In just a few short weeks I will be unplugging my TV and physically removing it from my living room for 100 days.
If you don’t already know, I now have a 6 year old, a 4 year old and a 2 year old. We watch some form of TV every day. I am not completely ashamed of this because I don’t believe we are excessive TV watchers and I know my kids really enjoy the shows they watch. HOWEVER, there have been times or days when I have felt guilty about letting the TV be on far longer than it should have been. Mom exhaustion and stress is real and it’s hard and the TV does often work as a babysitter/time killer/nap inducer (for the kids AND me, haha). As my kids are getting older and seem to be growing out of the more innocent and educational little kid shows and want more interesting or exciting things to watch, my convictions have been stirring.
My past and current convictions.
What has my relationship with TV been like in the last 5 years of my life?
What was like it like for me growing up?
How is my childhood different from my kids childhood?
Well, I grew up with TV like most people in my generation. It’s been normal for a long time now. I remember watching old cartoons like Tom & Jerry, Mickey Mouse Classics, Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, Tweety Bird, etc. Then I remember the popular shows of the 90s on Nickelodeon like The Rugrats, Dexter’s Laboratory and Powerpuff Girls. I would fail this post if I wasn’t honest and told you I also has an obsession with Pokemon in the 4th grade.
I’ve seen pretty much all the major Disney movies, and some of the not so popular ones too. I would ballet dance in my living room to Fantasia (this was before Fantasia 2000 came out) and watch the Wizard of Oz over and over and over again. Needless to say, I have been pretty obsessed with movies from an early age. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgia motherhood has brought as I’ve gotten to rewatch a lot of the things I loved as a kid.
So, when I had my first baby here’s what I remember about my relationship with TV at the time. Well…we actually didn’t have a TV when we first got married and had a baby. But that didn’t stop me from watching things. I would watch things online on my laptop via netflix, youtube, ABC, BBC etc. I remember watching the shows I enjoyed (like Downton Abbey for example) while sitting on the couch breastfeeding. That’s just what I did.
When my son was only 15 months old I gave birth to a daughter. The insanity of having 2 under 2 for those months when my son went from 15 months to 2 years and my daughter went from 0 to 9 months was real. Especially in the beginning when I was living far away from family and had a very busy husband, I was on my own most days trying to juggle the needs of 2 babies. I was inexperienced and functioning in survival mode.
That’s when I began letting my son watch Curious George (it used to be on Netflix back then!). I loved Curious George. It wasn’t annoying to watch and George reminded me of my curious little boy. It was the one thing that made him STOP for 20 minutes so I could nurse the baby in peace and without interruption.
So the habit of TV began. Now, I either let the kids watch something in the morning while I am sipping my coffee or the afternoon when I need some focused time to either relax or catch up on dishes.
What I find a little different about my TV experience and my kids experience is the availability of quality shows I like and feel comfortable letting them watch. I can’t say I watched all good quality shows (like Curious George or Clifford are quality kid shows to me), but not having cable TV and solely relying on Netflix or Amazon Prime has its limits and sometimes I’m really not happy with the selection. The newer Netflix original series are kind of weird to me, maybe some of them are ok but not all. Llama Llama is adorable, but my kids get bored with it. The new My Little Pony? Ack! No thanks. Even Sofia the First has some annoying factors that bug me, but my kids love it and sure…some of it’s cute I guess.
The other negative about Netflix and Amazon Prime is the ease of putting it on whenever you want and the auto play just keeps going. It’s hard to set limits with something that doesn’t have those kinds of limits. It’s available, whenever we want it to be. We don’t plan for the weekly or daily airing of Clifford, we can put it on whenever we want. This is a little scary to me. I’ve felt a progression of letting in just a little TV time here and there to suddenly allowing a lot more than I know is healthy for them.
I keep reading things and feeling new convictions about our cultural (and my personal) overuse of technology.
“Using technology as a ‘Free babysitting service’ is, in fact, not free at all. The payment is waiting for you just around the corner. We pay with our kids’ nervous systems, with their attention, and with their ability for delayed gratification. Compared to virtual reality, everyday life is boring.” This excerpt from Why Are Kids Impatient, Bored, Friendless, and Entitled? at Deep Roots As Home
What am I Going to Do About It?
I am sick of just reading things on my phone while my kids watch TV about how too much TV watching is bad for kids. I want to do something about it.
This is why I am going to participate in this #100daysofnoTVchallenge and conduct an experiment of sorts by fasting from it.
I am ready for change, ready to develop better time management skills, ready for the challenge and discipline it will force MYSELF and my children to encounter, ready for the strengthening of character I hope it will produce.
This challenge is NOT meant to be a judgment on people who still use TV or have no interest in trying out life without it so please don’t take it that way. This is something I want to do for my own family and it’s a personal choice. Sharing my experience will hopefully encourage, inspire, and challenge you in your own journey whether that involves TV or not.
I am looking for accountability, however. So in the next week or two be thinking and praying about whether or not you want to join me in this challenge. I hope to have some of you along the ride with me as we take action and see what happens as a result.
My plan, right now, is to begin this 100 Days of No TV Challenge on June 1st. So get ready, it’s coming soon.
Stay tuned for more about WHY I am doing this and HOW I will do it. What will the rules be? How can you participate with me? Are there exceptions? What are the goals of this exercise? Why June 1st? I will address all of this and more in an upcoming post. Subscribe to this blog so you can get all the info right away and the personal accountability of doing this challenge with me. I am definitely going to need you!
So what do you say? Will you unplug with me and do a little detoxing from technology this summer?
Read this series next post here: 100 Days of No TV: Answering WHY & The Guidelines