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I'm addicted to TV and my kids are too!

932 Views 26 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  Trinitty
I admit it. I LOVE watching TV. I am a forensic junkie: Law & Order, Discovery Channel, A&E, etc. I did pretty good when DS was born on cutting out how much TV we watched...

However, in a misguided attempt to "cope" with the challenges of having two kids and a mountain of housework ~ I have used TV to keep my kids out of my hair. I told myself only certain types of "educational" or "enriching" TV ~ like PBS or videos with no commercials. However, I find that there are several times a week
: where the TV is on all day long. Now, granted, my kids dont' actually watch it the whole time ~ they play, goof off, read stories, etc. But when I turn it off ~ DS whines and cries.

I know, I know, I am the adult ~ I just don't know how to do this... Should I just throw the thing in the trash? Is it possible to just have a "little" bit of TV daily? Timers?

Unfortunately, DH is not very supportive. I have tried more than once to just completely disconnect the thing and he says he "can't take it".

Anyone else BHDT? Anyone have NO TV in their house? How do you do that???
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How about strictly limiting it. You can pick a few shows that you can't live without (Mine are CSI and HUFF! and the 6:00 news). Then just watch those. Or pick some times that you watch. We limit our TV time from 7-8am and 7-9pm (but I get to watch the 6:00 news when I have time!).

If we didnt' do this, the TV would be on all the time. We wouldn't be watching it all the time, but it would be on and we wouldn't be totally connected or focused on whatever else we're doing.

Best of luck! It's hard to change something that is so convenient.
We are kinda going thru the same thing here. It seems like it always "has" to be on,even if no one is actually watching it.
My dh will not go completely TV free. I think I could do it if I had his support on it,but he won't do it.
So we are moving the television into the master bedroom,in an armoire. And drastically reducing our viewing time. I know it doesn't sound like much,and I know some people are adamantly against a TV in the bedroom,but for us,it will mean watching ALOT less.
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I've lived with no TV before! Granted I was single at the time and it was "forced." Basically my roommate moved out and she was the one who had paid for the cable. We were in a tiny town that didn't have any local channels. So I had no TV except that I could rent movies. Let me tell you that was the BEST thing ever! My grades went up (I was in college), my social life picked up, my general attitude about life improved. It was awesome! Ever since then I have been careful about too much TV. I do not allow Jake to watch any (he's 2) except for 15 mins/day while I shower. I'd much rather he be outside.

Yes you CAN live without TV! I think my life greatly improved without it. But if you're seriously addicted you probably just need to get rid of it completely. Kind of like pouring the alcohol down the seat, kwim?

edited to say: down the SINK not seat
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I grew up without TV and sort of OD'd on TV in college. Our current TV habit is to use the VCR (tivo would work too if you have it) to tape the shows we really enjoy. Then we watch the shows from the tape.

That way we can fast forward through the ads, and we aren't tempted to leave the TV on for hours at a time (Law and Order is the worst, isn't it?
They start the new episode before the credits have even run and next thing you know you've watched 5 hours of L&O!).

We've thought about going TV free, but the truth is as a kid I totally craved TV because we didn't have it. My siblings and I would go crazy trying to watch it at malls, restaurants, friend's homes, etc. So I want my own kids to be used to TV so it isn't a big deal to watch it. A few hours a week, at least for me, is fine. It's when I notice we're approaching an few hours a day that I start being more careful about turning the TV off when the tape is done!

Good luck!
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I have 2 1/2 yo twins and they are TV free since around 16 or 18 months. We were only watching about 2 hours a week of baby einstein videos, but they began to constantly ask to turn on the TV. I consider it to be one of the best parenting decisions I have made (up there with breastfeeding and cosleeping).

One day my dh packed it up and moved it out (to his office, out of our house). Granted, my kids were young, but they only asked about it for a few days and then it was done.

Dh and I still rent netflix to watch occassionally in the evening. (We have an old TV in the basement that isn't in the path of our daytime activities.) We only turn it on after the kids are asleep.

This would be a great time to go TV-free --- it's spring!!! We have literally been outside all day long these past days. If you stay hyper-active with your little ones for a week or so, it would make the transition easier.

