Even though I am Filipino, I’ve had a lot of exposure to the Jewish religion: I grew up with my mom and step-father who is Jewish and my first job was working for a company that was owned by a Jewish family thus, we were able to leave on Fridays before sundown for the Sabbath. As I grew up, the idea of the Sabbath — focusing on family and religion for 24 hours — always intrigued me. I always said to myself that I would institute a version of the Sabbath (albeit without a religious focus) for my family when I had kids.
Fast forward 20 years and two kids later, instituting one night of being focused on family has been difficult. With the internet, iPhones, Blackberries and computers, it has gotten harder and harder to “unplug” and just focus on the family without any distractions. About a year ago, the New York Times released an article about “Unplugging on the Sabbath”. The article made me jumpstart this idea that I’ve had for so long with my own family. We started last summer by having a family dinner out on Fridays. It was a great way to leave the week and start the weekend. There was no pressure for me or my husband to have dinner on the table after a long day of work and it just became a relaxed way to ring in the weekend. Our Uplugged Family Fun Night meant that we weren’t on the computer or on our PDA’s checking work or personal email. We allowed ourselves phone calls but we made sure that we weren’t on the phone unless we absolutely needed to be. We also ended up buying a ton of “old school” games like Life, Sorry!, Uno, Connect Four, and checkers that we could play with O, our older daughter (our younger daughter goes to bed by 7pm, so it’s hard to include her in the Unplugged Family Fun Night).
Even though it is difficult to institute a weeklyFun Night, our intentions are there. We try to stay off of our PDA’s while we are with the girls, trying to intitute the “being present with the family” idea. I also want to make sure that we are showing our girls how one doesn’t have to be “on” all the time. I can only imagine in about 6 years when our soon-to-be 8 year old is going to have her own PDA’s and I hope that she’ll learn to unplug once in a while.
It’s hard, but at least we can try for 24 hours out of the week. I’ll have more tips later this week on how to unplug and have a weekly night of family fun.