Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Lenten Fast

Well, it's that time of year again, folks: the Lenten fast from the internet. (gasp!)

My neighbor Lisa and I fasted from the internet last year with a few slight allowances. It was such a rewarding experience that we've decided to do it again! I thought I could pull off a TV free summer, but that didn't go over so well. However, we definitely are redoing the Lenten fast. Why?

The internet can be such a boon to folks like us: stay at home moms of young kids. When those kids are sick in the winter and/or you're stuck at home for lengthy nap times, the internet is a nice breath of fresh air. Surf some other mom blogs, check out book reviews on amazon, look for what's on sale, check email, find a new crafty project to while away the home hours.... But the internet can also be a MAJOR distraction from what's really important in life and, I'll tell ya, kids don't know the difference between something "important" (like balancing your checkbook online) and something "just for fun" (reading a blog) when you're staring at that computer screen. They just see a parent not engaged with them. Occasionally, this is fine. But it certainly doesn't need to be your modus operandi while you should be spending time with them. And, we've all been there: "how can 2 hours have gone by???!!" It just sucks your time away.

Last year, in brief,
  1. Lisa and I logged much more face to face time during our fast than we had previously,
  2. got so much more done around the house because we used those little 15 minute time slots throughout the day to be productive rather than check email,
  3. enjoyed spring and spent more time outside,
  4. felt less stressed,
  5. spent more time with the Lord, and
  6. thoroughly enjoyed it!
This year is already a bit different. For one, I haven't spent days frantically printing things that I "might" need whilst on the fast. I broke some bad habits last year that I've never really picked back up (lots of mindless surfing on the web, for one). And, I'm in school--via the internet. So, my fast will look different this year, too. But it's really crept up on me--no counting down the days, no wondering what in the world I would do, no--I learned some really great things last year:
  1. The library is still an outstanding place for information,
  2. Kids can look at library books with you and/or you can sit in the same room looking at a book and it's not as "unengaged" as when you're staring at a computer screen,
  3. Not that many people email me--checking it once a day is really more than enough,
  4. Nobody "needs" my blogs and nobody will really miss a 40 day absence,
  5. The internet is only a tool--not a way of life.
So, my "rules" for this year:
  1. Check email once a day (morning).
  2. Perform online banking functions.
  3. Access already saved recipes (via full tummies primarily).
  4. Perform school-related duties*.
No checking the weather (I'll have to just wait and see or ... go outside!). No checking the sales on kids' clothes, shopping for miscellany, finding out a craft project.... Nothing. *And, I've picked a paper topic for my next assignment that actually involves... personal interviews. (gasp!) I'm going to try to do those via phone, not email. I'll still be doing significant research online, but this will break it up.

Next week is my spring break and all of my family (but me) will be gone this weekend: could have been prime time to do a little blogging or surfing or what have you...but it won't be happening here! I won't even be attending class virtually or doing as much homework. Instead, I have a couple of books I want to read, some time scheduled with friends I don't see often, and a LONG list of house projects. I've even reserved some cookbooks at the library, hoping I won't need to access my saved internet recipes much.

In case you're interested, here are our reflections on our experiences last year: this blog and Lisa's blog.

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