Before we made the decision to intentionally live with less, we were just a typical family of four living in the suburbs. But since finding a rational approach to minimalism, our lives have changed in countless ways – some big, some small.
One change that seemed small at the time actually had a profound impact on the quality of our lives, marriage, and family. We removed the television from our bedroom. At first, it was just a 30-day experiment. But given the overwhelming benefits that accompanied its removal, it is a change we look back on with great fondness.
Consider the benefits:
1. More/Better sleep. The same statistics that tell us Americans watch over 35 hours of television/week are the same statistics that make it clear the lure of the screen is just too strong to turn off. No one sets out to spend 5 hours/day watching television. The temptation is too great… especially when we are tired. Not only does television in the bedroom keep us up later at night, but there are also studies that indicate watching television before bed actually disrupts sleep cycles. Removing the television from your bedroom results in more sleep and better sleep… which means you’ll have a better rested, more productive day.
2. What you think about last matters. The evening provides valuable opportunity to meditate, evaluate, and assess your day. This examination leads to learning from our mistakes and growing as humans. Unfortunately, many people will sacrifice this opportunity for the sake of entertainment.
3. What you think about first matters. Every morning begins with a clean slate and brand new opportunities. Allowing your television to guide your morning thoughts takes that blank canvas and begins painting. We would be wise to choose carefully who/what directs our morning thoughts rather than blindly allowing television producers to do it for us. After all, it sets the stage for the rest of the day.
4. Example for your kids. Children with televisions in their bedrooms score lower on school tests and are more likely to have sleep problems. Also, having a television in the bedroom is strongly associated with being overweight and a higher risk for smoking. And that’s a pretty strong argument to remove theirs and yours.
5. More conversation. As a married couple, some of your most important, intimate conversations will take place in your bedroom during the waning hours of the day… unless of course, the television is on instead.
6. More/Better sex. Couples who keep a TV in the bedroom have sex half as often as those who don’t. Probably because there are over a million things more stimulating than a man watching ESPN SportsCenter. And if you ask me, that should be reason enough…
7. Less clutter. Your television takes up space (even when hidden). And I haven’t met anybody who actually enjoys more clutter in their homes.
8. Less advertisements at your weakest. Studies reveal what we already know to be true: Consumers are more susceptible to advertisements when they are tired. Depletion leads us to feel as if we’ve been more thorough and thoughtful in our processing and therefore, we become more certain in our attitudes.
9. Realistic expectations on your marriage. In almost all regards, television rarely depicts the world and life accurately. As a result, too much television results in disillusionment about what to expect from the world around us. This can be most detrimental to our relationships when the unrealistic expectations are applied to our marriage, family, love, romance, and sexuality.
10. Rooms serve purposes. Kitchens are for cooking… Dining Rooms are for eating… Toy Rooms are for playing… Offices are for working… Rooms serve purposes. The better we define those rooms and their purposes, the more productive they become. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex by taking work materials, computers, and televisions out of the sleeping environment.
11. Televisions attract dust. All electronics attract and trap dust… something about static electricity. While I don’t understand the physics, I see the result. And isn’t there enough dust already in your bedroom… why would you want to attract more?
12. Get ready faster. Having the television on while getting ready in the morning adds extra time to the process. And who wants to spend more time getting ready?
13. More reading. Light reading in the evening helps many fall asleep faster. But even if it doesn’t help you sleep, the benefits of reading still far outweigh the benefits of television. Removing the television from your bedroom will almost always encourage more reading in your life.
14. Going to sleep together. While some couples have successfully navigated the television schedule and actually go to sleep together (We watch the King of Queens every night and then fall asleep), we never could. Perhaps we’re less disciplined… but more likely, she liked watching TLC far more than I did. Removing the television helps foster intimacy by not just going to bed at the same time, but by falling asleep at the same time as well.
15. Less electricity/energy use. Household electronics continue to use energy and electricity even when powered off. It’s called standby-power and it amounts to 5-10% of your total electricity bill. One less television means one less financial drain on your checkbook.
16. Your attention is far too valuable. There are very important people in your life who need your attention every single day. Removing the television from your bedroom will help you give it to the people who need it the most.
17. Masking problems in your marriage. When two imperfect people come together to form an intimate union that shares everything, there are bound to be some problems along the way. Successful couples notice them, discuss them, and find compromise that makes both sides better. Unsuccessful couples don’t. Our marriages require us to be intentional and thoughtful. And that rarely happens when the television is on.
18. Watch less television. Inherent in each of these reasons above is the reality that removing the television from your bedroom means that you will watch less television. And there are all sorts of good reasons for that: 11 Reasons to Ditch Your Television, 10 Reasons to Watch Less Television, 4 Simple Reasons to Sell Your TV.
If words on a page aren’t quite enough for you or your partner, commit to try it out as a 30 day experimentation. Unplugging the television and moving it into a different room will take less than 3 minutes. There is an end in sight. You’ve got nothing to lose. And maybe, just maybe, a whole lot to gain.
Again, I’m not saying you have to remove the television from your bedroom. I’m just saying your life will be better if you do.