Creative Ways to Break a TV Habit

Creative Ways to Break a TV Habit

One of the things I, as a parent who doesn’t watch television, struggle most with is allowing my children to watch television.

I have fond memories of watching TV as a kid.

But, I have stronger memories of playing outside in the woods, building dirt and twig forts and running free, hosting tea parties for all of my dolls, playing school and spending hours recording stories on a cassette recorder.

Which of these memories bring back happier memories?

Not the ones about watching too much TV. Those are barely a blip in my memory bank. But ask me about playing on my grandparent’s 50-acres and I can go on and on.

Children, for lack of knowing any better, will always choose to watch TV or go to the computer unless we teach them to think outside the box. For some people, like The Outlaw Mom, television has definite benefits.

For me, it’s about a balance so I prefer to redirect some of the time. Yet, it’s about saying yes as much as it’s about saying no.

I’ve asked some parents around the blogosphere to share their favorite strategies to distract children from television and other techno gadgets that seem to be invading our homes and here are some the best they had to offer as well as my own. These moms also have great sites to find many, many activities to do with your children instead of television.

10 Creative ways to Break a TV Habit:

Make it a Family Choice: Take a pledge to really stop using gadgets as an everyday pasttime. Practice during Screen-Free week. Unplug.

Set the Stage: Cathy from the Nurture Store suggests setting up an “Invitation to Play” by having enticing materials to spark play all ready for when a child comes home from school. Maybe teddy bears waiting for a tea party  or some art materials.

Change up their Routine: Do not say a word but leave a surprise for them like Zina from Let’s Lasso the Moon has done by putting art supplies on the kitchen table when they wake up in the morning.

Set Limits: Bernadette from 2 Posh Little Divas gives her children certain times when they can watch TV, but they cannot watch before school when she wants their brains to be quiet and focused before heading out for a day of learning. {In our house, we will say yes to TV only after certain chores are done as a way to get things picked up.}

Let them Choose: Have them make a list of things they think are cooler than TV. Honor their choices and respect them enough to help them happen. We’re big on letting our kids set most of the weekend’s to-do list. Or, they can choose something from their “Think Outside the Box Box.”

Loosen your Grip: The more we push them away from the TV, the more they may want it. Watch yourself and how much power you are giving these gadgets. Let go a bit. Rebekah from The Golden Gleam allows one hour in the middle of the day each day and that works nicely for her family.

Shoot your TV: {Just kidding!} Many people have turned off their TV service and now use only Netflix or Internet TV when they have the time and desire to watch. Jennifer Fischer at The Good Long Road said this works great for her family, which happens to make films for a living.

Play With Them: The most obvious, it seems, but sometimes we need reminded that children learn more from us than any toy or TV show. And, there aer many easy and fun ways to play including 25 Ways to Just Be With Your Child. And, here’s another 15 Ways to Play as a Family.

Use the Technology: Angelique Felix uses YouTube to create videos that are appropriate and timed perfectly for her child. She shared two playlists with me: a 10-minute stories playlist and a 20-minute playlist.

Challenge Them: We have been known to resort to challenges at our house. Friendly competition, really. It always works to say something like, “Let’s see who can … ” and give them a challenge such as who can find the most circles, or who can draw the biggest castle. We’ve also done the Family Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt, which incorporated my girls’ gadgets with photography and exercise.

Talk to them: Point out the amazing things there are to do in life and how time is short — too short to sit in front of a television. I say this to my girls all the time. They do not ask to watch TV in the mornings and rarely in the afternoons because they realize that would be time away from more fun things like taking walks, playing and doing art projects. They still like TV, for sure, but they love to play together and as a family even more!

They understand that to make memories means connecting with family in meaningful ways.

I love that about them.

125 Responses to Creative Ways to Break a TV Habit

  1. Love this post. It really gets at the whole point of Screen Free Week. I appreciate being included, but am just really glad you wrote such a wonderful piece!!

    • Thank you for contributing! I do believe the message was needed and sometimes it’s just about thinking differently about the way we’re doing things. Of course, I also believe parents need to be lazy now and then!!

