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Making Our Home an Oasis in a Desert of Digital Distraction
A New Season Begins with an Empty Nest
Two weeks ago, my husband and I dropped off our last kid at college and then . . . we left the country.
That sounds funny to write, but my husband had a business conference to attend in Whistler, Canada. So, I tagged along and enjoyed the majestic mountain views.
After the business conference, we added a few days to our trip and stayed in Victoria, BC, which is where we spent part of our honeymoon all those years ago, so we kicked off our empty nest years with a second honeymoon at the same hotel. While there, we revisited one of our favorite places on the planet: The Butchart Gardens.
The lush landscape is an outdoor sanctuary filled with fragrant beauty of every color imaginable. We took a few pictures, but mostly we meandered along the paths in awe and wonder.
While walking together, we talked about our future and what this next chapter will look like.
We agreed that, even though our kids are now in college and are no longer under our roof full time, we still want to make our home an oasis in a desert of digital distraction.
When they come home for a weekend or a holiday, we want our home to feel different, because it is different, from everything they experience in the world, with its endless array of bright screens and loud messages that do not necessarily align with truth.
To this end, we discussed some ways can be intentional about creating a home that is an oasis of respite.
For starters, we knew we didn’t want to spend our evenings just watching more shows, so we canceled every streaming service we had previously subscribed to, including Netflix. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with watching a good movie every once in a while, but we want to reclaim that screen time for something better.
You might think we’ve gone a bit radical, but we want to replace unnecessary screen time with some old hobbies. For him, woodworking. For me, quilting.
We’re also looking ahead to the holidays. This might sound crazy early, but this is actually the time to start preparing. Dancers in The Nutcracker have auditions in August, and church choirs start rehearsing Christmas music in September. And since our family will be together again for the holidays, our woodworking and quilting hobbies will also be a means for us to make handmade gifts for Christmas.
These choices are consistent with the general tenor and overall direction I shared in my recent book Sanctuary, because it’s just too easy to get sucked into the vortex of scrolling or binge watching.
If we’re going to put down the phone and turn off the screen, we need to replace those activities with more meaningful ones, and the best way to do that is by engaging in the real world while doing real things with real people.
We recently invited our next-door neighbors over for a game night, and we loved getting to know them better while playing cards and board games.
We also decided that we want to take up gardening together. We both love the outdoors, and walking through The Butchart Gardens is nothing if not inspiring.
The irony, however, is not lost on me, for I’ve always believed myself to have a black thumb. Any poor fern or flower that came into my dwelling was destined for a short lifespan. But that was when I lived in the desert of Southern California. Now that we’re in a very different climate in North Carolina, we’ve noticed how easily things grow here. It’s amazing what a little rain can do for the soil.
In any case, we’re back home and charting a new course for how we will spend our time together with the kids away at college. We have some good plans, and we’re excited about the days ahead. And, of course, some writing is waiting for me.
What other ways would you recommend making a home an oasis?
If you have already embarked upon the empty nest years, what advice do you have?
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