Our family has more fun than I can begin to tell you. We (usually) opperate on an organic schedule, spend lots of time together, and genuinely enjoy each others' company.
When Ryan and I got married, we got the uber cable and dvr package and we were "living the life." We never missed our shows because they were recorded and waiting for us. We never had to choose between Rachel Ray and Ninja Warrior because we could watch one and record the other. We enjoyed marathon after marathon of our favorite shows! We spent our weekends catching up on hours of television, and our weekday evenings on the couch getting up to date on the latest home colors for fall (even though we lived in an apartment) or trying to guess which house that family was going to pick of the three options. Actually, the television was running our lives. We still spent time with friends, we still went on dates, but the MAJORITY of our time off of work together was spent looking at a lighted screen. There were some weekends that we "HAD TO STAY IN" because our dvr had 20 backed up episodes of shows that were about to be deleted. We didn't have time to read books for leisure. We were slaves to the TV.
We moved into our house and decided to try living without cable for a while, but the TV company could only set up our internet if we ordered a cable package for at least a month. So we ordered the cable and kept it for the required month. When we got rid of the cable we hooked up the television to the behemouth antenna the previous homeowner had left attached to our chimney. After "putting up with" the local channels we did something really crazy. We swapped our living and dining rooms to have a larger living space. We disconnected the massive antenna and moved the televison to a wall with no antenna jack. We freed ourselves from the television.
At first we still spent a lot of time watching movies or playing the Playstation 3. We gradually started spending more time at our parents' houses. Soon we started wondering what we had been wasting all of our time doing! We started picking up little house projects here and there. Our house started to settle into a liveable space. Our floors were refinished, the nursery was set up, the broken oven was replaced, the yellow 1972 toilets were replaced, the bathroom floors were tiled, the remaining rooms of our house were painted, the garage slowly emptied enough to fit one car, the living room got fresh and inviting furniture, the china was moved out of my in-laws upstairs closet and into our china cabinet, window treatments started going up, our son's room became orderly (and stayed orderly!), my Montessori work started coming together. Life was getting GOOD!
Life was getting so good, that we had forgotten about our previously life-consuming enterprise of television watching. I had shed a television addiction that I've carried since my childhood. Family gatherings became less about the golf tournament or football game and more about time with our family! We started to feel a little weirded out when we'd go places with a television just running in the background. We were noticing how much we had been missing! Suddenly there were a few more hours in every day or a few more hours of sleep to get every night. We started taking Dominic out to the park as he became more confident with walking. We bought a zoo membership and started taking regular family outtings to the zoo (sometimes only for a quick 30 minute trip before nap time, but with a membership... no fret... we'll see the okapi next time if we don't see it today!). I actually completed my Montessori training, without a very serious mental break-down that I had procrastinated beyond recovery... astonishing!
A noteworthy realization was that we didn't need constant entertainment anymore. We weren't missing all that television at all, and in fact, we really enjoyed getting netflix so we could watch a series of a television show here-and-there or to have a movie night every once in a while. Ryan and I started having more spontaneous "dates" and started having deeper conversations. Sometimes the drive home from the zoo would get us into such a rivetting conversation that we would stop off at Fioza (our favorite local coffe/tea/sandwich shop) and spend a few more hours laughing and debating and whirling off into other conversations (with Dominic asleep in his stroller or engrossed in observing his surroundings, or reading a book from the diaper bag). We played trivial persuit! We stopped using the board for the game because we had so much dang fun answering the questions and getting lost in conversation about the questions.
Our life became rich because of the time we spent with our families, because of the time we spent with our son, because of the time we spent together in silence reading, because of the time we had to be a family! Often we will sit at home and each of us (Dominic included) will be doing our own activities. He doesn't demand that we be with him all the time, and we are not locking him into a playroom full of stuff or putting him in front of a television to "keep him busy" so we can check the latest facebook debate or finish the laundry. He will bring us a book to read him every now and then and we'll end up reading four books a couple times each. Or we'll play some music, and end up having a family dance party for an hour. Sometimes we just take a nap in the afternoon.
When television left our list of "needs," we quickly forgot about it and quickly realized how much we had been missing. We have not felt bored for a moment. We haven't had to spend a ton of money on other activities or items in order to fill a void. We've carefully selected a few activities that work well for our family for days that we just need something to do (the zoo, library, and park), but those activities are free or nearly free. The change was a big one when we first made it, but in retrospect, it is one that I cannot imagine living without. We save tons of money that used to go to the cable company, we have freed up hours and hours a week, and we are genuinely enjoying the precious moments we have as a family. It is a change that I would encourage anyone to try for a couple months (Ryan dares you to try it for a year!). It is a change that has improved our lives a hundred fold!