Bite the bullet and do it. You will be AMAZED at how fun and relaxed things can be once you get rid of it. And if you need more encouragement, check out some of the books out there on the effect of media on young children (esp. re: commercialism and marketing).
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We're addicted to TV here too. I noticed this a few weeks ago when we were out somewhere. there was a tv inn a waiting room where we were hanging in a corner. And dd kept fussing at it. Then when someone turned it on, she happily went on her way and p layed. She doesn't even watch it m uch of the time, but expects it to be on. I turn it on all day because I like the background noise. I've started turning it off for hour after it's been on an hour. That way it's not totally going cold turkey. We put the music on and I have some background noise. When dd tries to turn on the TV or mentions it, I just mention that it's the TV's rest time. And we'll turn it back on in a little while. I try to time our onn time with quality shows for her to look at. She's really only interested in Barney, Dora, the Wiggles and the DOodlebops. But doesnn't even watch those for more than a few minutes. I'm planning on getting a tension rod (when I get the money) and putting a curtain over the TV when we're not watching. You know, out of sight, out of mind.
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I have never really liked TV because when you have it you just watch it, even when there really isn't anything on, so we used to just not get cabble, and only watch what we could get on antana, but even that you end up watching all the sitcoms at night. Now we don't even do that, we only watch movies, and since I don't like sitting down to watch a movie very long, we don't watch much. It is great. I love not having TV. I feel like I get so much more done, esspecially during the day when it is just ds and I.
We do CSI and Miami Ink. And that's it. Luckily, they are on at 9 and 10 and on different days, so DS is asleep by those times. When it's CSI night, DS plays hard and crashes eary, usually trhere is a bath involved.
Miami Ink is pretty late for DS, so we just do the usual and he goes to sleep at like 9:30 and we enjoy our show.

Originally Posted by wombatclay

We've thought about going TV free, but the truth is as a kid I totally craved TV because we didn't have it. My siblings and I would go crazy trying to watch it at malls, restaurants, friend's homes, etc. So I want my own kids to be used to TV so it isn't a big deal to watch it. A few hours a week, at least for me, is fine. It's when I notice we're approaching an few hours a day that I start being more careful about turning the TV off when the tape is done!

Good luck!
that is exactly why we will not go tv free. I watched tv as a child, and I just learned how to regulate myelf growing up. As an adult I hardly watch tv at all.. *( i have a weird addiction to documentaries) --My DF was limited tv as a child and he is obsessed with watching tv, so I think having a happy medium is always a good thing!!
I am definitely a (recovering) TV addict. It's really best for me not to have a TV in the house, but I wasn't able to convince my husband to throw it out completely, so it has been in a closet for about a year. He also bought a tuner for the computer monitor. This actually helps limit our watching because it's not comfortable to sit and watch for long periods of time.

I basically allow myself one specific show (a soap)
IF my ds is not awake or home, so I only watch it once or twice a week. We also have a NO TV or Computer rule between supper time and (children's) bed time, because this is family time. My husband will often watch some sports (at the uncomfortable computer) after ds has gone to bed.

So, for us, I think no TV would be best, but we've cobbled together this compromise with some pretty rigid rules (we're much less rigid on things like bedtime or mealtime).

DS does watch some TV at friends' or the babysitter's, so he asks to watch at home. I just tell him we don't watch TV at home and leave it at that. I don't want to be a control freak about it when he's away from home, but I figure I don't have to model it as a behavior at home either. If I was in your situation, I'd probably start limiting my kids to one specific show at a specific time and then try to distract them from by going outside or to the library or something as often as possible. Maybe announce that the first day of summer is NO TV Season or something. I dunno, just some ideas...
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Where is your TV physically situated? Does it dominate the living room? I found that putting the TV in the guest room or office worked wonders for limiting TV time. Then you only watch it when you really are interested in seeing a particular show.
We have a TV its in out living room because there is no other place for it (small apartment) though I'd love for it to be someplace else. We like the occasional show but we don't watch much. We spend $20 a month for basic service plus DVR it was soo worth the exta $3 a month for it.
DH ans I sat down once and really talked this out we decided
1) TV wasn't the enemy we enjoy watching but its not healthy for it to controll our lives
2) If we expected out Children to not put TV first we had to do the same
3) What do we really like? We often found out selfs channel surfing just cause thats silly
In the end DD watches between 0-90 mintues of TV a day averaging 30 mintues. 90 is if I let her see a video, we keep busy TV not missed DH and I recoerd the handfull of shows we actually like (CSI Monk Law and order) and we see a show or two after DD in bed we also see the evening news. I sometimes see somethig when DD napping
TV's now a treat an little "me time" a little down time were all better for it.

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I find going cold-turkey for specific seasons helps. Once I spent all of Lent without watching TV and it helped. Now that summer is coming perhaps you could focus on more outdoor things. And aren't shows reruns in the summer anyway? We don't watch it at all on vacation and I try not to put it on ever before dark. But once I start, it really is hard to stop.

Originally Posted by thedevinemissm
Anyone have NO TV in their house? How do you do that???
Here is a thread all about living without a television:

I'm afraid I don't have any specific "weaning" advice. I was raised mostly (except for a few months in my pre-teen years) without a television and haven't lived often in a space with one. I don't own one now, either. However, there are people on that thread above who did make the change.
We limit the amount of TV but I do enjoy it, and so does DS. With me on my seventh week of bedrest, it has been easy to use the TV as a distraction at times. One of the things that works well for us is to only watch one show at a time. If DS wants to watch Barney, then that's it for the morning. Sometimes I will let him watch a second (again, only 30 min) show in the afternoon. The minute the credits roll, the TV is off.

