Friday, July 22, 2011

To Be Honest, Last Sunday Wasn't That Great

Written by Heather

Before we get too far along here at Unplugged Sunday, it's important that our visitors realize it is not always gumdrops and buttercups. Please don't have the impression that the families writing this blog are living a page out of Mother Earth News, Backpacker or the L.L. Bean catalog. 

The idea of unplugging and enjoying the good life as a family is the intention, and when made a regular practice it is often the result... but sometimes it all hits the fan too.

Case in point: Our house, last Sunday.

With a huge, exhausting tag sale on Saturday, I knew we wouldn't have much get up and go for Sunday. Things were still in disarray around the house from a week of cleaning out and preparations, and the usual 'planning' (choosing a hike or destination, planning food for the day, etc.) just wasn't happening.

Believe it or not, setting aside time each week to relax and connect involves some prep work. Totally worth it, but not to be overlooked.

Before bed on Saturday, we decided to go see Harry Potter Sunday morning. There was a 9:15am showing and we thought that was our best opening weekend chance at avoiding the crowds. Well, with a 40 minute drive to the theatre, and one very exhausted family, the necessary wake up time to make that showing did not exactly happen. There was a unanimous decision (fortunately) not to go to any of the other crowded showings that day. But... what to do?

One thing I notice in parenting a young teen is how tricky it can be to meld three individual lives together into one communal experience. I'm up for the challenge, but the delicate arrangement can take some creativity to achieve. I remember when Emily was little, she would just tag along wherever mom and dad decided to go. Camping? "Sure!" Nowadays... Camping? "How about a hotel with a pool and day hiking?"

Thankfully, I know in my heart that while her immediate wishes are important, my life experience allows me to trust that nudging her in meaningful, family centered directions is always a good idea. And she gets it, she really does. She just likes her hair dryer, clean sheets, and a lot of hot showers!

We knew that Emily was to attend a cookout with friends later on Sunday afternoon, so we didn't want to venture too far off. It  was hot, we were tired, inspiration was lacking. This did not feel like our regular Unplugged Sunday and we were all a little irritated by that, for two reasons:

1. We depend on the comfort and calm of this day.

  • Even though it can sometimes be difficult to fulfill the interests of three people simultaneously, because we have established (so firmly) this weekly rhythm over the last several months, we've all come to depend on it. This time together each week is not a chore, it is not an obligation that we dread. 

2. We were bored. 

  • This left us feeling like we should go fix something around the house or clean the garage. Not exactly the kind of things known for recharging spirits. Sometimes being bored though is a good thing. If we let ourselves sit with boredom and restlessness (meaning we did not resort to turning on the computer and surfing the entire internet), often times inspiration will come to light. And so we did, we sat in the center of boredom...

Eventually, we had a few ideas. They were home based, could be enjoyed together, and would be interesting enough that we could quit lamenting about not getting out of the house for a hike or swim. Choosing to be content with what was, we stopped feeling like we 'failed' at Unplugged Sunday.

What did we do?

We watched the Women's World Cup! Those of you that saw the game know how amazing it was, and that the victory was so clearly destined to be Japan's. Through raising our daughter, and following her interests, we have become a pretty big women's sports family. Watching this game together was the perfect thing to do on this Sunday afternoon.

Of course, we needed food! 

Given the disjointed flow to the day, it seemed comfort food would hit the spot. Enter what I call Summer Pasta (not a very original name), a dish that is incredibly delicious and oh-so-rich; we try to keep its appearance to a couple times each summer. But it is quite yummy!

After the game Emily went to her cookout, Adam and I hung out at home. There was talk about an evening 'date hike' but it felt like we were forcing the idea. Like it just wouldn't be Sunday without a little trail time. That isn't true! 

Even though we were rattled and out of sync early on, we eventually did find our Sunday groove and felt like we did push the reset button. Which is ultimately what this day is about.


Today's post was about keeping it real. Unplugged Sunday is not defined by the perfect hike, picnic or canoe ride - it's about a certain state of mind. On days that don't seem picture perfect, don't sweat it! Just keep the intention alive and go with the flow. 

Who knows, maybe out of boredom or plans not coming to fruition, an unexpected family memory will be made. 

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