CONCLUSION TO OUR 30 DAY TO NEW HABITS CHALLENGE

We have finished our challenge and found that indeed there was a significant impact on our family interactions. At the start of the challenge, we had no preconceived notions of what we wanted out of it or expectations. We started by creating a set of metrics that would guide the challenge and help assess our little study. Along with the benefits of the challenge, I’ll discuss some obstacles we overcame and how we did it; So, that in the future if you decide to do a similar challenge you know what to expect.

BENEFITS TO THE CHALLENGE

QUALITY PLAYTIME:

The best benefit from the challenge is a significant increase in us being present with our kids. Without the TV distraction, you really do feel like you have more time. Time hasn’t changed, but the perception of time definitely does. I have been staying home with the kids and my wife, so we have more time than the average person to spend with their family. On an average day, we take them for a walk around the neighborhood/go to the park and homeschool. This said, without the TV, we spent on average an additional 2 hours of solid playing with the kids, we spent time playing Candyland, making art, drawing, singing songs and reading. This time was awesome, I really enjoyed this more interactive time. The other time we had before the challenge is more passive, but good too, as playing with them actively really gets you tired physically and emotionally!

QUALITY FAMILY TIME

This one is a little harder to define oddly, but this is the time that we are spending together as a family unit, not individually with the kids or with our spouse. During this time, we had a significant increase going and doing things. We spent a lot of time driving, because as it was raining the entire time and the kids were sick, so it restricted the activities to local outings. We had all our meals at the dinner table (since there wasn’t any TV to watch, the couch eating didn’t make any sense) and we spent time talking and telling knock knock jokes. This really lowered my stress level to have this time together.

LEARNING TIME

The kids learned a ton these past few weeks, school was for about an hour a day, but spilled over into other times of the day. Without a TV, the day is long! We took this time and my daughter learned addition, Spanish, counting in Spanish, puzzles and logic maps. As it is now she is going through 1st grade books, and learning to read and she’s only 3 (ok almost 4)!

I was hoping that we were going to learn more on a personal level, but our time defaulted to the kids, which is still good, but I would change this and schedule personal time for us individually to learn or do whatever we wanted.

PRODUCTIVITY

We are planning on selling our house and nearly everything that we own. That means there is a ton of work to do along with keeping the house clean and the kids taken care of. During these past few weeks we were very productive, we cleaned out one of our rooms, we listed a bunch of stuff in the garage, sold some stuff and our biggest job was listing books on Amazon under their fulfilled by amazon service (FBA). We listed 177 books for sale out of 250ish books we had, take a look at a future article on how to list of FBA for resale. We estimate that after fees we should make around $9,000 on these items!

PERSONAL AND INTIMATE TIME:

Without going into much detail here, we found had an hour to ourselves each day that we used for reading, talking and snuggling excluding intimate time. I found myself spending a lot of this time working, this is so hard to turn off. I am a worker, but I really hate that my default value is to work. I guess this is a good trait in some cases, but I also wish I had more balance. I had a great time talking with my wife about everything, but we spent a lot of time talking about non-kid centric issues too which was awesome. We spent a lot more time together being a couple these weeks too, which was amazing. It is great to be with such an amazing woman who loves me so much! ????

DIFFICULTIES OF THE CHALLENGE

Television permeates into our lives in all kinds of ways, it isn’t just TV shows, it is Netflix, YouTube, Facebook and all kinds of other streaming services that take up our time. Honestly, these shows are a lot better quality to those shows we watched in the 80s, more compelling, linear and accessible! I have compiled a short list of the main challenges we ran into during our challenge.

ACCESSIBILITY

The accessibility of media makes is so hard to pull the plug, because I can take the “TV” with me anywhere, during dinner, during time out, anywhere with internet. Luckily, I have an unlimited data plan to keep me plugged in at all times (sigh). To help conquer this we actually installed an app on our phone that notifies and tracks our usage of apps so we can make sure we are aware of our daily habits. This really helped to curb our usage and realize how much time we spent on our phones too!

WORK EXCUSES

I’ll own up to this one, I love playing with my kids, but I can’t play with them as much and continually as my wife, after about 10 minutes I am ready to be done. Playing with them for hours was great and excruciating at times. I found myself making up excuses to work, because that is what I feel more comfortable working than playing. What I learned from this was that I needed to find out how “I” play with my kids, playing tea party gets old quick, but taking them to the park or the pool I can do for hours! I just need to learn to play with them that makes them happy and on longer excursions; something we can both enjoy.

