Unplugging the Drug

Sometimes, my 3 year old has ADHD-like tendencies.

And she watches too many movies.

Thus the TV/Movie Challenge: Giving both up for one week.

We don’t have cable, and living in the country, our reception is pretty limited. So the TV part of the challenge will be easy. It’s the movie part that I’m dreading. But at least I have the promise of having done this before and reaped the benefits. That’s huge.

Did you ever get that restless and bored feeling as a child once the television had been turned off? Growing up, we rarely had ours on. Occasional reruns of The Brady Bunch or Little House on the Prairie helped sick days fly by faster, but for the most part we entertained ourselves. 3 yo’s gotten to repeating a phrase that saddens me immensely:

“What can I do, Mama? What can I do?”

She’s forgotten how to keep herself busy. That whole “productive” road to happiness thing? Mm-hm.

When my oldest was around 4 years old, we took AFR’s annual challenge and went without TV/movies for a month, and couldn’t believe what a difference it made. My then 4 year old really didn’t spend scads of time in front of the tube, but when it wasn’t available she went from keeping her door shut against her toddler sister (keep her out, mommy!) to welcoming her in to play for hours. Who would’ve thought? Suffice it to say, we left the TV off for over a year after that month was officially up.

I wish we’d never turned it back on.

I’m not excited about losing my #1 babysitter for 3 year old, but I’m ashamed for letting it get to this point. I have no choice. I told hubby the TV has to go, and thankfully he’s backing me up. See, we both remember the idyllic days when our household wasn’t “under the influence”.

Want to join me in the “TV and Movie Challenge”? My family is beginning tonight, after one last movie fling. A week sounds really doable to me, how about you?

Hopefully a week will turn into a month, etc. I’ll keep you updated on the highs and lows! Pray for us…

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20 thoughts on “Unplugging the Drug”

  1. Is the official challenge starting? I did it once, for 40 days. It did make a difference because we don’t even realize how influential the tube is. My oldest loves TV, but my babies will only watch it if they have to (shame on me, but for instances like when I do the dishes and don’t want a little one underfoot.) But other than that they’d rather play. Hope this round of no TV works out happily for you!

  2. I think the last time that we watched a movie was last Saturday night. I find that, especially during the summer, there’s so much we could be doing that television doesn’t get turned on.

    Now, as far as the kids, there are some days that they don’t even watch something– but I hear it’s hard for my wife to get ready in the morning and try to watch them because of their ages.

    Mary, how do you think this would work when the white stuff is on the ground and the days are shorter? I find it’s harder when you have to stay inside not to indulge in some television watching.

  3. Georgiana, I’m not sure when the official challenge is starting…the one with AFR. We’re excited about it here. With school starting, there’s even less time to waste so I have high hopes that we won’t miss it. My older two would rather play, and oldest would rather read in a heartbeat. It’s my youngest that gets in the habit, movies keep her quiet during Bible study with my folks, they keep her entertained during school, while I’m on the internet, etc. It’s really bad.

    MIn, our kids haven’t been outside much in August, as hot as it’s been (heat index hovering around 110 for a while there)…vs loving to play outside as fall cools everything down and snow-play becomes a possibility. We’ll see…

    I know my dh and I won’t miss it at all. We rarely find time for a movie together as it is!

  4. Well, I’m officially starting to home school my girls this week. I think that would be a great time to do this with my girls. I don’t think my husband would go for it, but I know that I have succumbed to the lure of having a “babysitter” way too often. While writing this, I’ve decided: that’s it – no TV or movies for my girls this week! Thanks, Mary :)

  5. I’m so glad Revka, to have somebody in this with me! I’ll be sure to check in on you this week and see how it’s going and I’ll remember you and your girls in prayer this week. I’m highly optimistic that if we stick to our guns, all the extra non-TV/movie options will really surprise us. Thankfully, my older girls are really on board with this decision and have even made activity boxes to bring out for toddler when we’re feeling the pinch. :)

  6. Well, I think I will have to extend our challenge into next week. We have drastically cut down the amount (starting school helped a lot!), but with a sick baby for the last two days, I did pop in some videos for her to watch while I had school with the other girls. We will do better next week; I’m not giving up!

  7. That’s right, never give up. It’s just easier for me to unplug completely, or it’s too tempting. Yet I’m not really a Type A personality! Lol. I know how it is with sick ones, we’ve all had mini-colds this week, toddler’s symptoms were the worst but not once did she ask for a movie or tv! I think it’s because the TV is out of sight, and therefore out of mind.

    Thanks for the update, and good luck on the cutting back!

  8. how would a three year have even developed a tv habit by that age? and you refer to the tv as your babysitter? that’s sick.

  9. The TV is highly addictive at any age. I know many families who never turn it off, and their kids turn *my* TV on when they visit because they think it’s supposed to be on, which is strange, but it happens!

    I think you sometimes don’t realize it’s a habit till you leave it off for a day. Do your kids miss it and ask for it? Then likely it’s a habit. I was relieved that toddler didn’t miss it one bit. She went exactly 7 days before asking for one movie, and that was after her sisters got her excited about getting to go to the movie store to rent one for that night (to celebrate one week w/o).

