|Have you ever opened a coconut?|
Image by Frederique Voisin Demery
Although I am not a television teetotaler, I have found many ways to spend time at home that do not include turning on the television.
Instead of Watching Television, Play a Game
I'm not a kid, but whoever said playing is just for kids? I love playing games (albeit brainy or geeky ones), building "stuff," or drawing pictures. There are plenty of board games, card games, and even video games that are plenty grown-up enough to hold my interest for long periods of time. Also an activity that makes the time fly is putting to use those expensive building block sets I still have from childhood and have tucked away in the closet. Whether with kids or not, it's very satisfying to have achieved a feat of engineering by the end of an evening. It's likewise more fun than some people might expect to haul out old boxes of crayons, markers, colored pencils, and newsprint or construction paper. Creating low-stakes, playful artwork by bedtime is a great way to unwind after work while avoiding over-stimulation from electronic devices.
Create Something of Your Own
Nothing sucks up productive time and creativity like an entire evening spent watching television. So, whether I'm in the mood to paint, crochet, play my ukulele, bake, dance, write, or make something out of clay, I make time to do it. I always hear people lamenting the fact that there aren't enough hours in the day to get to everything they want to do, but some are the same people who are shocked that I don't have cable. Considering how often I hear people lamenting their lack of time, it is ironic that on June 22, 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the results of their American Time Use Survey and stated "Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.7 hours per day), accounting for about half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over" (para. 13). Watching television stymies creativity, so I do what I can to avoid falling into that trap by fighting fire with fire and choosing creativity over television.
Relax Without Electricity and Unplug Gadgets
There are some day when I just want to come home and relax. I want to find some stillness, some quiet, and release the tensions of the day. It's on these days I turn on neither the television or the computer, but instead opt for yoga, a long walk, a hot bath, a good book, or an early bedtime. Although it might seem extravagant to hit the hay around 9:00 p.m., it can really make a difference the following day, as can a mind-clearing mid-week soak or a well-earned stretch. Especially when something is bothering me or on my mind, the distraction of television only complicates my thought-process, and I find I can better cope with the world if I just relax.
Spend an Evening Learning Something New
Learning something new is always a fantastic way to spend an evening. It doesn't have to be rocket science, and it can certainly be a lot of fun as well as a great well to spend time with family or friends. For example, last night my husband and I purchased a coconut at the farmer's market for the first time. It may not be the most useful of survival skills in this part of the world, but we certainly had a great time learning how to open it! I've also recently been learning tatting, filet crochet, how to play the ukulele and checkers. For more ideas, take a look at the Igguldens' The Dangerous Book for Boys and the Buchanan and Peskowitz book, The Daring Book for Girls.
Although I am not a television teetotaler, I have found many ways to spend time at home that do not include turning on the tube. It's these evening of play, creativity, relaxation, and learning that make for a more well-rounded lifestyle and make my rare evening of television that much more enjoyable.
- United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2011). American Time Use Survey Summary. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm
Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.