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8 Hours of TV to Zero

March 29, 2018
8 Hours of TV to Zero - Guest Post from Jenn at Honey Rule _ Tiny Ambitions

Today’s guest post comes from Jenn over at HelloBrio. I’m new to Jenn’s blog but can really relate to her minimalist message. We also happened to start our shopping bans are nearly the same time. What a weird and wonderful coincidence. I hope you enjoy Jenn’s post – the secret Netflix binger in me certainly did!

Hi, I’m Jenn, and I’m a former Netflix binge watcher.

Hi Jenn.

Well, that was semi-inappropriate. But I’m a self-proclaimed asshole, so that’s how I roll.

All jokes aside: In one year, I went from watching about 6-8 hours of TV a day to cancelling Netflix altogether. I now watch zero hours of TV a day.

My boyfriend Chris and I joke because he brought Netflix back into the family when we started dating. However, since we have similar mindfulness-oriented mindsets, we decided to challenge ourselves to see how long we could go without watching TV while we were spending time together.

Well, it’s been 7 months now since we started dating, and about half of that since we started living together. We’ve watched maybe three full comedy specials on Netflix, about 2.5 episodes of Planet Earth 2, and 0.5 episodes of Flight of the Conchords.

(To comment on the fractions of episodes: we’re both afflicted by the inability to stay awake during TV shows, which is a blessing in disguise.)

And on top it off, my son (who will be 2 this month) asks to watch TV whenever he finds the remote. But his TV time is quite limited when he’s with me.

Anyway, life wouldn’t look like this for us as a family if it weren’t for my past year of deliberately climbing out of the Netflix hole.

TV Owned Me

I’ve come a very long way in the past year with my relationship with TV.

This time last year, my life was completely different.

I was still recovering from my post partum illness, but it still wasn’t a good excuse to lay in front of the TV on the couch for hours on end—daily—and watch shows like it was my job.

As soon as my then almost-one-year-old went down to sleep for his nap (one of three per day) or to sleep, I would shuffle out to the living room and plop down onto the welcoming sofa, grab the remote, and mindlessly hit Power and toggle the arrow keys until the bright and shiny red Netflix logo filled my screen.

To give you a different approach to show you how many hours of TV I watched during this time in my life: I watched all 10 or 11 seasons of Greys Anatomy in just a few months. It was my first time watching it, so I glued myself to the show with a fiery passion.

After I moved out on my own with Beans, I was still a frequent-flyer on the Netflix. My excuse then? I was numbing myself out after a traumatic breakup. I was newly single and not quite ready to date. And what else was I going to do after Beans went to sleep at 6:30? Or when he was with his father for the weekend? Or when I walked home from work during my lunch hour?

As you can see, I was full of excuses.

I Didn’t Even Enjoy TV

Back in October of last year, I sat down to write a post about why I should cancel Netflix, and at the end of the draft I went ahead and did it; by writing it out I managed to convince myself that I didn’t need Netflix anymore.

To sum up my post, my TV time became even more of a guilt-fest, and to top it off, I realized I didn’t even enjoy watching shows anymore. What used to be my escape now barely kept my attention, and I felt myself itching to do something else. Anything else.

TV and Relationships

Somewhere in the summer of last year, I started dating when Beans was away with his dad. So obviously, those first dates (and rare second and third dates) kept me out of the house and away from TV.

Then I met Chris (dreamy sigh).

I was actually kind of concerned that we’d fall into the new-relationship trap of watching TV together. In prior relationships, TV became a shared experience very early on. Like second date type of early. Because what better way to get to know someone than to see what kind of movies and TV shows they like? (Eye roll.)

Well, Chris confessed he doesn’t watch a lot of TV. I replied by saying I was making a conscious effort to watch less. So, we kind of officially-unofficially challenged ourselves no to watch TV together, even to see how long we could last without watching anything together.

I was sure that would all change when he moved in, but we still don’t (successfully) watch TV together. We usually fall asleep right away, so we kind of stopped trying.

When this topic comes up in real-life conversation, I often hear “What do you guys do together?” from my peers.

Well, we talk to each other. We go on walks. We eat meals together at the dining room table. We go on mini adventures into the city. We pretend we’re old people at the beach and we play rummy. We—uh—do other things.

