"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Great Experiment

Well, we've done it. We've packed away the TV.

Yes, we're crazy. We admit it. But this will be our great experiment: Will we really miss it?

We've already been a largely television-free family. Sure, we'd turn on the Olympics or the Presidential inauguration or other similar events, but regular TV watching has never really been part of our lives -- no time, too many better things to do. (Although I have to admit I'll miss Dancing with the Stars, which I got hooked on when I was on bedrest with The Baby.)

The television issue has come to the forefront as of late because of our move. Our first two houses had finished basements and the television set was kept there. Largely out of sight most of the time, it was also largely out of mind. But the house we're renting right now doesn't have a finished basement, so the television was smack dab in the middle of the living room, the main room of the house. And having it in sight was a constant reminder to the kids of the endless possibilities. I heard, "Mom, can we watch ...?" so many times a day it was driving me crazy -- even if it was easy to tell them no.

So, my husband and I decided we'd let them turn on cartoons on Saturday morning so we could sleep in. They had their choice of two channels that met with our approval. But when I started hearing about how The Girls needed a Bumpits (Say Hello to FAB hair. Order Bumpits Now!) and how I should order an Aqua Globe ("Mom, it's only $14.99!") to automatically water my houseplant for up to two weeks (because I can't do that with a cup for free?), we decided even if the cartoons weren't that bad, the commercials were feeding their already growing consumerism. So we banned television watching altogether.

The harder thing to give up will be movies and Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons reruns. There's nothing we enjoy more than all cozying up on the couch on a cold winter evening with popcorn to watch something together. And I'm not saying this is a bad thing. But my husband and I have noticed that we often take the easy way out -- our time together is too limited and too precious to sit and passively watch. So we packed the television away in favor of increased conversation, reading together, and playing games.

There will be some exceptions to the no video rule. A child who has to stay in bed because he or she is sick has always gotten to have a portable DVD player or laptop on which to watch movies. Long car trips may be an exception (although our car player is broken anyway). And then there are the educational videos we use for homeschooling -- the kids Latin teacher is on DVD and we can't do without her, after all. We also discovered last week when the tornado sirens went off that we should probably hook up the small 13" in the basement in case of emergencies.

What we hope for in the long run is that, even if we do take the TV out again, the kids will be better able to choose something else over watching it.

So, maybe we are crazy. But we're happy. So far. And I'll keep you posted on our great experiment. Why don't you join us?


  1. We're not where you guys are yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if we will be at some point soon.

    Now what you need is a TV-B-Gone so you can turn off all those other TVs you come into contact with on an all-too-frequent basis.

  2. Too true! Whenever we are at a restaurant with televisions on, or a hotel lobby, or a store, I can barely get my kids’ attention (“Keep walking, please”). We left them in front of a TV at Sam’s Club for forty-five minutes one time while we did our shopping because we knew they wouldn’t leave! (It was a movie we had seen before, and we did check up on them occasionally.) And recently, we’ve been to parties and people’s homes for visits where the TV has been on the entire time, if only for background noise!?! I’m putting a TV-B-Gone on my Christmas list. Thanks!

  3. Good for you, Michelle! I can relate to what you have been going through, as it sounds like what goes on in my house, too. I can't stand the asking if they can watch something, and I also have been encouraged to buy an Aqua Globe! I'm not quite as bold as you are, though, but maybe some day .... For now, I limit, and we try to have *media fasts* at different times during the year, too.

  4. Wow. I admire you. I gave up tv a long time ago, before I met my husband, then he gave it up when we dated and married. We did have the tv just for movies to rent though. I did it a total of 8 years, my husband for like 3. The biggest thing I remember was the conversation it stole. People interested more in the tube than what real people had to say.

    When 9/11 happened, we decided to bring the tv back, to of course watch the news and be more informed. haha! Rarely do we watch the news.

    I admit, rarely is the tv on during the day, but at night when the kiddos go to bed, it's on. We do rent a lot from Netflix, tv series type things, like my husband can't wait for "The Office" to come out in September.

    I really think that balance is the key in everything. Balance. Too much of anything is bad. Sometimes in order to find that balance though, we must take things away to see that the balance is needed and how to do it.

    Great post and best wishes with the experiment!!!


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