The national nightmare known as "Screen-Free Week" is upon us once more. It's only been a few hours, but my hands are shaking. My life seems so empty. There's a remote on my bed. It would be so easy to press that red button... Just once...
OK, it's not THAT bad. Not yet, at least. After I pick the boy up from school, well, we'll see.
For a while, I tried to limit the kids' TV time, but the more I tried, the more attractive the TV was becoming. TV became the reward, rather than just another thing the kids could have fun with. So between noticing the kids were doing a pretty good job moving from TV to toys to running around, and feeling like a hypocrite, since I watched a lot of TV as a kid, I ended the war on TV. Also, to be honest, I feel TV can have a positive effect on children (in moderation. All in moderation). And sometimes I do need them to veg out because I have things I need to do. And it's hard to hurt yourself while watching TV, but it's pretty easy to hurt yourself when you run from one room to another and your brother runs the opposite direction, not stopping until heads meet.
So I don't limit TV time. The kids are doing well, thank you, and I'm pretty sure none of the experts that warn me about the way TV is ruining my kids actually lives in this house, so the experts can keep their advice to themselves.
But still, last year, when my kids' school asked parents to sign up for a screen-free week, we signed our kids up and we signed up ourselves. The first day was hard, but by the 7th day we all felt much better. My boy could even play a tune on the keyboard he never previously touched. I have nothing against TV, but Screen-Free Week turned up to be a great week for the family.
And now it's here again, and we all signed up. No Game of Thrones. No 5 minutes of Monk on Netflix to help me fall asleep. No crazy Baltimore people on the local news. Nothing. Just a black screen. But hey, I quit smoking--I can do without TV for a week. And my kids--they'll be fine too. Sure, they'll bump heads a few times (literally), but they might just end up better for it (not the head-bumping part). And when the week is over, they'll remember (and we'll remember with them) that TV may be fun, but it's not necessary, and that no one has ever died from not watching TV. Unless we miss a tornado warning.
And now I'll update this post every day, to show our triumphs and our failures (and by triumphs and failures I mean playing together as a family and sneaking into the bathroom with headphones to watch those 5 minutes of Monk). Stay strong! And no Game of Thrones spoilers, please!
4/30/13 -- As expected, the kids did bump their heads while running in the living room. Still, brain damage would have been more severe if they had watched Yo Gabba Gabba instead.
Also, my 5-year-old boy woke me up at 4am to tell me he was too tired to sleep. I'm not sure that's connected to Screen-Free Week, but hey, it might be an indicator of withdrawal symptoms.
5/1/13 -- So far, surprisingly enough, the kids haven't used their screen-free time to practice their ballet routines or their Mandarin vocabulary. However, when the 3-year-old girl was lying belly-down on our bed, the 5-year-old sneaked up behind her and pulled her legs up. She then farted on his head.
5/2/13 -- The kids are fine. They're running around and getting in trouble like TV was never invented. But their parents are trying to buy a house, which is somewhat stressful, so it would been nice if they could get some brain-drain time. Instead, the evening becomes a "What if..." time. There are nights when the only things on network TV are gruesome murders. One show after another of people killing people. Oh, what I would give to relax in front of a good murder...
5/4/13 -- Today the wife is back. It's been a hard week, since we're trying to buy a house, and there's some back-and-forth with the sellers, and are we sure we'll be able to find renters for our house? Or should we just sell it? Or maybe try to rent it by the week through airbnb? Or buy a house, rent this one, and live with Granny for a year? We walked to the local preschool's playground last week, and a nice 10-year-old girl started chatting with us because we looked friendly. She told us about the kids in her class who smoked cigarettes, and about how she couldn't ride her bike behind the school, because "There are teenagers doing bad things there." So staying in our very cool, but not very kid-friendly neighborhood is out of the question.
All I'm trying to say, is that after the kids go to sleep today, the wife and I MAY watch a little bit of TV. I know I sound like an addict who's looking for excuses. Hey, I had many failed attempts before I managed to quit smoking, so I know all about that "one more can't hurt" mentality. Still... An hour of TV can't do any harm, can it? Just one Game of Thrones? Please?
5/5/13 -- Oh, Glory Days! There'll be a Game of Thrones double-feature! And some freakin' Monk! And shows about people who kill people! And tomorrow we'll play the Wii! And watch the news, with local people with funny accents talking about the string of burglaries on 36th Street! And we'll never turn the TV off again! Oh, how I've missed you, my precious!