I have provided some tidbits from the past two weeks on the M-live site. If you have been following us on there, you know that we have been extremely busy. We’ve gone icicle picking a couple of times, had tub-side royal tea parties, implemented a Wacky Wild Wednesday Work-out regimen for our family, hosted our First Fun Friday Fart Festival and much, much more! Jeff’s event calendar is quite full thanks to me, his very own little event planner. More importantly, the televisions are still turned off at all of the Smith sibling homes! I will say the past two weeks, when compared to the first week, have been more difficult in some ways and then much easier in others. It has been a nice mix of challenging moments and down right fun and hysterical times without the TV. The fun ones make it easy to continue on our NO TV 2011 mission and without the challenging ones I think it is safe to say the blog would not be nearly as interesting so I am truly grateful for both.
If you are a virgin to my writings and this is your first time, then you need to read the rest of them because the other stories are pretty entertaining too, but the cliff’s notes version goes something like this. I had to have emergency brain surgery about four years ago (
January 11, 2007) and since have been feeling restless and in desperate need of a face lift on our lifestyle. I have since quit my job, had two kids and founded the Brainy Day 5K a fundraiser run/walk that supports those with hydrocephalus, the condition from which I suffer. The idea to give up television in our home for the 2011 year was one that I thought up last November during a brainstorming session of mine. My husband calls these “silly day dreams”, but I prefer brainstorming. Anyhow, we are now living my brainstorm, or dream, depending on which interpretation you buy into and our television has been rendered useless for the year. Oh the last important morsel of information you should have is all of my siblings are along on the adventure as well. They just couldn’t miss out on the fun so you will hear about their successes and challenges as well!
Weeks two and three were, as I mentioned before, both easy and difficult all at once. These two weeks were a hybrid adventure of great successes and horrifying failures. Some days passed by without my even noticing the lack of television while others seemed to drag on forever. On the long days, the thought of television crossed my mind at least fifty times and there were a few close calls too. I am proud to say, as I write this, I am still TV free. I will share with you some of the highlights and the low spots too since we have already established that these oftentimes are more entertaining in nature. The one constant we have all noticed is that we are reading A LOT more than in the past!
It is fairly intriguing to see the different comments and experiences since our lives are all so unique. What is difficult for one of us is not for another. To help illustrate this point consider this example. Rebel is, and always has been, a sports addict. As a child he actually played entire seasons of the NFL (including playoffs and Super Bowl) by himself in the backyard. I know, he is a little strange. At least he doesn’t eat glue! Not watching the play-offs right now, or MSU basketball, is probably killing him. Me, on the other hand, I don’t miss sports. My biggest challenges were hormonally driven situations and days when my kids were sick. Miranda’s biggest challenges have come when Wheel or Fortune is on or when her kid has a check-up at the doctor and has a meltdown afterwards begging for Sesame Street. Dominica is the ghost participant in this whole affair. We rarely hear from her. I do know that she watches 15 minutes of the news each morning as she prepares for work and she tunes in to The Biggest Loser for inspiration for her personal weight loss goals and other than that she has not tuned in to any TV this year so she is with us, we just don’t hear from her much.
I spent much of the past two weeks planning stuff. I planned entertainment for Jeff, entertainment for the kids and entertainment for myself. I planned meals, trips to visit family and friends and projects for the kids and me to do at home. I planned house cleaning lists and “to do” lists for Jeff and me. In speaking with my siblings, they did much of the same, planned for alternative ways to spend their time. Of course, we are all simultaneously busy with actually carrying out these plans as well. We are unbelievably busy people now that our televisions are turned off.
When you eliminate your primary source of entertainment, I guess it is to be expected that you will have to invest some amount of time planning alternative forms of entertainment. I just didn’t realize how much planning would be necessary. If I earned a nickel for every time Jeff or the kids said, “I’m bored” these past few weeks, I would be an independently wealthy woman and I am pretty sure I would be vacationing in the Bahamas right now, not writing this blog. So I guess we can all be thankful that I don’t get a nickel for each time I hear those awful words. That is where the planning is so critical when others look to you for guidance in their NO TV lives. I think I have the planning thing down pat for the most part now. It is definitely getting easier by the day. I have to take the time early on in the week to plan a few in home activities for everyone. This is where activities like “Wild, Wacky, Wednesday Workouts” and “Fun Friday Fart (and Burp) Fest” were born. It gives us something to look forward to after dinner and it makes for great content for the blog. I find immediately following dinner and quiet time to be the most difficult times to not have television readily available. That is why they say old habits die hard I suppose. We used to watch movies for quiet time most days and Wheel of Fortune was a staple in our home after dinner as well. I have a little confession here, the Wheel of Fortune was all me. No one else really liked it although Kara does love to pretend to be Vanna. I sure did love Wheel and if anything, or anyone (like Kara impersonating Vanna) interfered with it, mommy was not happy. I was definitely an addict. I have the Wheel Watcher card to prove it. I guess technically that means I am in rehab now.
