Saturday, 18 February 2012

Family Life, Unplugged

We decided this week to cancel our cable. In our area if you don't have digital cable or a converter box you don't even get basic channels. We struggled to make this choice, but after weeks of not watching any television with the kids (okay, okay, they've been watching movies instead) and basically only watching reruns and one or two new shows ourselves after the kids are in bed, we decided to re-evaluate whether or not we really needed cable.

I'll be the first one to admit I watch a lot of TV. Easily too much. When the kids are napping I turn on TLC and watch all the baby, bridal, and family shows I can muster. Looking at my regular consumption of visual trash, cutting off our cable is really no real sacrifice for me. I can honestly say it's good for me. My husband isn't a big television watcher these days because by the time he gets home from work, he'd rather spend time with the kids and I, and has lots of woodworking projects he'd rather get started on. For him, television is dull background noise at best, and a useless distraction at worst. Even the sports that he and I both enjoy can be watched online these days. When we used to watch cable together at night we'd click from show to mindless show just to fill the time. Half of it we weren't even enjoying or it was a repeat of an old favourite we'd seen a hundred times. Our lives were running by the cable schedule most nights with very little variety in between. We already have Netflix, so instead of investing in expensive box sets of shows we might like, we've been enjoying trying out new shows, one or two episodes per night. I know I'll miss a few regular favourites that haven't made the leap to Netflix, like Glee or The Big Bang Theory, but we can watch most of those online if we really want.

Already not having cable has been freeing. We're talking more, playing with the kids more, and simply enjoying each other more. This week, instead of turning on the TV to distract the kids, I brought them into the kitchen with me and we made bread together. They've also been helping me prepare all of our meals, which has made them more likely to try some of the new foods on our menu. They're also talking more for themselves, and spending less time mimicking their favourite characters on their morning shows (not that singing the alphabet song like Alpha Pig from SuperWhy was all bad). When we do watch a show or movie with the kids, we try to pick one good show instead of whatever's on, and then turn it off when we're done. We've also taken up bowling with them on our game system. It's pretty hilarious watching the two oldest kids jumping around with joy even when they get a gutterball. I can't imagine a better way to beat the winter blahs right in our living room.

So, while we're not entirely "unplugged", we're well on our way. Instead of tuning into the television, we're trying to tune in more to each other. I'm thankful my husband was keen on the idea too and am enjoying reconnecting with him by warm candlelight instead of the blue glow of our TV. The world is too beautiful to be seen through a box. It's time to start making plans that don't revolve around the cable schedule. It's time to work on us.

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