One Wednesday afternoon in mid-November my 3-year-old daughter was watching a DVD and I was working on dinner. She told me that the TV was broken, and I assumed the DVD was acting up. Wrong. The TV was toast. As in, it wouldn't turn on anymore. As in, it was suddenly nothing but an impractically large paper weight taking up a whole corner of the living room.
Our TV has long had a quirk of occasionally turning itself off. If we let it cool off for a minute or two, though, it always came right back on. Some research indicated that this was a weakness with our particular model. It can't really be fixed, and eventually they fail completely. We decided to just wait until that time came, since TVs are only getting cheaper.
Of course, we didn't anticipate exactly when the TV would breathe its last breath. And we certainly didn't consider the possibility that it would occur when we have a busy preschooler and a new baby dividing our attention. Or during November when it's rainy and dark and entertainment is at a premium. Really, it couldn't have come at a worse time. So, did we rush off to the nearest electronics store, credit card in hand?
Instead we decided to take some time and see what it's like to be a TV free family. While it can be a useful tool when you want to entertain your kid, it's not without its problems. Our daughter frequently melts down when her show ends. Some of the messages that come from TV are questionable at best. And all of us plug in to the TV instead of interacting with each other or being active.
It's been more than 2 1/2 months since the TV turned itself off. How has it gone so far? Actually, better than I expected. No TV means no TV battles. This alone is worth it. Our daughter has been finding other activities for herself. We've been listening to music more, and I am getting back into my knitting. And we're also saving money, since we're not paying for cable or Tivo service. There's a lot that's positive about this TV-free state that was foisted upon us.
On the other hand, there have been some rough days. Our area has had an unusually snowy winter. We were more or less snowed in for two weeks, with a baby and a preschooler and no TV for respite. I don't have the option of getting 30 minutes to myself whenever I need it, courtesy of the Tivo. And my husband really misses his sports, which are not always available over the internet. It hasn't been all sweetness and light.
There's another interesting twist to this story. We may have no TV, but we are far from TV-less. Thanks to the wonder of the internet, I am up-to-date on pretty much all of my favorite shows. I watched the season premiere of Lost last week, and I get my weekly dose of life on Wisteria Lane. The computer has replaced the TV in a very big way. So far my daughter isn't aware that this an option, but I doubt we can keep her in the dark indefinitely.
I don't think that we'll remain without a TV forever. But for now we're enjoying the experiment. My honest hope is that if and when we do buy another TV, we will be able to forge a new relationship with it. We will devote less of our time to sitting mindlessly in front of it. I might be delusional, but a girl can dream, right?
Catch up on all of my TV-free adventures on my blog at Strocel.com.
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