This is the first of what I hope will be many of the challenges I will be sharing here on this blog, and I am super excited about starting these journeys of self-improvement with all of you. At first, I thought I would wait a little until more people got to know me, but after some recent events I realized that this challenge could not wait any longer.
A couple of days ago, I was out for a walk with my husband and daughter when he mentioned that perhaps we let her watch way too much TV. In that instant, the truth of that statement hit me like a ton of bricks.
Let me make clear that I am not anti-TV, far from. But slowly I became to rely on it as a sort of live-in babysitter and I am not happy with that. When she was younger I was a lot more careful with the amount of TV she watched, but little by little more screen time got added. Now she will march to the living room every morning and demand for the TV to come on. It became her new normal. This “TV dependence” was so gradual that I barely noticed. It started with “just during breakfast so I can clean the kitchen”, then “just for 10 minutes before we have to leave the house”, to “just so I can take a quick shower and know she will stay still.” But adding all together, these amount to hours of games we don’t play, books we don’t read, and impromptu dance parties that never happen. She is only going to get older and one day she will not want to play with me anymore. My husband statement made me realize that I did not want to share her with the TV anymore.
Personally, I also started thinking of what I could accomplish if I were to watch less TV as well. Nap time and after dinner are usually in front of the TV for me and while I like to claim that I have no time to read a book of work on my hobbies, if I cut TV out I will instantly find a couple of hours every day that I could use to do something else.
And so the “no TV for 30 days challenge” was born! I have a feeling that it will feel like we are going through detox the first couple of days, but I know that I can do this for 30 days and then I will give myself the right the reevaluate. Maybe it will be awesome, maybe it will be a very long month, but I think the possible reward is worth all the crying I know I am going to hear.
The plan is to start on October 1 and go until the end of the month (so I guess it is really a 31 day challenge). At the end of each week I will update this post so you can follow my progress and follow along with you own TV challenge. Think that cutting TV completely is too much? Challenge yourself to just a couple of hours, or just morning/after dinner.
How much TV do you watch every day? Do you feel you could benefit from less screen time? Do you want to join on this challenge? Let me know your thoughts in the comments bellow!
Let the detox begin! To make things easier I covered the TV with a bed sheet and told my daughter the TV was “sleeping”. She did not particularly like it and would often ask me if the TV could “wake up”, but we powered through the week playing and having fun. The house definitely got messier since without the TV, since she often asks me to play with her, leaving me unable to get much done. But it was fun and we got to spend more time outside, which is ideal.
For me personally, there is room for improvement. While I did not watch hours of TV at night, I sat on the couch with my phone while my husband watched TV. So while I technically followed the rules, that time was far from being spent wisely. I felt torn between staying close to my husband (even though we are not interacting) and getting something productive done.
And then…..the weekend came. I had to drop my parents at the airport at 4am and was super tired during the day. Unfortunately, I used the TV to help make the day easier. And because I felt I had already failed Saturday I did not even cover the TV on Sunday. Her excitement when she saw the TV was “awake” was palpable.
A new week is coming though and this is a good time to recommit. Week 2 here we come!
We did much better this week. My daughter just looks at the covered TV and moves on to do something else. There is one time where I broke the rules and that was the mornings when she goes to school (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). Time is limited and I need her to sit down and eat breakfast instead of walking around the house playing, so letting her watch a morning cartoon while having breakfast does the trick.
I also did better at night, limiting myself to one episode with my husband and then moving one to do something else.
I think I am finally getting the hang of this!
This week I experimented with leaving the TV uncovered. I think we did well. I still let my daughter watch it the mornings she goes to school, and she did watch some TV before bed 3 days this week while the 3 of us cuddled on the couch and talked about what we were watching. After a busy day playing it was a nice way to relax together.
My husband found a show and we started watching together. I have to say that my one episode sometimes became two, after which I just went straight to bed. But I am getting more things done during the day since the TV does not come on at all.
I think we are now at a nice routine. My daughter watches cartoons in the mornings while eating breakfast, giving me a chance to get everything ready for the day to start. TV stays off throughout the day, and at night I get to unwide with my husband with an episode or two of a nice show, then I get to read a book before going to bed.
Now that I reached the end of the month I realized that I don’t really see the need to completely cut TV for our lives. It was useful, however, to take the time to pay attention to the amount of time the TV was on and the purpose it was serving. I am glad for this experiment since my daughter and I are spending more time interacting and I am more productive during the time she is napping. Since I limit the time I watch TV at night now I also became more mindful to what I am watching and can easily turn it off in favor of reading a book or working on one of my projects. I think the bottom line is that I became more mindful of the role TV was playing in my house and was able to recommit our attention to other things.