Friday, October 2, 2009

Life Without TV

I am not a TV watcher. I haven't been watching TV for close to 2 years now. It's not the I've never watched TV at all. I'll watch sometimes if I am my parents' house and the TV is on, and I do regular movie and popcorn nights on the weekends with my children. But by and large, I just don't watch TV.

But my children watched TV. They watched a lot of TV ... though it wasn't always that way. Back when they were tiny and I homeschooled, the TV stayed off in our home a large portion of every day. In fact, I had this rule that if we weren't actually watching a show, the TV had to be off. No TV for background noise. But after I went back to work two years ago, that slowly began to change. It was easy to know that when I came in and was so tired and had so much to do that the TV would help me entertain them. Soon, the TV was on from the time the kids came in from school until I fed them supper ... and often even after supper. And since school started back in August, the TV was on from 3:30 until 8:00 pm, when I read aloud to them just prior to bedtime. Far too much TV for growing minds and bodies!

This past summer I started feeling somewhat convicted about how much TV my kids were watching and the kinds of shows they were watching. Julia was turning into a little Hannah Montana and Nathan was all about the antics of Zack and Cody. And I had to ask myself if these were really the kind of role models I wanted for my children? Joel became truly addicted to the weather channel, so much so that if he went 15 minutes without checking the weather he would start to panic about the possibility of storms or flash floods or tornadoes. Life was becoming more and more and more centered around TV.

I talked my children about only watching certain shows until I was blue in the face, but to no avail. They still found ways to sneak in the shows I didn't want them viewing. It was getting to be a bad situation. I felt like the TV ruled my home, and I felt sort of hopeless as to how to correct it. The moment it all hit rock bottom was when I found out that both of my boys were lying to me about doing their homework because they didn't want to have to miss any of their "favorite" shows.

This week, I took charge of my house again. I put our TV into time out. It's gone. We went cold turkey. No TV ... none. Yes, my kids cried about how unfair it was. But I have been hard-hearted. No. TV.

We are three days into life with no TV. Today no one has even asked to watch TV. (I did allow Joel to watch some Schoolhouse Rock while he laid on the couch this morning, but after that he kept the TV off and this afternoon the other two haven't even seemed interested in TV.) They are playing with their toys and talking to me and spending time out in our yard kicking their soccer ball, riding the scooter and playing with the dog.

The last 3 days I have noticed:

less sibling fighting
more cooperation
children who are quicker to obey
a sense that there is more time to our afternoon/evening
lots more laughing and smiling

My home feels so much more peaceful. I'm glad we've made this change. Do I expect we'll never ever watch TV again? Probably not. I'm sure on weekends we'll continue to watch a movie as a family. We like our popcorn and movie nights. And perhaps we'll make exceptions to watch TV ... maybe as a special reward for good behavior or as an occasional treat. But my prayer is to never ever let the TV rule my home again.