Our decision to quit TV… and how it’s changed our lives

Our decision to quit TV and how it's changed our lives ZoeAtHome.com

Often when people explain why they don’t have a television, they feel a need to apologise for sounding superior. But for me, I can say this without reservation: I love not having a TV. It’s helped our family in many ways.

When we downsized to a smaller home, I began to get really irritated by the noise from the television. Our living room is small, so if one person was watching something, everyone else in the house couldn’t help but be drawn in to what they were watching too.

We thought about it for a long time before taking the plunge. It seems strange now, but we didn’t know if we could survive without TV! I waited until the last episode of Oprah was screened, and then I took the TV set to my parents’ house. It is still sitting in their shed to this day.

I had withdrawal symptoms for about two weeks. I kept feeling the urge to sit down and vague out! But after that it was so liberating. Giving up TV hasn’t given me any more time in my day. But it has given me more control over my time.

Here are some of the ways life has changed for us…

  • We get more sleep. I used to sit down to watch one program, but three hours later I’d still be there on the couch, struggling to stay awake. I’m in a much better routine these days.
  • We can arrange our furniture in many more different ways. This is essential if you live in a small space.
  • We have more control over what influences our children. Without the TV commercials, our children aren’t exposed to as much marketing and merchandising, which makes them less acquisitive.
  • We have less arguments. Without a TV in the living room, I don’t have to nag the kids to “turn that television off!” during the day.
  • We read more. I make much better use of my time these days, but I still have to remind myself to sit down and make time for reading.
We read more now that we have quit TV ZoeAtHome.com

From my husband’s section of the bookcase

 

We still watch some programs these days, but we watch them on the ABC’s iView service, on our laptop or tablet. I’m not against all television, just broadcast television. Watching television is actually better this way, for three reasons:

  • It’s portable: you can watch it at a table, on your lap, in the bath, or in bed. And you can use headphones so you don’t disturb other members of the family.
  • It’s pausable: you can stop what you’re doing if you need to attend to other tasks.
  • It’s on-demand: you can watch it at your convenience, not when some network executive thinks you should be sitting down to watch.

For my family, ‘prime time’ is not 8:30 in the evening. I sometimes watch programs in the afternoon when the laundry is folded and put away. My husband watches at about 5AM, because he is usually up and about at that time. Often, when the kids have gone to sleep, we will watch a DVD on the laptop in bed. It’s actually more relaxing to watch like this than to sprawl out on the couch!

Sometimes I worry that when they’re older, my children won’t be in touch with what their peers are watching, and they’ll feel left out. But actually, I think the way my family consumes TV is going to be the way of the future.

I get a lot more done these days. I don’t think I could be a blogger if I had a TV. And blogging makes me much happier than TV ever did!
If you want to read another blogger’s story of living without television, click here and here.
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9 thoughts on “Our decision to quit TV… and how it’s changed our lives

  1. I haven’t had a tv in over 4 years. When networks started messing around with my favorite sci-fi tv shows I just said forget it and haven’t tuned in since. I don’t have a tv in my studio apartment. I just have my laptop and smartphone. That’s good enough for me. I’m glad you had enough of it too. TV’s get really super annoying especially if you’re in a small space. It’s like you can’t get away from it when it’s on, it’s all you hear! Some people like that. Some people let them blare away. I can’t handle that. Your posts is a great one and I’m so happy you travel this road as well 🙂

    • He did take some convincing! He loves his cricket and football. We talked about it for a while, and to compensate we decided to upgrade our internet service and buy a tablet that we’d had our eye on for some time. He has since found all sorts of ways to follow his favourite sports, from special podcasts and apps and even a service that re-broadcasts TV programs with a few minutes delay. But these days, when people find out we don’t have a television, he is always the first to sell the benefits! If anyone in the house really wanted a television, we could go back and pick it up, but no one has asked about it yet!

  2. My first reaction to no TV was “that’s not right” But then I realised, that I do have a TV and I have the big cable package. But I rarely watch anything other than the various news channels. I really hate reality TV and every other channel seems to show nothing other than that. So the TV shows I follow, I follow online. Like strivingfortiny, I’m mostly into sci-fi And we don’t get much of that on TV here. If you do decide to get a TV again. Why not just hang it on the wall in the bedroom? At least then you can connect your laptop to the TV and watch your DVD’s on a bigger screen. Or imagine browsing the net for things to put on your pinterest board on a 50 inch screen. And your hubby probably wouldn’t mind watching the re-broadcasts of his favourite games on a high-def screen.

  3. I rarely watch TV and only if I see that something is scheduled that interests me, not much, as it turns out!! And only on my laptop/ipad/iphone, not on-demand (yet?) and if my connection is working… Far better without TV!! Still enjoy dvds, too.
    Sad to see my grandkids in front of a screen so much, but my daughter is doing her best and at least it’s not all ad-TV, which I do think is criminal for kids 😮

  4. Hey Zoe
    I’m really thinking about giving up TV in our house. We have two kids, 5 year old boy and 2.5 year old girl.
    I know that the kids get agitated when they watch tv but sometimes I really need them to be occupied so I can cook dinner for example. Do you have any advice for managing those situations? It’s the thing that really holding me back!

    • I know it’s a difficult question, but we don’t regret it at all. Our kids do watch some TV however, on iView on the tablet, often when I am cooking dinner. I think a little bit of screen time is ok for kids, and the iView app is well-curated with no advertising. I’m not sure what country you are in, but if your public broadcaster has an app then it will probably have good children’s programming. YouTube, however, is full of ads and lots of ‘enabling’ for kids, so it would be good to uninstall that app. When they watch on the tablet, the noise doesn’t dominate the room like with the TV, but it is anti-social. Some people use a sand-timer to set a limit on how much screen time their kids can have.

      • We’re in australia too. At the moment the kids only really watch ABC kids or ABC 3 but the shows run on to each other so it’s easy for them to keep watching. I guess ivew on a tablet is better because the show stops.
        I’ve also realised we have a pattern of diffusing tantrums or sibling fights with TV, which isn’t great! Especially because sometimes the TV seems to cause fights, ie my 5 year old gets bored with the TV and starts to pick on his sister!
        Another thing I’ve realised (so many realisations) is I lean towards introvert and my kids are more extroverts so I definitely use the TV for peace and quiet when I need to recharge.

      • just thought i’d let you know we dramatically decreased TV time over the christmas holidays. i think everyone in the family needed time to adjust but it’s really nice to see how much more creativity and socialising happens! of course more squabbling also happens but i’m chalking that up to learning social and negotiation skills 🙂

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