      • I love your blog. Very thought provoking and inspiring! When I was 16 we were burgled and the only thing stolen was the TV. My step father decided we didn’t need one, and we went TV free from then on. We had pangs of withdrawal for the first week or two, but after that we were all amazed at the positive changes this “bad luck” had brought about. We ate dinner together as a family, we talked more, my brothers and I got more homework and studying done, we all read a lot more, we spent more time outside. I also noticed my mind being slowly freed from some of the conditioning that TV tends to implant in us when viewed for hours on a daily basis. Now, 14 years later, I have been married for 4 years, and my husband and I have never owned a TV. We each have a computer and a smart phone, without which we wouldn’t be able to work. If we want to watch a movie, or an episode of a TV series, we do, but usually our leisure time activities include cooking together, gardening in the veggie patch, reading to each other, listening to beautiful music, cuddling on the couch, painting and drawing, learning about parenting (as we hope to become parents soon) or just chatting. Its important to note that a large screen with moving pictures has a very detrimental effect on learning, especially in children, because stimulating the visual part of the brain with moving pictures tends to freeze all other parts of the brain and makes thought and concentration difficult or impossible. (Think about how hard it is to get someone’s full attention when sitting infront of the TV.) One study showed that TV induces brainwaves to revert to the alpha pattern, also present during sleep. Another study showed that the amount of time spent watching TV before the age of 3 is directly proportionate to the incidence of ADD and ADHD that the child suffers later in life! Your post is a great motivator for those who can’t seem to go cold-turkey just yet, but let me encourage you, a TV-free life is totally possible, and once you get rid of that time-wasting, brain-draining, mind-contolling, imagination-killing thing…you will be amazed at the new life that awaits you.

        • Thanks for your inspiration. I’ve said it before, I’d love to go tv-free but the only thing that stops me is our family movie night, which we all really look forward to. We love movies.

  2. This is so thoughtful and useful. With summer coming up, limiting screen time becomes a major concern for us. I totally agree though that fighting it too much just makes it magnetic. I’ll have to try and remember that- balance.

    • We actually put our movie night on hold in the summer and try to spend as much time outside … this year, though, I have to find a nice balance of relaxing as well. Summers have so much pressure to get stuff done while the weather is good enough …

  3. Thanks for this… It is a constant battle with my 4 year old… not fighting is a hard thing but i have been starting to limit and hopefully with summer coming we can spend more time outside and try to cut back on tv so it won’t be such a battle come winter!

  4. Great ideas for turning off the tube. Love that I am featured as the sinister t.v. watching mama – haha :-) The best thing I’ve found is just saying it’s not t.v. time (and since they know they will be a time later, whenever that is, there’s not a battle). Plus, I think with most young children, going outside or playing is a bigger draw.

  5. Great post. I think a key for children and TV is the same as so many other things: model the behaviour you want them to learn. We have been cable free for almost 10 years which means the most we get on antenna is three channels. But we rarely watch any TV anyway. Movies and TV shows from the library, yes, but not much TV. Our children don’t see us watching TV all the time, the TV isn’t on ‘quietly in the background’ all day like some people have it. Movie night or screen time is a special activity for us.

    I like this topic of limiting screen time for the whole family – we all need reminding from time to time. Thanks!

  6. I absolutely believe children need balance — they need to be able to have the outdoor adventure, but they also need the ability to relate to their peers…hence the need to watch very limited TV. But the TV choices can be educational and engaging — my kids and I love watching Amazing Race together, for example…learning about cultures and travel and identity and challenges.

    I’ll all for a “screen-free” week, however — great ideas in this post! :)

  7. Not a parent but I found this really refreshing. My parents were not big on me and my siblings watching tv when I was younger. In fact, anytime my dad walked by and saw us watching tv he’d ask if we were done with our homework and if we said yes then he’d turn off the tv and say “great now you have time to read a book!” Hated it then but appreciate it now.

  8. It’s nice to know parents are thinking about this, and that’s coming from a 16 year old Canadian guy! The idea about just having Netflix is a good one, and if they actually had recent movies in the Canadian Netflix, we would definitely be using it! PS, you made a spelling mistake in “Play With Them!”

  9. Great post! I only let my son watch TV on the weekends until about the third grade, then it was only an hour after school and after all homework was done. Now that he’s in middle school I’ve relaxed those rules, but he would just as well draw a comic book, read, paint, play with Legos, etc. as watch TV. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  10. love this!

    I don’t know about how creative my way is but here it goes —

    I just got rid of TV … 2 years without TV and very happy : )

    love & light

    el

  11. T.V. is definitely a tool. It is great when used to educate and inspire. I am not sure how you could ever filter the mindless and misleading aspects out of it. Luckily, nature is what it is; the greatest teacher. Thanks for your tips! I let my kids watch movies, but we stay away from the ole telly.