On that note, moving on….

Damn You, Elmo

So because we don’t watch TV, Beans inherently doesn’t watch TV either. But.

I’m not sure where this happened, but somewhere along the line Beans got really used to Sesame Street (trying not to point fingers here, but please excuse my heavy eye roll and implied accusation…).

So my son does this thing. He finds the remote (which is usually hidden). Then he brings it to me, looks up at me with his sweet dark chocolate eyes, and excitedly exclaims, “Elmo!”

And because most of his words are still babble at this point, hearing his tiny voice say “Elmo” melts my heart.

But I stay strong. On Saturday mornings when he is with me, I will turn on his beloved Sesame Street and let him watch an episode. Usually, he loses interest by the end anyway, but it gives him a taste of weekend cartoons without going over the top. Plus, when he watches TV, I make sure to watch it with him so we can interact with it together.

Most people think we’re crazy for not watching TV, but I’m thrilled to have so much quality time with my family and friends on my hands.

Honestly, this all-or-nothing approach worked very well for me with TV, but it definitely doesn’t work well for me in other areas (ahem—failed no-spend month—ahem). I simply cannot limit myself to one episode of something per day; I get sucked into the allure of then watching two episodes. Or then eating my dinner in front of the TV.

Do you find you want to cut ties with your Netflix account? What holds you back? Are you able to limit your TV watching?



Jennifer is a web developer by day, and a toddler-wrangler by night. She blogs about minimalism, mindfulness, near zero waste (nearo waste), and more stuff at In her free time (hah!) she likes to hand letter and bullet journal, go coffee house hopping in nearby Philadelphia, and run.


Feature Image Credit: Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

Headshot Image Credit: Honey Rule

  • Lisa | Simple Life Experiment April 3, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    What a great guest post from Jenn! Very inspiring. I can’t wait to check out her blog now. I am very grateful to have grown up in a TV-free house and to this day, I have never owned a TV (and we don’t have a Netflix subscription…I did the free trial but didn’t renew it). It’s very interesting when people are utterly taken aback and exclaim, scandalised, but what do you actually DO?!? Um…I read, I cook, I learn, I spend time with my husband and most importantly, I just live my life. 😀

    • Britt April 3, 2018 at 10:34 pm

      Oh my goodness! I can’t believe I didn’t know this about you. We don’t have cable, but we have a TV with Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime on it. I’ve been trying to cut down on my own TV time and I admit it’s been a challenge. I’m in the “sit and do nothing and wait for inspiration” mode. It is weird to think that I don’t know how to spend my free time if I’m not watching TV. Which is all the more reason to cut back. Thanks for reading, Lisa!

      • Lisa | Simple Life Experiment April 4, 2018 at 1:49 am

        Haha! Well, it’s a strange but true fact about me! 😛 Doing nothing and waiting for inspiration sounds like a great approach Britt, and an excellent alternative to TV time! I saw from another comment that you’re reading “Bored and Brilliant”. Sounds intriguing! I’ve added it to my to-read list and it looks like my local library has it. It sounds like the book has a lot to say about unplugging from technology and just ‘being’, but within the context of modern life. I think we would all do well to get away from our screens and back into the real world a lot more. I’m definitely noticing the difference now that I’m studying again and therefore spending a lot more time on my computer (especially since I’m enrolled as a completely online student).

        • Britt April 4, 2018 at 8:40 pm

          I highly recommend the book! It has a lot of science to back up its claims about what technology is doing to our brains, which is both scary but also highly motivating. I also liked its approach to changing our habits, rather than just doing a tech ban for a period of time. A ban doesn’t fundamentally address our relationship to technology in a holistic way, so we are mostly back to bad habits once it’s over. I’m going to do the Bored and Brilliant challenge in the coming weeks – I’m hoping for some insight!

          • Lisa | Simple Life Experiment April 4, 2018 at 9:06 pm

            Awesome! That definitely sounds like something I want to read! Looking forward to hearing about how the challenge goes for you, Britt. I’m intrigued! 😀

    • Jennifer | Honey Rule April 5, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      Oh man, I’m chiming in late on this comment thread! Thanks for your comment Lisa. How cool would it be not to own a TV at all! I’m currently trying to get my son’s father on the same page as me for our kid, but TV seems to be a crutch for him when he’s watching Beans and they’re stuck inside. (Geez I hope he never sees this!)

