Screen time for Kids

Why I Got Rid of the Television

Friday morning, after one of the most epic tv tantrums of the year, I took the TV off the wall, and stashed it behind my dresser in the bedroom (don’t tell the kids).

I am done with television, netflix, movies and all that delightful screen time because it’s not helping things. It’s just making life miserable. Behaviourally my kids are challenging. They don’t listen, they don’t react, and they don’t do anything but insist on MORE SHOWS. We have a problem. 

Last year I decided to ditch screens for traveling. We don’t use iPads or movies at all when we travel to Vancouver and it was incredible game changer. Instead of winey miserable children, my kids played, chatted, slept, and dazed out the window. Not even having the option they eventually calm down and just figured it out. We travel to Vancouver regularly, and this shift just change made the trip so much easier for me (I usually travel by myself).

As I watched this epic TV tantrum unfold in front of me on Friday morning, I remembered the trip that made me throw out the iPad – the one where I tried to stop for an ice-cream and play but he refused to get out of his car seat and screamed and screamed and screamed. We were stopping for ice-cream and my kid was SO OBSSESSED with his tv show he wouldn’t stop what he was doing. I knew then I had a problem.

It was time to give it up and because I have a weak backbone it needed to go. The kids are the only ones who watch TV in the house. I don’t have time for TV, and my husband prefers to watch YouTube. I’m just not that interested in Netflix even with the great list of shows to binge. TV time is purely kid time in our house.

As soon as I dropped the kids off at Preschool I went home and took that bad boy down myself.

TV Detox - Taking the TV Down.

We all know about the dangers of screen time. 

I see the articles float around the internet, but I typically scroll past thinking “pfft, what high and mighty scientist decided to tell me how to parent!” With the thought in my head that don’t they know how hard it is to solo parent in 2019 with two kids, expectation of making something of your life, and trying to not feel lonely in a world that doesn’t want to visit in person? Of course my kids are going to have a healthy dose of television, and statistics are over rated.

But here I am with a 3.5 year old who can’t keep his cool when the television turns off. He wakes up asking for a show and goes to bed asking for a show. The first thing he says when I pick him up from preschool is “show home?”

Preschoolers and Screen Time

My ability to create screen-time balance in our lives has failed. I’m just another mom with a plethora of resources at her fingertips and the overwhelming sense that I have no idea what I’m doing.

Truthfully, I’m weak. I see all these moms saying NO! and that’s not a skill I’m very good at. Seeing my children upset bothers me. Being able to cope with the screaming, crying, tantrum mess that comes with “no” triggers me into a moment of rage and frustration. I get overwhelmed with all the sensory chaos and begin to break down. To avoid these moments of panic I say yes, and here I am: a vulnerable mom who has know idea what she’s doing admitting she’s wrong, confused, and trying renegotiate boundaries with her children.

Myself, I’m equally as addicted to the screen. It’s my saving grace and what provides with connection and a feeling of value in the world. Writing that is just incredibly sad but that’s where I’m at right now. I would love to create some personal balance with the screen and maybe by removing the big one for the kids it’ll help with the little one. I also bought some knitting needles and it’s incredibly hard to knit while instagramming.

With all this mind the complete removal of the television seemed like the best possible answer. Without the television there’s less reason to say yes, less questions begin with, and a very solid answer on why we can’t have a show. Lucky for me, the kids have never been allowed to use a phone or iPad to watch shows or games, so that avenue is not even on their radar. They just see phones as things to take pictures with. This strategy is proving successful as the tantrum I would have normally gotten from a “no show” hasn’t even happened. It’s a shrug and plethora of questions pertaining to where the TV is.  I’m not sure what’s worse, but at least no screaming and crying.

Trying to figure out how to parent children in a world vastly different than the one I grew up in is incredibly hard.

TV Detox Mode

We are going to hang out in TV Detox mode for as long as we can last. Well, I bargained with my Preschooler and set up a star chart. If he earns 25 stars for cleaning up his toys when mom asks him to, then the TV can go back up on the wall. I’m hoping he just forgets.

Day 1 of TV Detox is going okay. It’s been hard because they want my attention and I’m used to just doing my own thing and being my own person with coursework, blogs, videos to film, and my job to do. But, we’re going to make it through this okay.

We sorted the toys, and I’ve set up a pretty solid toy rotation (I keep 3-4 bins out in the living room and the rest in my bedroom) and between our indoor play gym, we should have this managed.

I know they know how to play and have fierce imaginations. It’s now time to let that run wild and create children who can play quietly for hours instead of a few minutes of pure chaos before tantrums.

First Success: we had dinner, bath, and then the kids asked to go to bed. They fell asleep by 7pm without the fight, struggle, and torture I usually endure. 

I’m probably jinxing myself by writing the above line.

The Goal is Healthy Balance.

I would love if we could forever live without TV, but at the end of the day I love a good movie. After our detox, I’m hoping I can set up solid boundaries around screen time. I’m not entirely sure how that will look, but I’m hoping it might be something along the lines of Friday Night Movie Night, and maybe the occasional Saturday morning cartoons.

But I get it, it’s hard. I’m fully intending the next week to be hard. Sure, they go to preschool, but my husband works for the Railway, and I’m home alone with two kids most of the time. I also have a big assignment due in my PR class this week…

Tell me about how screen time works in your family in the comments?

Screen Free Kids - Why I broke up with TV time and shows for my 3 year old

3 Comments

  • Shelby

    We just recently moved to a new place, we are only here temporarily but I knew I wanted this move to be a chance to start over. A Chance to reduce our screen time and shows that my kids watch! And it is going really well. When we first got here my son asked for a show and I said yes, I know good start right? But we could not get the TV to work. So here we are on day three and my kids are playing amazing, I feel like there are more hours in a day, and my kids have not even asked for a show. Maybe the TV will stay broken the entire time we are here???? Not sure but am for sure loving it. You are making me think about iPads on the road though. We do that for drives longer than three hours but I am thinking that might need to end too…not sure!

  • Nathan

    People always ask me why I don’t have a TV.

    They find it’s the weirdest thing, which I find quite amusing.

    Or I have many people always recommending tv shows and telling me how good they are.

    I always say, i don’t doubt that it’s a really good show, that’s what it’s designed to be, which is precisely why I won’t even look at it..

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