Friday, April 23, 2010

In the wake of our Great TV Rebellion

Tuning off TVs. It's something that's tougher and tougher to do these days. In the wake of big screens, iPhones, TVs in every room, portable (or installed) DVD players in your cars, and don't forget, YouTube, it is getting harder and harder to shut out the media.

I thought as parents we were doing a decent job of limiting screen time in our home. While we can't control day care, we can control what happens here. And that was largely limited to the occasional movie, the rare cooking shows and a routine of PBS Kids.

I thought we were doing well. Then the unthinkable happened.

Wednesday night, I heard the fateful words from my husband's mouth: "No TV for a week!"

And my first thought was, What have you done?

Because, as a parent, while I limit the TV use, we do use it strategically. I've been known to let them settle down with a show while cutting food or cooking it over a hot stove - far better than an injury or burn. Or on a particularly hectic night, a few minutes can help them wind down when a book doesn't. But now that option was gone.

But more than a week after the fact, I can tell you, we survived. It wasn't easy, but we did it.

Instead of screen time, we all played in the garden, where my son discovered that he could make mud for the first time. (Thank goodness he doesn't like to get his hands dirty!)

Instead of screen time, we went to a home improvement store for a kids activity, and my daughter built her own mini garden planter, painted a pot and picked out an herb for her to care for.

Instead of screen time, we got dirty. Not with mud, but with the goofiness that comes from making homemade whipped cream for strawberries and butter in a mixer, following an unbelievable sale on organic whipping cream at the grocery. (At 75 cents a pint, I'm set for some time.)

Instead of screen time, we went to the library - and got books (instead of the freebie movies that my oldest tends to beg for). And we've read them, learning about gardening and lynxes and Puerto Rico (OK, that one's for me.)

Instead of screen time, we got sun time - riding our trikes and bikes, playing soccer, taking walks, going to the park.

Instead of screen time, we had family time. Real family time. And that's what mattered.

Need a little encouragement to try going TV-free? We're in the middle of the Biomicry Insitute's "Great TV Rebellion," encouraging us to shut down TV and tune into nature for Earth Week. (They even have an activity guide on their site, however, it's geared for school-age children.)


Aiming4Simple said...

We made it half-way through last week with no TV, but I succumbed when my girls became ill and couldn't play outside. =( Maybe we'll do a make-up week.

Robbie said...

Honestly, I'm a big believer in survival, and if that makes the kids take their mind off things (I know the little ones can't always sit through lots of books well when they're sick), it's understandable. For us, it was a fun exercise - it forced us to be creative and try new things!!

Unknown said...

On behalf of The Biomimicry Institute, thank you for showing us that living without TV is not only do-able, it's enjoyable!