I used to have a major love affair with the television, but we broke up recently. Like most break-ups, we flirt here and there for old-times sake, but today it has hit me how I have fallen completely out of love, and I have to do the old kick to the curb.
The good times…
When I was a kid, I got a TV in my room, just like most kids. My earliest memories are very fond. I still remember the Sunday night movies (back in the 80′s we didn’t have a zillion channels, and the movie-of-the-week was a special occasion). I remember watching “Snow White”, “Annie”, and “E.T.”, which are some of my favourite movies to this day. I loved the old retro cartoons that you had to wake up super early to watch (before your parents got up), like “Hercules”, followed by “The Wizard of Oz” cartoon. As I got older, my mom was really good about limiting television to specific family friendly shows. I have very fond memories of Thursday nights, when I got to stay up until 8:30 to watch “The Cosby Show” with my mom. We had a tiny little 13 inch TV at the time.
Then, we got a little co-dependent…
As a pre-teen with budding allowance for privacy, I began sneaking in late night TV, watching after I was supposed to be sleeping. I had anxiety from the normal pre-teen adjustment period, and started to rely on TV as a way to fall asleep. My dad would fall asleep to the TV back then as well, which is likely where I got the idea. TV at that time was “Baywatch”, “Studs”, “Married with Children”, “90210″ and “Melrose Place” to name a few. In my days of being bullied, I turned to TV even more as an escape from reality, and went so far as to scour the TV guide (remember those?) to plan my day around. That was when TV and I got a little codependent.
Fast forward to adulthood, and I still needed TV to fall asleep all the way to my early 30′s. My poor husband would have to wait for me to fall asleep before he could, because he would have to turn off the TV. Then I got pregnant, and decided to take my maternity leave one month early, in July. During the record-setting heat wave, I wiled the days away, super pregnant, hot and tired, by watching sitcoms like “Golden Girls” and napping with the TV on in the background. August 21 came and I was in labour! I insisted on borrowing the “Three’s Company” box set from the hospital to help take my mind off the contractions. Yes, part of my labour memories consist of contemplating the promiscuity of Jack, Chrissy and Janet.
Then, my beautiful baby boy was home with me. I remember Conan O Brien offering comic relief as I figured out how to nurse, the television providing a warm glow as I worked on ensuring a good latch. I remember the H&M commercials and Joe Fresh commercials, and how similar they were. ”Which commercial concept came first?”, I wondered. And during colicky evenings, I could count on the “Law & Order” theme song to bring me a nostalgic comfort.
When did the love affair stop? It’s hard to say when, as it wasn’t something I decided to do at any particular time. At some point, Julien became aware of the images on the screen, and it just stopped feeling right to have it on. It also felt disrespectful, as he quite obviously preferred me to be engaged and interacting with him, than with the TV. Plus, I was sleeping when he slept, both for naps and bedtime. I had also added my course and studying and reading to my plate, so there just wasn’t any time for TV anyway. Today, I really would not have time to pursue everything I am involved in if I was watching the average amount of TV that the typical Canadian watches (22 hours a week!).
What would a break-up be, if you didn’t hook up for old time’s sake?
Then, I began planning for my trip to Dallas last month. I was really stressed that my 14 month old would not sit still for a 3.5 hour plane ride. I thought the iPad and TV were the only answer, so I began teaching him how to watch TV, so that I would have a couple reliable programs I could show him to keep him entertained. It worked, as he loved Baby Einstein a lot. And I have to say, it was cute to see him sitting still for 30 minutes and excitedly pointing at the animals. It was a nice break during my day as well, when I could just put my feet up for a bit and not think. So the trip happened. He slept one whole way, and the other was awake for half, but was much more interested in books, play-doh, and mommy’s improv puppet-show. Go figure. All that training for nothing . We came home to a non-functioning DVD system, so when he would ask “Vee-oh, vee-oh” (video), I told him there were no more videos. He was fine with it. And I’m more than fine with it.
Since quitting TV, I have noticed I have much more time for life. Working, planning, loving, playing, resting, thinking, connecting. Just being. Living life. My limited time with my husband is spent in conversation now. It is like we are “dating” again! I do not worry nearly as much. I don’t have the 6:00 news feeding me stories of sadness and fear that are un-actionable by me. I keep up to date by conversations with people and through the Internet. I’ve also regained my truest self. This is best explained with a nutrition analogy. There is something called “metabolic programming”, where if you eat pure, you gain your “wisdom of the body” and you crave healthy food. You un-junk your body and your body then rejects junk. That is what has happened with my brain! It is un-junked, aaaand I fall asleep easier and sleep much better.
Now, it is a struggle to watch a full program. My mind always goes to other places and I think “why am I forcing this?” and I turn it off.
What prompted this blog entry was that my son went down for his nap, and I thought, “Well I haven’t watched TV in a while, maybe I should treat myself!” I turned it on, and on the screen was the image of a perfect bedroom, on some talk show. My mind went immediately to a place of self-criticism– a faint whisper in my self-conscious said, “Oh my room isn’t that nice”, “Could I afford a room that beautiful?”, “Am I capable of keeping my room that pristine?”, “Oh that’s so out of my reach”. YUCK!! I turned it off, because rationally, I know how much I love my home and my room and my life!
When I do consultations with clients in regards to their baby’s sleep, I always suggest a TV fast. By allowing your body to wind down without the TV stimulating you, you will sleep better. Equally as important is the TIME you will regain by doing something nourishing for yourself and the relationship with your partner! Even if that is just going to bed earlier yourself. Or blogging
Information technology is an incredible thing, when used appropriately. For example, looking at images of beautiful rooms is wonderful– when you have first decided independently that you would like to make some decor improvements and go on a website for some inspiration. It is when we become addicted to the TV as a silence-filler, and as a soundtrack to your daily life that it becomes a problem for so many people, old and young alike.
What could you do with an extra 22 hours this week?
My challenge to you is to go on a TV fast for one week
If you have kids, do what Dr. Sears recommends and trade TV time for active play time (1 hour playing outside buys 30 minutes of TV). Journal the changes you notice on how your day unfolds before you. Compare and contrast. And decide for yourself how much of a role, if any, TV should play in the memories that make up your life story.
Photo Credit – www.pinterest.com
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