It’s a No-TV Day in Our House

Old TVWe aren’t anti-TV. In fact, FireDad and I have shows that we really enjoy after the kids have gone off to bed for the night. During the day, the boys are allowed to watch non-commercial television stations (Noggin, PBS) or their movies (ranging from Thomas the Train to Toy Story). We don’t let them watch television all day long but they are allowed a certain amount of TV-time each day.

Except for today. And this past Sunday. And various other days which are decided the night before or the morning of.

No-TV days happen in our house. I don’t feel like a big ogre for employing them either. Well, I should say, I don’t feel bad anymore. When I initially noticed that television was having too much of a grasp on my children, I felt bad in just the realization. I thought I had limited their time enough. I thought I was doing the right thing! And then, when our first No-TV day happened, I felt bad because they were upset. Today? I don’t feel bad. It was necessary. It will be over by 7:00 this evening. And tomorrow my children will not hate me anymore.

At least for the No-TV thing.

Why did I start the No-TV thing on occasion? I can tell when they’ve simply had too much screen time. You can tell me that television doesn’t rot their brains. You can tell me that certain shows are educational and beneficial. You can giggle (with me) when one or the other quotes something cute from a movie. (Have you ever heard a three and a half year old use the word trousers? It’s adorable.) But when they won’t play outside because they want to watch something on television, they’ve hit that “too much” level. My children love to play outside. Outside is the best thing since sliced bread. I have, on occasion, had to bribe them with television, snacks and everything but money to get them to come inside. But yesterday, BigBrother whined at me that he wanted to go watch TV for the whole hour that we were outside. I detest whining. And whining about television seems to be a big indicator that something needs to change.

And, so, we are now enduring our second No-TV day in a three day time span. Sunday was a No-TV day as we were at my parents house and I wanted to make sure the boys were enjoying The Farm, their grandparents, the dog and the general outside-ness of it all. Today is a No-TV day because, as I said before, I won’t tolerate whining about television. This, of course, has made for a grumpy BigBrother. He’s quite miffed, really. And I almost feel bad. Almost.

But so far today, while I haven’t gotten much work done, mind you, he and LittleBrother have danced and sang to a few CDs in his room. They have changed imagination outfits a few times (fighting over a Thomas the Train belt for awhile that caused removal of said belt). They have read some books. And they are currently racing cars in their playroom. After I finish up some work, we have a day full of outside fun, coloring and t-ball planned. I may get wild and crazy and let BigBrother help me with supper. At the end of the day, neither child will say to me, “I wish we would have watched more TV today.” (Or, rather, BigBrother had better not say such a thing or I may have to go cry in the bathroom for awhile.)

No-TV days make more work for me, for FireDad. (I also learned, the hard way, that No-TV days on FireDad’s shift day are, shall we say, rather difficult. I learned my lesson.) As they are young children, a preschooler and a toddler, their attention spans only last so long. It’s true that they’re playing together right now but my guess is that we’ll have to play a game or do a puzzle in short order. Despite that this will make more work for me to attend to after they hit the sack tonight, I am okay with this fact. Work will get done. Just like television will still exist tomorrow.

I do, however, refuse to feel guilty that my children watch television. Or that they need breaks from television. Or anything of that nature. You can tell me that whining is an indication that we should throw out our televisions and quite possibly even our CD players and sit in silence for a years’ time. I’m going to smile at you, nod and then do my own thing. Just as I will smile and not at someone who tells me that No-TV days aren’t necessary. These two little boys are my children to parent. With their father’s help, we will make decisions together that are in their best interest. I don’t care what you do with your children. I don’t care if you are a No-TV-Ever family or an Always-On family. But I know what my kids need.

And today they need to dance and play and color and laugh and whine about something other than television. Tomorrow they can go back to thinking I’m mean for something else.

[Photo Credit.]

24 replies on “It’s a No-TV Day in Our House”

I like no-TV days too. They are usually spontaneous for us rather than planned. I also like very-little-TV days. One of the reasons I switched my girls into a different daycare was because the private in-home daycare had the TV on almost all the time. Otherwise, I try not to sweat the TV thing too much. I think my kids get enough of different activities (arts & crafts, outside time, reading) that some TV just goes into the balance.

.-= red pen mama´s last blog ..About a Mom =-.

RPM; Ah, that’s how I’m going to explain it from now on. The whole balance between the different activities. Wish I would have been able to think of that when I was writing but I was interrupted with three story books and the putting on of a costume. Good times!

Love this idea, and I love how you institute it as well. We made a rule when Potato was younger that we wouldn’t let him watch much television. So far, so good! I’m sure I’ll break out the movies at some point, but right now, he’s like your boys, outside owns all :D

Danielle; It really does us well. BB was grumpy this morning but after the grumpies passed, he was a happy dude. Currently napping as we will be up a bit past bedtime tonight due to t-ball.

