Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mommy Challenge #1: "Don't you let them"

A couple months ago, my hubby and I were crunching the numbers -- as we do often, being a family of 4 and living on 1 income -- looking for areas where we could cut back.  Time and again during prior number-crunching ceremonies, the issue of cutting cable had come up, but we always nixed it, owing to our need for entertainment for the kids and escape time for us.  This time when the issue came up, however, we really looked at each other.  Could we do it?  we mused aloud.  We could at least give it a try, we agreed.  So, rather reluctantly, we (literally) pulled the plug the next day.  (Side note:  cable guys who come out to unhook your cable when you're not in obvious throes of moving look at you like you've just plunged off the deep end.)

I have to admit, I suffered classic, unmistakable symptoms of withdrawal.  I felt lost, I felt unmoored from the world and the remote seemed to taunt me.  What if we missed the greatest episode of "Chopped" ever (as in, what if there were eagle eyes or pig brains in the basket?  If you've ever seen "Chopped," you know exactly what I mean...)?  What would I do without the voyeuristic comfort of "House Hunters" every night?  What about "Will and Grace" in the mornings, when the kids were finally enmeshed in their play and I could grab a second cup of coffee?  And for heaven's sake, what about "Project Runway"???

These were my initial thoughts but I'm also going to admit something else.  True confession time:  I love junk TV.  I mean, I really *love* it.  Give me a Real Housewives of Wherever and I'll sit and watch it in utter fascination.  Getting a chance to watch how the priviliged and elite live (and waste their money and ruin their marriages)?  Uh, yes please!  It's the best and truest example of watching the metaphorical train wreck -- that state of being unable to look away. 

But suddenly I was forced to look away.  Because there was nowhere to look, nothing to look at!  I didn't quite get into cold sweats and trembling hands, but I was pretty miserable at first.  Then, slowly, I began to notice there was far less noise in my head.  When I was loading the dishwasher I wasn't thinking about Josh from "Million Dollar Listing."  I wasn't wondering who stomped off had a heated discussion on "The View" that morning.  Even getting a break from the benign influences of Ina Garten and Paula Deen was a huge relief.  I could just cook a meal and not worry about whether I was using "good" olive oil!

So.  Fast-forward to now.  I've been clean for a couple months and honestly, I just could never go back to watching cable like I once did.  In addition to saving quite a chunk of change each month and having that blessed relief from all the brain noise, I also seem to have gained hours in my days.  Naptime for my babies now seems to stretch ahead of me with all kinds of possibilities, and isn't just a matter of two 1-hour shows.  Life is measured by other rhythms, my mind filled with clearer thoughts, our money saved or more wisely spent on better things.

You know, I've heard TV described as "soulless."  And how true is that?  Do you know there are people who sit in conference rooms, discussing how to get you glued to a show so they can get more and better advertising dollars, so they can pad their pockets and *get rich off you*?  I'm reminded of the lyrics in James Taylor's song, "You've Got a Friend":
...People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you.
Well, they'll take your soul if you let them.
But don't you let them.

So here's my challenge to you, dear readers:  Consider cutting cable.  Think about it.  If not, just think about majorly cutting back on your viewing time.  Please don't think I'm preaching to you...I'm a self-admitted former junk TV junkie, after all!  I just know what it's like on the other side of things.  And I highly recommend it.  I know what I've gained:  time, money, peace.  I also know what I've lost:  I don't keep up with the Kardashians.  Weep for me if you must.  *wink*

Note:  This is the first of a post series I'm beginning called "Mommy Challenges."  Which isn't at all meant to be limited to mommies only, but is geared toward mommies who want to live better lives for themselves, their husbands, and especially their children.  "Better" meaning simpler, fuller, richer, more focused lives.  This is my goal and I would love to encourage you to join me!
Another Note:  We still offer our kids plenty of entertainment, which I plan on cutting back as well.  It's too easy to buy Nick Jr. DVDs at Target.
Final Note:  "Project Runway" is available on within a few hours of original episode airing.  There's simply no need to live without Tim Gunn (perish the thought!).


Kristen said...

Funny that you asked me to search your google link and I looked up "roku" before reading this post. We are very, as in trying to find the right time with the bills, close to cutting the cord ourselves. We're looking at a blueray player that streams internet so we can watch purposefully. No more junk tv for us, either. I'm sick of my kids picking up nasty little catchphrases from the likes of iCarly, "no chiz!" Gag. The blueray will satisfy my husband's technology crave, our different-abled tv watching online and the need to replace our dying, dinosaur of a dvd player (the blueray plays those). I'm looking forward, with a little nervousness, to freeing our home of the u-verse beast and it's hundreds of tantilizing options to waste our time and fill our lives with noise. I'm with you, babe!

Sarah said...

It is so nice to "meet" you! I am sure, even after just reading one of your posts, that we would certainly be friends in real life. I, too, am a Yankee living in the south, 2 children, LOVE reality TV (and pretty much every show you mentioned in your post!) and that fact that you love to organize puts it over the top!
Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

When you initially told me that you had cut your cable, I was pretty taken aback, but now I feel inspired to do the same. Christopher and I are seriously considering doing it, thanks to you. I'm all for it - more time for reading, puzzles, yoga, etc. :) If only we weren't headed into football season. . . -Katie