A New Experiment

This is my sixth post for the Your Turn Challenge.

Progress toward my goals:

  • Marathon: On Track. No change since yesterday.
  • Two Square Yards of Earth: Behind Schedule. I made some progress on the outline yesterday. There’s still a good chance I can finish the outline by the end of next week.
  • 100 Posts: Ahead of schedule. Turns out I misread my goals tracking sheet: the eight posts I thought I was supposed to have done by tomorrow don’t need to be done until next Saturday. So this is my eighth post for the year, of six planned by the end of this week.

My family is embarking on an experiment tomorrow. For four weeks, from the 25th of January to the 21st of February, we’re going to turn off most of the electronic haze that isolates us from each other and force ourselves to interact as a family.

I can’t take credit for the idea. It’s something my wife has wanted to do for a while now, and she’s finally managed to talk the rest of us into it. The idea scares me a little bit, so I take that as a sign I need to do it.

Make no mistake–we’re not going completely electricity-free. We’re just getting rid of the distractions that keep us from interacting the way we feel a family should. Here are some of the parameters we’ve set for ourselves:


  • Radio (including Pandora, iTunes, podcasts, etc.), as long as it’s not being used as an isolation measure;
  • Phones, used as communication devices (talk, text, email) only;
  • Computers, used for productive purposes (writing, email, paying bills);
  • Tablets used as ebook readers only.

Not allowed:

  • TV;
  • Xbox or other gaming devices (no PC games, no tablet games, no phone games);
  • Mindless Internet surfing;
  • Facebook/Twitter/etc.

We’re going to try turning off the distractions and living like a family for a while. Dad will turn off the Internet; mom will turn off the TV; teen boy will turn off the Xbox; and tween girl will turn off Youtube. To replace them, we’ll read books, play games, take walks, assemble puzzles, cook, wash dishes, clean the house, do laundry, and generally spend time together.

We’re looking forward to the experience, even though we know it’s going to be hard. For myself, I expect traveling to be the hardest: I expect I’ll travel at least twice during our distraction-free period, and I’ll have to get creative to keep from firing up the TV or Dragon Age: Origins while I’m in the hotel room in the evenings.

I expect writing will fill up much of my free travel time. I’ll post updates here on our progress.

If you’d like to try a similar experiment, I’d love to hear from you. Let’s compare notes and see what new fun we can discover!

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.