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Fed up with the television

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Turning it off Really off

I've had it with the television. Just had it. Lately it seems like every time we walk in the house, the kids rush to the television and I have to stop them. Every time I ask the kids to help around the house, they ask, "Then can I watch TV?" Almost always the answer is no, but they keep trying.

Turning it off Really off
We go through phases with the television at our house. There are always boundaries and guidelines and all that, but sometimes it seems like there is nothing else in their world but the stupid television - even when (or maybe because?) we limit access. Now is one of those times - and I'm ready to put the darn thing on the curb.

Everything in moderation

Now, there are shows that I like to watch - keep me from "Project Runway" at your own peril! - but for the most part, I only turn it on when everything else is done. I admit that there are some educational shows I don't mind the kids watching and I would be fun to watch the baseball playoffs as a family, but there's far more mindless stuff on the television, and the ads are making me crazy. Sunshine has recently noticed ads for the first time and now wants everything she sees; and the boys have questions about products I'd really rather they not know about.

If the kids were able to use the television in moderation - really able to turn it off of their own accord - it might be different. For whatever reason they can't right now. It might be party the change of seasons: they are not outside as much with the weather turning chilly and we need to readjust to other seasonal indoor activities. But whatever the reason, the issue was there.

Increasing boundaries to decrease desire

Long ago we established the 30 minute rule at our house. The boys were allowed 30 minutes a day during the week provided their school work was kept up. Even with this rule, they seemed to only want the television and push the rule, constantly. Yes, I grant Sunshine a little more leeway because she's younger and home more, but still.

Finally last week, we decided enough: no television during the school week. Period. And very limited television on the weekend. The kids are shocked and upset, but we need to break that television habit. When it's not even and option and they break the habit - and it isn't their first thought anymore - maybe we can be a little more flexible.

It's so nice to have the television off. So nice. We turn on music instead and the boys are less resistant to their household chores. Even if they do break the "I want TV" habit and seem able to use it in moderation, this could be a lovely permanent thing.

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