Monday, April 19, 2010

international 'tv turn-off week'

The children's park. A timeless blessing too often overlooked.

Today marks the start of 'TV Turn-off Week" (April 19th-25th).
After having read a lot of Waldorf/Steiner inspired literature, and mainly just following my gut instincts, TV has become a thing of the past in our home. North rarely ever watches television programs (I'd say maximum 30 minutes a fortnight). However, my husband and I have not curbed the habit at all- something I look forward to doing this week. I realize the television can often seem like a harmless help when you are frantically fixing dinner, cleaning up around the house or simply want to take a shower, whilst a needy toddler lingers at your feet, but I promise you, after only a few days tv-free you will see such a difference in your child's nature, their ability to play creatively and to entertain themselves for longer periods of time. What you should prepare for is being more creative yourself- what fun activities can you suggest to your children as an alternative to TV?

'Billy' provides hours of entertainment- North feeds him, puts him to bed, takes him on walks in a little pram and reads books to him.

Wooden trainsets are magical and grow with your child.

North happily helps me around the kitchen a couple times a day. By noon today, he had already "helped" whip up a batch of pumpkin oatmeal muffins and had decorated his own mini pizza for lunch. He also has his own broom to help me sweep up the floors. Yes, it does take longer to get things done and cleaned when he's helping, but it gives him a sense of control, independence and purpose, and how else will he learn to be careful pouring the flour or how to sweep up after himself? We also do a lot of drawing with crayons; make our own playdough; paint if the weather's nice outside; go for walks, collect sticks, rocks and nuts; garden together; play catch; have dance parties; read books and many other things. He is only 19-months old and has just begun to use imaginary play (he'll pour pretend tea into teacups and stir pots of rock soup for mama to taste). Encourage older children to get outdoors and explore- climb trees, make tipis and forts. Sit down as a family and write a list of all the fun activities you can do together (and independently) that don't involve watching television or playing computer/video games.

Homemade playdough.

For some more inspiration see the following websites for ideas.

Give it a go this week and see if you notice a difference in your child(ren). What have you got to lose? If you don't think you can last that long, it may be a red flag warning: why might your family be so dependent, dare I say, addicted to television and how might it be affecting you and your children?



Mrs B said...

You'll love it. There are days Little B doesnt even remember tv. He'd rather build lego towers at night with daddy or read books with mummy. He didnt even start seeing any tv until he was 2.

I only watch 3 tv programs a week, and I tape them and watch them whenever. Leaves lots more time for reading, writing, knitting, cooking, listening to music and hanging out with Mr B.

There's a real freedom in not being attached to "the box". And I find our lives are much more peaceful, and fluid not being tied to sitting on our bums all the time. We chose a more tv free lifestyle for the adults about 18 months ago and havent looked back.

Another good book you can borrow from libraries is 50 TV free activities for children. Has some really great things to try.

willywagtail said...

My youngest is 16 and we haven't had TV for more than 3 years. Mind you, she still uses the computer and net and DVDs a lot but at least her viewing, etc is not being chosen by the TV stations. We also didn't have Tv for the first3 or 4 years of my oldest daughter's life and after that it was only allowed in small lots. Everybody wanted to play with her because she came up with the best games. Not having TV means you regulate what goes into your children's heads, ie you rear them yourself and their imaginations are allowed to work and are not stifled by doing what everyone else is doing. Cherrie

Bec said...

I barely watch TV; my nemisis is the computer! I'm going to try and cut back a little on that instead. I've just blogged about this and added a link to your blog for those with little ones :) xx B.

Ola said...

Xavier broke our HD tuner by banging on it over a month ago. We haven't bothered to get it fixed/buy another one/ unplug it and watch TV without HD. It has been great. It is so much more peaceful at home.

Oh, if you are into Steiner, you should have a look at Carrie's blog. It is a real gem:

Erin said...

Hey There!
~ I had no idea that this week was "Turn Off your T.V. Week." Thanks for sharing :) We have 1 T.V. but no cable or satellite ... just a big blue screen b/c we prefer to be unplugged. It's been this way for us for 10 years and I find that our family is much happier this way. We can watch movies if we'd like via dvd or vhs. The kids are each allowed to choose 1 of their dvd's to watch a day. If my husband & I are interested in watching something, we click on hulu online at night after the kids are in bed. Our main staples to get creative with during the day, other then watching t.v., are coloring, painting, play-doh, baking, dancing, or playing with balloons. I like your homemade playdough :)~

Jelly Wares said...

My girls barely sit in fron of the T.V either and you're right there are so many better things to be doing like 'playing', using their imagination....

I'm sure you and your DH will go great at the no T.V. timwe this week also and I'm looking forward to reading what you both think of it..

Hugs - Jodie :)

Angie said...

I realised this week that the TV viewing time had been creeping up and had to stop. We have had several days without it coming on at all. I put a cloth over it when it is not in use as out of site is often out of mind. I've worked out better strategies for my main use of the TV/video.....dinner preparation! The slow cooker is a winner & so are my "sanity packs".....craft packs (just a bag filled with everything you need for a specific craft activity) so you can pull it out to give to the kids without the fluster of finding everything.

Glad to hear it is switch-off week.....I was rather gob-smacked that out of the ideas summit (or whatever it was called) the main thing for kids was they needed more telly! Thankfully we don't get digital stations.

Melitsa said...

How did you get on with Screen free week? We had a much better time of it this year than last. Blogged about it at

Having so many things to do ( Screen free week, Earth day and St George's day) fall in the same week helped a lot as we did a lot of projects :)
Yeah! Glad to have found you. Was looking around for support last week. :)

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