“My TV ate my life! So I turned it off.”

Sounds too good to be true, but I’m trying it anyway. Today is the start of TV turnoff week. We found out when we went to Little Man’s doctor appointment today for his second ear infection since he got tubes in less than a month ago. As an aside, the doctors have no idea why he’s still getting frequent ear infections after having tubes placed. Isn’t that what we always want to hear from a doctor? “Gee, ma’am, I really don’t know. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

But I digress. So, it’s TV turnoff week. We just got back from the doctor about an hour ago, and I haven’t been very good about turning off the TV. I like the idea. Really, I do. I’ve noticed that Bean is a much happier child when she doesn’t sit in front of the babysitter TV. So I’ve been looking for strategies (and motivation) to bite the bullet, deal with the whining, and limit the kids’ TV watching a bit more. In fact, just last week after Bean asked me for the 40th time in 2 minutes if she could watch Curious George (and was told “no” 39 times), I replied with the rather harsh answer of “if. you. ask. me. one more time! I. will. throw the TV. in. the. trash. And you’ll never watch TV again!” That was followed by Bean’s incredulous and somewhat confused, “what?” with her head cocked to the side. She was convinced mama had lost it.

So, the TV-Turnoff Network has a little website with tips for parents (and teachers) to help us find alternative activities to being in front of a screen – the TV specifically, but they suggest also limiting computer time (ouch!). There are some surprising statistics, such as each hour a day your child spends in front of the TV increases the chances that they’ll be a bully by 9%. It also says that most American kids spend 5 hours a day watching TV. That means those kids’ risk of bullying is up 45% compared to children who don’t watch TV (are there any of those out there?). There is a little voice inside me that says Bean is a little too passive and maybe she can pick up some of those more ‘assertive’ tendencies that other kids are getting if I just plop her in front of the TV a bit more… But that’s probably not the idea behind this.

We usually do pretty well with limiting TV viewing. The problem starts when one child is sick and wants to veg on the couch, be around people, but do nothing. So we let them sit in front of the TV. For more hours than I care to admit. And when they’re healthy again, they’ve discovered new shows, gotten used to having the TV on all the time, and seem to have a rather important ‘relationship’ with certain shows. It seems like they miss them, just as much as they miss Grama and Papa. Breaking free of that is hard.

Anyhow, I’m going to give it a shot. I let the kids watch TV in the car (I love my car DVD player) on the way home from the doctor – just minutes after being told about the TV turnoff initiative. What does that tell you? But I’m going to try harder. No TV for a week. For the kids, right? I can still watch Grey’s Anatomy after they go to bed, right? And Bones. And American Idol and 24. Hmm.. Maybe I should re-think that.

But back to the kids. Here are my ideas for creative activities this week:

  • Today (after naps): Gardening in the back yard – our vegetable seeds have sprouted and are ready to be moved outside.
  • Tuesday: Draw pictures and thank you cards for birthday gifts. Maybe we’ll do hand prints on card stock for the thank you cards.
  • Wednesday: Make a giant fort with sheets and furniture.
  • Thursday: Play ball at the park with playgroup.
  • Friday: Trip to a museum – either the natural history museum or a children’s museum.
  • Saturday: Picnic at the park.
  • Sunday: Scavenger hunt in the yard.

Well, those activities might not keep the kids busy all day long, but it’s a start. And my sincere hope is that once we’ve broken free pf the TV monster, Bean won’t be so insistent on watching it after this week. We’ll see about that.

How about you? Wanna participate in TV Turnoff week? Leave me a comment. And whether you’re participating this week or not, let me know how you limit TV.

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