I Ask: How Do I Say Goodbye To Television?

We are limiting our children to less than thirty minutes of TV per day (well, E, because N couldn’t care less about television) with no television as our goal on most days of the week.

Yes. I have gone insane. And yes the timing of school letting out for the summer, getting cable for the first time in four years and actually understanding what SPROUT means, and hating the heat of summer, is awful. But we’ve noticed that our uber-intense, emotional, and very active son is much easier to deal with on no television days.

My first thought after I accidental speak my realization aloud? NOOOOOOOOO. This CANNOT BE!! TV time is the only time he sits still. HOW WILL I EVER GET ANYTHING DONE AGAIN??? (I actually think in multiple punctuation marks so as to emphasis my thoughts to myself.)

And our doctor-network sites research and antidotal evidence to back up our observations. Which is frankly disappointing.

Because I love TV. I took The Study of Television in college (a lot less watching of The Simpsons than I had hoped). I haven’t watched much television in the last few years, but I have fond memories of doing my homework in front of it in middle school. And calling it my BFF my sophomore year of college. And entertaining me through the summer I was engaged and crazy. Television has taken me far. I’m a HUGE fan. But now I need to save our sporadic rendezvous for the evenings only. And my poor E? Cold-turkey. (Or at least cool-turkey since once in awhile he’ll watch a show. I’m committed but not unrealistic.)

The problem for us? I’m a BIG believer in the television as a tool. Dinner to cook? TV TIME! Phone calls to return? TV TIME! (Well, usually DURING TV time. I rarely FORCE television time so I can accomplish my life.) I don’t find the television to have much of an educational purpose. Perhaps I’d give television the tag line: Babysits in an entertaining and educational way.

I would like to note for all your anti-television people that E never watched ANY television before turning two years old with the exception of New York Giants football games. And since coming of television age, he watched about an hour per day. (Two hours on a really bad or crazy day.)

Why is it not a helpful tool anymore? I don’t know. It’s not the shows because he ONLY watches PBS, and we even banned Word Girl from our house after he started throwing “salamis” at me a year ago. I have a few theories. But I also have theories on ear hair and fiber so I’m not going to detail them here.

Bottom line? I’m exhausted and concerned and excited. And I need your help: How do I return phone calls, fix a website issue, or make dinner without television? How do I TAKE A BREAK?

*PS. I don’t care if your kids watch tons of TV and do great. Because if that was true in my household, we WOULD watch it. It’s just not right now. But I have no judgment against parents who can incorporate television. Jealousy. But not judgment.

He can at least look at the pictures he took.

Oh wait, that’s screen time too. CRAP!

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

58 thoughts on “I Ask: How Do I Say Goodbye To Television?

  1. I fear this because I love the TV myself. Like, for myself. I just enjoy someone telling me a story. But our son probably is around it too much. One day I will have to be strong.

    1. I had hoped this day would never come… and I also know one day my son will understand NPR too much and I will have to say goodbye to being informed on the world outside of my door. No TV and no radio… sigh…

  2. I have banned TV numerous times over the years. The Power Rangers were the main reason one time, as I recall.

    Are they allowed computer games? There are some studies that show kids really benefit from the eye-hand coordination skills they acquire in those atari-style, shoot the alien space craft games. Some sports programs even make their kids play an hour or so a day.

    There are also some really good educational games out there. Just sayin.’

    If they aren’t allowed computer and it’s too hot outside? My experience is that the fighting starts anew, which made Power Rangers almost seem a sane choice. But I have all boys, so maybe your experience will be different.

    Books, library trips, museum trips, the pool, anything air conditioned within forty miles. Summers are hard with little ones.

    1. First, your last line: summers are hard with little ones, made me feel so much better. Just the acknowledgment meant a lot.

      We don’t do video games yet. (He won’t be four until the end of August although he CAN use my iPhone like a pro.) So he will get up to trouble… Although he’s signed up for some camps which will help.

