Sunday, June 30, 2013


Two weeks ago I made a decision that I had been thinking about for a while, to drastically cut back on the kids TV watching. 

Audrey has never been a huge independent player of toys, but Phoenix had been since he was very young.  A month ago I started working on a lot of projects during the day (and preschool was out), so Phoenix got to watch TV for most of the day during the two week project period.  After that, he only wanted to watch TV, and he did not care about playing with his toys anymore.  I immediately realized that this was a problem.  So, after a week of deliberating, I knew what I had to do.

That night, I changed to TV settings to HDMI1 (or any other thing that didn't have a hookup), I hid the controllers, and I went to bed.  Audrey and Phoenix generally turned on the TV in the morning when they got up, but the next morning they couldn't.  I was anticipating a potential tantrum, or backlash of some sort, but after I told them that they couldn't watch TV they found something else to do. 

Since then I have set up a schedule of sorts for when they can watch TV; in the mornings after breakfast and after Audrey is completely ready for school, and at nights for half an hour before bedtime (if they have been good).  I will usually let Phoenix watch a show at some point during the day if he does certain things to earn it (clean up toys, play with his toys for a certain amount of time...).  We also usually have a "movie night" once a week.

Audrey has taken it in stride, and Phoenix is fine with it for the most part, but during the days when he is alone (without his sister) he asks to watch a show a lot (he will say "I'm tired, or "I feel sick", or "I'm grumpy" to try to persuade me).  But I immediately noticed that Phoenix and Audrey were fighting a lot less, and playing with each other WAY more.  The instant results were so miraculous that it has been easy to make this a daily thing.  Two weeks later, they don't even ask me the watch TV!

I have had several mothers of teenagers warn me about keeping my kids away from video games (excessive use), and TV went along with that.  I took their warnings seriously.  I had a full childhood, we did not have cable (or even the basic channels) for almost the entire time that I was growing up.  Me and my sisters played on our swing set, with our barbies, dollhouses, kitchen set, we played school, and doctor, and we all read books regularly.  I want my kids to have that too, and the only way to make it happen was to cut TV almost completely out of the picture.

I am glad that I could see such immediate results, and I am relieved that I could catch it while they are still young.  Kids are only little once, and I won't get a second chance with them. 


Kristen said...

I completely agree with this! :) We've been doing something similar this summer and the results are wonderful. I've tried to tell my older kids, especially, that when you DO something (ANYTHING) it's so much more satisfying than anything electronic. I feel like that time just gets wasted. When you look back on a day where you DO something, you have something to show for it and memories to hang on to. But when you just sit in front of the TV, its almost like the day didn't happen. You won't remember it and it won't mean anything. Of course, we all need some down time now and then and we do that too. I like to give mine their TV time in the afternoon when I work on dinner. But yeah. Brilliant post. :)