    I refer to TV as a babysitter b/c I don’t sit and watch cartoons with my children. Of course I don’t leave the house and “trust” the TV to take my place. I admitted above to feeling guilty for using the TV/movies to buy me time on the internet or while getting ready to go somewhere etc. I’m SO glad it’s off now, believe me, we aren’t any of us missing it!

  10. well, good for you. no, our family is not at all tv oriented. like you, we only have what we can pick up on rabbit ears, which is not much. that being said, my 2.5 year old doesn’t watch any TV and isn’t interested.

  11. That’s wonderful. She/he is probably very creative and self-entertained as a result.

    I think the thing I like the best about “unplugging” (and we don’t do x-box or nintendo, etc–the girls have several computer games but really aren’t that into them) is how much more fun the kids have together. My oldest two have always played great together, they’re each other’s best friends, but they’re enough older than toddler that they had gotten into the habit of shutting the bedroom door on her when they wanted to play. They all share a bedroom. This week she’s been welcomed in and been a part of the action. She loves it, and they seem to also!

  12. that’s always nice. our older two really adore the baby and love having him around. i think because of the large age differences they don’t think of him as a pest. and yes, all three of my children are very creative and have always been good at entertaining themselves. they all enjoy art and music and making up plays and such. i have a huge bucket of art supplies sitting out and everyone just goes and gets what they want out of it.

  13. Oh good, maybe you can tell me: Where do you keep all the art projects constantly in the make??? I’ve been thinking of stringing up a line in my hallway to clothespin drawings on, as my refrigerator has absolutely no more space. That takes care of collage and paintings but what about Fimo clay figures and styrofoam/clothespin people, etc. My windowsills and shelves and mantel are cutesyful. I even have flower murals taped on the kitchen wall because my middle daughter thought we needed more color. I don’t mind any of it, it just seems like one kitchen counter is always stacked with works-in-progress, and each daughter has her own drawer of craft supplies. It’s taking me over! We have a small house too…so it’s really noticeable. I’ve tried rubbermaid containers, ack, it’s just another space for the overfill. I try to go through their creations and keep what’s worthy in a box in the attic, and toss the rest, but it’s hard!

  14. I would love to read your updates on how it goes! Growing up we used to give up TV for Lent. I rarely watch TV now…I only ever have it on Treehouse TV (Kyle’s channel…so I am raising a TV fanatic) and then I have my one show that I watch on Sunday night. Other than that it is always tuned into Hockey for my DH…

  15. Well, the update is that we’re still leaving it off! So it’s been a little over three months. Sometimes we all watch a Friday night movie, OR let the girls watch two Saturday morning cartoons, but when it doesn’t happen it’s because they haven’t asked or we’re busy with other things. It’s lost the “draw” in favor of other more creative things. I’m so glad we took the plunge!

    I used to be addicted to The Amazing Race…we’d even tape it so we wouldn’t miss an episode. But I’ve found that even that was easy to give up. Though I don’t dare catch myself watching even one episode b/c I’d probably be sucked right back in! Dh isn’t into sports, or that would be a biggie to break. Not that it’s necessary, the TV can be a great way to unwind after a long day.

  16. I agree that it’s better to just leave it off. I had so much fun outside as a kid that I will probably do this too with Kyle so he is outside playing rather than glued to the screen. And my show is a weekly one so it’s only 1 hour per week (not even on every single week) and I sometimes miss shows. I usually get the boxed DVD set for it and then once a year I will go on a binge and spend a week having it on while I do other stuff…and then I don’t watch it again for another year. Me and DH watch movies sometimes on the weekend (only if there’s no hockey on though…) otherwise I watch Kyle and DH watches his hockey. I think I will have a harder time with him than with LO!

    I didn’t realise you’ve been doing this for 3 months already! I saw it on my Home screen and so posted on it and was schocked to hear it’s an old posting! Sorry about that.

  17. Oh, I bet it was on the home page…I have this website plug-in that brings up archived posts….the third post is usually an older one. It keeps revolving! No biggie, I was glad to update it!

  18. Still TV free almost 3 years later! Woo-Hoo! My girls even comment on how happy they are that we don’t watch TV. At this moment, 12 year old is making a special snack in the kitchen, 9 yo is drawing all these nifty optical illusion flip books, and 5 yo is outside riding in the CAT with daddy as he shears at the tree overgrowth on our property. Yeah, I’m sitting here being lazy…a different kind of drug… ;O) 5 yo never lacks for ideas on what to do these days. Praise God.

  19. When my bride-to-be and I were planning our marriage priorities, one of the topics that came up was the TV. We decided not to ever have a TV in our home for viewing TV programs. I had been raised with TV, she had almost no TV influence. We turned down many offers over the years from friends who wanted to give us one since we must be so bored. People find our house to be “peculiar” without the furniture being arranged around the glass eyed idol. Lots of folks ask us where is our TV? They are amazed that anyone in modern America lives without one – by choice.

    I’m always amazed at the level of filth, vulgarity, and evil I glimpse on TV programs when I’m in a restaurant, walking through a department store, electronics store, or in a motel lobby. I can’t believe how putrid the content is that is consuming the minds of Americans, especially children. Is it just me, or have Christians lost their ability to discern good and evil?

    It’s been 32 wonderful years without a boob tube in our lives. Never been bored a single second. Every day is a new adventure! Those who live without TV for even a few months become very objective at the amazing value of family time undisturbed by the world’s loud voice. Life without TV is a life well lived, abundant, and free.

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