I’m not gonna lie – the television at our house is probably on more than it’s off. I think it’s there more for my sanity than for the kids’ viewing pleasure. However, I’m trying something new – we’re cutting back on TV. No TV on Sundays or in the afternoons. And I’m finding that there are several benefits to watching less television.
I’m not overly concerned with my kids being exposed to too much screen time or inappropriate shows. It’s rare for any of the kids to sit still and zone out watching shows – they’ve got too much other stuff to do. The TV is there more for background noise and the occasional distraction. In the mornings we watch shows on PBS Kids, like Sesame Street and Dinosaur Train. And my son would tell you his day in incomplete without some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. (I like to humor myself by thinking what we’re watching is educational.)
That being said, one day I got sick of TV. I got tired of the constant noise and my son’s desire to watch Mickey Mouse NONSTOP. Not only that, the girls are getting really weird about whatever is on. They don’t really watch it, but they want something familiar on, or I’ve got two rampaging, crying, screaming one-year-olds on my hands. No idea why. The only show they seem to want right now is New Girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love that show, but my three-year-old echo is going to pick up on some lovely choice phrases if we watch it much more.
It started out slowly. When I got all the kids in bed for their afternoon naps, I’d turn it off and go do blog stuff, read, or clean. When the kids got up, I just wouldn’t turn it back on until after they were in bed. Then one Sunday we just never turned it on. We didn’t feel the need to. It was quiet and peaceful. So I thought we could make this a thing.
Some days this works out really well, other days not as much. My son seems to have a lot more energy and resistance to listening on days with no television. But I do enjoy the quiet moments.
These are the benefits I’ve found for cutting back on TV:
We’ve gotten in some good quality family time on Sundays. Without the extra distraction, we’re able to focus on each other. We’re not bickering or bargaining over what we’re watching. There are no hissy fits over missed cartoons when Momma and Daddy can’t take anymore squeaky voices. It’s more peaceful.
Since I’ve started blogging, I try to keep Sundays empty so that I can spend the day focusing on my family. With no blogging and no TV, I’ve actually found the time to start reading again. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, but between kids, house, and blog, there’s not really any time. Until now.
When I say we don’t turn on the tv on Sundays, I mean at all. It even stays off after we get the kids in bed. Usually our evenings are spent catching up on the DVR, but on Sundays we have a nice quiet evening. There’s something about this that makes the evening feel more restful and restorative. Hubs and I get good time together, reading, writing, or playing card/board games. That’s a great way to wrap up the weekend and refresh before the weekly hustle starts.
There for a while, the only songs stuck in my head were from Elmo or Mickey. Nothing’s more annoying than jamming out in the shower singing the freaking Hotdog song! I know you know what I’m talking about. I feel so out of touch with whatever is current in music. So now we’re listening again, and it’s amazing. I hear my son singing songs to himself. We have impromptu dance parties all the time. Even the girls join in. One of my favorite things to do is sing and dance in the kitchen while I’m cooking dinner, and I love that the kids are learning that, too.
I am getting so much more done. Once the kids go to bed for their afternoon naps, I turn off the TV. In the past that’s when I would zone out and watch all the shows that I can’t watch with Hubs (Grey’s Anatomy… Scandal…). Since I’ve stopped my afternoon binge-watching, I’ve actually gotten a lot more done. Mostly blogging, but also the occasional laundry and housework.
As a stay-at-home-mom it’s easy to feel trapped in your house with no connection to the outside world. In the past, television filled that void for me. But this little experiment I’m trying has rebooted my brain. I don’t feel like a total show-obsessed zombie. If you asked me about my day a month ago, I could have told you everything that happened on TV. Now I’ll tell you about the book I read, the post I wrote, and maybe, MAYBE the laundry I got done (don’t push it).
Like I said earlier, I’m not worried about my kids having too much screen time, but I do like how things are going for now. They still get their morning shows (or New Girl episodes, depending on the girls’ moods). We’ll still have our occasional binges, but I feel like I’m in charge of the TV now, instead of the other way around.