      And yes, out of the house and into the AC will be a good goal…between N’s naps… I wonder if everyone can schedule their activities around me?

      1. I relished those few hours a day in the summer when my kids were in camp-like activities. I’d grab a book and sit in a coffee house and remind myself that I was a person.

        Consequently, I know every place to stash a kid possible in the summers in Houston. We joined museums, just to be the first on the list for their summer kid classes. We joined the arboretum for their nature classes. Anywhere where the kids could be without me, even if it was just for one precious hour.

  3. We’re not completely screen-free here and to be honest, Netflix Instant View has been wayyyyyy overused lately, but as a parent who shares both your ideals and your practical concerns, here’s what I can tell you:

    General getting-them-occupied in something: play-doh time can buy sanity. Or bring out some toy that has been hidden in the attic for a while. Or invent a hilariously fun game that doesn’t require your assistance and is so great they forget you’re not right with them. Our pick: basement bowling. Balls, empty plastic containers pilfered from the recycling. Or tell them GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY AND GO PLAY. Well, maybe be more polite.

    Dinner: get them involved in cooking. Even little kids can learn prep skills and I find my boys eat more veggies if they’re cutting them up and are generally more adventurous with tasting things while we mix. Or maybe they get bored and wander away and I can cook all alone, muahahaha!

    Phone calls: impossible to make around children. Sorry. I heart text & email.

    “Getting stuff done” – what is that? No, really. I only get things done during fortuitous moments when they’re occupied, or I involve them in the project. Ooh! Let’s all do laundry! Oddly, this works more often than not. Or they get bored and wander away to play. Or I have to wait until they’re asleep. Mostly, I have to accept that in this really-little-kids stage of my life, my agenda has to be totally flexible and I just have to go with the flow, or I’m going to be INSANE all the time.

    Other things we did that helped our screen time immensely, but you’re not gonna like it: we cancelled cable (ack!) and later got rid of the TV (yikes!). Our only screens now are the computers.

    Sorry, that was long! I could go on forever…

    1. Oh, thank you for the long comment — it was super helpful. If only I can get E to stop tasting the play-do every so often, I can use it as a tool. But I like the basement bowling. And any game that doesn’t involve me is golden.

      PS. we only got cable for the World Cup and will get rid of it again once its over — I love television too much to have all that access!

  4. My son likes the idea of TV and asks to watch it, but ignores it when it’s one. Not helpful.

    I discovered that he needs time to himself (and so do I). He is a non-stop ind of kid, but he needs that time to chill. So, I decided to try a morning quiet-time (1 hour) in his room. He goes up there and plays cars or reads or whatever he wants to do. Sometimes, he falls asleep (score!). It has worked wonders for my sanity (and his).

    My son is still 2, though, so I don’t know if that would work for E… and you’ve probably tried it.

    Good luck!

    1. My son at two was a lot like yours around television… wanted to turn it on but then wandered away! He also dropped his nap early on so we have done a quiet time for awhile now. HOWEVER, I got totally slack once he began to fight quiet time and tried to use television time instead. This week we’ve gone back to quiet time but in a downstairs room instead his room. Less fight. But less quiet too. Thanks for the reminder to KEEP IT UP! (okay that sounded weird)

  5. I have no advice because TV is my crutch (and I do feel sort of bad about that). There’s no way we’d eat anything other than cereal bars for dinner if I didn’t turn on Dora. I’ll be checking out everyone’s advice for you b/c I sure could it over here. Best of luck with this endeavor!

    1. Laundry is the only household chore that my children LOVE to participate in. But our dishes will never get done (because they love participating in that but mostly by unstacking dirty dishes and finding the sharp knives). And FYI? I’m terrified! But too exhausted from trying it the last few days to even care.

  6. Personally I have given up TV for the summer – I am taking walks in the evening after my daughter is in bed, reading and blogging instead. This will of course only last until the fall when my favorite shows return but it really is liberating to be done with TV for a while.

