For some, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. But for someone like me who spends on an average of 5 hours everyday watching TV, it was not easy at all. Almost a crazy idea. But somehow, I managed to do it.
On a normal weekday, after office, I sit and watch TV while having dinner with my family. We normally watch a family-friendly show. After my kid is asleep, I watch an episode or two of whatever my wife is watching. Then my wife crashes on the sofa and I start a movie or pickup a series on Netflix. This will go late into night until my eyes would hurt. I wake up next morning to drop my kid to school, always in rush. And this happens every working day. On weekends or holidays, it becomes worse. We spend almost all of the waking hours on the couch in front of the TV. It sounds insane, but somehow this is mundane in our society these days. Almost everyone is doing it and now it seems normal.
I was recently reading ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear and in there he suggests that if you want to start a habit make it easier for you. On the contrary, if you want to break a bad habit, you should make it difficult for you. First part of solving a problem is to identify the problem. Watching TV is so normal in our lives and society, that you don’t even realize that it is a problem. We spend hours and hours getting entertained and then say that we don’t have ‘time for anything’.
So, last week, my wife went out of town. The first thing I did, after she was gone, was to unplug the TV. Like, actually “unplug” the TV. I told my daughter about it and got her excited too about my crazy idea. With she onboard, it became easier not to watch TV. Now the second part of problem was to figure out what to do with that extra time. You realize how much time you waste watching TV only after you stop watching it.
We all talk about family time and quality time, whereas in the name of family-time we just sit together and watch different screens be it TV or phones or iPads. Even when we go out, we spend a lot of time in front of screens instead of each-other. Unplugging the TV gave me a lot of perspective on this. And boy! The quality time which I have spent with my daughter during this week, is difficult to put in words. We did all the projects which I always wanted to do but was delaying (some for years). I had lists of projects to do with my kid, but I never used to get time to do them. But last week, we did at least one project every day. We always kept her room (all of the house actually) clean. I even had time to help her with her homework. Mind it, I was doing all of this while taking care of all day to day activities as a single parent. She was still going to school and I was packing lunch for her every single day. I even took her to all the extra curricular classes she goes to. There were many tasks which my wife had asked me to do during the last few months, but I never was able to find time to finish them until last week.
“But Aman! How to engage the children?”, you would ask. Valid question, but you would be surprised by the zeal which children bring to the table when they are challenged. They like challenges more than us and come up with creative ways to entertain themselves. You might have to channel their enthusiasm properly, however, I just want to convey that they miss TV lesser than we do. My daughter loves painting and during this week she was able to sketch, color and paint different pieces every day.
Overall, it was a good experience. Tiring but rewarding. My daughter, being a sweetheart which she is, also assisted me a lot in achieving this week without TV. I was able to complete more tasks in lesser amount of time which enabled me in spending really good quality time with my daughter. I wish to keep the momentum going. However I am missing my wife more than TV. Hope she too gets excited about my crazy idea of not watching TV once she is back.