Let me clarify the title: in no way, shape, or form are my kids mediocre. They are exceptional at everything: loving, laughing, playing, making catastrophic messes that undo every shred of cleaning I’ve attempted in a day. I was going to create a title using our last name, then remembered that not using the kids’ real names was kind of pointless if I did that. In keeping with the title of the blog, we are referred to as the Mediocre family, rather than the *insert last name here* family. So there you go.
Everybody hears about the damaging effects of TV: shorter attention span, lack of creativity, sedentary lifestyle. Some people heed these warnings, many don’t. I was one of the ones that didn’t. My family suggested I watch less TV growing up, but I chose to disagree.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for late night TV, family movie night, and snuggle-on-the-couch sick days. But I know better than to use the TV as a babysitter whenever I need to actually accomplish something. Knowing is one thing; doing is something entirely different.
Years ago, the Nerd and I decided to cancel our cable, and we’ve never regretted it. We replaced it with Netflix, and we love it. Can you say no commercials? It’s pick-what-you-want viewing for far less than any cable plan, without annoying ads, 28 channels of stuff I’ll never watch, and shows that I hope my children never, ever see.
I love not having the live stream of garbage in our home. I’m not bashing all TV. I love me some after-bedtime Hulu. And there are some legitimately great children’s programs out there (we love Wonder Pets). You just have to weed through tons of junk to get to them.
Despite our limited viewing capabilities, and being fully aware of the detrimental effects of too much TV, it was becoming a problem. I was getting eye rolls and whining every time I said, “Not right now.” The girls were fighting – constantly – over who got to pick the show. And I will shamefully admit that it was my go-to kid distraction. I need to finish dinner? Go watch TV. Gotta hop in the shower? How about Dora? Can’t decide who gets the Strawberry Shortcake coloring book? Put it away and go watch Avatar: the Last Airbender. This is where part of the “mediocre” comes in: knowing better, but doing it anyway for the sake of convenience, my sanity, and not wanting to deal with the drama. I had two choices: strong sedatives, or television. I think I chose the lesser of two evils.
The Nerd and I have tossed around the idea of getting rid of the TV entirely in the past, but I always panic at the thought of losing my electronic babysitter. Don’t judge me. If you’ve ever seen Goo after someone gives her candy, you would be patting me on the back for plopping her in front of a screen rather than shipping her off to toddler boarding school.
However, something recently changed. We visited Amish country. We spent some time learning about their way of life. I don’t agree with all of their choices. For example, they never study Science. In any capacity. Ever. When I heard that, I almost stopped breathing. Don’t they ever wonder why things work the way they do? What makes our hearts beat? How our brain tells our muscles to move? Why the seasons change? Egad. I’d go mad. (haha, that rhymed)
But lack of inquisitiveness aside, they have some beautiful ideas about life. Time is spent on work, caring for the family, enjoying the company of extended family and friends. Electricity isn’t viewed as evil, but as a means of ushering in distractions from what really matters. And on some level, I couldn’t agree more.
That being said, the Nerd and I made a decision: we’re canning the TV.
And three days ago, I actually did it. I unplugged everything, and had the Nerd take it down to the basement.
I had no choice but to read more books, build more towers, get the girls more involved in chores, and ride bikes more often. Why did I wait so long to do this?
Oh right. Because at midnight, when Goo woke up with croup, I remembered that no TV meant no TV-couch-snuggle sick days. Crap. Now what do I do?
I shamefully admit that I caved a little. I let Goo play the DS for a while. She was not a happy camper, and in our house, all electronic limitations are null and void when you’re sick. I totally spoil my kids in that respect. They spend the day on the couch, being waited on hand and foot, with hot soup, whatever activity their heart desires, and plenty of TV time. I’m a softy, so sue me.
The TV did not make a reappearance, but I may have snuck in an episode or two of Micky Mouse on my phone. Stupid smart phones. But we also read lots of books, played with blocks, colored pictures, and got a little fresh air. In fact, in just 3 days of no TV, I have seen Goo more interested in reading than ever before.
Yesterday, Punkin didn’t even mention TV. She went straight for the art cabinet and her book shelves when she got home. Bliss. This morning, Goo, Smush and I played with her animal toys, pretended we were princesses, and did a puppet show. I didn’t feel mediocre, and I’m all about that.
If you’ve ever considered unplugging for a while, I totally encourage it. It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Goo was a horrified at the new living room arrangement and the lack of television. I may have wanted to bang my head against the wall a few times during the day for every considering this. But I think we’ll be reaping the rewards in the end.
Oh, and no TV means one less thing for the kids to fight about. Hallelujah.