Today marks one month of no tv for the family and no devices for the younger kids. Supposedly the teens and I have reduced our phone usage to two hours. But I haven’t got a good handle on how that’s going yet.
I decided that I had a tv/device habit that needed to be kicked. So, the tv has been removed to my husband’s shop and the devices are put away in a drawer.
Things I have learned since turning everything off…
I have been seriously dependent on the tv to calm my kids down, entertain them, give myself quiet time, babysit them when I’m gone, and just basically fill any gap that pops up in our day.
It has definitely helped me to be lazy in my parenting.
Let me just state for the record, there have been seasons where tv has saved my life. Even the last season we just came out of, I don’t know how I would have done it without being able to turn the tv on. Our devices have been a motivational tool during this pandemic that have gotten us through a lot of school work and chores with minimal pain. Tv and devices are good tools. As long as you are controlling the tools and the tools aren’t controlling you.
I think what has mainly been the deciding factor for turning everything off this time (cause, yes, I’ve done this before), is that I want to change the culture of our home. I want us to have a reading culture. I want my kids to know how to get creative when they’re bored instead of just whining to watch a show. I want us to have family time in the evenings where we have devotions and read books and poetry out loud and do music together. And somehow, I had let the tv take over the house and we had lost those things. So, we’ve turned everything off.
Mentally, it’s been a big adjustment. I am having to learn that instead of just sending everyone off to watch a show when they’re driving me crazy, I can send everyone to their rooms, or send everyone outside. In the evenings, instead of retreating to my room, I am learning to settle on the couch with a giant pile of books that we read out loud. During the day I am offering piano lessons to bored children, crafts, learning games, trips to the library. I am also trying to turn a blind eye to random forts and clubhouses that are popping up all over the house, toys littering my bedroom floor, kids digging around in my drawers cause they need paper to write a book or a play.
Honestly, I think turning the tv off has hurt me the most, not the kids. I have to be more engaged. Put up with more chaos. Deal with more messes.
But, overall, we’ve had good results.
My five and seven year olds have been keeping a list of all the books they’ve either read themselves or had read to them, and they are close to 100. The older kids have significantly increased the number of books they’re reading. My older boys have gotten very creative with their legos. My nine year old wrote a play. The three year old is sitting with books, pretending that he is reading, pointing at the words, making up the story as he goes. And, best of all, all the kids are desperately anxious for school to start. Me too.
I told the kids we would do this for four months. We’ll see how it goes.