I do the same for me - there are certain shows I love (Cash Cab is a current fav!), so I watch them and then when they are over, the TV is off. I used to have classical or jazz on for background music, but now I find we like the peace of the house so much better! Instead of watching the tube, I knit, read the paper, do puzzles, work on my computer, play with DS sometimes, do things around the house, etc.

Another thing that has worked for us is to get rid of all but basic cable (we are currently staying at my dad's house while we renovate - he has expanded cable). So that means when we are home, we get the networks, PBS, and that's it. It makes it really easy not to watch TV!

My brother has gone one step further - he got rid of cable. The kids can watch videos, and he has his MIL tape shows for them, and they rent or buy movies too. But it reduces the temptation. And I haven't noticed that his kids go particularly nuts about TV when they visit - probably b/c they watch videos so it's not entirely verbotten.

The best thing to do is radically change your routine. Breakfast dishes are done? Go outside and let the kids play while you read the paper in the beautiful sunshine. Then go for a walk, play ball, whatever - but try to stay outside until lunchtime. After lunch, if you don't do naptime, break out a game or do crafts at the kitchen table. Then take a break and turn on a show for a bit, turn it off when you are done. You get the general idea

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Very timely thread. I'm not opposes to tv at all. I love it! I think there is a lot of junk on TV though. We moved almost 5 months ago to a foreign country where I dont speak the language well enough to watch a lot of it and there really isn't much to watch anyway. My husband is Germany, he watches sometimes but also agrees there is nothing good on. We were going to get rid of it in the States but we agree we both like to have CNN and news available. (I was also a Food TV junkie) I don't miss TV too much and honestly, the stuff DS watches is much more entertaining!

Well, we use video's and dvd's for ds as well as age appropriate shows on German TV. The whole thing is just on my last nerve lately. I'm trying to engage ds elsewhere and it's a lot of work! He's not quite at the "please help me with this stage" He's just starting to do some imitations but not enough that I can keep his interest in what I'm actually doing except for playing with the controls on the vaccum cleaning which probably isn't the best idea. He doesn't quite have the doll house concept down yet enough to really engage in that kind of imaginary play. I'm trying to make sure every time he wakes up from a nap or get's up in the morning there is something there for him to play with set up and ready to go. This afternoon he really wanted to watch Baby VanGogh and it was great because we acted a lot of it out learning colors and he is old enough to look at my VanGogh books and has his Baby Einstein art books that he LOVES too. (I'm so glad I put them aside till it was time)

I've found the right music can keep DS occupied as he plays better while listening to it. I put on Garth Brooks the other day and it worked really well just by accident. I used to play music for kids but found that if he listened to Sesame Street CD's he wanted to watch Sesame Street. I've learned to skip over certain songs and it works out well though. I can't play the baby einstein cd's because he will want the video but if I play actual Beetoven, Mozart or Bach it works.

I agree that cold turkey is proabably the best method but it's a huge commitment. I'm not ashamed to admit I am not supermom and some days we use video's more than others to keep sanity intact. I also think that now that spring has sprung we do spend much more time out of the house so it does even itself out unlike the endless month of cold rain we had in February.
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In our house, we have a rule of one hour of tv per day per person. It works as it makes everyone really selective about what they watch.
Our TV is in the living room, which I sort of wish it weren't, but we don't watch it that often. Things that have helped: We have no cable service, only antennae. That means we get like 4 channels sort of staticky... we get PBS but DS isn't even interested in it. The only TV I watch is about 30 minutes of the Today show in the morning while waking up -- sometimes news at night.

We mostly use our TV to watch movies. We have Netflix and love it. DS sees a little bit of a movie a day -- maybe 20 minutes. We alternate between finding nemo and some baby einsteins. He loses interest after about 15 minutes generally... and if I can tell he's not interested I just turn it off.

I know the feeling of wanting the TV on for some sort of background noise, espeically if I'm home alone with DS for a long time or it's really nasty outside. Whenever I get tempted to do that I turn on music or NPR.

I could easily be TV free but not movie free!
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My 5 yr old sometimes gets into a rut where he just wants to watch TV and gets upset when I turn it off. I've found it's partly because it's the only quiet activity he can mange alone (hasn't been able to nap since he was 2.5, so we started quiet movie time in it's place) and partly because he does not like transitioning from one thing to another, even when the new thing is better
. Our playroom is in the (detached) garage so I just turn off the TV, and bring the toddler outside to the playroom and the older one follows (and has a grand time playing
) If I'm trying to do housework or computer work, I have to set him up a the dining room table with an activity (usually legos) to keep him occupied and his mind off the TV.
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