Yesterday I wrote about cutting cable. We made some other changes in our house when we said goodbye to our DirectTV boxes. We wanted to put more focus on our family and less focus on the screen.
During a random lunch date in my office, Bryan mentioned that he should have put our bedroom tv in the garage sale. A year ago we had added flat screen tv to our goals. We wanted to mount our bedroom tv on the wall. We were “old school” and had a flat screen tube tv. We never got around to buying it, probably because it wasn’t really a priority. The conversation started with him mentioning again that we should buy the flat screen. I threw him for a loop and said we should just move the tv to storage in the basement and not replace it. He stopped and looked up at me. What? Our bedroom tv is a daily staple in our house. Every night Bryan crawls into bed and turns it on. Some nights I’m already asleep. Some nights I have to turn over and pull the covers up to block out the light. Every night he falls asleep with it on. Sometimes he falls asleep minutes after he turns it on. Thankfully, our tv is equipped with a sleep timer. If it wasn’t, I’d wake up at 2 am every night and turn the darn thing off. As you can tell, I’ve never loved it.
I told him about all these studies I’ve heard about removing television from the bedroom. Not just keeping it turned off but physically removing it from the bedroom. I’m not going to spell it out, but if you don’t have a tv you find other things to do instead. My husband, being an adventurous man, agreed to remove the tv from our room. As far as I can tell, neither of us misses it. He hasn’t said anything about it and he spends more time reading before falling asleep, which was something he wanted to make time for. I’m still in a phase I like to call, “I have a baby who sucks the energy out of me.” So, I go to sleep as soon as I put my head on the pillow. When Maximus wakes up on the weekends he is ready to be up, so we’ve never enjoyed lazy weekends in bed watching cartoons. We basically had a tv in our room so Bryan could watch it at night.
Before eliminating cable, we were trying to make a conscious effort to keep the tv off. Or at least during the hours the boys were awake. We didn’t want them to want to watch tv all the time. We want them to play instead! When I was pregnant with Quinten, I desperately wanted Maximus to watch tv. He would not. He could have cared less about it. I am pretty proud that until he was almost 2 1/2 he didn’t want any tv! But, when that switch came on, it came on bad. He became obsessed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. And honestly, he still is. It would be so easy to turn on the tv and let him sit there quietly, but that’s not who we want to be. That doesn’t mean that we don’t still watch Mickey once a day. Or sometimes more, especially if he tricks the other parent. We try to work through whatever is going on and only use the tv as a special privilege. For instance, it would be a lot easier to have him watch tv instead of running around the house while we make dinner. Instead, we choose to involve him or deal with the whining. We’re trying to teach him that you can find other things to do besides watch tv. And when you’re bored tv isn’t always the solution. I will be the first to admit that I am lazy by nature. I am very good at it, too. So I’m doing the best I can to lead by example. It helps that it is summer and we would all rather be outside than inside, but tv can easily become part of your every waking minute routine. Come home from work, turn the tv on. At our house it used to be very hard to push that power button after it got turned on. We both grew up in multiple tv houses and there was always at least one on at all times. I’m not saying anything bad about the way we grew up, we very much liked having television to watch. However, I don’t remember watching tv as a small child.
We still plan on letting Maximus enjoy a show here and there, but we won’t be letting him spend hours a day watching it. Instead we’re doing puzzles, driving bulldozers around the house, digging in the front yard, watering plants, or playing with our baby on the floor. He doesn’t seem to notice that we’ve drastically cut out his tv time. It’s only when he’s bored that he asks to watch Mickey Mouse. Hopefully those situations will be less and less in the future as he figures out that being bored doesn’t equal tv.
How do you control your tv time?