  12. great post! I installed something that lets me only use Facebook form 7:00 to 7:00 and it works pretty well. I quit TV years ago for the most part, aside from occaisional Nascar lol.

  13. With both my children I have had a ‘TV on constantly’ rule of thumb that I rather swear by as a ‘sneaky’ form of learning. It is there in the background on such channels as History (most any of them), Science,DFH, DOC, Military Channel, Nat Geo, Animal Planet, etc. In the background as we go about our daily activities even though it’s rarely paid attention to, the narration of random documentaries serves as something of a near-subliminal learning that has at least in our family proven to enhance their educational experiences.

  14. Imagination is what is lacking in many of our children now. They have difficulties solving problems because they are not given problems to solve. When we were younger we always seemed to be able to make something from nothing by using our imaginations. That art is lost on this generation and it is a shame really.

    Great post

  15. I live in Jinan, China and on Friday nights (probably other nights) families take their kids to the city square where they have a short light show at the fountain every night. It’s a 20 minute show and a great excuse for walking around on a warm night. When I taught in Japan the school sent notices home to the parents to encourage them to have their children look at the stars for 15 minutes a night.

  16. For us there was an absolute limit–we could watch the news (local and national) every night, and had to agree what to watch with our additional total of 3 hours of TV a week. It made my sister and I work together to decide what we wanted, and it tended to be PBS–Upstairs/Downstairs, Mystery, etc.

    The house was filled with games, craft projects, and the like, or we could go outside. I grew up on a farm, so there wasn’t money for fancy stuff–one of my mom’s employees made us a baseball bat out of a piece of firewood and for years we played a sort of pickup baseball game in the arena about 3 nights out of the week. The words “I’m bored” were not allowed. If you were bored, you got put to work! If it was playtime, you can believe we were finding all kinds of imaginative things to do.

  17. We have a television, but no cable service. No antenna either. In other words, there’s no way to watch TV on our TV… Except for the DVD player. Sometimes we plan a family movie night, not every weekend, but a few times a month. That’s just because we’re not in the habit of doing it. Now, believe it or not, we have to pry books away from our kids (for example, no, you may not bring your book to the dinner table). It’s a pretty awesome problem to have. Great post!

  18. Lovely! Beautiful, inspiring ideas. We’ve been spending the late afternoons in our backyard. I have a jump on the trampoline with the boys which they absolutely love and which is hilarious for me. It helps to get that last burst of energy out of their systems before coming in for dinner. My 5yo and 10mo couldn’t give two hoots about tv, but my 2yo chases me around the house with the remote asking me to turn it on.

  19. Read, Read, Read! Check out stacks of books at the library and read to children. They will in turn want to act out the stories with dress up time,which is 150 times better than the movie. Also, when they are older they will turn to books instead of the screen when looking to fill up time. Nice list.
    Happy Mother’s Day,
    CricketMuse

  20. Great thoughts to help us focus on balance for our kids and ourselves. It is easy to fall into the routine of taking the path of least resistance but rewards lie on the paths less traveled. Thank you. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  21. I love this list of options, and I couldn’t agree more. My fondest memories as a kid were the games we played outdoors. I even remember being upset with friends who would rather watch a movie than ride bikes or go to the playground! We weren’t allowed to watch much tv (parent’s rules) and by proxy, we didn’t have an interest in the nerd box. This carried to my adult life: I’d much rather be outside and be active than turn on that thing. Now it’s part of my professional life to try and get people moving…that tv is such a hinderance on healthy lifestyles!

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed. Great post!
    Elaine

  22. Love this post!! I did one a few weeks ago on how I dont let my daughter watch to much tv. Its not always easy so thank you for all these wonderful ideas!

  23. congrats on being freshly pressed… this post is really timely.. Today we are going to celebrate no TV/PC/Mobile day at my place…. I had proposed this four days back to my family and m kind of nervous if this becomes really successful or not?

    at my place people including me have gone too much dependent on technology, and I really want to break this habit, even if its for a single day!

    by d way, its still 2am at my place, so no TV day will start at 6 or 7 in morning, in case you are wondering.. ;D

  24. Congrats on FP! I’m not a parent (yet) but I can speak from personal memories… how about:

    Monkey see – monkey do: Set a good example by taking what time you have to go outside and learn/teach about your natural environment. Having an interest in nature will inspire your child to enjoy the limitless fulfillment of the outdoors.