I completely agree and I love that you sing it loud and sing it proud! We have movie night on the Friday nights when the girls are at home. They watch Little Einsteins and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on weekend mornings. But that’s it. There are days on end when I don’t turn the tv on, even for me. But then again, I work all day and the girls are at (a tv-free) daycare!

It really *is* about balance and finding what works for your family, just like everything else. Great post!
.-= Katie in MA´s last blog ..Because bedtime snuggles are important. =-.

Every child is different and so is every family. What works for some, could be wrong for others. I agree with you, about letting the parents decide. I just wish more parents would make a conscious decision about how much TV their kids watch and correlate it with behaviors. I would love to see more “Conscious parenting” and less “It keeps them quiet parenting”!

Amanda; I think it takes some practice to figure out. While I was initially, “OMG TV IS BAD!,” we’ve found a (usual) nice limit. But I can tell when we’ve passed that limit. In fact, I bet most parents could tell if they paid enough attention to the signs of over-stimulation.
.-= FireMom´s last blog ..It’s a No-TV Day in Our House =-.

Neither do I anti-TV, FireMom, however I think that No-TV Day is something worth; at least kids free themselves from staring into the screen and they can find something useful to do, like for example, doing a hobby or even go for a walk in the fresh air and fresh sun. That’s for the kids.

As for the adutls, US, I wonder can we make a Non-Computer day too :P
.-= Hicham´s last blog ..Relationship Status =-.


-^- That said, I think disconnecting from the online life for quite sometime is something good especially if you are going to spend the time in vacation with friends/family. The problem is we take laptops with us!
.-= Hicham´s last blog ..To Tweet or not to Tweet? =-.

I’ve done the occasional no-TV day thing too. It’s good for kids. I’ve also noticed that my kids behave better on days that I make them watch less or no TV. Frankly, I don’t think TV makes a good “babysitter” as the classic bit goes, at all. I find the back yard does a much better job.

Put the kids in front of the TV, they’ll come asking for snacks constantly. Order them outside, and most days after a short adaptation period, they’ll play happily for hours and let me get other things done.
.-= Stephanie – Home with the Kids´s last blog ..Emily Rose Contest – Win a Free Platinum Starter Pack =-.

Yes! Much better on no/less TV days. My kids aren’t old enough to be in the yard by themselves but I totally agree with you about the outside being better at keeping their attention spans for a long time period.

as a former nanny and future parent, i love when other parents enact the no-tv days.

my husband and i haven’t had tv for nearly five years, since we refuse to pay for the tv license (silly UK laws)…

we have a horde of computers and can watch tv on some sites and dvds are always good…

we’ll have to re-assess the tv thing when we get around to kids. but i’m sure it will still be streamed from the internet or borrowed from the library.

Yep, if my 4 year old whines too much about tv, he loses it the next day. Period. It’s a newish thing for us because until he turned 4 he could take or leave tv.

Our latest battle is over his “video games.” (Leap frog) Yes, it is the same thing as tv, it doesn’t matter if you’re not “just sitting there.” (His words, heh.)
.-= Ally´s last blog ..Kids are a mystery – painted face edition =-.

Yes, BB could take or leave TV as well until just recently. (LB still doesn’t care. He’ll ask to watch but if I say no, he just goes on.) BB is getting a Leapster 2 for his birthday so I’m sure that will be our next battle!

We have a one show (30 min) per day rule around here but it is not set in stone. I find that we will go several days with no tv at all and then some where they watch a couple hours. Those days are generally on weekends if we have friends over–once dinner is over we send the kids to the tv room to watch a movie so the grown ups can relax before everyone goes home. Every now and then, I have a day where I don’t have it in me to be a present mother and those days they watch a lot more tv than I’d like (a couple hours worth).

I definitely agree about behaviors–one hour of t.v. at a sitting and all of a sudden they are cranky and fighting with one another.

Yes, we tend to have more when people are over, just because. And, yes, they’ve had more TV sometimes just because it happens. You’re not alone!

About eight years ago, we started the rule that there was no TV during the school week. It’s great. No one asks for it, and they spend their time doing their schoolwork and then playing outside. On the weekend, they can watch a lot. Although, this never happens with soccer, softball, etc. They like the idea that it’s at their beck and call…even though they rarely get to watch all that much.

TV is OK. I love it. Kids need to do other things too… and most of the time.

I’d really like to have the no TV during the school week when the boys are actually in school. I’ll have to keep this in mind. (The addition of DVR to our lives helps, of course.)

It’s funny because I read your post on Tuesday and nodded my head. My kids are there too and we have on occasion had a no TV day as well. Then Wednesday K lost it when I had her turn off the TV to go to library time after watching 3 (yes, 3) episodes of Diego. Poor deprived child. She was shouting at me that “It’s not fair”. I have no idea where she has gotten that. So, today has been a no TV day in our house.

When our daughter(now 16) said “TV is my life!” we realized that she was watching toooooo much. That’s when we adopted no TV days. Now, she would rather read that watch TV. We are SOOOO blessed!

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