Why I love Screen-Free Sundays

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This week’s blog post is slightly off-topic, as it doesn’t directly relate to nutrition or exercise. It does, however, fall squarely within the realms of wellbeing, and therefore I thought it was still a worthwhile post to write.

Back in September I asked my husband and children if, as a birthday present, we could trial having “Screen-Free Sundays”. This was largely brought about by the fact that we had recently returned from a holiday, and it had occurred to me that one of my favourite things about going on holiday is that we all spend far less time in front of screens and therefore more present and connected with each other. Returning from holiday always makes me feel down, and I realised that part of the reason is that I know coming home means that connected feeling will be greatly reduced until we’re next on holiday.

I decided therefore, to see if we could make this connectedness part of our weekly routine, which is why I proposed a trial of “Screen-Free Sundays”. As I said, that was back in September. At the time of writing this it is now November, and nobody in my family seems to have noticed that we’re still doing it. Even more incredibly, it seems that it’s now a part of our week that our children look forward to as much as I do.

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Right from the first moment “Screen-Free Sunday” surprised me. When I first proposed the idea it was my eldest son Jack (8) – the biggest telly addict in our house – who exclaimed “that sounds great”. The surprises and amazing moments that have come about on “Screen-free Sundays” have continued from there. Here are just a few of them:  

1.    My daughter Lily (6) now regularly offers to help with any cooking my husband and I are doing on Sundays.

2.    My eldest son Jack, who my husband and I used to have to nag endlessly in order for him to do his homework, last Sunday of his own accord went and got his homework out of his bad and started doing it. I was shocked and am certain he wouldn’t have done this is the option of having the TV on was available.

3.    Last Sunday I came out of our room at 8.30am after the hubby and I had been drinking coffee and reading the paper (another new habit) to find that only our daughter was up. After that initial panic of wondering what had happened to my boys had subsided, I stuck my head around both of their doors and was amazed by the sight that greeted me. Both boys were each in their own beds reading. Books. Actual books. My eldest Jack had read an entire book he’d got from the library the previous day, and was incredibly chuffed with himself for doing so. The happiness seeing both them doing this gave me will make me glow inside for a long time.

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4.    One Sunday the kids gathered a load of blankets, cushions, chairs and pegs and turned our whole living room into a den, much to the bemusement of our puppy. They made a total mess but I had to let it go and revel in the fact that they were being creative and bonding in their endeavour.

5.    This last Sunday my two youngest begged me to take them for a run. Honestly. This is due to the fact that they’re doing a Santa Dash next weekend and we had discussed them doing some practice runs beforehand, but I know for a fact that if the TV had been on the thought wouldn’t have even crossed their minds.

6.    This Sunday all three children came out to help my husband and I while we were doing jobs in the garden. Normally they would ask if they could have the TV on while we’re doing things like this.

7.    They do loads of crafting on Sundays now.

8.    They play with toys they haven’t touched for ages on Sundays.

9.    My husband and I talk more on Sunday evenings, when we would normally be drawn into our relative screens.

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10. The kids play together more now.

11. The kids join me more on dog walks, even when it’s raining.

12. We do more as a family and engage with each other more on Sundays now.

13. Sundays really do feel like a mini holiday where we step our way from our normal routines and concerns.

Of all the benefits “Screen-free Sunday” has given us, the biggest has to be the fact that our children know they have our 100 per cent attention on Sundays. It’s one day of the week they won’t find us absorbed in our phones when they want to talk to us or show us something. I know the fact that this can be the case on the other six days of the week isn’t good, but that’s our reality unfortunately. I love that for one day of the week they don’t see us absorbed in our phones or laptops but instead might see us relaxing by reading the paper or a book. Hopefully through seeing this they’re more likely to do it themselves. It seems from point three above that this may already be the case.

“Screen-free Sunday” isn’t always easy to keep to, probably especially for my husband who lives and breathes technology. I find it tricky at times too. Our life is organised via technology so there have been social occasions that we’ve missed out on because we hadn’t seen messages asking if we want to do various things.  

Also I tend to do most of my cooking for the week on Sundays, for which I tend to turn to the internet for ideas. Since “Screen-free Sunday” began I just have to be more organised and print recipes in advance, or I have to go retro and pull out the lovely cookery books I have that most of the time just sit there gathering dust.   

There’s something about having that one-day conscious break from technology, and social media in particular, that makes me more conscious about the way I’m using them/it throughout the rest of the week. As I alluded to above, technology and social media are part of our reality now. They do make life easier and enrich it in many ways, but they also have big down-sides. Taking this step back once a week reminds me that I am the master of the technology, not the other way round.

I didn’t want this post to sound preachy or worthy, but wanted to share my family’s experience because so far, it has been far incredible than I ever imagined it would be. If you have even the slightest thought that it might be something you’d like to try out in your own home, I highly recommend that you do so. Nothing bad will come of trying it for a few weeks, but so much good could be awaiting if you just give it a go.

If you decide to give this a try please share your experience with me via my Facebook page ‘Hilton Health’ or via Instagram where you will find me at “hilton_health”. Although if you message me on a Sunday please be aware that it will take me a day to get back to you. 

 

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Laura Hilton