    My three year old gets to watch TV in the morning when she gets up, after lunch before her nap and again at night before bed but not at any other time during the day, just at those specific times. She loves Mickey Mouse, Caillou, Olivia and Dragon Tales. I don’t think I could totally ban TV for her as otherwise nothing would get done as the rest of the time I am her play date (or so she thinks). Also after lunch it serves as a good wind down before nap and once Caillou is over in the evening she knows it is time for bed, so we have no arguments or tears at bed time.

    Good for you though trying to go cold turkey on no TV – can’t wait to hear how this goes!

    1. See, I love television but I don’t even have favorite television shows. We only have cable because of the World Cup. I haven’t regularly watched a show since before I had children…
      It’s E that must give it up, which means I give up my ME time… or cooking, cleaning, breathing time… And like you said, I’m not sure that I can do it and not need a caffeine drip to get anything done “after-hours”.
      I’ll let you know!

  7. I am so proud of you! Another girlfriend of mine saw this to be true in her daughter as well (she’s maybe a year younger than E) and they stuck with it and still do it. I am totally equally yoked on this with you just from a teacher standpoint as well as educational tool. Riley watches anywhere from 45 min. to 2 hours depending on life a day. I am proud that even feeling like crap I haven’t had to use it more but feel totally guilty when I throw in the towel and turn on Word World (for Pete’s sake! Why the guilt?!). Hooray for trying it!!! When I need non-t.v. help I usually set him up with these superhero paper dolls he’s into or set the timer (he will do anything for a timer. crazy) and tell him I need 30 min. of mommy time (we worked up to 30 min. from 5 min.) while he plays in his playroom with construction toys, blocks, or firemen.

    1. E can do an hour of quiet time (well, we are back up to 45 minutes right now because I had been replacing it with tv time)… but I can’t always do EVERYTHING in that not-even-an-hour. But I probably need some interesting toys that only come out when I need to get something done… hmmm… plus he is doing some camps so that will help here and there.

  8. TV is so, so loaded. We watched TOO much last summer, but with a new baby, I just accepted what I needed. Sit. Please. And tried to balance it with outside time (early am, evenings) and outings. Who am I kidding, getting out last summer wasn’t possible.
    I have a friend whose son throws tantrums when allowed any tv or video games. And so she just doesn’t do it.
    And my big girl. I am in AWE. She is turning off the tv herself after 30-45 minutes. Or less. It’s boring to her. Then again, she can throw away ice cream, so wow. Yup. That’s all her.
    She ‘reads’ (not words yet, though she tries), she does all kinds of crafts. I have a whole closet full of different things she can get out on her own. Those little iron-able bead patterns (I can’t find the name) are sheer brilliance. I love the paint in the brushes (elmers does some), glitter glue. And, when it gets bad enough, we ‘swim’ in the tub. Or color with chaulk on the tile floors. It washes away easily enough.
    Big messes. Camp. Find shade outside. Plant a garden he can dig in. She loves picking flowers and moving rocks around.

    Good luck!

    1. The garden idea is GREAT. We already have an area from last year ready to go; I was just too lazy to plant anything.

      PS. We had the new baby last year, too. Without television, she would’ve starved.

      1. I know! And my big girl didn’t nap (starting the moment I got pregnant), so really, tv was our down time. Our stopping. But I think it’s true that that energy comes out one way or another. I think we all need to share our favorite summer time things to do. Seriously, summer is long and we all need distractions and new ideas.
        You’ll find other ways to occupy E. And you’ll get down what you most need to. Or not.

  9. Oh man. You’re never going to be able to write your blog!

    Kudos to you. I am going to keep up with my typical two periods a day that I let kids watch–morning (while I drink coffee) and after nap. Those rules work pretty well for us. No commercials–that is my one big rule.

    I’ll be interested in hearing how it goes!

