A couple of months ago my husband came to me with the idea that we should take a break from the television for a month. The more I thought about it, the more sense it seemed to make. With the busyness and stress of the last six months, watching television had became our life. I watched it sporadically throughout the day, it helped me fill the hours when my husband was coming home late, and when he did finally come home, crashing in from of the tv was our default.
So, with the exception of a few movies, we turned off the tv for an entire month.
The first day, we honestly didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We were bored and antsy, and were constantly wondering what had happened on one of our “shows”. I didn’t think we’d make it past a week.
Quickly, though, we started to find things to do. We kept busy, felt better, and didn’t end up missing the television all that much. By the end of the month, we weren’t even anxious to turn on the tv.
Here are a few things I learned from our month-long tv fast:
I waste a lot of time. One of the first things I noticed was how efficient I suddenly was at getting things done. Folding laundry took half the time because I wasn’t trying to do it while catching up on a favorite show. In fact, everything took about half the time. Without the tv being available, I was more productive, my house was cleaner, and I wasted a lot less time.
Television makes me feel tired and brain numb. It was amazing how much more energetic I felt during that month without tv. Reading books, writing, doing crafts, and getting projects done filled my time instead of mindless tv watching, and my brain could feel it. Even with being on partial bed-rest for a weekend with some freak contractions, I didn’t feel like I was dragging. I hadn’t even realized how low watching tv can make you.
I don’t need television for entertainment. Very early in the month, we realized that we had forgotten how to entertain ourselves without the television. The mere fact that we didn’t have a clue what to do was disheartening. As we started to remember our other interests and hobbies, we started thinking about the television less and less. We remembered that we don’t really need the television at all.
What I watch effects my mood and daily outlook on life. One slightly unexpected side effect was that I started sleeping better, waking up more ready to start the day, and feeling more at peace wtih everything going on in my life. I realized that modern television can be downright depressing. It plays at your heartstrings and never gives you full-resolution to anything, hoping that you’ll come back for the next episode. Whether we know it or not, this can be a serious mood suppressor.
Quiet is okay. As a mostly stay-at-home mom, I have found the house to be overwhelming quiet at times. Baby chatter is one thing, but being deprived of the sound of an adult human voice all day can be a bit maddening at times. I’d gotten in a really bad habit of just turning on the tv as background noise during the day, nevermind the junk that is called “daytime television”. When I suddenly didn’t have that option anymore, the quiet was at first almost deafening. As the days went on, though, I learned to embrace the quiet. I learned to focus on what my little guy was chattering about and trying to tell me, instead of just blowing off his babbling. I learned that all the quiet can be a very good and refreshing thing, and I’ve come to embrace it.
We’ve turned our television back on, but we don’t find ourselves craving and needing it like we did. Many days I slip into bed realizing that I haven’t turned on the television the entire day. What a freeing experience!
Have you ever turned off the television for a period of time? What was it like?