So I was sitting at the library yesterday in a Play 'n Learn group waiting for the festivities to begin and I started telling other moms about my NOTV2011 experiences. At first they thought I was plum crazy. I am sure of it, but then I could see they started to warm up to the idea. Then the questions started. What do you do? How do you do it? What about Quiet time? Really no TV or movies? etc.
This post is dedicated to all you moms out there who think the idea of NO TV is about as pleasing as a root canal, or an epesiotomy, and likewise about as scary as running blindfolded through the 131 S-Curve... completely naked. First of all, I was scared too before I started the challenge and even now occasionally when I run out of ideas or am really tired (like yesterday after my documentary induced sprint workout). By the way I survived that moment of exhaustion by putting the youngest to bed and enticing the two eldest kids to lay with me on the couch while I read them stories. After about 15 books, we all ended up napping together on our couch. It was a wonderful thing. But the point is, don't let the fear stop you from turning the TV off, if even for just a day. I promise you that you will notice things that you never did before.
Before you take the plunge, one thing I would highly recommend from my experience is to make a list of all the things around your house that you have been wanting/needing to do. Not just the cruddy jobs either (like cleaning the toilet and the bathroom ceiling), but the fun stuff too (like scrapbooking, reading, exercising whatever floats your boat) Use these lists as ways to fill your time, especially in the evenings once the kids are in bed. During the day, you will find that you become an entertainment specialist by default and you spend a TON of time playing with and otherwise entertaining your kids. If you think you read to your kids a lot now, you will find that it at least doubles once the TV is turned off (and no I am not kidding) so get your reading glasses ready to go!
You will need to get goofy (and possibly dirty) so this type of change may not be for the sqeemish or faint-hearted. Let me explain. I am not naturally goofy. Crazy yes. We established that in some prior posts, but goofy no, at least not naturally. One thing I have had to work on a lot is to act and behave in a very goofy manner (a glass or two of wine may help the first time you attempt this). You have to look at every interaction with your kids as an opportunity to get goofy and be willing to try new things to see what works best with your kids. Faked self-inflicted injuries are golden with my crew, as are spur-of-the-moment singing performances of any Taylor Swift song, belted out at the top of my lungs with over emphasized dance moves to accompany the music. Once you have mastered the goofy behavior, you will discover that you naturally entertain your children. It is a beautiful thing. Halfway through the second week of this challenge, I feel that I am just starting to get a handle on this. Those who have performed in theatre have a huge advantage in this arena. All those hours in rehearsal are about to pay off--Big Time! Practice does make perfect, so I am going to keep working on it which I am sure my kids will appreciate.
The next thing I recommend is to schedule events. Some things outside the home (library story times, trips to the mall play area or to the McDonald's playland are a few suggestions that come to mind quickly and that are FREE) so you don't go completely stir crazy shacked up in your house without TV. Then comes the hard part and yes your husband will think you've lost your mind, but stick with it. You need to plan some events inside your home that will again require you to tap into you goofy and creative side again.
We now have Wacky Wild Workout Wednesday! It debuted last night in our living room and was a HUGE success! Even Jeff was working out and dancing with us! It really was, in a word, AWESOME. This Friday I am taking another big risk with another new event. At our house, there will be "Fun Friday Fart (and burp) Fest". I have not worked out all the details yet. That is what I am doing this afternoon, but it will include balloons, a wooopie cushions, pop (which in our house is only allowed about once a month so it is a big deal in and of itself) and an awards ceremony. I will let you know how it goes.
We also went icicle picking the other day. This won't work for those of you who have well insulated homes that lack icicles, but for the rest of us it works great. At our house, there is an abundantly populated garden of glorious icicles just waiting to be plucked so we took advantage and bundled up. We spent about forty minutes looking at all the icicles and then each kid got to select one to pick and suck on (I know it may not be the most sanitary practice, but I figure it can't be much worse than what they have eaten in the past) It was so much fun. The icicle reminants are now resting safely in our freezer since none of the kids could finish them, nor bear the thought of throwing them away. They serve as a reminder of the fun that we had.
The other thing I will add to this post is that my kids are sleeping better than ever before and I am convinced that it is related to the lack of the TV noise in the evenings (during their first few hours of sleep) and to the increased quality time that we spend together now. Moms who may be struggling to get their kids to sleep well, turning the TV off is worth a shot because I have noticed that my kids sleep all night long a lot better since our TV was silenced. It could just be coincidental as I have no scientific evidence to support my theory, but again it is definitely worth a shot if you have not tried it yet.
Oh and the house is still a lot cleaner. The van and dog are cleaner as well. And our TV is, of course, still off!