A new (tv free…) world

Recently Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary put together a very well written post about unplugging, being tv free. I read it and remembered the TV free few weeks we spent last winter as a TV detox for our oldest child Fynn. It went better than we expected. We put the TV in the closet and it was an out of sight out of mind situation. Fynn never mentioned the missing mind sucking device. It was going well, until we all got sick with colds one week. Then out of desperation (mostly on my part) the TV came back as a babysitter for the toddler while I tried to simultaneously take care of myself, the toddler, and nurse an infant with a stuffed up nose.

And then it was all over.

You see, like Heather, moderation is not my strong point – especially when it comes to the TV.

In her post, Heather mentioned The Case for Make Believe, by Susan Linn. After catching wind of that book, I promptly hopped on the waiting list at the library and waited my turn. It came sooner than I expected, and I devoured the Linn’s words. I highly recommend it, but I’ll warn you, as I read I kicked myself for taking away chances for my kids to enhance their imaginations and their emotional growth by giving unhealthy doses of TV every day… It’s heavy, and some parts seem extreme, but it’s good stuff. I promise.

So, since reading Heather’s post, and Linn’s book, it had been on my mind. The need to be free of it.

The thing Fynn asked for the moment he woke up, “I watch a wittle bit of TV mommy?” The minute his sister would go down for a nap “our quiet time Mommy! TV Mommy!” Since when does TV = quiet? And the kicker of it all? We don’t even have cable.

Something had to be done.

We mentioned in passing to my blonde haired little boy that the TV might have to go into the shop for a bit. He didn’t really say much. And I must add, I have not mentioned Paige yet because, bless her, she could care less about TV. It could vanish altogether from the face of the earth and she’d be none the wiser.

After the kids went to bed one night we snuck the TV into my closet, and covered it in blankets in case a certain sleuth found his way to our hiding place. Instantly I felt calm. Then overwhelmed with the though of how I was going to survive, being the parent at home with the kids all. day. long. every. day. Panic set in. Fynn’s quiet time had been my time to do my thing. Email, use time sucking networking sites that will remain nameless…

In any case, the first morning came, and after the initial shock of the TV being missing I heard things like “I want my TV!” and “I miss my TV!” Apparently this time it would stay in his mind.

But we made it through the day. More got accomplished (by all!) than usual, and we listened to more music, danced, read more books. It was really nice. However, when I mentioned his father’s upcoming arrival from work I was told matter of factly “Daddy bring my TV home.” Sorry baby, not tonight.

Day two brought with it a panicked bright eyed boy. “Where’s my TV? Where’s my TV?” was heard as he ran through every room of our two bedroom apartment, about ten times. Searching hysterically, the prior days success seemed hard to repeat.

Day three was a little easier, though he still longed for his TV. But that day he was happy to sit on the couch, stare at the vacancy left by the electronic babysitter, and pretended to watch one of his shows. I won’t even tell you for how long.  But still, no whining.

Day four the only mention was that he wanted to watch a movie, but then he quickly moved on to something more interesting.

Day five came without so much as a hint about TV, movies, or anything else electronic for that matter. And so it continued.

We now have a week of being TV free under our belt. And I know we did the right thing. The other day Fynn had us all pretend we were at the beach. He took off all of his clothes (because apparently that’s what you do when you go to the beach…) Then Lucas helped both kids jump over huge waves and build sand castles. All in our living room.

We love it so much that we’re actually going to get rid of our TV (this was NOT my original plan, nor was it my idea. It was ALL the husbands – so don’t go saying I’m some kind of crazy wife who’s depriving her husband… little do the kids know we can watch TV on the lap top… shhhhh!!!!)

It’s a whole new world. It’s not for everyone, but for us, it makes us more connected as a family. Imaginations are running wild and giggles have filled the void left by TV signals. We spend more time just being with each other, and exploring our creative and quiet sides. And if we feel the need to be crazy, all we have to do is put on our sunglasses, pop in some tunes, and stroll to our living room to enjoy the view.



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13 responses to “A new (tv free…) world

  1. That’s brave… and so hard to do in the world we’ve created–the one that seems MADE for tv and electronic communications and facebook. But it sounds so much more peaceful. I insist on the tv being off quite often, but probably not as often as I should. It’s sometimes just the background noise to his play. And that’s ok. But if my boy spends too much time actually focused on it, then it goes off. And there’s a reason there will never be a video game unit in our house. Evan will be the only geeky kid in school who doesn’t know how to play video games. But I’LL be saner for it! =)

  2. It’s really strange how peaceful it is. I thought the TV was helping so much, and to be honest, I think there are times in life when it DOES….but it’s more peaceful than I ever could have imagined now that things are going more smoothly around here.

    If I had another baby, I’d probably allow a little TV again. Just keepin’ it real 🙂

    And I totally agree on the book – I loved the information, but it was a bit extreme and judgy at times.

