Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Today is our fourth day of screen free living. For real. We unplugged (literally) the TV/cable box/Roku box on Friday night.

And we love it.

No, really.

(I can still watch Colbert on my phone, so it's okay. Just don't tell Daniel.)

This has been a long time coming. Before we had children we discussed how we'd like to limit TV in our family life.  Andrew researched it. We knew the negative impact of too much TV on young kids. As a teacher, I'd had plenty of first hand experience of the limitations of most children's programming.

Then we had children, and we learned very quickly (like, the first day we were in America with our newly adopted 5 year old and toddler) how EASY TV makes family life. It's an electronic babysitter: cheap, always available and very, very popular. Before our son was fluent in English he know all the names of the Cars characters.


But. At some point you have the turn the TV off.  For dinner, for bedtime, for an appointment, or because you fear that your children's eyes really will roll out of their heads if they watch one more minute.  And then: the tears, the tantrums, the screaming, the gnashing of teeth, the renting of garments.  The most epic terrible meltdowns we've experienced were because of TV. (Or the I-pad, or the i-phone, or the Leap-pad, or whatever screen we are looking at in the moment.)

It's been two years of this cycle. We tried time limits. We tried point systems. We tried reasoning, we tried reverse psychology. We gave in, then we got strict again.  Nothing worked. They were happy while they watched TV, and desperate and angry when not watching. It was ridiculous.

So we've gone cold turkey.  Friday was the last day of a week of no camp, lots of time with cranky always packing and cleaning mommy and LOTS of screen time. Friday night ended, predictably, with TV, tears and drama.

Saturday morning the kids woke up and were told the TV was unplugged, the i-pad was hidden and there would be no more screens for a while. I braced myself for a revolution.  The children shrugged sceptically.  Then they played with play dough til we left for the park.  The next day they inquired again about the TV.  Were told no, and then shrugged and went off to play with cars and dinosaurs.

This morning they didn't even ask for the TV.

They didn't even ask!

It's like the lack of screen options has unlocked all the other play doors for them. Instead of waiting for their next TV session they pick up a toy (or a book!).  They are free.

Now, just so you don't think I'm campaigning for Mother of the Year award, let me confess: They are both in camp all day.  I'm watching The Daily Show and a few other things on my phone or the supposedly off limits i-pad. (Don't tell Daniel!)  In my defense, I have nothing else to do but PACK. And ohmygod, is that boring!

I love TV. I just wish we could have TV time in our family without all the drama. (ha, ha).  After we move and renovate our home, we'll have a family room in the basement.  It might have a TV in it.

Or, it might not. This TV-free living might be a whole new thing around here.

Just so long as I can keep watching Colbert.

1 comment:

  1. I feel you. We've gone up and down with tv. When P was little and I was at home with her full-time, we never watched tv. Ever. I was a full time mama with just one little underfoot. Life was easy (though I didn't realize it then ;))

    Now I've got two, am trying to start/run a business AND be a full-time mama, and, um, they watch a lot of tv. Even on beautiful days. Like today.

    P starts preschool three mornings a week soon and I think that'll be a game changer. We'll have some structure to work around and I think it will help keep us busy.

    Enjoy your screen-less life. No Screen days are usually my favorites (even if exhausting :)).


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