By Vicki Little
Last year I introduced my kids to the wonderful world of “A Christmas Story.” They absolutely loved it, of course. But the conversation afterward stood out the most to me. My kids were chatting about how boring it must have been to just sit around a radio and listen to someone talk. I tried explaining to them that for that time period, it was entertainment and that families looked forward to spending time together gathered around the radio. I compared it to our “Big Brother” viewings. While the conversation was a bit humorous, it made me realize that we often complain about a lack of time, but in reality we DO have time, we just spend a lot of it glued to screens. A quick email check, and an hour later you find yourself looking at your elementary school friend’s Facebook page. And even with 500 cable channels, we end up finding a five-year-old show on Netflix to watch because nothing else is on. Three hours later, we finish with the first season and start the second. Screens are time drains, and it is hard to resist if we aren’t doing anything else. To avoid temptation, it is best to plan other things you can do instead. Here are 11 things you can do in the evenings that don’t involve looking at screens.
- Spend time with your family. Probably the most obvious one, but it is easy to consider watching TV in the same room as “spending time” together, even though everyone is texting or checking out Facebook. Try something different. Teach the kids Pig Latin (remember how much fun that was?), get some ice cream, head to the park to play frisbee, play games, make a fun dessert, paint a room in the house, or just hang out in the living room without screens.
- Take a walk. You know those times when you walk to the mailbox and think what a beautiful night it is? Instead of going back inside, walk right past the mailbox and around the block. An evening walk is not only great for burning off some calories from dinner, but it is also a great way to spend a few minutes alone without any noise or interruptions.
- Pamper yourself. How nice does a warm bubble bath, a fresh face mask, some quiet time and a glass of wine sound? If it sounds awesome, what is keeping you from doing it? If the answer to that is nothing except your phone or a TV show, you may want to try the pampering route instead. You will feel more refreshed after that than after watching any TV show.
- Do a puzzle. As you get older, it is important to keep your mind active, and puzzles are a great way to do that. They are also a good way to distract yourself and calm down from a hard day, to shut your brain off for a few minutes, and even to chat with a friend or family member as they enjoy the puzzle with you. I wouldn’t recommend one of those crazy impossible puzzles. That wasn’t very relaxing for me, and it may have caused a fight or two. Allegedly.
- Work out. There is a reason your friends swear by it. Not only do they look great, but they feel great and are healthier because of exercise. They don’t really care what body part the Kardashian’s are showing off this week because they look just as good (in some cases better!)
- Start a project. I have a bucket of baby/toddler clothes that I just simply can’t get rid of. My goal is to one day sew all those blankets together into a cute blanket to give to them when they have children of their own. Most of us have some “one day” project, so instead of waiting for one day, why not start right now?
- Practice mindful living. According to Wikipedia, mindful living (also called mindfulness) is “the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.” It is very soothing, and a much better way to calm your mind and soul than zoning out in front of a TV. A simple Google or Pinterest search will give you many exercises and activities to practice this. You may even want to ask your kids as some schools have even started the practice of mindful living in the classrooms.
- Try something new. It doesn’t need to be something huge like a new hobby or activity, though it certainly can be. But try something new — a new recipe you have been wanting to try, a new hairstyle or make-up technique, or even just a different arrangement of the living room.
- Read something you normally wouldn’t. Maybe you tend to lean towards Jodi Picoult or trashy romance novels. Maybe crime novels are more your style. Either way, try something different. Maybe a self-help book or a biography. You can even find a “reality show” version of books. Just head to the non-fiction section. There are some amazingly cool stories there.
- Organize your pictures. Digital cameras are awesome! No longer do you have to just hope that the pictures you are taking turn out well! Now, instead of having bins full of unorganized pictures I have a ridiculous number of flash drives filled with images. (And yes, I am well aware that there is an age group that will be reading this that have no idea what life before digital cameras was like.) Even if you don’t actually purchase the photo books at this time, you will be doing yourself a favor by organizing your photos into ‘folders’ or even putting the book together so you can purchase it when a great deal comes out.
- Find something in your community. Chances are, there are more things to do in your community — free things — than you probably know about. Free outdoor concerts, movies in the park, farmer’s markets, craft sales, book clubs, sewing circles, etc. There will be at least one evening each week where something is going on in your community that you might be interested in. A good place to look is in the local brochures for rec centers and libraries.
What is your favorite evening non-screen activity?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, reading, camping, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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