    Good job, lady!

    • crnnoel

      Oh yes! I think there are totally some circumstances that warrant a little love from the TV! I’m sure through cold/flu season we’ll use the laptop for some chill out time.

  3. This is awesome, Corinne – and really well written, too. You’re so funny. 🙂 I laughed out loud imagining him sitting on the couch ‘pretending’ to watch TV!! Sometimes my boy does stuff like that (“just PRETEND you’re giving me another cookie!”) – I’m glad it works!

    And just a tip for filling those winter days – we set up an easel that stays up all winter so for easy-access painting. Then when they decide they want to paint (whether for 5 minutes or an hour) there’s no hassle of set up. Just as easy as turning on the TV. 😉

  4. You brave soul! It’s great to hear how well it is working out for your family. I completely understand the reason why-Jaxson went through a HUGE TV phase where that’s all he wanted to do and it honestly had me worried and I had to step in and say NO TV for a while and it got so much better. Luckily, we’re on the go a lot so it doesn’t seem to be a problem (right now). We’ll see what the future brings though.

  5. liz

    we went tv free for about a year and half and LOVED what it did for our family. it was after lucile was born that i realized the boys were watching more than i liked while i tended to the baby.
    recently, we have added the tv back into our lives (or i should say the dvd player, not actual tv), but it lives in mine and joon’s bedroom. SO, when we have friday night movie night we all get in our jams and cuddle up on ‘the big bed’ and i like the feeling of family that comes with that. a time of clean kids in jams, hair still wet from the bath and smelling all sweet. we laugh together and watch together. i like those parts of it. and they like the indulgence of watching a movie once a week. and joon and i don’t have much time for watching anything either, so when we do watch a movie it is nice to snuggle up to it in bed.
    i would think that if the tv got more use than it does now, i wouldn’t want it in our bedroom though. HOWEVER, we really like what have no screen in our living room has done! excellent catalyst for more family time…
    i haven’t read the book you mentioned but have done a lot of research on kids and media. i am thinking i will have to add that title to my list at the library.
    good luck!!

  6. I completely admire you for going TV-free! I would love to try that, but I know I could never get my family on board. My husband has long been a TV addict, needing to have it on just for “background noise” whenever he’s home. I’m fine without it (my laptop is another story!). My son is also becoming addicted to TV. We’ve been using it to get him to drink his milk, which was a big mistake on our part.

    And a confession: my son is sick today, and currently watching TV (and drinking milk…or just pretending to) while I type this comment! Mama needed a break:)

  7. I think it’s amazing, and pretty inspiring, what you’re doing. I’ve contemplated it, but that’s as far as it’s gotten. I’m too much of a wimp, and love my TV shows! Thankfully, Sean still doesn’t watch much TV. We borrow videos like Signing Time from the library, or sometimes I’ll pop in a Fraggle Rock DVD and let him watch an episode if I’m trying to make supper but Colby’s not home yet to keep Sean occupied. So far, so good.

    I’ve actually been able to cut down on how much the TV is on in our house, which has been a huge victory for me. Colby’s family has the TV on All. The. Time. If you go to his parent’s house, or his grandmother’s, the TV is blaring, even if no one’s watching it. It’s on first thing in the morning, on during meals, on while they’re falling asleep. So that was normal for my husband. So I have it off while he’s working, and have finally convinced him to keep it off until Sean’s in bed (except he does flip it on briefly to catch the weather before dinner!) Weekends, though, it all goes out the window, so I’m still working on that.

    I’ll have to check that book out, maybe read sections aloud to Colby. That may help.

  8. I don’t think the kids would have a problem with this. And I’d have withdrawals, but would be okay. My husband on the other hand. HA! He’d never go for no TV. Maybe one day, but not anytime soon.


  9. We had to do this, too. Except it was more for my hubby. He would get transfixed with anything on the screen. Thankfully, the toddler coud care less. The only show he likes is Curious George … but he normally abandons that 15 minutes in. SO thankful for that!
    Good job for taking a stand. You are a fabulous mommy.

  10. I love your post. We actually do have a TV, but we rarely turn it on. On most weeks, we never even push the “power” button. Your experience has been our experience: our family is much more peaceful, creative, and connected without TV.

  11. I have been MIA for over a week and took this morning to catch up on your posts. There were so many good ones, it was hard to choose which one to repond to. And then I read this one. Congratulations! For most of the girls’ life, we have been TV free or at least TV lacking. Currently, we don’t pick up any stations and only use it to watch movies, which has been a bit too much for my taste these last few weeks with me too sick to do anything but lay around and the girls just wanting to be with me. It is definitely true, our family functions better, wants less, loves more without the TV than with it. So, again I say, congratulations! God bless you and yours. 🙂

  12. Pingback: ~2009~ « Trains, Tutus and Twizzlers

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