We oftentimes watched whatever other shows were on in the evenings too just because it was our way of life, not because the quality of shows was anything spectacular or special or because we were learning or benefiting much from the experience. Having the TV on in the background was just something we did without really thinking about it. When I really stop to think about it, most nights we watched television shows and we actually sat and complained about them as we watched. How pathetic is that? I would say our average television usage was between 4-7 hours daily before this NO TV 2011 dream came to fruition. In my defense, I was often working on laundry or dishes while I watched. I rarely sat there and just watched. Regardless, I realize that amount of time in front of a television is alarming, ridiculous even.
Now, we play games or do crafts during quiet time and we have scheduled evening activities to keep us busy and to prevent me from tuning into Wheel. We also freelance in the entertainment department a fair amount. Being able to successfully do this is important for when plans don’t go well, or kids are sick. These sessions usually result in a session of tickle monster or an impromptu doctor’s appointment or some other fun form of acceptable torture. Tickle monster is when Jeff (aka Tickle Monster) pretends to be asleep on the couch and then whoever wakes him up is subjected to whatever torturous tickling he dishes up that night. It is one of the kid’s favorites because they love to be tickled and my least favorites because I am very ticklish and it really is torture for me. We play doctor and dentist a fair amount now too. Our bathroom, albeit tiny, doubles as both a doctor’s and a dentist’s office in the evenings. It also converts to our very own, in-home, water park during the day. It sounds strange to say this, but we spend an inordinate amount of time in our bathroom these days. On the upside, the kids have never been cleaner, my teeth have never been more sparkling white and Jeff’s health has never been more closely monitored. Miranda says she also spends a lot of time in her tub so maybe eliminating TV is also good for personal hygiene!
I also sprinkle a few out-of-home experiences in to the mix. These are kind of like out of body ones only G rated. These take place weekdays during the day while daddy is safely at work. We frequent the library, Grandma’s office, the grocery store and the bank. It helps to break up the long winter days.
While all the aforementioned activities are important, the most critical thing I plan each week is an event for me. It has to be something fun or interesting to me that requires I leave the home and interact with other adults. I know I set my standards really high, didn’t I? This outing works to preserve what shred of my sanity may still be in tact (although there is an ongoing dispute as to weather I have already lost my mind so this may be a mute point). Regardless of the ongoing nature of this debate, I like to pretend I am still sane so I continue with my weekly outings. A heart felt thanks goes out to my friends and family who still come along to screenings for documentaries, sex toy parties, mega 80s nights and the other wild activities I have planned. I am sure you had no idea just how close to the edge I was or you would have politely declined my invitations. Okay, enough about my sanity already on to other updates.
Since turning the television off just a little over three weeks ago, I have already partially met all of my goals that I had coming into the challenge. Jeff and I are getting along great and I feel the family is much closer now too. We have also spent more time with friends and family so we are being more social. We are definitely a stronger, better family without our TV. Our house looks like a new house. It is seriously incredible how much cleaner and more organized it is in just a few weeks. I am still running a lot and Jeff has been ice fishing and skiing more too so I think we are making some progress in the healthier lifestyle arena as well. And to think all of these changes came to be simply by turning our TV “off” and our imaginations “on”.
My siblings are still with us on this NO TV 2011 challenge although if you visit us regularly, you realize I have completely monopolized the blog with my commentary and animated stories. I just hope my siblings forgive me for this!
I will leave you with this final thought. We are at 3 weeks down and 49 to go and my house has never been cleaner (even before kids), my kids have never been happier (even with TV) and Jeff and I are getting along better than ever. And to think none of this would have happened if I hadn’t taken a stand and insisted we turn our TV off.