By Guest Blogger Sandy Harper, author of the blog Plaid, Peals and Toddler Stains
I’d like to say this was my idea and I was strong enough to enforce it on my family, and myself, but this happened more on accident. Well, when I say by accident, I really meant forced. Our TV (the only one we have in the house) broke one day after my husband left for a week and a half work trip. I tried and failed to fix it while he was gone. When he returned, he deemed it too difficult for him to fix so off it was sent to a local repair shop. To make a long vexing story short, the repair shop took two and a half weeks to fix the TV.
This was our month without TV…
Denial, Anger and Bargaining
After returning home from an errand, I turned on the TV. It had no picture. I tried to figure it out but quickly became flustered and decided I’d just try to fix it after the kids went to bed. When I couldn’t figure out the problem that night I decided I could the next day. Another 24 hours of fiddling with it, I finally came out of denial. Then I was just angry. I was mad about shows I’d miss and having the back-up “help” if I needed the kiddos distracted for a few. I quickly realized I couldn’t do anything about this situation and just had to hold out until my husband was back in town. And I began to realize I may be having a TV withdrawal!
Substitution and Reflection
Owning a laptop and tablet, I realized I could substitute watching some of my shows on the computer and I could use the tablet for the kiddos in a pinch. I discovered that I hate watching “TV” on the computer. The size, loading times and heck, I need my computer for work and other things, just made for a bad experience. Also, I found my oldest child just had a bad attitude after using the tablet for any extended time, so I had to quit that quick!
I began to reflect on my reality. Why was this a big issue? Honestly, we (my family) didn’t watch much TV on a regular basis. There were plenty of days that the kids watched no TV and the days they did, it was limited. I only watched TV after the kids went to bed but even then I was barely looking at it. I’m typically more focused on work at my laptop or looking through a magazine. When I started to give it some thought, I realized I didn’t even care that I was missing “my” shows. That’s when I came to the conclusion that I only missed the noise it made. That background noise that made things less quiet and lonely (especially when my husband’s out of town). I may have felt this way since my days are typically loud with little ones running around and when they go to bed it feels awkward to hear myself think! Aha! It was as if I was scared of my own mental voice. I was shocked by this revelation.
Upward Turn and Reconstruction
By week three we didn’t let the blinding bare wall bother us the least bit. I stepped up my game and creativity when it came to distractions and mood improving techniques with the kids. We had many random dance parties, Lego building and Play-Doh creations, paint projects and enjoyed more time outside. At this point, I honestly started to see an improvement in my kid’s attitudes and my own. I wasn’t as quick to get upset and the kids were a bit less moody, at least in toddler standards! Could it possibly be because we weren’t competing against a background noise and actually focused on each other and our own mental thoughts?
Even when we all came down with an icky cold we pushed through. Don’t get me wrong, there was a pang of disappointment to not have TV to veg in front of when we were sick. Hey, that’s what we are used to right?
By week four we had found a smooth TV free rhythm. No longer did my toddler ask where it was, I had grown more confident in the quiet of the evening and I decided there was no point in keeping our cable plan we currently had because we obviously didn’t miss it. With the summer coming I have confidence this will encourage us further to escape to the outdoors for fun and learning. I also believe it will bring us closer as a family, with a stronger connection and (I pray) better communication. Even when the weather cools down in the fall, I feel the routine and habits without TV we’ve created will carry through and new adventures will be had.
I am proud to accept the fact that we do not need a TV, but don’t get me wrong, I do like having the choice to use it or not. In the end we dealt with, learned and yes, survived a month without TV.
How about you? Could your family do the same, especially this summer? I challenge you, and would love to hear the results!