mommy guilt and that causes me to be really hard on myself. I am doing better at recognizing the times I am doing good for my family, and focusing less on the bad. Either way, I am grateful for little reminders like that.
If you don’t do family home evenings in your family, start! Get out and go bowling, or have a game night! You can do it however works best for your family. The important part is to spend time together. I promise you will receive so many blessings by doing so!