What Happened When We Gave Up TV

Design Sponge

Happy Easter! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. We love the celebration of Easter, and I’ve always thought it was a perfect way to start spring. In preparation for Easter, we usually participate in Lent and the act of giving something up. I know that this can be a little controversial- I’ve seen a blogger get chastised for giving up a certain food for Lent. I’d like to start by saying that I’m not trying to give any advice, or trying to be a holy example of anything with this post. However, this year my husband and I both gave up TV and Netflix for lent. I’ve had a few weeks of life without, and I thought I’d share a little bit about what life is like after giving up TV- because we decided not to go back.

Again, Lent is a personal journey, and I’m not trying to suggest anything about how anyone else should practice Lent.

Usually we pick something to fast from so that we can deny ourselves of something and shift our focus to Christ in preparation for Easter. This year we chose to give up television so that we would spend our time on other more productive/ positive things.

We didn’t watch an excessive amount of television or Netflix, but sometimes I felt a little guilty spending a certain amount of time watching some ridiculous show on television.

For example, we both got really into watching the Bachelor this past season. We were staying up past my bedtime to indulge, and it wasn’t an activity that really filled me up.

I know tons of people who watch the Bachelor, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing so.

But between that and a few other shows we were keeping up on, I kept thinking of Philippians 4:8. The verse says,

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”

I was spending too much time (defined only by myself about my own life) thinking about or watching things that weren’t pure or lovely or admirable.

That’s part of the reason we gave up television. Partway though Lent I even called our TV service and cancelled.

So, what did we do instead of watch TV and Netflix?

Well, when we were defining the rules at the beginning of our journey, we did allow ourselves to watch a movie on the weekend if we wanted to. There’s something a little different about deciding to watch a movie together versus plopping down in front of the television for an indefinite amount of time. We also told ourselves we could watch the news, but we didn’t really do that much, and any news watching stopped after cancelling our services.

I ended up putting out remote in a drawer because we didn’t really need it.

We found ourselves instead settling into the couch after work and spent more time talking about our days. It was unrushed, quality time for open communication.

We did puzzles or puzzle books. We played games. We read or looked at magazines. Sometimes we would listen to music or turn on a favorite podcast.

Mostly, we spent more time together paying attention to one another.

I did miss watching the occasional episode of The Office on Netflix, but other than that I didn’t miss any of our regular shows.

We stopped watching The Bachelor two weeks before the season finale. And do you know what? I didn’t care that I missed it. Crazy, I know.

Some other shows we were keeping up on included Suits, New Girl (okay, that one was only me-not Mathew), Speechless, and Modern Family to name a few.

All great shows. But, I don’t really miss them.

In college I remember giving up Facebook for Lent two years in a row. I was surprised by how little I missed it. In the end I actually deactivated my Facebook page. It was so freeing to cut the ties to something I felt pressured by society to keep up. (I did activate my Facebook page about a year ago when I started this blog because I wanted a blog page on the platform, but the time away from Facebook really helped me set boundaries this time around).

Overall, I am surprised by how easily I gave up the shows I thought I needed to watch on a weekly basis. I really don’t miss TV.

The best part? I could finally get rid of the television in our bedroom, which we never really used anyways. I now have a nice little decorative surface instead. 😉

I’m still reading the book Present over Perfect by Shauna Neiquist. Whether you’re a Christian or not, it has some really great advice about focusing on what’s truly important in life, and not trying to keep up with appearances.

Ditching the television was one small way we decided to give a little more time for ourselves and our relationship to be more present with one another.

We do still have Netflix, and will go back to watching shows and movies on our app, but I imagine we’ll be a little more conscientious about what we watch and how often we’re plugging in.

Have you ever given up something you thought you for sure you would miss? Does your family have a TV? Are you a Netflix lover- and could you imagine going without for several weeks? What are your favorite non-screen time activities? What podcasts are you listening to?



PS- Please don’t take this post the wrong way. I’m just sharing some of our motivations and experiences in giving up TV. I don’t think there’s anything inherently”bad” about television or Netflix or any of the aforementioned shows. 🙂

PPS- How do you practice gratitude? Also: 7 simple ways to embrace minimalism.