TV-Free | Woman in Real Life:The Art of the Everyday

Thursday, August 16, 2012

TV-Free


Don't let the title fool you. We are not going TV-free in this house. Not just yet.

Like many parents, I have a love-hate relationship with the television set. I admit that it has come in handy over the years as a "babysitter" for the kids during busy times like dinner time. I also like to sit down at the end of a long day to watch a show myself. Usually my husband and I watch a movie or catch up on episodes of  TV shows on Netflix. We are up to date with Weeds and Breaking Bad now, and I've been told to move on to The Big C.

I also hate the television and the kids shows that my children watch now that they are a bit older. They are so sarcastic. Don't get me wrong. I like a healthy dose of sarcasm, but hearing those TV voices for more than a short time makes me want to stuff my ears with cotton balls or scream.


Yesterday, I told my son he couldn't watch TV or play any video games all day, because he had said some really not-very-nice things to me the night before. We have been pretty busy this summer, with a road trip, many day trips and some days at the cottage. But, if he is home alone without friends to play with, the TV is his first choice of activities.

At one point yesterday, he was in the basement. Suspicious as I am, I made a trip down to find out if he had quietly snuck the TV on. But no, terrible mother, he was only making a creation with Jenga blocks.


He invited me to join him for a game of air hockey. My girl was out walking the dog with her dad, so we were able to enjoy a few minutes of time together.


When the other two returned from their walk, we all decided to play a few rounds of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Usually, when the kids are watching TV, I am on the computer, doing laundry, cleaning, etc. Yesterday, I was reminded to take the time to have a little fun with the kids.

In author Katrina Kenison's book, Mitten Strings for God (Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry), she writes about her family's decision to turn the TV off altogether. While I certainly admire their decision, we will continue to attempt to strike a balance between TV time and "time better spent" on music, art and family fun.


Kenison writes, "I cannot tell anyone to follow in our footsteps, I can only urge you to examine your own family's relationship with television. And I can report that we have found our lives to be challenging, interesting, and full without it. In fact, once the TV screen went dark, the rest of life took on a brighter hue."

She adds, "There have been times we needed to remind our children that the world is full of other good things to do, but rarely. Our boys discovered that for themselves."

What about you? How much time do you spend watching TV?

If you have children, do you set limits on their TV-watching time?

20 comments:

  1. We don't have kids yet (there's one in the oven!) but we do tend to watch a lot of TV together. Even if we're not truly watching it, it's often on in the background as we do things around the house. That's definitely not the way I want it to be with kids. I want them to understand that TV is fine, but there's more to our life at home than what we can find to watch.

    It used to be I'd turn it on as soon as I got home from work, but now I grab my computer (where my to-do list is) and take it into a room without a TV and get started. Sometimes I read or research recipes or clean or get a head start on dinner or go play with the dog in the backyard. I still turn the TV on later, but it feels good knowing it didn't OWN me from the moment I walked in the house.

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    1. I remember those days, Trish. My husband and I would eat our dinner while watching Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy. It becomes more of a concern when the kids come along and you feel obligated to provide them with more enriching experiences. ;)

      So exciting that you have your first little one coming!

      I admit, even when my kids were babies, I sometimes had the Baby Einstein shows on. I used to love those.

      I kind of miss being able to watch what I want to watch. Or read what I want to read... :)

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  2. We watch all our TV online {we have a computer hooked up to the a television}. I like it, in as much as we have to decide what to watch, instead of flipping through the channels and watching whatever we land on. And, on the plus side, we can monitor what the kids are watching without actually monitoring what they are watching {if that makes sense} which has come in very handy with teenagers!
    Don't feel guilty about letting them watch television, seriously. It is not nearly the big bad guy that a lot of folks make it out to be!

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    1. There are so many options for watching "TV" now aren't there? I agree that monitoring is a good idea. My son really wants to watch things that are meant for older folks, but we try to stick to age-appropriate stuff.

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  3. I don't like tv much either but I admit the kids watch a fair bit of it. They watch a fair bit of educational stuff and that's fine with me, particularly as my son is fairly visual and learns more that way. But they sometimes watch standard kids tv and it is just so bad. You're right about shows with sarcasm! I hate that, and there are shows my children love where the overweight father is portrayed as a bumbling fool with a big tummy who has to exercise and lose weight.

    The only show I have a soft spot for is Arthur. They deal with very real social issues and the parents aren't sappy and unrealistic like the ones on Franklin (apart from the sappy parents, Franklin is okay IMO).

    I have Mitten Strings for God and although some of the content and her tone annoyed me, she said a few things that struck a chord with me. I particularly like the 'hurt basket' idea (band aids, etc) and keep meaning to tidy mine up.

    Our tv once broke and we didn't replace if for 3 months. It was great!

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    1. We seem to have so much in common. It's funny, I almost wrote in my post how much I liked it when they watched shows like Arthur. That was one of my faves too.

