the joy of disconnecting
It’s strange, when so much of my content – the podcast especially – is centred around connection and community through creativity, to be talking about disconnecting. The blessing of technology in 2023 means 90% of my crafty village lives anywhere but here, and yet we can still keep up with each other and our projects and our happenings through our screens. The flip side of that, is feeling like it can be hard to take a break. When the children were tiny, I did screen free Sunday regularly, but over the years it’s slipped away. I’ve brought it back this year, and it’s interesting how it’s rewiring my relationship with my phone.
I do have some caveats. Once, I used to put my phone on aeroplane mode. I could not be contacted. I could not “jump on real quick”. One full blissful day of silence. But times and needs change, and I no longer do that. Instead, I use the screen time function to block all my apps aside from the ones I allow. Messenger is ok – it’s healthy screen time, connecting me with dear friends and sharing our projects and day and general conversation. I leave my library apps unblocked so I can read books I’ve borrowed. Likewise, Spotify and audible are allowable. I also leave my camera unblocked, because I’ve found some of the best documenting comes when there is nowhere to post it.
A couple of weeks back, I came back online in the evening, and shared a “craft with me” reel. Someone asked how I filmed the reel if it was “screen free” Sunday. For me, restarting this weekly ritual, the point isn’t to completely remove the phone from my day. It’s about removing the negative parts of phone time from my day. The notifications, the scroll to fill in five minutes of downtime, the games instead of something more fulfilling. I don’t want to give up my phone, or the friends who live in my pocket. Instead, I want Screen Free Sunday to work as a reset each week to stop any bad habits before they become ingrained.
It’s a powerful reminder. Last week I downloaded a new game one night while child free. Yesterday, instead of opening it while in the car for 45 minutes, I opened IndyReads. Guess who finished a whole book, instead of three levels of a game?
The first day I did SFS this year, I set up a dedicated focus on my phone, with minimal apps and a Sunday specific wallpaper. When the focus switched off and flicked my phone back to it’s usual screen, I wanted to claw my eyeballs out – the riot of apps and colour was far far too much. I immediately cleaned out my home screen and kicked most of my apps back to the app library. I also set up a morning focus so I would have even less on my screen until my day was well underway. The magic of the weekly reset is real.
So what DOES a screen free Sunday look like for me? Yesterday was a non-church day for us, so it started with a sleep in, after a 50th on Saturday night. Over coffee with the mister, I checked in with the chat, but no-one was online yet, so I didn’t leave a message. I opened my computer, resisted the urge to open safari, and went straight to Design Space (another one of my allowed screen activities, since it’s creative), to set up the last couple of projects I needed to cut for my Cricut email challenge launching this week. Once the Cricut was running, I grabbed another coffee and dropping into the chat with my SFS list, and reporting back with photos as I got projects done.
Once all that was finished and cleaned up, I pulled out my journaling bible, and spent some time reading the passage noted this week in our church bulletin as the preaching passage, and working in my bible, making some notes and praying for some friends it brought to mind. I got that finished and tidied away just in time to get dressed for lunch. Once a month we do a little Sunday drive to an outlying village for a pub lunch. It’s an excuse to get out of the house and do something fun, while also getting the learner driver the hours he needed. I took my knitting, but it all remained untouched while I read there and back, and I also snuck in some photos for my 365 project before we headed back home, where I parked myself on the couch and finished the book.
To wrap up the day, I finished knitting my sock while listening to an audiobook. I had intended to do some project life catchup but the boys were playing lego on the table, and Miss Butterfly was drawing on the remaining empty space, so I had to put that off. Everything came back on line at 5, and while the kids had a dip in the pool before dinner, I jumped online quickly for some Saturday night craft along catch up, and tagged some photos for printing. I did end my evening with screen time, but it was the good kind – editing photos for my 365, the family album, and some blog photos. Technically I could have done them during the day, since it falls more under creativity, but I don’t want to fall into the trap of using loopholes for things that really could be put off.
For me, the flexibility of my self-imposed SFS boundaries works really well. I get to still chat to my friends (though the chat is often much quieter on Sundays while we’re off enjoying non-online life). I can snap photos and record videos. I can work on projects that tangentially require a computer or phone to set up. But at the same time, I can step off the world and disconnect from all the noise, resting, reseting, and setting up a happy mind for the week ahead.