All of this frigid winter weather exacerbates a problem that all parents face: what do you do when you're home in the evenings? Not only can we not go somewhere while Eleanor's in bed; we don't even want to go within 1 foot of any winter, for fear of feeling the cold air seep in around the edges.
For us, of course, catching up on our favorite shows on Hulu is the default choice. It's easy and entertaining and we don't have to think about anything. But I'm perpetually trying to watch less TV (the jury's still out on whether I actually make any progress), so we've also been trying to come up with some other ways to stay entertained—G-rated ways, that is! (And that's all I'll say about that.)
Here's some of the options so far:
- Play Nancy Drew computer games. It's true! We like to pretend that we, as a team, are a sixteen-year-old super sleuth, traveling around the world, solving mysteries. It may be a game meant for tween girls, but we like it.
- Work out. It's probably been a year since we did this, but we were doing a plyometrics workout together once a week. There's not too much talking, so it's a good option for those days when nothing really happened and you don't have anything to say. And of course, neither one of us wanted to be the one to suggest sitting on the couch and watching [TV and eating] ice cream instead, so it was motivational. It only lasted for a little while though, because Keith got seriously into marathon training and I .... did not.
- Play board games. Or not really board games so much as word games. Bananagrams is our current favorite for a quick evening game, although there's some other options, too. What's nice about the board games, as opposed to the workout, is that we can talk while we're playing. So if it's been a day where a lot has happened (so rare!) we can keep the conversation going while I kick his butt. If he kicks my butt, I stop talking to him.
- Watch a movie on Netflix. You may consider this cheating on the "less TV" but I put movies in a different category from TV shows. There's more going on, and it feels like more of an "event." If we watch TV and it's suddenly 11 o'clock, I think, Where did the evening go? But if I watched a movie, it feels like I've actually done something with my time. Or at least it's clear that I meant to spend 2 hours in front of the TV.
- The worst option is that we both end up working. I always have teaching-related tasks that I could work on, and lately we've also had some side jobs to work on. Sometimes, we end up side-by-side on the couch, both intently typing away. It's like we're physically in the same space, but mentally miles away. Then we go to bed and talk for a half-hour because we realize we haven't said anything all night.
- Work on a jigsaw puzzle. I know! Is this 1850 or what? But I like them. I freely admit, I do get a sense of accomplishment when I find that one piece that has been eluding me for days. Oftentimes, we'll half work on a jigsaw puzzle and half be watching a TV show. Is this any better than just sitting down and watching TV? Or is it even worse to be trying to multitask?