I have just had three TV free nights in a row, and I’m still here. Grin. You know how it is when you get really, really, really tired? And the only thing that you think you can possibly do after finally getting the child into bed and hurricane-ravaged house set mostly to rights (oh, that’s right, it was only one small child!)? Vegetate. I’ve been experiencing that far too much lately, and as we were loaned some DVD series by friends, even when there hasn’t been anything we wanted to watch on TV, we’ve still managed to sit down in front of the box for an hour in the evening. Nothing terribly wrong with that, I don’t think. It’s more that I’m getting into some really lazy habits. Lazy thoughts (“I can’t do that or that or that, I’m too tired.”) and lazy action (bum in lazy-boy, feet up, immobile).
I’m trying to cut back. Trying to find other things I can do in the evening that don’t leave me wound into a corkscrew waiting to explode at bedtime. Yup, I do really struggle with being too wired for sleep if I do much of anything in an evening. I think I need to do a few experiments. For instance, does blogging in the evening actually keep me awake at night? Or is it a suitable wind-down exercise? Could I convince my spouse to play some boardgames instead? Books are good, but there are some that I just CAN’T put down until they are finished, so that doesn’t work well in the sleep department. How do I know before I start a book whether it is in the ‘can’t put this down’ category, the ‘nice, enjoyable read over several nights’ category or the ‘this is terribly boring and I don’t want to finish it’ category? And exactly HOW LONG do I need to be doing something quiet and non-stressful if I want to sleep well? I’m not really sure. I know I can’t study and then sleep. I have to do an hour of (you guessed it) TV in between!
Last night I gardened until it was too dark to see whether the seedlings were going in the right way up. Then I stroked a guinea pig and listened to a cricket by my front door. It was really nice. I did feel a bit wired when the light was turned out. But is that because of my activities, or some other random reason? It was actually quite a while between gardening and eventual light-turning-out. We read the Word For Today and pray together at night after getting ready for bed, so you’d think with it taking me about 30-60minutes every night from starting to get ready, to actually turning off the light, that it wouldn’t matter what I’d done before hand. You’d think that. Sigh.
The other issue with doing stuff in the evening is that it actually requires self-discipline on not one, but two fronts. Firstly, I have to use my brain to decide what to do rather than watch TV, and motivate myself to actually DO something. Then secondly, I have to remember what time it is. Set an alarm perhaps, or simply be disciplined enough that when 8:30-9pm comes around, I start getting ready for bed. I take ages to get ready. And we’re trying to get to bed earlier. But I’m struggling still with having to get ready at 8:30. That seems WAY too early! I’ve only had an hour since finishing the post-Munchinator routines. It just doesn’t seem like long enough. It doesn’t feel like I’ve had an evening. Even though I have. I recall days when he was little when he went to bed and I was in bed thirty minutes later. I had no hobbies, no interests, and precious little sleep back then. So glad that’s over. But still, I find that if I watch TV, usually there’s a designated end point. An hour of NCIS for instance, the end of a movie, or I might watch half an hour of Mamma Mia while I knit. I rarely want to watch hours and hours.
Blogging, or sorting photos, or doing a bit of sewing, or gardening…hmm, that’s much harder to have a designated ‘end point’ for. I could set one before I start, I guess. I could say, “I am writing one blog post, then going to bed.” But how long is a piece of string, or in this case, the time required to write a blog post??? Sometimes only a few minutes, but very rarely. There’s the photos to edit, the writing, then editing of that too, then putting it all up online, checking it has formatted at least close to what I wanted, and so on. It can become quite a long winded business and I’ve been caught out many times before thinking I’d blog for half an hour and finding it has turned into an hour and a half by the time I’ve done everything I wanted to do. Tricky. But at the same time, if I want to be able to keep blogging while studying, I need to be able to manage some manner of boundaries so it doesn’t become too consuming at the expense of other things, or get left to stagnate instead. Blogging rather than watching TV once or twice a week is a good payoff, if I can only manage to do it in such a way that I do still get to bed and to sleep at a good time.
Do you have some non-TV winding down habits that enable you to spend an enjoyable evening getting ready for sleep? I wonder how many TV free nights I could manage before going into withdrawal?