VISITORS

During the second week, we had my Wife’s Dad over who loves to watch TV as much as I do (a lot), and he was scheduled to work in Portland for the week, so he stayed with us. We didn’t want to impose our rule on him as it would have been difficult for him, so we made the exception for him. We didn’t watch TV until he came home, but then ended up watching several movies and TV shows over the week he was there, essentially having us call it a failure and we ended the challenge on day 12. Our plan was to pick up the challenge after he left, but felt a bit disingenuous to continue. We are planning on starting this again as the benefits was substantial.

BOREDOM

Let’s be honest, TV fills the time and when there no TV, there is more time. Time that feels like a hole without TV. Your mind wanders to watching movies, or wanting to catch up on your show. It was hard over time to stay diligent. At the beginning, it was very easy to ignore the TV and other distractions, but over time the wandering mind and TV craving made it hard to not give into the temptation especially when you see someone else is enjoying it. I would suggest that you create a plan and schedule activities for each member of the family to keep you in solidarity.

FAUX FAMILY ACTIVITIES

We ran into an issue after about day 5 when we let our daughter watch her tablet, because she was sick and we wanted to comfort her. This led us to hear it and made our mind wander, which created a slippery slope of other distractions starting with playing a videogame on the TV. It wasn’t “technically” on the naughty list, so we had a discussion and decided that as long as it was a “family activity” that we were going to be OK. We tried it, and the first day it went super smooth, we all were actively decoding puzzles and talking about the Final Fantasy lore to our kids and limited it to 2 hours of play. Then the next day and the days after went from 2 hours to nearly 6 and completely took over the day. It was a slippery slope to TV and we fell for it. My advice, avoid anything that uses the TV screen. TV is not just the show or movie, it is the distraction we are really complaining about.

PERSONAL TIME GETTING CONVERTED TO KID TIME

We spend all time with these little kiddos, but as any parent can tell you need your individual time to pursue your activities and your time together without the kiddos. We found that with the hole of TV that we filled it playing with the kids, which is awesome, but we also didn’t leave any time for us at the start, and changed it to at least an hour a day toward the end of the challenge. My suggestion is that you schedule these times and make it so it isn’t at the end of the day or it will get converted to bed time.

THE RESULTS

30 DAY CHALLENGE METRICS AND RESULTS
PARENT VALUES WIFE ME TOTAL
QUALITY FUN TIME 5 4 4.5
ADVENTURE TIME 5 3 4
PRODUCTIVITY 5 5 5
INTIMACY 5 5 5
LEARNING TIME 4 3 3.5
PERSONAL TIME 5 5 5
TOTALS 4.83 4.16 4.5
KID VALUES DAUGHTER SON TOTAL
FUN TIME 5 5 5
ADVENTURE TIME 5 5 5
LEARNING TIME 5 5 5
PLAY TIME 5 5 5
TOTALS 5 5 5
These values were determined by a percentage based off of how we felt at the end of the challenge in the following areas make a 2.5 as a normal day with TV, and anything lower is worse than a day with TV and anything higher than a 2.5 of being better than a day with TV. Each point is valued at 20%, so a 5 is 50% better than a day without TV.

 

We successfully finished 12 days of our 30 day challenge and learned quite a bit. First off that the TV is a real addiction, after just a few days of not watching it we found our mind wandering to the TV. We also found that we had so much time available when we turned the damn thing off. This wasn’t a huge revelation as we knew that was going to be the case, but to experience how much time is wasted is really something.

I think that by limiting the TV significantly that it does improve interactions with the family, but it isn’t just TV. TV is the scape goat, it is the digital life we have now, it is TV, YouTube, Google, email, everything is just so accessible it makes it very easy to allow these devices and services to fill up our daily routine and raise our kids. We need to take back the time, try the challenge and see how you and your family feel after. We are planning another challenge with a schedule and a plan on activities. We are implementing a limit on our devices and thinking about where we want to spend it, instead of just defaulting to the box. That’s it for now tune in later!

For the past 20 years I have been advocating and teaching about Renewable Energy and Alternative fuels. I worked in IT for 9 years and ran a few IT businesses during that time. I have worked wind turbines and in fuel cell technology and I currently teach college courses full time in Renewable’s and Alternative fuels. I am passionate about technology, building things, family and having fun outdoors. I love sharing and helping to make the world a better place in my own way.

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