I have walked in to very few homes that do not have cable television. And, more times than not, that television is usually on with one or more members of the household watching television.
And such was the story of our life. For the last 11 years Joanne and I have justified the expense of our cable package with “but, we don’t pay for any other form of entertainment.” It was true, too. Rarely do we go to movies, we waited to rent them instead. We didn’t go on “date nights,” and we don’t go to clubs, drink, party, etc. Our entertainment as a couple, and as parents, was television.
When Zadey joined our family, I wanted her to watch educational programming. That still holds true today. But somehow along the way television consumed our life. Joanne and I stopped communicating as a couple, and turned to television each night to fill our “talk time.” And every night, we went through a never ending list of shows that had been recorded on our DVR. Hours upon hours of television programs that we had recorded to watch later, and commercial free. All shows we watched, from beginning to end. Day after day.
Last year, I had enough. Play time for Zadey had given way to how long she could sit in front of the TV. Joanne and I spent every night of our lives in front of the TV. We had more hours of programming recorded than any one person could actually watch. It was our life.
To add insult, we had every cable channel known to man. Plus, the Internet, and until a couple of years ago, a home phone package, too. Our bill, monthly, was pushing close to $300. Even after killing our home phone with the cable company, we still paid close to $200, monthly. It was outrageous! I hated that bill, every single month, month after month.
Without consulting anyone, Joanne included, I called the cable company and disconnected television, but kept our Internet.
And that, was that!
So, you don’t watch TV?
Actually we do, but I no longer pay for cable. We have Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and Instant Redbox (that we have never used, and I’ll be cancelling next month). And, Joanne and I still have shows that we love to watch, like Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy.
The advantage however, is that we have all found something else to do besides sitting in front of mindless, brain numbing, television.
Zadey plays with the piles of toys she has, she gets time outside in the fresh air, playing. Joanne and I spend more time with the kids, in projects around the house, and we seem to want to take the kids more places.
All in all, we have all become more physically active. We also now eat family meals at the table, instead of in the living room focused on a show!
What Does Zadey Watch?
Zadey is allowed educational programming, and there is a lot to find. She loves Wild Kratts, Word Girl, Word World, and National Geographic programs. She is also allowed only a small amount of TV time per day. And now, when I tell her it’s time to turn off the TV instead of telling me “aww Mom, just one more show!” I hear “thanks for letting me watch a show, Mom.”
Yeah, that’s more like it. Because instead of television being her norm, and her right, she now sees it as a privilege.
I will forever think that there is something awesome, and special about movie night as a family. At this point, with Zadey being the only kid in the house that watches TV, she usually picks our movie. Yes, it’s a child movie. I’ve posted about our Doc McStuffins and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse movie nights. Those shows are not out of the norm. I can’t tell you how many times we have watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Halloween Party, in June.
I really enjoy putting together a special dinner, a few treats, and spending time together watching a movie. Because I see that as the opportunity to have bonding time together, snuggle time with a kid that more and more everyday, doesn’t want to snuggle. I also try to take the time to ask Zadey what she learned while watching the movie. And it really is fascinating to watch her tastes grow. I cannot begin to describe my astonishment when she chose The Nightmare Before Christmas as a movie for us to watch, from Netflix.
The Moral of the Story
In the last year, without cable television I feel like we have really grown as a family. Our time together has been more worth-while, Zadey is more active in play than ever before, and Joanne and talk a lot more.
While we still get to “unwind and watch TV,” it no longer consumes our daily lives. And I think it’s an amazing example to Zadey that there’s life, away from the television!
So, what are your family? Do you have cable? Do you limit what your kids watch, and how much time they spend watching TV? I’d love to hear your thoughts!