I'm subbing... I have tried to do limited tv in the past (putting the tv in a closet unless there's something we really want to watch, for instance), and we always ended up, sooner or later, watching too much. I'm thinking now that I can't manage to keep it balanced. I am one of those who gets hypnotized by the tube -- if it is on, it draws my attention. I'm an information junkie, and if a show is on -- even if is is a silly 80s sitcom rerun -- I feel like I HAVE to know how it turns out, and so keep it on even if there are other things I would rather be doing. My oldest kid -- now six -- seems to be very much like me in this respect. He would watch tv all day if I let him. He would take breaks for other things eventually, but if he could choose, the majority of his time would be spent with the tv. When I had a newborn and we were stuck in a cluttered basement during renovations, that's exactly what he did.
So, I think I'm coming to a point where I realize that our family just can't strike an acceptable balance, and we'll just have to get rid of the tv. I feel badly for my dh -- he's an info junky as well, and doesn't enjoy reading as much as I do. When he watches tv, he doesn't watch sitcoms unless it's something he really likes. He watches mostly history documentaries, science shows, etc. We will be moving shortly and won't be bringing our (old, clunky, not working very well anyway) tv with us. I have unhooked it from the vcr and dvd and will be packing them up shortly; we can't watch any channels without them acting as the antenna.
I was worried that it would be a rough transition. For a few years now, we've had the tv in our basement. The kids have a few toys down there -- a car track that is too big and loud to have upstairs, a trampoline, a rope ladder, and a swing. If they wanted to watch tv, they had to go down for that express purpose, and would often end up jumping and climbing as they watched. Now that it's all unplugged, they sometimes ask to go down, but I just tell them it isn't working right now and suggest something else for them to do. It seems that the out of sight, out of mind thing is working for us here.
I think it has also helped that a couple of days after unhooking the tv, I pulled out a play pen someone gave us. We have an 1.5 year old, and she has started getting into everything the older kids play with, and becoming bored with the parts of the house she has explored over and over again. The kids are all having fun playing with the play pen -- I am decluttering our "schoolish" toy closet and right now, they are pretending that the play pen is a store and making up a monetary system using legos and big wooden beads.
They have been playing very well together. There used to be a lot of fighting over what they watched (with our antenna, we pull in CBC and TVO, and both have commercial-free "educational"
kids' programming), how loud it was, how loud the other person was playing in the basement so the one watching tv couldn't hear it, whether or not the person who stayed downstairs during a movie while the other person went to the bathroom paused the movie and kept it paused, yada yada yada. They have been playing so well together, now that they're actually *playing*. Imagine that!
I thought the mornings would be particularly rough -- I have been staying up late at night to declutter and clean for the move, and I sometimes sleep in and then have to get done the work I usually do in the am before the kids wake up. Normally, I would let them watch some tv. This morning, I looked in the livingroom partway through my work -- my two older kids (6 and 4) were sitting on the couch together, each reading (or in my 4 yo's case, looking at the pics in) books they were given for Christmas. I have occasionally used stories on tape (or on cd or online) when we want some effortless entertainment. I can only do so much reading in a day
I a week or two, the kids and I will head off to stay with my parents for a while, so dh can work on getting the house ready to sell. It will be tough being without tv there -- their house (and my ILs, they live near my parents and we will be visiting them as well) isn't particularly kid-friendly, and I have no help when I'm there, as my parents both work and have a long commute. I usually try to pack light, but this time we'll bring lots of fun toys. Bringing the play pen should help. My parents usually have the tv on for most of the evening, and my dad obliviously watches shows that I don't consider appropriate for my kids -- but they want to be with grandpa. (He's really a great grandpa, but he has a very physically exhausting job and needs to relax and unwind at the end of the day, and as much as he loves reading, his eyes have problems that can't be corrected with glasses, so he can't really do that for any length of time.) So, I'll likely spend some of my "free time" there reading this thread for encouragement.