    1. I’m totally afraid that I won’t be able to participate in the blogging community at all anymore.
      Although, I am going to have some writing time set aside. So I’ll just leave hundreds of comments and write six post twice a week, ha!

  10. Too funny! I remember when our TV was affectionately known as the video babysitter. I can tell you that, as the mother of 3 boys, the energy HAS to come out of them. Yep, they’re amazingly good in front of the TV, but the energy has to come out…
    So let it out already. And remember: the more you ration something, the more coveted it becomes. They’ll figure it out. We did.

  11. We’re about to nix the TV, too. I’ve done pretty well living in denial about it…and then I read your post and now I’m starting to freak out. I may never talk on the phone again. I may also never cook another successful meal again, but that part I’m okay with. Trading in TV for take-out? Might not be so bad after all.

    1. I have been cooking in the mid-afternoon and we’ve been eating dinner room-temperature. But I foresee many takeouts in the future.
      We can at least trade stories. If we aren’t too exhausted to write.

  12. I have a single mom friend who uses the TV to help her get things done (which I can’t blame her for) but she’s told me before a few times that her daughter’s “such a fan of Cars that she watches it back to back – like three times!” I was appalled – that’s about 4.5 hrs of TV. Her daughter’s not even two. And it’s not a rare occasion either.

    I’m a little concerned because I’ve read research that says excessive TV would interfere with language development (and they’re all 100% accurate of course) and her daughter does not say as many words as mine, and they’re 6 months apart. This mom is a good friend but I still don’t know if it’s in my place to say anything to her so I don’t. What would you do?

    OMG – did I totally turn this into a Dear Alex???! I’m sorry. Good luck with your TV conviction 🙂

    1. Don’t worry. I’m totally selfish making y’all always answer my questions anyway!
      I rarely say anything to my friends in regards to parenting. Unless the child is in real danger or I am directly asked, I let it go. She’s a single mom and that’s REALLY hard. And as long as she is seeing a good pediatrician, a possible language delay should be picked up without your help.
      I do think you risk the friendship if you comment. But that may be worth it to you. In the end trust your gut. But accept your consequences too.
      Hope that helps!

  13. Good for you! Word of caution from a Mom of older kids though: They WILL become obsessed with whatever you rein in too much. I kept sugar and tv to a bare minimum. I’ve now had such a hard time with my 12 yr old because he’s obsessed with both! I finally just shut the satelitte off entirely and we just use Netflix on the Wii. I have found it much easier and his attitudes much better.
    Don’t really have much advice on the “you” time though. My boys were such amazing toddlers. I was pretty much on my own while they played with their toys. We mixed in daily summer trips to the park, and we were golden. Don’t be jealous though. I’m getting my hell ti,e now!

    1. I’ll try not to be jealous. I’ll let you know if I have a dream of a 12 year old — then we can talk!
      It’s an interesting thought, the obsession with what we cannot have. I have friends how talk about that from their childhood, too. Although they did eventually grow out of it.
      Luckily, I’m okay with sugar so I’ll just bribe him with popsicles whenever he asks for tv. (just kidding. maybe.)

  14. Oh, I am the wrong person to dish out advice on this one. We did no TV until two. And then all hell broke loose. We are already up to an hour on most days. It’s my sanity, or at least until I figure out another way- Especially since Hayden generally doesn’t nap anymore. We usually do 1/2 in the am, after breakfast. Then another 1/2 hour (or full hour?) in the afternoon, which I am cooking dinner. Or after dinner as wind-down time. Yes, there are days when we have no TV. And when he starts pre-school (on Monday!), we will eliminate morning TV.

