If you haven’t heard, we ditched our TV.
But we’ll all find out together.
We have a 2 and a 3-year-old that I noticed were relying too heavily on the TV to get through the day.
We also have tired mid-thirties parents who were relying too heavily on the TV to get through the day.
There had to be a better way.
Children are built to play, to explore, to imagine. And mine were just wanting to zone out in front of the TV. We let this happen. And we’re going to do something to fix it.
Catch Part 1 and Part 2 of our journey of ditching the TV.
And now for the rest of the story…
There have definitely been some highlights and moments of hope as well as moments where I questioned if this was all worth it.
As we finished up the first week, I was definitely on the side of questioning my sanity.
You’ve been asking how it’s been going.
Here’s the reality:
After two solid days of no mention of the TV, Charley finally asked for it. We had started our day together and had been hanging out when all of a sudden, she said, “Mommy. I really want to watch TV.” I think sitting on the couch together triggered the thought, so I told her that I understood her feelings, that sitting on the couch and watching TV really did sound nice, but that we probably weren’t going to watch TV for a while and we would need to find something else to do.
She asked if we could continue working on our “project” (the city scape on the hallway wall), to which I obviously agreed.
Well that was easy.
I have continued to notice how creatively they’re playing.
That is hands-down my biggest observation.
Like… I had hoped for that, but wasn’t sure it would actually happen.
MY children? Face bored time?
They always come to me or ask for TV when they’re bored. Get creative? I’m not sure.
There has been SO MUCH MORE pretend play, so many more crafts completed, more independent initiation of tasks, and even books flying off the bookshelves as they’ve chosen books themselves and then sat quietly to read.
Again, I repeat… BY THEMSELVES.
It’s not Christmas but it’s a miracle.
Today Gavin was getting fussy so I told Charley I’d be taking him to his room for a nap soon and she could have some time on her tablet if she wanted.
She wanted to finish her craft instead!!!
I had given her a plain white box all taped up and told her she could decorate it and we’d pretend to ship it to someone. She then went – by herself – to the craft shelves in our office to gather stickers, markers, and of course, googly eyes.
Googly eyes over tablet time FTW.
Chris was up this morning with the kids, and they began the day together on the front porch. After breakfast, we ventured to the backyard where the kids and I decided to harvest sunflower seeds and pick tomatoes.
As the kids worked at picking out seeds, I couldn’t help but smile… I was feeling the warm sunshine on my face and engaging my kids in meaningful work. I couldn’t ask for more.
Charley got into a zone. She got a feel for how to pop those sunflower seeds out, and went to town. It reminded me of when we took her to a local Vineyard to participate in their harvest, and that girl flipped over her 5-gallon bucket, sat down, and didn’t stop cutting vines for two solid hours. My true farm girl. Not afraid of hard work and all about the experience of sowing and reaping. So proud.
(Can we buy a farm yet? Please??)
We came inside to a project I’d prepared for them to practice cutting, glueing, and learning about food groups. I did this project a long time ago with Charley and she loved it, so now that Gavin is older I thought I’d try again. We cut foods from grocery store ads and then used glue sticks to place them on paper “plates.” This kept them entertained forever, and it was hilarious to see their food choices.
Gavin’s plate was full of meat and beer.
I am REALLY enjoying our new routine, and am definitely feeling like I have two more behaved children than just 6 days ago…
I’m choking on my words I said yesterday about two well-behaved children. HA.
Last night was insane, and today has followed suit.
When our home alarm started going off at 2:30AM, I had already been awakened twice, and had hardly spent any time actually sleeping. After the cops searched our house, yard, and basement before ruling it a false alarm, it took me forever to go back to sleep. When Gavin awoke just after 6, I had maybe had two hours of sleep.
I was so out of it when I went up to get him from his crib that I nearly fell down the stairs coming back down! (I do NOT need a repeat of that for those of you who remember our scare when he was 6 months old!!)
I broke down.
In my half-asleep-desperate-for-shut-eye-state, I grabbed the tiny TV – the tablet – handed it to my two-year-old, and attempted to catch some more Z’s on the couch.
I spent the rest of the day making up for it.
Behaviors were absolutely out of control today.
I’m also considering the kids are acting crazy because Nonna is on her way here… often they pick up on the nervous energy, but D-A-N-G!
I am NOT making that mistake again.
It’s been two weeks now since we ditched the TV.
I think it’s safe to say we’ve settled into our new routine… one that includes more front porch sitting, outside time, crafts, and imaginative play. I won’t pretend that our life is perfect now that we’ve ditched the TV. There are plenty of times still when I’ve thought about it, or questioned, “HOW can I PLEASE just get a quiet moment?!” but I’m trying to continue to be intentional with my time with the kids as well as how they’re spending their time.
It was much easier with only one child (understatement of the year), but I’m trying to engage them more in the daily tasks that I’d rather just do by myself for efficiency. Like cleaning up the kitchen. Using the broom or dust-buster for crumbs. Setting the dinner table. Or putting away laundry.
For some reason we as the household managers begin thinking of these things as our tasks, meaning if the kids have other needs, then well… they’re just getting in the way of our to-do list. It’s easiest to plop them in front of a screen so we can tend to our tasks.
But here are some truths I’m reflecting on:
- THEY ARE THE TO-DO LIST.
- We can set aside that pull and tug to get all the things done and focus on these sweet, fleeting moments with our young children… the moments when they want us to play with them, and they truly need us to meet their needs.
- THEY ARE A PART OF THE FAMILY and CAN BE A PART OF THE TASKS.
- We can engage them in the tasks and welcome them into the reality of what it takes to run a home and what it means to be a part of a family, teaching task-sharing and personal responsibility along the way.
- THEY CAN LEARN TO ENGAGE IN THEIR OWN TASKS.
- We can teach them how to choose and engage in tasks of their own, where they can get lost in creative or imaginative play, which, for our sweet treasures, is the greatest, most important task of all.
Thanks for coming along on our journey of ditching the TV and finding a new routine as a family. It’s been a challenging yet fun experiment as we’ve observed changes within each of us. It has taken our family from survival mode to creating a new reality with time, intention, and focused efforts.
These years with my children are passing by too quickly, and THIS is the precious time that I get to choose how to engage them, either by fixing their eyes on a screen, or looking into their eyes as I lead them into a world of possibility.
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We are having many of the same realizations at the same time. I went to visit a couple of Montessori preschools, and afterwards, I had to reorganize things in my classroom and in my home. The kids need to be able to engage themselves in meaningful play without adult supervision and help, like you say. This means having access to the materials that they need. I am still working on this in my house. I need to put out cups for instance, such that Quinn can fetch herself a drink. Once I came across her using a cup from the bathtub!
We also had to reduce TV time recently. We went from 15 minutes a day to 10 minutes a day and none within the hour before bedtime. Since we often don’t get home until after 6 anyway, it is working out to a whole lot less TV, and I am seeing some of the same benefits that you are seeing.