  25. I discovered a much easier way: the VA disability check I receive every month is simply not enough to afford even the most basic cable, and being surrounded on three sides by mountains makes antenna reception pretty much impossible.

    Even so, your sanctimony is not becoming. Not doing something for the sake of not doing something is all well and good, but it doesn’t justify beating others about the head and shoulders with your lifestyle choices. Oddly enough, kids are emotionally and physically far more resilient than you and the other commentors here are willing to give them credit for. If nothing else, one cannot learn to appreciate what is good without some exposure to crap…

  26. I have found that reading more books is something that is much better for your brain than sitting around, watching TV. Not only coming from an author’s point of view, but from a reader’s as well. Especially for young kids, reading is much more beneficial than Television. My books may not suite young children, but there are good ones out there for them. Just my opinion. Great post though! :)

  27. It’s great to hear that there are others who don’t put their TV as number one and who want to encourage kids (and adults) to do something else.

    We haven’t had a TV for years, and people wonder what on earth I do with my time… But nowadays, there’s so much opportunity for being ‘plugged in’ (whether because you work on a computer or because you social network on one) that it’s more a case of making time to unhook from it all.

    Personally, I notice a big difference in my energy (physically & mentally) when I spend several hours at a computer screen versus going out for a few hours on my bike! And I believe kids are more adversely affected than adults.

    On our last holiday, where we campervanned to Belgium, we totally unplugged for a few weeks – no computer, mobile phone, nothing… Unheard of for most, but we loved it.

    Just an afterthought… I’d like to share a link from Dr Joe Dispenza, in case anyone’s interested… He talks about the brain & how it is affected by things like computers, video games and so on… Quite thought-provoking stuff… http://youtu.be/mmm68vpTvkE

  28. A great way to stop kids from watching t.v. while seeming like a great parent is to get them a Wii – someone will throw the remote through the screen within a week and then its no more t.v. and their own fault! Mwahahaha

  29. “Play with them!” So often busy parents forget! Even with older kids (middle school and teens). The wonderful thing about having kids is that it gives us a chance to have the fun all over again! What a wonderful blog article. I’ll make sure I share this!

    • I actually don’t think the list is all that different for teenagers, Noelle. Get outside, go to the park, find things to do together as a family and give them responsibility to make better choices. I think the best way is to keep talking about what’s important to them (besides TV and computers) and find ways to make those things a reality. When I was a teen my family pretty much ignored my every dream and desire … so I became a recluse in my room. I wonder how those days might have beeen different if they had taken some time to really take my interests seriously. Teenagers need thrills and adventure and excitement … I’m sure you can come up with a few ideas together that will bring back that spark for life.

  30. When I was younger, I grew up with monolouge tv and the only time there was kids tv on was in the morning so I would watch 1 episode of Noddy a day. My friend didn’t have a TV at all and all the memories of going to her house were some of the best memories ever and there was absolutely no screens involved

  31. I find this article really interesting, because even though my little brother and I are only 8 years apart, I feel that there is a huge generational gap between the two of us. I remember hardly ever being in the house growing up because I was always outside playing with my friends, or at the very least, reading a book. It makes me sad to only ever see him hunched over in front of YouTube or watching one of the dumb new shows on Nickelodeon. I mean, what 9-year old should be playing Call of Duty? Ironically, my main pastime is blogging, which means spending a lot of time online every day… It’s responsible parents like you that give me hope for America’s youth (:

  32. I diffidently feel for this generation…back when I was a kid (90s) cartoons were a ritual on saturday morning but as soon as it was done we would put on our “play” shoes and wouldn’t come home until it was close to dark…I remembered times where we would come home drenched in sweat and dirt from all the rough housing….I use to live by a field and it had a tree that was big enough to create a tree house..its was always a battle between me and the boys to see who was going to get the try house…you literally had to run to be to claim it for the day….hide and seek tag, freeze tag, dog pile, flag football climbing trees falling off trees,…man I had a ball nowadays kids it seems like kids in my neighborhood just wants to look cool and be like the adults….but if they only knew the freedom of being a kid…I would give anything to be that free again.