    1. Good luck with the preschool!
      So I was relieved to have television as a helper, too because I had a sporadic nap-er by two & a half. The thing is that television is FINE if it works for y’all. For us, it just stopped working in the grand scheme of things. So we had to say goodbye. To my sanity. {sigh}

  15. We want to do it too. And actually I think for us it would be relatively easy since I don’t have the days to fill up, but we aren’t quite ready to take the plunge. I have to admit, I enjoy my peaceful morning coffee while the little guy watches cartoons too much. It’s obviously a bigger issue in winter, but still, I agree, a worthwhile goal. I hard watch any. Maybe one show a week. But oh how I love that show. Good luck Alex. I have no tips, except to say that there is value in letting your children learn to entertain themselves. I’ve worked hard on that and we’ve had some success. Thirty minutes here or there that involve no-mommy intervention.

    1. I do feel like television has diminished my son’s ability to entertain himself as much as he used to. We’ve re-implemented quiet time now that television is out of the picture and are working back up to the hour of no-mommy invention. It’s going well. YAY!
      For us, it’s a big issue in the summer since I don’t like the heat. And this year, midday is the time between N’s naps. But there aren’t enough outside choices when the high is 90 and sweaty.
      It may be time for me to acclimate. Or join the local museum again.

  16. Good for you, girl. It’s a hard balance. Wait, what balance isn’t hard?

    Anyway, I say that you set guidelines. A time limit you’d be happy with. You always shoot for less, but if you need more, it’s okay. As long as it’s not every day, right?

    It’s a tough one. I think about throwing the damn television out the window ALL THE TIME. But i don’t do it. I need sanity. And sometimes it’s the only thing that brings me sanity.

    That said, my kids watch entirely too much tv and I pay for it on the days they are sucked in for hours. Boys…they need to be running around…burning off all the energy and frustration.

    I am hoping that this summer brings me lots of motivation and energy to just get out of the house, away from even the possibility of turning on the boob tube. It’s exhausting to pack up and go (and then unpack when we get home) but we are ALWAYS better for it.

    My answer…GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. But then, of course, there’s no real solution for how to get YOU TIME IN. And how to get the darn dishes done. So my next answer is…if it’s really important to you, let your expectations of everything else GO until you figure out the TV thing and everyone acclimates.

    1. Thanks for saying how exhausting it is to pack up and leave the house. Sometimes I just CANNOT do it. But I agree that if I do it ANYWAY, the day goes faster and better (even though there is often a melt down around leaving anywhere).
      And I think that I will focus on letting go of my expectations around everything else since I truly believe the little-to-no television is the right thing for my son. I have to trust that and order takeout.

  17. I don’t know how I missed this before. This is a truly wonderful goal. There is nothing worthwhile on television for children, or for that matter, for anyone! I wish you the best with this. It is kind of like when I FORCED vegetarianism on my family all of a sudden. Everybody but me snuck (a word?) meat at first, but the habit took hold, and it has been 20 years. My older daughter eats meat again, but my husband and other daughter won’t. I do eat poultry since I joined Weight Watchers. Do you care about any of this? OF COURSE NOT. My meandering point is that it will be rough going at first, but soon, you will all be having wonderful conversations, playing board games, bonding like no other family on the block, and earning very high scores on standardized tests. love, molly

    1. Thanks for the hopeful comment. I can already see us reading more books and we’ve done a boatload of crafts. It’s nice. But exhausting. And I may have used up all my ideas yesterday. Oops.

  18. I have 3 kids ages 3, 4 & 6. It will be easier next year when N is older and can be a playmate for E. But that doesn’t help this summer. Some things that can keep my kids relatively occupied are: duplo blocks inside or their larger counterparts mega blocks outside, play-dough, magna doodles, aqua doodles (or other “water pen” products), art projects, playing outside in the fenced in backyard with a baby monitor on. And actually a big help for me is to send them to their playroom to clean it – that’s the only way I can guarantee they’ll stay in there for at least an hour playing. No clean up is accomplished of course.

    1. I have thought about the cleaning project idea. We actually did one where I had my son use his butterfly net to find “all the blocks” then “all the magnets” and he LOVED it. And I got a clean room and a lot of sitting out of it!
      And I will totally look into these mange/aqua doodles. Thanks!
      PS. fenced in backyard? best part of the house.

