My husband and I were in a rut last year. Not a marriage rut, though I am sure over the course of a lifetime together we will have a few of those in our future. But rather a television-routine rut: go to work, come home, turn on the television for background noise while cooking dinner, eat dinner in front of the television, go to bed, wake up on Saturday and Sunday mornings and turn the television on at around 10:00 a.m. and sometimes not turn it off again until we go to sleep. It’s terrible!

It all started innocently enough with a few shows that we loved to watch together. These included Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen, and Army Wives. We fell in love with a few other shows individually, such as my love for Nigella Lawson and his love for Pawn Stars. And then it sort of morphed into our friend. We wanted the television on while cooking for background noise, or if one of us went somewhere and the other was left alone. It also became our decompression tool after long and stressful days at work; just turn on the television and numb down for awhile.

After getting the flu for a week over Christmas last year and not being able to do anything but sit on the couch and watch television, read, and go to bed, I decided that enough was enough. We’ve woken up to this rut, and were both determined to drastically cut down the amount of time we spend on the couch. Instead of watching others live their lives, we are determined to live more of our own! Here is how we did it.

How to Cut Back on TV Time

  • Pick a No-Digital Day: We chose Wednesdays to be our no-digital day. This means that as soon as we get home there is nothing digital on in our lives—no internet, no cell phone, no texting, no Words with Friends, and no television. It’s been quite pleasant! Instead we talk, eat together to candlelight, and read.
  • Join a Free Local Group/Club: I found a Stitch ‘N *itch group that meets just a few miles from our home two Tuesdays out of the month at 7:00 p.m. This past weekend I emailed the coordinator, and can’t wait to start! As a couple, we hope to find a weekly bible study in our neighborhood.
  • Listen to Music: One of my biggest “needs” with the television is the comfort it gives with its background noise. For Christmas last year I purchased my husband an iHome speaker, and once we turned it on for the first time we turned the television off and still felt cozy in our home. I plan on making much more use of the radio moving forward for times when I don’t necessarily want to watch the television, but need something to listen to. Two of my favorites (at least in the car) are NPR and 96.5’s Acoustic Sunrise on Sunday mornings.
  • Get Around to Reading through those Books: I jokingly tell people that I have a two-year waiting list on my books after buying/receiving/borrowing them. Sadly, it’s just about true. Now that we are cutting down on television I am finding an abundance of time to read things that I have been meaning to read for years! It feels great. I’ve recently finished The Shining; Eat that Frog; Eats, Shoots & Leaves; and am devouring Diana: Finally, the Complete Story.
  • Make Use of Our Dining Room: Our dining room used to be cruddy. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but there were cracks from when the foundation drooped that reminded us over and over of the $3,500 repair from 2010, spider webs, a bad paint job, etc. Last year we took the time to fix the cracks, paint it a gorgeous color, paint the wainscot a beautiful dove white, and decorate it to our liking. In other words, it is now the type of room we want to hang out in. We are making the effort to eat at least two meals a week together, candles lit, in our dining room. It is lovely! Best of all, there is no television in sight.
  • Weekly Community Yoga Class: I have a fantastic yoga resource about ten miles from our home. At this gorgeous studio they offer $5 community yoga classes every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Since I am a morning person, it works out beautifully. My goal is to attend one per week.
  • An After-Work Meet-up: Instead of heading straight home each day of the week and continuing the same routine while we were working, my husband and I have decided to be a bit more spontaneous. We each took turns choosing somewhere for the two of us to meet each other after work once a week or so. We went to the koi fish ponds in our local Japanese gardens (free, and gorgeous!), a free pre-screening of a movie, and a Hookah bar.

Now that we are ridding ourselves of a lot of television, it is so obvious to me that we were using it for needs and wants that can be fulfilled in much better ways elsewhere. We are not giving up the television all together, but instead reclaiming some balance in our lives. It feels great!

Have you begun working on a New Year’s Resolution?

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