  33. I too, loved watching TV as a kid. Sometime in my early 20s, I realized that I didn’t actually enjoy it. Sure, there were shows I liked, but they were few and far between. I was just “killing time.” Well, my husband and I got rid of it and haven’t looked back. We have a TV, but no channels (as I explain it to our 5 year old). We have a DVD player and a Wii, which come in really handy when I’m sick and the kids are not, but no channels. The best part is, if they’re going to watch it in my home, I get to know EXACTLY what they’re watching. Also, no commercials. They don’t ask for Fruity Frosted Sugar Bombs or The Latest Toy That Doesn’t Do Anything Or Require Imagination – they’ve never seen ’em.

  34. I first began reducing the amount of time I watched TV when I was in college and heard about National Turn Off Your TV week. When I moved in with my husband–where there is no cable service offered and satellite is too expensive–I went totally TV free.

    When we can afford it, we get Netflix DVDs. But even if we had the option of cable TV, we wouldn’t get it. There aren’t any shows on TV now that we like, so it would be a waste of money.

    I’ve found that I’m bored a lot less now than I was when I had a TV to watch. (And when I have something to watch, I get bored with it after an hour.) I keep a list of crafts, reading, studying, writing, and chores that I want to do that is more than I can possibly accomplish while working full-time. I never lack for something to do.

  35. I wish I would have had parents like a lot of you…I was raised by TV! It took me so long to discover any interests and develop creativity of my own. I can say I was more involved with my own kids, played with them…but then I didn’t have five of them!

  36. What a great post; we no longer have cable but given the choice, my almost 3 year old would watch netflix all.day.long. I love concept of an “invitation to play” – how could anyone resist finger painting or a tea party when it’s prepared and presented before them? Great ideas :)

  37. Great post! Thanks for taking the trouble to compile and share all those tips and links to other resources, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  38. With how much technology seems to “dominate” our daily lives – I’m ALL in favor of ditching the cable and just getting netflix or using hulu to get caught up on my favorite shows these days. I loved cartoons when I was a kid – but the quality in cartoons they show nowadays has seriously gone DOWNHILL in my book of quality things our kids should or should not watch. Thank you for sharing these insights! I have shared this on my twitter and my facebook!

  39. TV is always the double-edge sword,which brings us not only the new horizon but bad habits

  40. This is great. My mom only let us watch 30 min of a movie every day. later, she let us watch even less. I have no memory of feeling sad about this. Like you said, I have soooooo many memories of playing outside with my brothers and reading innumerable books. Sometimes my friends reminisce about the 90’s (our childhood era), and I think it’s sad how much of their childhood memory is characters from a stupid Nickelodeon show instead of a character from a book or a favorite game or even a favorite toy. TV is awesome; I love sitcoms. But it must be viewed as a super rich dessert and managed accordingly.

  41. Working for children’s television myself, I have the opportunity to see a lot of benefits from children watching television. There’s a lot of underlining learning points that kids face on a daily basis at school and around there peers (bullying, healthy eating, education) I think TV can be very educational… As a kid, I had a major imagination. TV was a before bed type of thing. During the day I would play outside and be creative. But at night I would be allowed TV before bed. I Love Lucy, Taxi, Mary Tyler Moore, and The Munsters were a few of my favs. (Not the typical kid like TV! But it was Nick at Night!) The idea to limit the amount of TV is a good idea, but to exclude it completely I wouldn’t agree on. Every kid should have an opportunity to have a favorite show, a favorite character, and a role model. Mine… Lucille Ball!

    I love your activities list! A Major Plus in my book! Love creativity of all kinds!

    Thanks for the great read! – Kyla

  42. Yes, we got rid of cable and now do Netflix only because we used to tape so many series but hardly had the time to watch them and actually felt worse about the TV we weren’t watching when the reminder was there that we’d missed so many shows. The only time we’ve really missed cable was award show season and we’re grappling with what to do with the Olympics this summer. otherwise, best move ever and we don’t feel like we’re missing anything now! Great ideas on here!

  43. I also agree, my family has been t.v. free for 3 years. Too much pressure and bad role models that teach non-sense. We use a streaming solution and try and limit that time online. These are great ideas. This is what life if all about, spreading knowledge and breaking the cycle. Thank you for passing the word on.
    ” We are the Information Generation”

  44. Great post. I don’t have kids, but grew up without a TV until I was 10. When we got one, my Mom did a lot of the things you do. We chose what to watch, she suggested alternatives to watching TV during the daytime. I don’t have a TV now in my grown up life and don’t miss it at all!

