Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Life Without Television (a 2 week update)

We took TV out of our daily life a little over two weeks ago. Changes in habit are always difficult, particularly when the impetus for change is idealistic preference and not mandated by law. We didn't HAVE to stop watching television, we chose to because we felt it was best for our family.

Bunny ears. Sunglasses. So what?
Things are messier. The house is often a disaster at the end of the day because we still have a two year old and a four year old who move from thing to thing with the speed of a grad student after three espressos. I underestimate the number of markers and stickers and legos and dominos it takes to occupy their brains in the four minutes it takes me to chop an onion and sauté some green beans. A Curious George episode is 23 minutes and I can make an entire dinner in 23 minutes- plus shake a cocktail and take a look at myself in the mirror before Grant walks in the door.

Not that I always did those things when Knox and Pursy were in the habit of watching a show in the witching hour before dinner...the 5-6p hour has always been chaotic for us. But an episode of Clifford or Curious George was a place I could "send" them while I attempted to make the house look like we didn't just sit around and throw stuff all day. And without that extra distraction, I am more acutely aware of the scope of the mess my two sweet faced carnies create.

We found a flannel board at a thrift store. If I remember correctly, there is a panda flying over the sun in Pursy's storyboard and a chemo patient on her honeymoon in Grants. Fostering creativity.

We have found other things to occupy our time. I have become more crafty (meaning I have found more things to glue onto construction paper), we have scoured garage sales and consignment shops for dress up clothes and outside toys, and Grant invested in a baseball bat, ball and tee for Knox to have something to hit without getting a time out. I have started going to the gym at 6a and getting showered and dressed before babes wake up so I don't have to choose between putting deodorant on clean armpits or dirty ones that means that they woke up before I did and there is no time for shower and getting dressed because breakfast is needed and diapers are dirty. After being a parent for over four years, I am just beginning to learn that trying to do something for myself while a child wants my attention only makes me frustrated at their need for attention. In other words, in our TV free hours, we are trying to be more involved with our children rather then less.

 I don't think our decision about television was that pure and selfless, but it felt good to write it.

Pursy "reading" the Pigeon book to Knox
But I still needed to fill the void left by television. So I came up with brilliant idea of Reading Hour. Every day after breakfast, I send them to the living room to make a stack of books on separate couches. I made a promise to take them to the library twice a week to find new books, and with my coffee mug in hand, the three of us sit down and read for one hour. Once they have looked through all of their books and I have been able to read at least a page or two of my book, we snuggle up and I read their books to them.

Do you hear the birds chirping, the rainbows shining and the deer gliding through the sun dappled forest?

More like two minutes of reading and then Knox rips a page out of his library book, causing Pursy to scream in horror and requiring me to put down my coffee and begin a speech about taking care of our things and ending with a threat to never borrow library books again until he goes to high school. We settle back on the couch and after 5 minutes, Pursy swipes a book from Knox's pile causing Knox to scratch her arm in violent protest. I put my coffee down again and console my daughter while also dealing with her swiping offence and Knox's reaction. This ends with an emotional sweeping screed on how they are the only siblings each other will ever have, which neither of them are paying much attention to and would rather try reading again then listen to me talk any more. We settle back in. At this point, my coffee is tepid, I have no idea what I just read, and Knox's diaper needs changed.

It has been getting progressively better, our daily routine without television. They have stopped asking for shows and are running faster to make their book stacks and settle in. I am less frantic about the messy state of the house and feel overall that we are making more interesting choices with our time. Yesterday Grant developed a wicked migraine and was very grateful for the television to occupy the babes in the hours I was at work. Pursy and Knox were riveted on the movie they got to watch, because the television has gone from just a thing to a novelty.

Onward we go.

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