  19. I’m not sure if you’re still looking for comments or not but Z has 3 things he LOVES to do and I don’t let him unless I’m completely at a loss and need my “me” time. They are markers, paint (watercolors) and scissors (real ones, not plastic). If E has some of those types of things that you never let him do, you could use those for an hour of time while N is napping. Z entertained himself for over an hour the other day using scissors to cut scrapbook paper, he liked the cool designs.

    Good luck, you are an amazing mom! I would love to implement this in my house but I’m too lazy to bother with it. 😉

    1. I’m DEFINITELY still looking for comments and suggestions!
      Today my mom got him a toy that he couldn’t use until quiet time and that worked GREAT. I need a bucket of them… I’ll have to ponder what we already have that he covets.

      And thanks for the kind words too 🙂

  20. In our house, TV watching is divided into two parts: Before Mommy Went Back to Work and After Mommy Went Back to Work. BMWBW, Joseph was limited to…no TV time. Zero. Zilch. And I was proud. AMWBW resulted in my son watching HOURS of TV a day. Every time I tried to nix the screen time, Daddy would allow Joseph to sneak in a couple hours in the morning, a couple hours in the afternoon. Just couldn’t get the man on board.

    Very annoying.

    Now that I’m going to be off for the summer, you’d better bet that screen time will minimize – even the video games. Although I’m just as bad with those. Because I’m a nerd.

    As for how you’re going to cook dinner, well, that’s the one time that Joseph never watches TV. We always cook dinner together. With Elizabeth supervising from her high chair. I’m training him to be my sous chef. My goal is to have him cooking all meals by the time he’s tall enough to put a pot on the back burner.

    Good luck!!

    1. I have included E in cooking before — if only to also get a personal chef that I don’t have to pay. The youngest one is harder (she’s only 15 mos)…
      And I understand the whole hubby-on-board thing. While S is totally supportive and actually quite good at the whole NO TELEVISION thing, the U.S. is playing in the World Cup today and he has the kids. SOOOO… tv will be most definitely on. I can’t say TOO MUCH because I don’t know how I’ll be come the start of (american) football season.

  21. TV became quite a problem in my house when my son turned about 3. He wasn’t allowed to watch any until two. After that we started with Curious George once a day and he was glued. I couldn’t believe mesmerization could be that strong. The amount of time gradually increased to often 1 hour a day. And somehow I introduced noggin and he wanted to see Moose A. Moose instead of our former PBS shows. I found that there was ALWAYS tantruming when I turned it off or when I said he couldn’t watch it. It was causing major problems because he was literally obsessed. Maybe this is because he was totally deprived before he was 2….or maybe he’s just the kinda kid that gets really absorbed in television, who knows. I started seeing the issue as even more problematic because my now one year old daughter was no longer attached to my hip and was sitting in on some of this viewing time. Here is how I fixed the problem.

    Step 1: conversation with son about how the television was making us all unhappy, which included discussion about his crying over it, etc. Conversation ended with me explaining to him that because I love him and want us to be happier I think it’s best that the Television leaves our house…and it did. Cold Turkey. Two full weeks without television. I spent as much time as possible out of the house. Less got done and there were tantrums, but eventually the tantrums stopped.

    Step 2: That’s when I introduced the laptop. One 20-25 minute show was then allowed to be watched on the lap top each day and only at 3:00PM. I kept my laptop unplugged and put away until that time to help me resist the easiness of just putting something on in a week moment.

    So then how did I start getting things done again? (note: there are no naps in my house right now):

    1) Cooking dinner: They are still healthy, but I can prepare most of my meals in 1/2 hour or so. To get our better dinner fix, one night a week my husband and I cook together after the kids are in bed instead of eating together as a family. Also, when the weather is nice, I bring the kids outside and do my prep cutting out there on the picnic table. They always entertain themselves outside so I can get it done more easily.