  45. My mom kicked me out of the house every day all summer long and told me I couldn’t come back in until a certain time (I was given a watch, of course– which I thought was one of the coolest things ever). If you don’t live in a place or time where/when this is safe or practical… well, that is just another sad part of life.

    My memories of this involve riding my bike twenty miles or more around our town (on a single speed fixie) and running through the woods and swamp coming back covered in mud. I am not sure how I feel about it but I do know that even when I really enjoy technology I have never felt attached to it (still to this day even). Thanks mom.

  46. I get the kids to help bake a batch of cookies. The 6 yr old gets to pick a recipe from the cook books. The 2 yr old is QA inspector of chocolate chips and raisins.

    TV/Movies/Games/PC are only allowed after diner and homework are done during the week. We have “recess” on the weekends where the kids play ball, blow bubbles, or run in the sprinkler when it’s hot.

    For me, TV is my quiet time. Typically when the kids are sleeping. There are very few shows that I like to catch besides Food Network. I grew up in Canada, we had 3 channels (one in French), so we easily got bored and moved on to something else. Maybe if we locked out all the channels but a few, kids these days would get bored too?

  47. 10 wonderful ideas to break TV time, I find older children are more cunning, they turn to the computer. So I would extend the idea to break the TV and computer, electronic gaming toys habit. Yes moderation is the key, and I would love to shoot the kids computer or at least pull all the cords out and hide them.

  48. Thank you for such a great and thought provoking article.

    I would like to ask the following questions and briefly share my experience, if I may.

    How much did TV play a part in raising you? (now the parent)

    How much do you believe TV shapes your ( or society at large) view of the world?

    I would argue that most modern parents were practically raised by television. And that even a rational intelligent person would be shocked at how much their thoughts, beliefs or opinions are shaped by the society they live in, which in this case is experienced via TV, Movies and other popular media.

    I will write an article soon, where I will go into a little more depth, but I have had, a somewhat unique experience with TV.

    I DONT HAVE ONE!

    I havnt had one for nearly 20 years now, and what many consider to be strange, is that I simply do not miss it the tiniest bit.

    In fact when I holiday, and the lodge or hotel has satellite or cable, I will switch it on out of curiosity, and back off again after a few minutes of channel surfing.

    But instead of watching tv, I actually talk to my family, I visit and interact with real people, I travel, I write ( please visit my blog below), I read, I have put myself through a science degree, I spend time with my spouse, I organise and plan my life.

    Basically I live!

    This social obsession of replacing real life with fiction, is the strangest thing to me.

    While some may be watching Boston Legal, I will be following the story of how the Yahoo board members have pushed out the CEO.

    While some watch Oprah, as she helps people, I will spend the exact same amount of time to participate in charities and philanthropy of my own.

    While people watch Choppers on Discovery, I watch lectures from Yale, MIT, TED and others, lectures that are free and that are orders of magnitude more interesting, entertaining and valuable than anything that channel has aired.

    I attribute most of my general well being and good luck and my wealth of experiences to one single life decision:

    — Not having a TV—

    Check stephenis.com to read some of my views, and read my post about a life without TV when it comes out.

    @stephenis

    • I was not raised by TV. AT our house we only ever had three channels and we were one of the last to get a VCR. That said, I did watch it but mostly I spent my time outdoors. I also fondly remember watching Friday night TV as a family, which for our household was a big deal because we never went anywhere. I’m looking forward to your post, Steph. I have thought about getting rid of our TV many times as I do feel it would be more in line with our values but haven’t taken that bold step for the simple reason that we do love movies.

  49. Last summer we did a TV free summer. The only exception was movie morning on Fridays. It worked out great. After about two days they stopped asking to watch TV and looked forward to Friday mornings. They played so much better, not thinking about when the next time was that they were going to get to watch TV, or having to get zoned back out, into a natural play jive, after the tube was turned off. We’ll be doing it again this year. Although my kids hardly watch any TV at all anymore. Routine has a lot to do with it. Once you break the habit, they stop asking for it and life is more pleasant without it, because they remain more in tune with a constant stream of simple play.

    • Rebecca, we do pretty much the same thing all year except in the summer we actually don’t do movie night because I know we all want to be outside as much as possible. Good for you for making this commitment. I think it really does make a difference.

