Thursday, October 15, 2009

T.V. Takes a Time-out

This year more than ever before I have felt the desire to limit the amount of T.V. intake and influence there is in our lives. I think I can identify a few of the reasons: Our oldest daughter began attending public school this year (4th gr.) rather than continuing with homeschool. Our oldest son would live in a T.V. if he could. Our youngest son is doing most things are oldest son is doing. Our kids are involved in a few evening activities in addition to Wed. evening AWANA fun.

When the weather was nice, the T.V. was much less of an issue. The 3 older kids would head outside as quick as they could after school to check out what the newest was with the neighborhood gang. But if the weather was bad and the T.V. was on, the black box was the center of attention, and most often the only discussion had to do with who had the remote and what show to watch next. I found myself wishing for nice days, because I liked what it afforded my children in their relationships with each other.

As I mentioned earlier, my son's world wouldn't be more complete if it had another piece of media in it. Tech-y someday he will be. We've kept a close eye on what the kids are watching on T.V. So the actual shows themselves weren't my concern with him. What I did notice was a decrease in his ability to focus if he had just finished watching a few shows on T.V., an increase in complaints about being bored, and a lack of awareness of his surroundings (baby sister near him who had something she shouldn't have). Yuck!

I was reluctant to do anything dramatic. I hadn't thought through a plan yet, and I really wanted them to experience the value in having less T.V. as well. So as the nice days decreased, and fall weather began to settle in, I began an internal experiment (I didn't tell anybody else about it :-)). When the kids would ask to have the T.V. on in the afternoon, I started saying 'No, not today. Go find a game to go play or a book to read ... or I could give you work to do.' As this continued, they began to ask less until one day I began to say 'We're not going to have the T.V. on in the afternoon during the week anymore.' Eventually too, we left the T.V. off until the kids went to bed and then my husband and I would turn it on after that.

So here is what I've noticed since we began this new routine:

As our daughter would come home from school and complete her homework, I began noticing that our sons were glad to see her. Eager to tell her about their day, to hear about this other world called 'public school', or to recruit another worthy opponent for a game, they were having a really hard time waiting for their big sister to join them. They enjoy spending time with each other more now. Perhaps it's because now they have enough time to have conflict and resolve it, instead of harboring it.

My media attached child has a new love: reading. He had been enjoying the various eye witness series books which are full of wonderful pictures that we would snatch up at the library, but I couldn't get him to pick up chapter books on his own for free reading. He is a fine reader, but he is a 7 yr. old boy who struggles with focus and follow-through. Toys and T.V. were a much better option in his mind. Now he can't get enough of 'Secret Agent Jack Stalwart'. I'm so proud of him!

The dust has been blown off of board games. Toys have been brought to me with long dead batteries. The basement is constantly a mess from block towers, car race tracks, legos, scrabble tiles, dress-ups. It's funny how when they were toddlers I couldn't wait until they didn't pull toys out everywhere, but now as elementary kids I'm so thankful that they do.

My daughter is sharing in more detail about her day at school. And, I, as her mom, don't want to miss a thing. I'm enjoying her so much more now too. How can 10 seem so old?

Tomorrow starts the weekend, so we will have on 'Saturday morning cartoons' (as if!! It's really what they have recorded on the DVR all week.), and College Footbal Gameday (Go Hawks!). The experiment was worth it for us, and I don't think we are going back to the old days. There is an unexpected, noticeable freedom that has come to our home.

"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. I Corinthians 6:12


Katie said...

Yay for no TV! Love this post, Maija.

Miss you! Took some stuff to Wee Wares yesterday (thanks for the tip!) and they miss you too!

Maija said...

Thanks Katie!!! Miss you too!! I so wish we had a Wee Wares nearby!

Jenn said...

Well said, Maija! I really enjoyed your writing. Adding you to my blog following list...
hope all is well with you.
jenn (moss)