Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Going Screen Free (Uh, Screen Minimal?)

I was tired of waiting for spring. It was ALWAYS raining. No longer could I handle the idea of "Rainy Day=Movie Day!" with the same relish I had always had when I was woken up by shrieks for the same freakin' movie every.damn.morning. And the tantrums if I suggested something different. Then, they started refusing to go anywhere: they wanted a movie.

Here's where I clarify: We don't have cable (actually, hubby and I have been living together for almost 9 years and have only had cable for about 4 months of that.) Just recently have I turned on PBS for a change of pace with the frequent movies. We LOVE movies. I relish reading books and watching what the movie makes it to be. We have always enjoyed movies together, rarely as a babysitter. And don't get me wrong, we love being out and about. But at home time was movie time.

So, last Sunday, with rainy skies and runny noses, I kept the TV off. 

There was crying. There was screaming. It lasted an hour. Then it was over. We read books, played with playdough, cut, glued, sticker-ed, painted, colored, cooked with play food, cooked with real food, played ball, jumped on the furniture, and dressed up bears. It took 1 hour. I thought I might just die. 2 hours down, now what?
Ok, so these pictures aren't all from the same hour. But, you get the idea.

Well, fine then, I said. And I picked up my own book. I read. I drank coffee. (Did I mention I did NOT get on the computer? That hardly seemed fair, for me to have a screen and not them. I kept up with that too, waiting until night, and usually less time online at that!) My boys were bored. Good. Find something to do. They say boredom is good for kids. Want to guess what a 20mo thinks is a good activity when bored? Breastfeeding. All the time. But that is a different story.

We survived though. 9 days of no screen time during the day, and evenings only for a family movie night.

So, what have we done to fill our time?

We have a GREAT library system. So many books, and so much more. We checked out three times our normal amount of children's books. I checked out books for myself. Audio Books, music cds, and these great "Learning Kits." We have already had wooden blocks and rhythm instruments. We are waiting on the parachute, dinosaurs, and more. Really get to know what your library has to offer. They have events too, but so far they haven't been right for us.

Coffee filters are our friends. During the winter we used them to create great looking snowflakes. We expanded on the idea. We cut the filters to flower and butterfly shapes, colored them with markers, and sprayed them with water. Amazingly beautiful, added some pipe cleaners, strung them on some thread, and we have a spring garden above our heads.

Seriously, did you know kids LIKE to do laundry? At least little kids. They also like to sweep, scrub, and toss things in a bucket. Sure, it takes twice as long, but really, what else do you have to do? Wouldn't it be better to let them do it now when they like it, and not continue seeing you begrudgingly doing each action as a chore? I usually avoid doing them, now I can do them with help! We really spent about an hour scrubbing every inch of their little table (yeah, it needed it) with all 3 of us with rags and a spray bottle of vinegar.

Change the Scenery
We played on the porch. We played at Grandma's house. We took baths in the middle of the day. We rode the bus all the way to Seattle for free ice cream (and were lucky it stayed nice outside!)

His first ice cream cone! Though, I had to take it away before he ate the cone.

Go Outside
Sure, it was cloudy and icky. But, we live in Washington. When the rain stops, run outside!

So, the tantrums have dissolved to infrequent requests. It almost always works to suggest we read instead, and they have been requesting books more frequently than ever.  I have a few more crafts up my sleeves, some sticker books, visits with friends, and we are starting to meet with our TJEd learning group. The weather seems to be FINALLY deciding winter is coming to a close (yes, I know spring is here on the calendar, but there was SNOW last week.) and we are so excited to start getting outside more!

How often does your family watch TV? How do you fill your days in "meaningful" ways? How do you survive winter, sickness, and boredom?


  1. I love this. I have been contemplating doing the same. I think it will haunt me more than her :) I NEEEED my computer. But it sure robs us of valuable connection, creative and play time. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. We still watch TV after bedtime, and I am on the computer then. But, it has been much less. I also have internet on my phone for those really crazy times I needed to connect to someone who wasn't blowing raspberries at me. But, I mostly try to keep away during daylight hours.

  3. I love this post. In the beginning of March when we started screen-free, I wondered how long it would be before the tantrums and whining for TV stopped. One day. One day. And it wasn't that bad. NOW what R does is reminisce. "Enebber when I watched Blue's Clues?" "Enebber when I watched Belle at Gram and Gramps and was scared of the big, nice guy?" And she acts out scenes from shows. I gently try to get her to use her imagination and pretend more stuff happens, but right now she's stuck on the script. Fine by me. Yeah. That hour of activities that *should* have lasted two or three is temporarily discouraging... it's been great, though, and I'm glad it's been great for your family, too. :)