Kick it!

Throw Away Your Television.

photo credit: clickflashphotos

 

“Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I liked to take a minute just sit right there
And tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air”  (add in your own synthesizer noise here)

Ok, don’t pretend that you couldn’t sing the rest of this song from memory!  In fact, I bet I couldn’t stop you from singing it and that it will in fact, be stuck in your head all day now.  He he he… you’re welcome.

Aren’t you so glad that you have this important tidbit permanently embedded into your cerebral storage space?  How many afternoons I wasted, staring at the boob tube.  I wish I could reprogram by brain and replace all the theme songs, junky toy jingles, and mounds of TV trivia, with important things!

Well, this is my story all about how my life got flip turned upside down…  (ok sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

I knew I wanted something better for my kids.  I knew that watching TV significantly delayed cognitive development.  So my oldest never watched any TV until she was well over 2 (unless you count watching Lord of the Rings with Daddy @ 7 days old.  A love of LOTR is an obligatory part of being a member in our family).  But as any Mama knows, the rules get relaxed as you have more children.  As I got busier with keeping house and raising our growing family, I all too often, reverted to the old standby babysitter… the boob tube.  And I justified it because I only allowed them to watch educational tv shows.

But even then, I began to notice, my normally polite girls DEMANDING certain toys or junk foods.  The childrens’ song writer turned child advocate, Raffi said “These companies want to turn America’s kids into sales agents to nag Mom and Dad.” The last straw was when my then 4yr old began singing fast food jingles when we drove past McDonald’s, Burger King or Subway!  At a time when her brain is like a sponge, what was I allowing her to absorb?

So, I immediately tossed out my TV and never looked back!!

Ok…… not quite……  I have to admit, it wasn’t that simple.  It was a process of baby steps (like most things with natural parenting, baby steps make it doable).  We started by only watching TV as a family in the evening and not allowing the kids to watch it during the day.  And then, when they switched to digital TV, we just never bothered to get a converter box.  That was a Godsend!  It forced me to take the next step and cutting out all commercial TV.

As a side note, did you know that the real dangerous part is the commercials anyways?  Surprised me a little, but really, it makes sense; those commercials during kids programming are beyond irritating!  Those toys never do what they show in the commercials. Mouse Trap was such a let down as a kid.  It took 20 minutes to set the trap only to knock it down and have to set it all back up again!

So, no converter box = no TV shows.

Instead we have a great selection of DVDs.  I’ve carefully chosen a few movies that I feel benefit my kids when they watch them in moderation.  (My 4yr old thinks she lives in a musical.  She sings about going to the potty, she sings about how much she dislikes squash, and she sings about how much she HATES to go to bed – though that one is more like a funeral dirge.)

Not having the option of watching TV all the time forces my kids to get creative.  And that leads to all kinds of interesting made up games!  And when they play those games, they learn all sorts of important life skills like…

Piloting an aircraft with no wings,

 

How to corral a herd of fuzzy haired ponies,

 

Or how to defend your self with only a stolen turkey baster……

Hey!  I was looking for that!!!

But in all seriousness, I don’t have to tell you that time spent in front of the TV is time they aren’t spending working on important things like problem solving, good communication, developing their imagination or learning to work together with a 2yr old dead set on knocking down your fairy castle.

So, just give it a try, commit yourself to 1 week without TV.  If you need to, do something to force yourself to keep that resolution (unplug it, put it in the garage, or hid the remote!).  You’ll realize, it’s easier to do than you thought.

I’d love to hear how your TV free week went?  What was the hardest?  Was it easier than you thought?  Did you give in a little or did you stay strong?  Did you kids have a blast making up a crazy game instead of vegging??

Go for it Mama!  You can do it!  One baby step at a time.

Comments

  1. If I didn’t think it would end badly, I’d pitch the TV out to the curb on trash day. But my hubby is very attached to it and I’d probably need to look for a good divorce lawyer if I did that LOL. During the day, I limit the amount of time spent watching TV, even the “educational” shows. Sometimes I’m less vigilant about it than others, and it’s amazing how it sneaks into your day. I’ve been kind of dealing with some spiritual “sifting” lately and have absentmindedly allowed my 3 yr old son to start turning the boob tube on in the mornings. He at least knows when to turn it off (when certain shows are on that I disapprove of) but I noticed the other day we’ve developed a bad habit of starting our day with the idiot box. The TV is in a cabinet with doors that close, but the one door catches the wall when you open or close the doors (tried to get hubby to move the cabinet just a little so the wallpaper wouldn’t tear but he never did so the doors stay open most of the time) but I’m just going to start closing the doors anyway and teach him when the doors are closed, no TV and no arguing about it. Most of the time the kids watch dvd’s anyway since we just have “regular” TV, but we do like to watch several shows on PBS. We could have gotten away with the “no converter box, no TV” thing if my husband hadn’t bought a new TV…gggrrr

  2. Great post! I’m not a mom but hopeful on that point and so trying to pick up tips on the way. I feel like I’m ahead of the curve on this one!! Hubby and I have already opted for the DVD only lifestyle option…no TV shows, no commercials, no converter box. And we don’t miss it even a little. It’s not nearly as hard as it looks and as a result, we read more, listen to music more, talk to each other more. It’s amazing how much more time there is in your life without traditional television…

  3. I’m with Dawn, Hubby would never go for it. We tried life without cable for a few months, and even that didn’t go well. He watched “everything on Netflix” (his words) and was so deprived of sports he wouldn’t stop whining. I’m hoping we can raise our son to be less dependent on the boob tube than Dad is!

    • @Angie,
      I couldn’t tell you how, but I know you can watch sports via the internet. I only know b/c the Grandpas whined that it wasn’t really Thanksgiving if they couldn’t watch football… So my husband found it for them ;o)

  4. When hubby is on a business trip, the TV never even gets turned on much less watched. He’s a work-at-home daddy, so we watch Jeopardy after lunch every day (he’s a contestant in training). Once or twice a week after dinner he’ll turn on an OLD show (Gunsmoke, Batman, etc.) and we’ll watch it with the kids. He watches sports all weekend, but he records it on our DVR and we faithfully skip through commercials. Most of the time the kids and I aren’t in the house while he does his watching. There’s so much to do…out THERE!

    But get rid of it? No WAY.

  5. We have turned off the t.v. for the week. No movies, shows, or games on the computer or phones either. So far no one has died of boredom, thought I get asked every 5 minutes if they can watch t.v. or play a game on my phone! I’m thinking as the week goes on, those requests will come less frequently. :)

  6. Our TV is gone but we watch DVDs or Hulu after the kids go to bed. They get enough TV at grandma’s (albeit The Waltons and Little House but woe the wrenched news!)