Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Day We Killed Cable

Happy February everyone! Has there ever been a moment when you made a decision that impacted much more than you thought it would? Here's one parenting choice Ryan and I made not too long ago and how it's changed our family.

Before we even bought our house, we made a mutual decision to forgo cable, at least for a little while. We thought that the kids had become too reliant on TV and if I'm being completely truthful, so had I. It was easier for me to just pop them in front of the TV when they were getting into everything than try to find an activity to occupy them. And my parents had the good cable package, complete with tons of kid shows too. So there were always choices for them.

Ryan and I only watched a handful of shows. (Mostly HGTV or Food Network) So we talked about it on and off for a while and then decided that we could live without our shows. We wanted the kids to become less dependent on the TV as well. So now that we've been moved in for a little over a month, I've really been able to see just how much influence I let TV have on us.

The first few days, Sarah begged to watch "Ponies" and when I told her no, she'd ask to watch something else. Unfortunately for her, we didn't have functioning internet for a while, so I couldn't even connect to Netflix or YouTube. So we coped, and it turns out, we had fun. We turned on the radio - mostly for noise because the first few days in a new house make you hear weird things. Then the music led to dance parties in the play room, with me holding both kids jumping around in circles looking silly. But it made all of us laugh and killed some time. And before we knew it, we were missing TV less and less.

After our dance parties, we rediscovered the joy of playing. Living at my parents' house had limited us to a select few toys because the rest were packed away or inaccessible. That meant the kids got bored A LOT faster than if we had more variety. Well, thanks to our new playroom, Ryan and I were able to unpack all of the age appropriate toys that the kids hadn't seen in months. That combined with awesome Christmas gifts, mean that Sarah and Andrew now have tons more options. And you bet that for the most part, I am down on the floor playing with them.

Now I'm definitely not saying TV is all bad. In fact I find it really useful sometimes. Say when a certain almost three year old comes creeping into my room before Mommy's ready to start the day... Yeah I turn on "Ponies" (My Little Pony) for her and let her snuggle in bed with me. But I'm really proud of the overhaul we've done from being so dependent on TV, to making it a once in a while special thing that's not always expected.

Yes, we still watch movies with Sarah now and again, and usually they get to watch two episodes of something on Netflix a day. Generally it's Blue's Clues and My little Pony. (one of each) But the kids don't expect me to always say yes to another episode or automatically turn on the TV when they ask. And it's progress. It was not as smooth of a transition as I had hoped, but we learned and discovered new ways to play and interact. For that I am super grateful.

I know that Ryan and I made the right choice in deciding against cable for the time being. I am so incredibly thankful that we realized the problem now, when it's still easily fixed and not later on down the road. So instead of dealing with frustrated middle schoolers we have toddlers who are easily talked into dance parties or playing chase instead of sitting in front of a television. Our family is really going to benefit from this decision for a long time to come.

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