    2) Laundry: The time consuming part is the sorting, folding and putting away and the kids really do help me with this now (currently 2 and 4 years old). It takes longer than if I were to do it on my own, but they aren’t fighting for my attention while I try to do it. They don’t always help the whole time, but they let me finish because they know it’s like I’m letting them get away with not finishing the job.

    3) Work: I have very minimal job related things that need to be done at home and I squeeze these in when the kids seem to be occupying themselves. Luckily it’s fairly brainless work so it’s easy for me to transition in and out of it.

    4) Socializing: Instead of talking on the phone I schedule visits more often. During that time I can attend to my kids, but still hear the person I’m visiting with. Maybe we exchanged less words than if our phone words were tallied, but it is better quality time.

    5) Cleaning up: I used to run around trying to clean everything up at the end of the day, but now the kids help me with that. We do it together before lunch, before dinner, and after any more involved activity. There was resistance at first, just like there were tantrums when I first got rid of the TV, but now this is just a part of our routine.

    If I really need to get something done outside of TV time and the kids are not occupying themselves I have a small enclosed porch of ours set up with toys that they are only allowed to play in during these times. It works so well! Bringing out special markers or dot painters also works well for us. Another great is asking my son to read to my daughter (pretend read from memory). It makes him feel important so he likes to do it, and she really enjoys the attention from her big brother.

    Also, without the frequent TV breaks I felt the need for a night for me. I get Tuesdays and my husband gets Wednesdays. On these nights we get to choose to do whatever we want, not questions asked. Of course there are exceptions. Sometimes I use it to do catch up on work, other times to get together with a friend, and sometimes just to pop in a DVD and snuggle together on the couch. But because I know I have that one time every week for me, it makes it easier to get through the times when I’m feeling overwhelmed like I have no break.

    What did I sacrifice?:
    1) No phone conversations during the day for the purpose of chatting. I’m glad I let this go. My life is less stressful without trying to fit this in.

    2) Dinners are more simple.

    3) I have less time to surf the web. I didn’t really need to be doing this in the first place.

    4) The house isn’t dusted as frequently but I’ve managed to keep up with bathroom and kitchen cleaning. It gets done piecemeal.

    All in all limiting the TV has been a great experience for us. Particulary since my husband and I gave it up as well. It gives us more time to do things after the kids are in bed. Also, in general I realize using the TV as a crutch didn’t just mean that my kids were watching too much of it, it meant they weren’t doing other things like learning to entertain themselves, and clean up after themselves. So for me it wasn’t just about getting them unhooked from the television, but a complete overhaul of our routines.

    So I basically wrote a book here. DIdn’t know it would turn into this, but I’m pretty passionate about the topic because the TV was making things so difficult for us and now we are all so much happier!

    Hope this is helpful.

    1. Very helpful. (and a GOOD thing to be passionate about!)

      I have definitely found in the past that I had a CLEANER house when I had us playing more and tv-ing less. Because I was more contentious about cleaning up after each project. Thanks for reminding me of that!

      I found giving up television myself was much easier. Because I have LOTS that I like to do outside of tv. It’s hard because I can’t do those things as much outside of parenting now. But your suggestions are great.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to write them out. It’s a GOOD thing to be passionate about!

  22. How about kid-friendly (not necessarily kids’) music that won’t drive you crazy and that the kids can dance to? DD is 5 and lately loves They Might be Giants but we do a lot of Raffi, Sharon, Lois and Bram, Kindermusik cds, etc as well.

    We put our tv in the basement, where we don’t spend much time, almost 2 years ago. It’s made a big difference in the unintended tv watching. Mostly DD watches videos on YouTube or laptop. Less than 30 minutes per day, on average.

    1. The music idea is great! I love They Might Be Giants! And my oldest actually loves “real” music as much as strange kid muzak.

      And we have tons of instruments. Maybe we can form a band! You in?

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