On Monday, I decided to try eliminating the TV from our daily routine.
I know, some of you are already there – with no cable or TV, or super limited screen time. We had been there once upon a time, but little by little bad habits grew and grew and pretty soon I realized I was relying on the TV for way too much. And on top of that, my kids were throwing such a royal fit when I would turn the TV off that sometimes I let them watch for too long to avoid the battle.
YES I KNOW THIS IS BAD PARENTING.
I knew that I was using the TV as a crutch and to avoid arguments and just to get some peace and quiet but ultimately it would end every time in an epic battle of the wills and I. Was. Over. It.
Not to mention, a certain little 5 year old who shall not be named was demonstrating some really obstinate, mouthy and at times downright disrespectful behavior. Little brother was quickly following suit so I knew I had to make some adjustments to our daily schedule. I suspected TV was at the root of a lot of issues.
Even when the TV was off, they seemed almost incapable of playing independently and were horrified at the idea of being outside – to the point that there would be great weeping and wailing and screaming if I shoved them out the door to play in our beautifully landscaped, fenced in and flat backyard. SERIOUSLY y’all. I’m kind of surprised my neighbors haven’t called DSS to complain about the little boys who screamed like they were being tortured.
You see my point…I know there are children who can use screen time moderately and don’t put up a huge fight when screen time is done. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, so I know those kids are out there. But those are not my kids. My children (one in particular) absolutely cannot be moderate with screens and will not turn them off without a huge huge HUGE battle.
I wanted my kids to be KIDS again. I wanted them to enjoy the feeling of dirt under their feet, to experience the joy of collecting treasures from the backyard. I wanted them to pick up the trains they love so much and use the train table that has gotten dusty, to find their little imaginations and use them.
5 days of no TV and we have survived it. And you know what, for the most part it hasn’t been too bad. The biggest struggle (for me) was what to do with them when I needed to shower or put Harper down for a nap during the day. I used to plunk them on my bed and turn on the TV so I knew they’d stay put and not get in trouble.
On Monday we went to Target and picked up supplies for activity boxes. These boxes ONLY come out when I need to be doing something else in another room or during quiet time (1pm-3pm) We picked up dry erase flash cards for writing practice, a travel sized dry erase board with washable dry erase markers, a matching game, washable crayons and a big pad of paper, a sticker book with reusable stickers. Then I filled 2 boxes with cars and trains to pull out as needed. It’s been so helpful when I need to shower to pull out those boxes and know they’ll stay occupied while I can’t keep an eye on them.
And the attitudes? Have VASTLY improved. They’ve been playing relatively well together, and pulling out their cars and trains. I found Beckett the other night on the couch with a book and a snack and the biggest shock of all? Once their little brains weren’t constantly being bombarded with the flashy television, they have BOTH voluntarily laid down during quiet time and FALLEN ASLEEP.
You know how many times my boys generally nap? Basically never. I actually thought they might be getting sick, but nope. Just CALM.
Calm. They were calm. We went for a walk the other night as a family and my normally wild man Beckett was thoughtful and quiet as we walked. So thoughtful and quiet that I asked him several times if he was ok. He said yep, just wanted to be quiet.
I was like WTH IS GOING ON AND WHERE IS BECKETT.
And it’s been a great motivator for me to get up and out the door with them before 9am so we can have the playground to ourselves for awhile before it gets busy and too hot.
It has been a huge eye opener to me just how much television affects MY kids and how much better we are without it around. I told the boys we’d try to reintroduce a little bit of it this weekend, because I’d like to use it OCCASIONALLY but I’m a little worried about being able to actually use it moderately so I came up with a summer schedule to hang on the fridge! This way they know that TV will start and end by a certain time. Fingers crossed it helps. If not, we plan to say bye bye permanently!
Beckett is really into reading and telling time lately so I think this will be a hit around here. It’s good for him to be able to see what time he can do certain activities and he is already loving being able to help move the magnets around depending on the day.
I am probably the least likely mama to ever create a daily schedule for my kids – I hate rules, I hate routine, I hate having to follow schedules but even I recognized the need to get a little stability in our lives. I guess by the time child #4 comes around you kind of have to accept a new way of things.
If you want to use our summer schedule, you can find the printable here! I printed mine on magnet paper that I found at Michaels and just cut out each magnet. Easy! I even left some blank so you can write in your own. We laminated a few, which makes them dry erase friendly!