We got back this past weekend from some time in Acadia National Park. We camped for 8 days — almost perfect weather! — and spent time together as a family and were mostly unplugged. 8 days with no phone calls, emails, Facebook updates, twitter feeds, online news (save Red Sox scores), and the rest.
It was heavenly.
And we so needed it. You know how it gets when you don’t get time to just be. You get harried. Fried. Overwhelmed. We were getting to that point since we’ve not had any time “away” since our arrival here in Southborough.
But part of the problem is that when we get away we still stay tethered to our electronics. We still text or check email or whatever and that means that we aren’t present with the people we’re with.
I know it’s hard. Some have jobs that mean they always need to be connected (as a priest, I know when I’m around, the on-call part is all the time). But how can you get unplugged and away for just a bit because we need the time to rejuvenate.
Here are a few tips:
1. Make a covenant with the people you’re with about technology usage.
Take time before you leave to decide what the expectations are. And be specific. Saying, “No texting while we’re eating meals” or “I won’t check email more than once a day at Noon” can help a great deal. In my case, I checked to see if I had voice mails once per day (when we got cell coverage while driving—no coverage at our campsite).
2. Try to go technology free at least part of the time.
Even if you are staying home for vacation this year, make plans to go technology free. No calls, emails, texts. I personally think we should try to do this once a week for Sabbath, but this is certainly a good idea, if not a necessity, while on vacation.
3. Spend time with the people you love doing things you love.
If the outdoors are your thing, go hiking. If it’s reading, browse bookstores. While you’re doing this you can engage in some great conversation—it doesn’t need to be “deep”—about life, or our dreams, or even what’s so great about the place you’re at. We don’t spend enough time connecting in our hectic lives, so vacation can be a time to readjust this.
4. Think about taking a vacation once a week.
Imagine taking a true day off once a week. No calls or emails. No house work. Just an opportunity to do what delights us. I’ve written about Sabbath Keeping before and I know how hard it can be at times to keep this practice up in my own life, but being away reminded me that we can “get away” once a week — and God actually commands us to do this — if we’re intentional.
So I hope you are making plans this summer to get away, and maybe even considering getting away regularly by keeping a Sabbath. If so, tell me about and leave a comment below.