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.
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 hellobrio.com. In her free time (hah!) she likes to hand letter and bullet journal, go coffee house hopping in nearby Philadelphia, and run.
Headshot Image Credit: Honey Rule