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8 Things To Do Instead of Watching TV

Heidi Shenk daily life

8 Things To Do Instead of Watching TV

We don't watch tv. We had cable for several years, but rarely used it. We watched Orioles games and The Daily Show on occasion, but that wasn't enough to justify the high cost of cable. Additionally, we had nightmarish issues with our cable provider that made the service even less appealing. Finally, we cut the cord and went cable-less and have been that way for quite some time.

When I say we cut the cord, I don't mean that we swapped cable for Netflix or Hulu. Rather, we bought an HD antenna for the rare occasion in which we would want to watch tv, and we stopped watching any tv altogether. The only exception we make is one hour every Sunday evening to watch one episode of The Wire on dvd. That's it. And sometimes, we don't even remember to do that.

Recently, we've realized that we are few and far between. When we hang out with friends, usually at one point in the day the conversation often goes like this:

"Have you been watching such and such show? It's so good!"
"No, we don't really watch tv."
"And you know such and such character? I couldn't believe what happened this past episode! Could you?"
"I'm not sure. We don't watch tv."
"Oh. Well, in the last episode x, y, and z happened to such and such character. And it was soooo good!"

At this point in the conversation, the friends tend to ramble on about the show for a while and try to explain something we've never watched and know nothing about, and we tend to zone out because it's just not applicable to us. After hanging out with the friends is over, as we are driving home or when we get home, Andrew and I inevitably go back to the same conversation. We often try to figure out if we are the only people that exist on this planet that have no clue about tv. We wonder if we're the only ones who don't have any interest in sitting in front of a tv for the few hours that we have free in the evenings. We see that the majority of our neighbors have the tv flickering through the window with no other lights on in the house most nights. And we are completely baffled.

So what do we do instead of watching tv? A lot! We usually end our days feeling tired, but full of energy from the day-- a good tired. We don't get bored, and we still have plenty to do to fill the time that could otherwise be spent watching tv. And it's more fun! Here's a look at a few things that we do instead.

We have conversation. I know, how novel, right?! In fact, many of the activities we engage in instead of tv go hand in hand with conversation. Sometimes, we'll just sit in our living room and talk. We'll sit on our stoop with a beer and talk. We'll relax on our roof deck and talk. We'll sit in our patio and talk. You get the point. When was the last time that you had several hours of conversation with your significant other and did absolutely nothing else? Most people have told me that they rarely do that.

We play an instrument. Most recently, this has been the piano. Practicing a musical instrument has so many benefits such as increased memory function, better coordination, and improved concentration, and it even promotes happiness. I'd rather reap the benefits associated with practicing music instead of sitting on the couch staring at the tv.

We organize, clean, and declutter. In the past few months, we've gotten rid of over 100 things in our house. We've rearranged furniture and made our home more appealing to live in. It has been easier for us to stay on top of cleaning and organizing because we spend more time throughout the week doing this even when it could be easier to sit on the couch to watch tv.

We explore local parks and get active. We found out that the tennis courts in a different park in the city are always free unlike the park around the corner from our house, so we've been playing tennis once a week. We also found new hiking trails within city parks that we never knew existed, and as an added bonus, they are dog friendly so we usually enjoy our hikes and walks with Lilah in tow. A couple weeks ago, on one of our hikes, we even spotted deer! In a city park! Surrounded by highways and houses! Awesome.

We make things and work on home improvement projects. Last night we baked muffins for our breakfasts this week. Sunday evening I baked bread, prepped cold brew for the week, and made hummus and pita chips. Last week Andrew installed new bathroom hardware, and last month we swapped out a bunch of light fixtures and faucets. Many people say they don't have the time to do these sorts of things. We used to not have the time when we watched a small amount of tv, but now we do.

We play board games. Maybe that sounds super dorky and nerdy, but it's ridiculously fun. It makes your brain think in different ways as you strategize a way to win. This is definitely quality time that we really enjoy.

We read. Andrew tends to stick to architectural and news magazines or reads up on the latest home improvement project he's working on. I've been checking books out from the library, both in digital and hard copy form. One of our library branches is just a two block walk from our house, so there's really no reason not to go to the library.

We get out of the house. The other night, we decided to walk twenty minutes to an adjacent neighborhood to get gelato at 10pm. Not only did we get to participate in a fun activity (going out for gelato), but we also got exercise. It was definitely an hour of time well spent. We dedicate one night a week to a happy hour drink before heading home to walk the dog and cook dinner. And we do as many free activities in the city that we can-- music events, art shows, you name it.

While we're not anti-tv, we just simply don't have a need for it. We understand that there is a place and role for really good quality film and tv, and we still enjoy that once in a while. However, we're often asked what we do instead of watching tv as if there aren't enough things to fill time. And honestly, that seems a bit strange to me. Every day we are given opportunities to choose all sorts of activities to fill our day or pass time, yet so many times I hear people say that they are bored or have nothing to do. There are so many things to do. It just depends on whether or not you want to take action to do them.

Did you give up tv like us? What are your favorite things to do instead of watching tv? Have you considered giving up tv, but are worried you won't have anything to do? I'm curious to know if there are other people like us out there somewhere!


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