      I truly believe boredom makes awesome things happen. And I am requesting that book at my library right away!

      • Lisa | Simple Life Experiment April 5, 2018 at 5:21 pm

        Hi Jenn! No worries, and I really enjoyed your post. I’m now looking forward to connecting with you over on your own blog. 🙂 That sounds like a real challenge for you when it comes to little Beans’s TV time and your parenting situation. It must be so hard when you’re trying to do one thing, only to realise that a completely different routine is going on when you aren’t there. I grew up a split family so I can definitely relate to the complicated dynamics that come with it.

        Hope you enjoy the book. I’m placing a hold on it at my library too!! I’m excited to see what insights Britt will have to share with us from her challenge.

  • the Budget Epicurean April 3, 2018 at 11:54 am

    What a great way to simplify your life, and also make space for so many other things. Adventure, walks, talking and actually connecting with others, making and enjoying good meals. I try to fill downtime with reading or writing if anything. But it is still part of our lives on the weekend, or an episode or 2 together before bedtime. Maybe this would be a fun challenge to see how long we could go without it…

    • Jennifer | Honey Rule April 5, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      A fun challenge indeed! It can be tough to stop cold turkey if you’re in the middle of a season of something, but it’s interesting to see how quickly you forget that you’re waiting to see what happens to X character in Y plot line.

  • Tread Lightly, Retire Early March 30, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    Our tv actually broke a few months ago and we have yet to replace it. We do have an iPad for the little bit of tv my husband watches while getting ready during the week and a bit our son watches on weekday evenings, but I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I actually sat down and watched something. Now I wonder how the heck I had the time to watch any tv because I don’t have big gaps in my evening for it.

    • Jennifer | Honey Rule April 5, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      Haha, that’s awesome that you can’t remember the last time you sat down and watched TV! I don’t know how I made time for it before either, and I used to watch A LOT.

  • penguindiva March 29, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    I love this post! I too watched all 10 seasons of Grey’s anatomy in a couple months…also Gossip Girl. I have given up cable television, but still have Netflix (and a 13 year old). I still don’t binge watch anymore, I would rather read a book.

  • Geneviève March 29, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I love this post! We stopped our TV service a little more than a year ago, and we don’t have high speed internet either, so Netflix never was a part of our life. I get the same reaction when people learn we don’t watch tv. They can’t figure out what we do with our time, which is kind of sad, isn’t it? If really, you relationships depends on so much TV time, then what’s the point? I enjoy so much eating at the dinner table with my man, and talking together about our day and our dreams our struggles. And taking walks. And getting things done! Because let’s be honest, you open your tv in the morning and the next thing you know, it is time to make dinner and you don’t know where the day has gone. We still watch movies from time to time, but it is because we chose to. I would not go back, for sure!

    • Jennifer | Honey Rule March 30, 2018 at 6:03 am

      Hey Geneviève! So glad we’re not alone in this. You’re right, it is kinda sad that people can’t imagine filling time with stuff other than TV. Deep, meaningful relationships aren’t based off of your mutual connection with whatever-TV-show you’re watching together.

  • Ms Zi You March 29, 2018 at 7:39 am

    Love the post, I’ve not had a TV for years, and love it. I occasionally watch things online, but it’s not a habit.

    • Jennifer | Honey Rule March 29, 2018 at 8:08 am

      That’s awesome! We definitely are thinking of not having a TV, or at least moving it to a secondary room in the new house so it won’t be there in the main level.

  • Daisy March 29, 2018 at 7:04 am

    Glad to see Jenn over here; I love her blog. 🙂 I too went from a huge TV watching habit to zero; I could never have imagined it years back but it’s been lovely. I doubt I’ll ever go back outside of watching a movie with friends 3-4 times a year. Thanks for sharing! (And Beans is adorable!)

    • Jennifer | Honey Rule March 29, 2018 at 8:09 am

      Hey Daisy! Thanks so much for your nice comment. You’re so right—once TV is out of your life, it’s so hard to imagine making time for it!

    Hey! I'm Britt. I write about living a tiny, simple, intentional life. Because life doesn't need to be lived big.