Thursday, May 13, 2010

TV-Free Summer (Gasp!)

My neighbor, Lisa, and I did a Lenten fast from the internet that was incredibly rewarding, eye-opening, and convicting. (I wrote about it here and she wrote about it here--both are worth reading, I think.)

She and I have been mulling over the ramifications of the greater peace and less stress we experienced, the increased joy in the small things, and the restorative quality of the activities in which we engaged during the time we had hitherto been online. The result? her challenge to me to go computer (internet) free during the summer and my growing interest in having my kids go TV free during the summer.

I don't want my children to grow up addicted to the TV, to think that the TV is what you do when you are "bored" or when you're "tired" or whatever. I want them to first think of books, playing outside, sitting quietly, playing a game with their siblings, etc. They're too young to even consider playing on the computer as a way to pass time, but that's just around the corner. I want to encourage them to develop good habits and skills NOW about how to pass the time constructively and in a way that restores them, not in a way that sucks it out of them.

Anyone else in with me for this challenge? Here are my rules:
  • Summer consists of June, July, August
  • I'm not going to be super-Nazi here and say they can't watch it at others' houses, the gym, and so forth
  • If someone is genuinely sick and truly lying around all day, then we can pull out a movie
  • If it's pouring down rain and has been for more than a day, then we'll consider it.
  • If they're watching TV, I'm going to watch it with them
How many times do you let them watch their favorite Super Why! or Disney movie by themselves while you clean up, talk on the phone, etc.? I do it often--I trust the content of what I let them watch by themselves, so I figure it's a "safe" activity while I get something done. But they LOVE it when I sit and watch something with them. It's instantly more of a family activity. And, I bet it will make me think twice about turning it on. If I don't "have time" or want to watch it, I'll work extra hard to find something else in which to engage their interest. That's going to mean less phone time, more creative employment of my children around the house while I clean (they can/will clean with me), and more thoughtfulness about the whole process in general.

I'm working up to it. Our former schedule was Super Why! regularly plus Dinosaur Train on occasion in the mornings and a movie in the afternoon after naptime ("movie" was generally limited to about an hour, but there were many times when it stretched beyond that!). That's WAY more TV than I ever expected to let my kids watch and there have been some legitimate uses of it with my three young ones. However, they now play pretty well together and are getting much more creative and imaginative. I've been weaning us off as follows: aiming for TV free mornings for a full week and letting the afternoon be whatever. Then, working off the afternoon by cutting back on time first. We'll go cold turkey soon, here!

1 comment:

Bridgette said...

I'm not ready to go cold turkey, but I do LOVE the idea of only watching TV when I am watching it with him. I also make it a point to treat watching TV as a privilege....not necessarily one to earn, but definitely one that doesn't occur when his behavior is not up to snuff.

Good luck with your fast!!