This past week, my wife finished the school year with our children. As we thought about the freedom it created to no longer have the requirement to teach each day, One of the unspoken questions we had was how we were going to occupy the children when they normally would have been occupied with school lessons, books, and worksheets. In our living room, where my wife often read schoolbooks to the children sat our television. As we talked about our summer plans I saw the TV and was somewhat thankful to know that we had Netflix and the fallback for entertaining the kids with age appropriate shows. It just so happened that this is the same week that Jen is reading a book about parenting. That evening as we were driving somewhere, she shared an exert from the last chapter of the book. It consisted of a compelling story about letting a ‘friend’ that was not the best influence for our children stay at our house. The description in the story got me to a point where I would have asked this friend to move out. The twist in the story was this ‘friend’ is the TV. The book recommended limiting the amount of exposure children have to the television. It even recommended a fast from television. As we talked, we decided that trying a fast from the TV may be the right idea for us.
No More TV?
The next morning I took out a sheet and covered the TV. There was a little bit of confusion from the kids but they soon forgot it as the played throughout the morning. Then came snack time, the time of the day where they are allowed to watch a show. As I got the snack ready, they ran to sit on the couch asking what they would be allowed to watch today. I reminded them that we were not watching anything and they responded with a little angst but decided to pick out some books to read instead. Now, a week later, instead of running to sit in front of the TV for snacks, they run to the book shelf and each grab a book to look at. Ultimately, they do not miss the TV as much as they thought. In addition, they seem to be more sociable after snack time rather than whining about the end of their show. As for us, we had a habit of enjoying a show each evening before going to bed. Now, in place of watching TV, we are pursuing some creative hobbies that we previously thought we did not have time for, we find a board or card game to play and spend the evening talking, and we are getting better at going to sleep on time. We no longer feel rushed to get everything done in time to sit down and watch a show, we spend more time focused on each other, and we are better rested; leading us to decide to extend our trial for another week. I am sure this is an experiment that will end and we will watch shows again, but I have seen the benefits of putting a limit on how much time we spend in front of the TV.
What metaphorical ‘friend’ is eating up your time that you need to take a break from this week?