Giving Up the TV Trap – Part 2

When Nate and I agreed to give up television for 21 days (other than football on Sundays), we were prepared to go through withdrawels.  But we’ve made it through eight days so far and the withdrawels are the least of our worries. 

See, Nate and I have made an important discovery.  What we’re watching isn’t what counts.  It’s the fact that we’re watching something.  It keeps us busy… entertained.  It’s the perfect easy way to end a long, exhausting day. 

And just between you and me (and anyone else in the world who’s reading this), I’m a little embarrassed at how quickly television became a part of our life. Seriously, if we were being honest with ourselves, we could have sent out Christmas cards with the three of us. Just me, Nate, and our television.   It’s been that important to us.  😉

Last Monday night was our first evening of being unplugged.  For dinner, we sat on the living room floor, leaned up against the couch, and sat in front of the blank television screen.  No lie.  I wouldn’t make something this pathetic ridiculous up, I promise.

Tuesday night, we actually ate at the dinner table.  Then almost instantaneously asked the other, “What now?”  Should we play a challenging game of checkers? Read a book together?  Play piano and sing?  (I play.  Nate sings).  Should we knock off some items from our to-do list? 

Because we both had worked that day AND gone to the gym, it was already getting late, so we settled down in bed to read for a bit.  Both of us were thinking, “One day down.  Twenty days to go.”  But I also noticed that we were rushing less.  We had time to kill.  So I lit some candles.  Made tea.  We talked more than usual and wound up laughing until we cried. 

And then came Wednesday…  There was a snowstorm.  The evening service at church was cancelled, so we had a cozy dinner at home.  We cuddled on the couch, with only candles to light the darkness.  We talked.  Laughed. Felt bored.  Giggled.  Played a game.  Felt bored some more.  Teased.  Planned a vacation.  Realized that the entire evening at home together had felt like a date.  🙂

Now don’t get me wrong.  Nate and I are very busy, and it’s not like we spend our days in front of the television.  In fact, most nights, we’re not home until 7 or 8 pm.  But that’s where the danger lies. When we don’t get home until later in the day, we’re tired. And the easy thing to do is to turn on the television.  It doesn’t require thought, energy, or spontaneity. 

Even though we were watching television together – and even though it was only for an hour or two most nights – it was laziness.  I can say that, because these past couple of days have been work.  A few times this week, we twiddled our thumbs and wished we didn’t have to be creative with our time.  In fact, most nights we felt like that. 

And I find that scary.  I find it scary that we have such a difficult time functioning without the television in front of us.  It takes away the need for communication.  Imagination.  Dreaming.  Loving. 

I can honestly tell you that it’s been an amazing week so far, even if it has been a struggle.  It’s as though Nate and I have rediscovered ourselves, our relationship, and our lives as a new family… without the television in the picture.  Sure, it’s easier to turn on the television than to come up with a conversation or something to do.  But is it as fulfilling?

Will I go back to watching TV at the end of the 21 days?  Of course.  But will it be a lot less frequent?  Oh, yeah!  It will probably even be reserved to designated nights, so that we’ll be forced to come up with other options for the other evenings.  (At least that’s the goal).  Because my relationship and my life is worth the extra energy.  I’m not going to let some characters on the screen live my life for me.  🙂 

But here I am talking about the future…  I still have fourteen days of no television left.

Is anyone else out there watching a bit too much tv?  Don’t let me be the only one. 😉

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10 Responses to Giving Up the TV Trap – Part 2

  1. You are not the only one!

    I don’t feel like I watch a lot of tv. But then, where does the night go? Something always comes up like “oh, I’m tired, let’s watch a movie tonight.” Or, “my eyes are too tired to read, let’s turn the news on.” There’s always some random excuse.

    Thank you for the inspiration to shut the glowing screen off now and then!

  2. vixter2010 says:

    I def watch too much – like you say you get in from work late, eat and then you just want to chill out and watch something mind numbing until bed! It’s amazing to think about how life was before it came along.
    Well done on your TV fast, keep us updated!

  3. I really love reading this. For us it’s not TV, but instead volunteer work. We get down volunteering every night and come home to collapse. We’ve been working to cut back on that lately so we can spend more time together just hanging out and playing. It’s been wonderful. 🙂

  4. I too love TV but I love this idea.

    I think it would be a great idea to have a no tv night a couple days a week. Reconnect as a couple or as a family!

  5. livvy30 says:

    My big thing is this computer! I watch TV on it (sometimes while the real TV is on!), do work, chat, blog, edit photos…….basically I’m always on it. My challenge this year is to get off it more-if there’s no-one on line, I’m not going to wait around til they are. If I’ve done my work, I’m going to turn off the computer and I do want to watch less stupid TV. I don’t need to watch re-runs of That 70’s Show or Two and a Half Men every night!!! 🙂

  6. I so enjoy going back and reading your blog. There is the smell of honesty, humor and laughter in the air amidst your life. Truthfully, I sense a maturity level I do not recall having when I was your age. Seeing pictures of you and your family makes me happy for you. Through time my family has become my contacts through my poetry work. A blessing I am a peace with. Love is such a precious gift. When one finds love they should do all they can to treasure love.

  7. As I think I mentioned before, I don’t have TV and have never really watched much of it. However… your TV problem is my computer problem, so to speak. I spend soo much time on my computer – updating my blog(s), catching up with friends, emailing, and playing World of Warcraft (World of Warcrack, as it is also known…)… that without my computer, I’m… somewhat at a loss.

    (I can rationalize it, though, haha – I don’t have much of a “life” since I don’t have a ton of friends… except online ones, that is… so instead of hanging out “irl,” I hang out with my WoW friends and we do stuff together via the internet.)

  8. Hayley says:

    The TV habit can be hard to break! I’ve never been that big on watching TV, but I’ve seen how other people can become entranced by it and not know what to do without it. I think it’s awesome that you are challenging yourself to go without it. Mindless activities have their time and place, but it’s also really good to unplug!

  9. allieksmith says:

    I don’t have a TV problem…yet haha.. I have more of a computer usage problem instead of doing my hw!

  10. justmarriedgirl says:

    Oh, I’m quite addicted to TV. I get home a lot earlier than Mike, so by the time I unwind, get my schoolwork done, cook dinner and clean up, I just want to crash in front of the TV in my pajamas. Typically, I write or grade papers while I watch, so it’s not totally mind-numbing.

    I admire your courage!

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