This week Piper’s school is observing Turn Off the TV week. She is not freaking out about it because we already have this rule in our house during the week. Piper is only allowed to watch TV on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This was because we went through a period of EXTREMELY horrible behavior with her during the winter. In most cases if given a choice she would choose TV over spending time with us. I won’t bore you with the details of the incident that totally pushed me over the edge made us pull the plug, but I’ll tell you that it did include lots of yelling, hitting, screaming, crying and stomping all in a hospital room! Those were some good times. She still freaks out on a regular basis but all in all things are much better now. I freely admit to letting her lose herself into the TV so I could get stuff done around here. I feel sad when I think how long I let that go on for. It’s convenient for me and somewhat entertaining for her but the trade off is turning my sparkling child into a zombie and she doesn’t deserve that. She’s gotten so much better at playing by herself now. She has all these great toys and now she actually plays with some of them! I feel like she and I have gotten closer since starting the No TV on a School Night program. We do let her play on the computer during the week and we’ve found it is something that we need to be very strict with as well. She just gets so sucked into any kind of media so quickly! We are observing No Screens week so we can include computer and Wii too. She has gleefully informed us that this ban also extends to the parents and that is why I am typing this with my eyes closed. No really, I didn’t open the laptop while she was downstairs yesterday but as soon as she went to bed I got it out. I thought about abstaining from the TV watching as well but then RuPaul’s Drag Race was on and then somehow found myself watching the second half of a DVR’d episode of Sunday’s Celebrity Apprentice. My husband would definitely tell you that I have a problem with my TV habit and I would agree with that to some extent. I’m not ashamed to say that I love watching it and I do like a lot of worthwhile programs (Madmen, Damages, Rescue Me, etc.) but a lot of times it means I’m watching a lot of trashy stupid stuff . . . and loving it.
When I was growing up the little black and white TV in my room was always on and was a constant companion. My family dynamic was poor to say the least and I would regularly eat dinner alone in my room in front of my TV. I feel that considering what I came from I’m doing well in my personal recovery from my TV addiction. I strive to make a different home life for my child and I think that we have succeeded in a lot of ways. She never watched TV when she was a baby and we didn’t watch TV in front of her at all. As she got older she didn’t start watching anything on a regular basis until she was 2 years old. The time had increased over the following years but recently we slipped way way too far down that slippery slope. She went from 1 or two shows (30 to 60minutes) per day to over 4 to 6 shows per day (you do the math). We DVR all her programs but were never able to get her to fast forward through all the endless commercials promotional programming on Disney Channel. It’s like you’ve got to count all the time watching that stuff in dog years it has such a powerful effect on her. I do notice that now that she has less time to watch TV she tends to make better choices when she finally does get to watch it. She’ll choose Martha Speaks over watching the same Suite Life/iCarly/Wizards of Waverly Place episode over and over again. Don’t get me wrong I like adorable mop top twins/parentless siblings/rebellious teen wizards as much as the next person but I’d rather she watch a PBS show any day. I never thought that we’d be able to limit her TV watching this much but I’m so glad that we made this move. My husband likes to complain about the high cost of cable and threatens that he wants to get rid of the whole thing. I just flat out told him that I do not wish to be a family without a TV. You cannot even get the local news without a cable box nowadays. I know that a lot of people do it and live totally fulfilling and happy lives without it but I don’t think I have the mental energy to be one of those people. I might be soon but not right now.