  50. We are tv free for the moment in our home. It started with our big screen breaking and not really wanting to spend the money right now to fix it. After some reflection, we noticed we were really not watching much tv anyway due to all the activities the kids were in and we cancelled the over priced cable. We have been without cable for about 3 weeks now and really don’t miss it much. We will watch a show here and there on the internet and the kids will watch a movie on the computer when there is time. Kids haven’t complained much. They are doing a ton of other things. I am though going to fix the tv so that we can have a movie night (usually Sat nights) and they can play with the Wii. Though with all the camps and things with Scouts, church etc there may not be anytime to even play the Wii. Before, when we were watching tv, my kids would flop down on the couch, zone out and watch whatever was on…didn’t matter what it was. Drove me crazy!

  51. I spent my childhood both in the nature playing/reading/laughing/crafting and in my house watching tv before going to school or bed, but I think both the activities were useful: with the normal activities I learnt to be creative with what I got, to enjoy the company of others and to face reality. With television, and when I was older with books, I had the chance to discover imaginaries world that empowered my ability to think outside the box (I must admit, it also empowered the loss of patience of my steinerian mother!)
    Thank you for sharing these ways to stay far from the remote control though,
    Artphalt (http://artphalt.wordpress.com)

  52. Thank you for this post! It is a wonderful way to put the focus on creating memories and family time. It is so important:) I shared your blog post on my Etsy Shop fanpage. I’m the owner of Eljah*B (www.eljahb.etsy.com)…fabric embellishments for life:) I invite you to stop by and take a look. Please feel free to share as well. I will be back for more of your ideas and insight. Your blog is wonderful!!
    https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/EljahB/163991400290778

  53. i love watching tv shows, but only find the time on the weekends or on some weeknights after work…
    i remember my mom and dad not allowing any tv before school, nor while eating. we were rewarded with watching tv after doing our chores or homework.
    or we were allowed to watch a cartoon or documentaries (still love em 😉 ) – i think it’s important for kids to know that they don’t need tv for entertainment. i had a huge barbie, my little pony and lego collection. i also had a hamster, which was my responsibility, and i would spend time teaching it tricks :) we also rode our bikes, played with the neighbor’s kids, and got dirty in the grass… then again, we didn’t have this sheer amount of technology available to kids these days. it’s harder for parents to distract their kids, so good luck :)

  54. This is truly a wonderful post. I’m so glad it is SO popular. Thanks so much for sharing it on this week’s Kids Co-Op Linky!

  55. My girls have definitely been watching too much tv and I have definitely used it as a ‘babysitter’ especially when cooking dinner (seriously small kitchen, barely room for two, I’d rather have them safely out from underfoot). We were given a Wii this past Christmas as a gift, though I would have quite happily lived without one. Now the first thing my 4 year old asks for when she wakes up is ‘can I play Mario Bros’ and I had been about to suggest a screen free week. Finding this blog was perfect timing!

  56. Great ideas! My kids get 1 hr a day. When I babysit those kids get 1 hr too. We turned our cable off 4 years ago.

  57. Love this post. I don't watch much tv either. There is one 30 minute show I watch each week and it's about parenting. :) My kids are teenagers now and I'm SOOOOOOOOOOO glad for all of the tv free activities I did with my kids – lots of hiking, art, dramatic play (dress up), science activities, library visits, swimming, indoor tent creations, outdoor tent creations, gardening, sprinklers, sewing, puppet shows, building with blocks & toothpicks & straws & big sticks outside.

  58. […] UNPLUG – Did I take time to just be there, to allow for space for anything my child may want to say? Did I show up and hang back and watch her beauty unfold before my eyes so that I don’t miss a thing. Did we soak in some quiet time and just enjoy each other’s company? Did we spend a tiny bit of time unplugged? […]

  59. We’ve always been really good about setting TV limits with our kids, who really could care less and would rather be outside anyway. It’s really never been an issue. Guess who has the problem?? Us! We do limit it when the kids are awake, but oh my goodness the hours add up when they are sleeping. Now that they are getting older and we are living in a tiny house, it’s harder to hide our nasty little habit. So, I loved this list- FOR ME!


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Shawn Fink - Abundant MamaFrom Our Founder

I created The Abundant Mama Project to inspire overwhelmed, busy mothers to slow down and let go of the worries and concerns that are holding them back from experiencing joyful motherhood. Read More »
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