I think many of us can relate to resorting to entertaining our children with the TV and computer more often than we’d like. I know I can.
After a long winter, and weeks of being sick, I realized that my kiddos were watching more TV on a regular basis than I really felt comfortable with, and so I declared “No TV Month” in March for our family. (This didn’t include my hubby and I in the evenings – it was March Madness, after all! It was more for the kids during the day).
We went cold turkey, going from at least an hour of TV per day to none. It was hard for the first few days, but then it got much, much better. I learned a lot during that month, and we actually liked our turn-off-the-TV month so much that we decided to just keep it going, indefinitely.
Photo by angelrravelor
Lessons Learned During Our No TV Month
Kids Behave Better
I found that my kids behave better when they’re not glued to a screen. While it was nice to be able to get stuff done while they watched a show, turning off the TV or computer always caused huge tantrums, no matter how I tried to explain and prepare them ahead of time. Less screen time meant fewer tantrums.
I worried that my kids had become so used to watching TV that they would throw tantrums if not allowed to watch TV. Obviously, we don’t always give our kids what they want just because they throw a tantrum, but when you’re sick with the flu and your daughter wants to watch Dora, it just seems easier to turn it on than to deal with a fight.
At first your kids will probably resist, but I found that my kids quickly learned not to bother with asking because they new what the answer would be. And it was nice to blame it something external, “I know you want to watch PBS; I wish you could, but it’s no-TV month, so we can’t.” Then I didn’t have to feel like the bad guy.
TV Was My Crutch
The TV had become too much of a “tune out” crutch for me as a mom. Honestly, turning on the TV was sometimes easier than actually coming up with something for my kids to do, cleaning up a mess they made playing, or actually getting involved and playing with them myself.
Like many of you, I am a busy mom who works part time outside the house, as well as working from home on my blog, and I often struggle to get it all done. But, in the month of not letting my kids watch TV I realized how much of a default it had become for me.
As much as the kids learned not to ask for the TV, I learned that I didn’t have to resort to turning it on just to keep them occupied. I needed to break out my boredom busting play activities and ideas for keeping kids entertained while working in the kitchen again. I realized I actually wanted to stay engaged with my kids instead of just tuning out while they watched TV.
Photo by biofriendly
Kids Can Entertain Themselves
Really! My kids are much better at playing together and entertaining themselves than I sometimes give them credit for. I really didn’t feel like I lost my time of being able to get stuff done because my kids weren’t watching TV. Kids will adapt to less TV time and began to play and engage on their own in different and more healthy ways.
I also realized that I had gotten away from including my kids in a lot of my chores and cleaning. My kids don’t have to be entertained and engaged in something else just so I can get stuff done. It was important to get back to involving them in my daily routine and helping out with things around the house.
TV Can Be a Tool
We did turn on the TV just a few times during the month. One time, I was trying to give my son a hair cut and it was the best way to get him to sit still and not worry about what I was doing.
You can use TV intentionally to help in situations where a little hands off entertainment is helpful, both for you and for the kids. The problem is when it becomes a default, using it even when you don’t really “need” to.
So, now we’re continuing our TV-free days, and we’re really not missing anything at all. This is not to say that our kids never watch TV, but we are much more careful and intentional about the times that we do turn on the TV and let them watch.
Instead of every day, it has become a once or week, or less, activity. Now that it’s getting even nicer outside I’m looking forward to them watching even less TV, and being happier and healthier all around.
How is your Screen-Free Week going? Will you continue to be screen-free, or at least use less screen-time, after the week is over?