Monday, October 3, 2011
TV Detox Survival and Where We're Going from Here
Our week of TV Detox is over and we survived!
I came out of it with a few thoughts and I feel much better about turning the TV back on today.
1. Though we never actually NEED it, I was able to assess what times of day the television is actually really helpful. We made it through the mornings pretty well. The boys are happiest early in the day and sometimes they played quietly by themselves and other times we all hung out together. We also did a lot of errand running during this time.
This is all pretty normal, but somewhere around 10 or 10:30 I start feeling this uncontrollable itch to turn it on...(possibly because every 5 seconds Isaac said, "Mommy, can we watch a cartoon?" And, honestly, it sounded like a really good idea to me...). The problem is, every time I turn it on at this tempting time in the morning, I always have a hard time getting it back off until lunch (partly because of their fits, partly because I really like that break in the morning).
It was really good for me to see what a morning looked like with no TV and it was actually just fine.
2. After naps and cooking dinner tended to be a little more stressful TV-free. My boys, especially Isaac, can wake up in a funk from their naps. They are sometimes in a grumpy stupor for a half hour before they snap out of it (if they ever do at all!). TV is often helpful here to let them chill and wake up slowly. It's also nice to turn on a cartoon at 5 when I start dinner so that our food is pretty much ready when my husband gets home and their 30 minute show is winding down.
3. One reader mentioned that she tried to not get discouraged if things didn't go perfectly and television was watched more than the one hour she typically allowed. I think this may have been the element I left out last time we took a break from TV. I didn't allow much room for grace and when I "failed" at my self-imposed regulations, I gave up.
Here are some situations where I think I'll be more likely to kick my rules to the curb and make some exceptions:
I really do think it's helpful to have a TV when my kiddos are sick and need something to keep their mind off the pain they're in. They're usually too exhausted to play for long periods. Rest is good for them and the TV can make that a little easier to achieve. And wouldn't you know it? Both boys fought a cold all week. More than once I decided this was NOT the week to have decided to do this, but, like I said, we came out of it in one piece. :)
I also think it's helpful when the weather doesn't allow you to get outside for several days. Last year we had some bitter cold accompanied by a blizzard (in the Ozarks!!) and we were cooped up for what seemed like an eternity. We're also blessed in this area to have heat advisories in the summer where the heat index can be well into the 100's and then throw in the occasional week long monsoons and that about sums up our Spring and Fall. I can understand building forts in the house and reading a little extra one day due to bad weather, but when that bad weather day turns into days, something's gotta give... preferably not my sanity. :)
Car trips are another thing that I think the TV is "good" for. I would love to be a family that just sang and talked and read and laughed on road trips, but that's just not where we're at right now. Matt and I have endured TORTURE on some of our longer treks... and by "long," I mean 3 hours max. I have friends whose children travel really well, and I'm just a tad bit jealous because our boys find it to be a miserable experience and make sure everyone else agrees. :) BOTH of our boys have been known to scream the ENTIRE 3 hours we've been in the car before. We've tried almost everything short of taking them out of their carseat and holding them with no luck. We've never been brave enough to go further than 3 hours away as a result. Now that they're a little older it's not so bad and we finally invested in a DVD player with 2 screens that we only put in before we go on a longer trip. It's worked like a charm so far and you will never find judgment here for doing a movie marathon on a vacation journey.
Last, sometimes I think cuddling up and watching a movie or some TV is just fun. In excess, I don't think it qualifies as "quality family time," but I can't think of something my boys or I enjoy more than popping a bowl of popcorn, getting a handful of M&M's and watching a Thomas movie together before naptime. We grab bedding and pillows off the couches and I dim the lights. We all spread out on the floor in front of the TV and it's one of those things that gives me warm, cozy, fuzzy feelings. I may even allow this once a week or so!
All in all, I've determined that I don't think there's a right way to do this. I think the expectations I set for myself are a little more realistic this time. I'm going to TRY to do without TV in the morning and then use it after naptime until Matt gets home if/when helpful (and at hopefully no more than 1 hour total). The list of exceptions above make me feel a little more like I haven't just imposed a death sentence upon myself.
I know how easy it can be to slide back into a rut after a week of ear infections or rainy days, so I may be back in this same spot in a few more months. This is where the self-control needs to come in. I have a really pretty frame that Matt got me for Christmas last year that I like to keep a Bible verse in. I took this opportunity to change it out and it now says, "If you find honey, eat just enough -- too much of it, and you will vomit. Proverbs 25:16" and sits right next to the television. I may grow too disgusted with the word 'vomit' gracing my living room, but for right now I'm hoping that the vivid picture will remind me of the bitter taste that too much TV in our lives leaves.
Thanks for those who joined me on our adventure last week. Feel free to comment with your ideas as well!