"You already waste too much life energy watching television. Unplug it. Put it in the basement and get that time and energy back."
How I did it: My family never thought of ourselves as big television viewers. We had basic cable and a 32 TV in the living room. No other TVs.
When Tivo arrived on the scene we thought of it as a great improvement. It let us watch what we wanted, when we wanted. When our first child was born, the Tivo let us queue up the teletubbies for her. And that was the beginning of the end for the television in our house. Add to that the advertising, even the little corporate sponsorships before a PBS show, and we had several good reasons to pull the plug.
We canceled the cable bill (a great savings incentive on its own) and we unplugged the set and put it in our basement storage room. It might have taken a week to adjust to the different reality, but it was almost immediately better in every way.
Now that it has been 5 years with no TV in the house, I have to say it has been one of the greatest changes we ever made as a family. We all got more time together. More time for reading and playing games and talking with each other. We are less exposed to inane TV nonsense. My kids have never seen a reality TV show or a Hannah Montana anything. And that's a good thing.
We haven't eliminated video media out of ourlives altogether. We still watch movies or DVDs on a computer. In this format it is easier to control the content that is viewed and there is no tie to any schedule.
Irony of ironies is that we are now making plans for a family room with a big screen, but we plan on building it around an AppleTV and won't include cable channels or any sort of broadcast television. I think the real issue for us is getting rid of thinking about television as a thing you have to keep up with or follow. Screening a movie as a family has a totally different feeling than following a TV series. And of course being free of advertising is huge.
Lessons & tips:
- Unplug and cancel cable in one swift move while you have the momentum. The hassle of reinstating cable might be enough to keep it turned off.
- Move the TV out of the watching room, but store it someplace you can get to later. This might keep the TV fan in the family from totally freaking out.
- Remind yourself often how much more time you have and how glad you are not to be watching ads or paying for cable.
It took me 1 year.
It made me better off