      Also, I even considered doing a post about the "hurt basket" idea, I liked it so much. I never finished mine though. ;)

      What you say about the overweight father is so true. It's the same with seniors on TV. They are really not respected and appreciated. Also, vegetarians are always crazy people. My husband and I hate that!

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  4. Sounds like he ended up enjoying it! We watch TV at night when we're too exhausted to do anything else. None for the kid just yet but we did watch Ratatouille the other day when I was exhausted. He doesn't really have the attention span for it :)

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    1. I think he did enjoy his day. I know what you mean with the exhaustion. If I try to read at night, I just fall asleep!

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  5. We all love tv here, so I have to be vigilant about it. I think it's fine to turn on here and there, but goodness, it can suck my son in like none other. I tend to let him watch more during the week when I'm cooking, or trying to get his sister down for a nap. But on the weekends we shut it off altogether.

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    1. Sounds like a good balance Ruthie. My son definitely gets sucked in by the TV too. My daughter will put it on, but do other things like colouring at the same time. She is not quite so focused on the screen.

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  6. yes i have gone through periods of tv and none and i know that having cable definitely makes you less productive! but i agree i think everything in life is a balance and you seem to be trying to find an in between area which i think is best, you should still be able to enjoy things you enjoy without feeling guilty

    -Jessica
    http://www.jumpintopuddles.com

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  7. We decided to pitch the TV about 9 years ago and really haven't missed it since you can watch so much online now. But now that we have kids, it is nice to not have the option to have it on in the background all the time. I'd say our kids watch about 30 minutes a day, but it is very highly regulated (since we have to choose a specific show online rather than just turning on the TV to whatever is on).

    But I agree with you on the sarcasm front. Some of the shows my almost-5-year-old wants to watch (because he hears about them from friends) are ridiculous.

    Good for you for limiting this with your kids, especially during the summer when it would be so easy to just let them watch hours on end (unfortunately, I remember doing this as a kid in the summer!).

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    1. Hi Lauren. That sounds like a good plan, picking shows online. Because you are right, once the TV goes on "in the background" it kind of stays on. Unless we fight to turn it off. I think I probably watched a lot of TV as a kid too, but we played outside more than my kids do.

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  8. I don't have any children but if I did I would not want them watching TV so much if at all. I remember reading in one of Rachel Ashwell's earlier books that she did not have a TV in her house at all because she did not want them becoming addicted to watching it as they were growing up. I don't know if her house is still TV free.

    I have two televisions. One on the first floor in my first parlor room and one upstairs in another living room. I don't watch any of them. I have it for when company comes to visit. My Mom loves her news programs. I pay only for the very basic package that Direct TV has which is $29.99. I wish we can just pick the channels we want and just pay for that. In that case I would only have about 5 channels Once in a blue moon I will watch a program on HGTV or the Food channel, but I have not done that in months. I am big on NOT having a TV in anyone's bedroom.

    The internet has contributed greatly to how I watch programs. I have a widescreen laptop so I stream movies all the time via Netflix. Netflix offers some TV shows as well. I pay $14.99 for unlimited streaming. Not everything on Netflix is available for streaming though and I no longer have their through the mail DVD service. I also watch movies via Amazon dot com. $79 a year to be a Prime member is worth it IMHO. It is way cheaper than paying for cable and you also get free second day shipping if you order anything from Amazon. I also have a free Hulu account. Since I have Netflix and Amazon Prime I don't need to upgrade my Hulu account. I have not checked out Vudu. There are quite a few other online options for viewing programs and I like it because it is so much cheaper than cable. I pay for basic cable only because I want my Mom to be able to watch her news programs when she visits. Otherwise I would not have it and the TV's would probably not exist in my home. At some point I will probably let Netflix go and just have Amazon Prime or vice versa.

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    1. I hear you. I wish we could just pick what channels to pay for too. You always get all these ones you don't want with the one that you do.

      My son keeps wanting a TV in his bedroom. Not going to happen.

      We have Netflix, but apparently it has far fewer choices in Canada. I don't think we have the Amazon option either. Sounds like you have some good options.

      My parents like to watch the news too. I can't stand it. Too depressing!

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  9. I hear you. We don't let the kids have a tv in their rooms. My husband and I did growing up and we're TV addicts. Love Breaking Bad too! Went to college in Albuquerque. Fun for me to watch!
    Carolyn

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    1. I got my own TV when I was a teenager. I guess I'm a bit of an addict too. Sometimes I would prefer to read, but then I will just drop off to sleep. Breaking Bad is taking some nasty turns, huh? I sometimes can't eat my snack and watch at the same time. ;)

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  10. Hi :) ,i´m back from Vacation :)
    Lovely Post ,the Pictures are so cute ♡ :)

    Greetings from Vienna! xoxo

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    1. Hi! Welcome back! Hope you had a great vacation. :)

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