So, knowing that we're going to almost entirely unplug in January--no t.v. shows, movies, or programs and only 2 hours/week of video games and the like--we've been preparing. How?
Weeeeell, by totally inhaling our favorite shows. The kids knew they had about two weeks, so I let them watch way more t.v. than normal so they could finish out the season they were on in Netflix for their favorite show. I did the same--mine being Bones! I watched an entire season (Season 7) in about a week. Josh isn't so much watching more than normal, but when he's not working I give him first pick. He's getting quite the viewing time, too. His favorites--Wings (because he has a private licence to fly airplanes but NEVER gets to because of the high cost) and Top Gear (really I secretly enjoy watching it with him, I just wouldn't choose it).
So, what shows have we really enjoyed this year?
Josh--as above, Wings and Top Gear, but also Star Trek (a family favorite), oh and Mythbusters
Josh tends to watch casually. He can be interrupted without too much annoyance and watches shows that the kids can easily get into, like Mythbusters and sometimes Dirty Jobs. When it's Josh's pick, the whole family's in here, eating and chatting about the show, roughhousing on the floor, etc.
Me--Bones, Numbers (I really love math), Lie To Me, Warehouse 13, Hoarding or the like, Clean House, and Star Trek. Yep--I have a lot of favorites. When there's a new season, I'm on it!
As you can see, my tv differs from Josh's in a major way. Mine tend to be action-based dramas that tend to be set in a scientific theme. Also, mine aren't so family friendly and when I'm watching it's either after the kids go to bed or when they're occupied with other interest. Sometimes--hard to admit--I tend to find stuff for them to do for a few hours just so that I can watch my favorite show. Not everyday, but when a new one's out it tends to be several days in a row of this. Then I'm back to watching one show a day for a while. Bad, bad t.v. habits on my part.
Abby--Hannah Montana, Good Luck Charlie, her all-time favorite H2O, and her newest favorite The Saddle Club
Abby is the copy-cat of the family and probably the most easily effected by t.v.! After thinking I was already strict enough, I had to drastically reduce her time watching Hannah Montana and Good Luck Charlie. She loved them, but I could see her attitude changing right before my eyes. They are both full of sassy kids who don't have a lot of respect for others (although Hannah Montana was surprisingly better in this area than Good Luck Charlie) and I kept hearing little "harmless" lies throughout these shows. H20 had already been a favorite, but even more so after that. Their attitudes were much better and bad choices were typically shown with consequences. Anyway, she tends to be a lot like me--not much t.v. for good amounts of time, and then she hits on something and has to see them all in a row. She tends to overindulge to the extent that Abram complains that she takes his turn.
Abram--Transformers, Jimmy Neutron (a favorite), some Power Rangers, Transformers reviews (YouTube--shows how they transform) which are watched in plain view just in case, and some documentaries
Abram's way more effected by sugar than shows, but he tends to zone out and I have to snap him back to attention. He'll forget to eat if it's a favorite. The thing I hate the most is that he's super intelligent, but it's far easier to absorb information coming from the television than from books or school assignments. And Abram is all about the easiest route...I'm hoping he'll mature out of this! He's my video game player, too, although I'm usually pretty strict with this already. Sometimes I'll just let him play as much as he wants, about two days a month, but most of the time he plays about two or three hours per week (although I think he plays his ipod touch more at night when he's ready for bed).
Little Bubzy--Barney and Veggie Tales. He watches them almost every morning, asks for them by singing the theme songs, lol. He dances with the songs and then ignores the rest most of the time.
Most preparation is in all the questions that come up:
Do we get to watch t.v. on Saturday morning?
No, not for the month. We'll see after that.
Are we going to ever go back to watching t.v.?
Well, we don't plan on throwing our tvs away, but we don't really know how much we're going to allow after this. That's why we're getting off of it for a month--so we're not making blind decisions or decisions based on what we want instead of what's healthy for our family.
Is this because we're in trouble?
No. If anyone's in trouble it's Mom! I watch far more tv than I should and I'm the one that's causing problems because of it. (This stirred a whole night of conversation as they were totally honest and open about how they felt about playing in the back on those nights when I wanted to watch t.v. instead of spending time as a family. This question brought up a lot of emotions that I wasn't prepared for and really solidified in my mind why we were doing this!)
What are we going to do for fun?
More of what we already do--play outside, play more family games and cards, and stuff like that. And then maybe we can start some things we haven't really done much of, like family puzzles, reading a book together, eating a lot more dinners at the table, having more people over, and stuff we haven't even thought of yet.
What about video games?
For now, t.v., movies, and the like are the only completely off-limits things. However, we don't want to just trade one for the other. On normal school weeks y'all play about two to three hours a week--so we'll just limit it to that so it doesn't increase. We can play Wii fit for longer, though since physically being tired will set it's own natural limit.
Some questions, I just thought about privately:
What am I going to do for peace and quite, since that's what usually drives my reasons to turn it on in the first place?
I can still set them to doing an activity or personal study just as I did during these times, but dive into my bible reading instead. I don't suspect the problem is that I need rest for an hour, the problem is when I'm so absorbed that it goes on for more than an hour.
If the weather's nice I can send them outside for a while.
If Josh is home, I can occasionally relax in a bubblebath and read.
What limits do I need to set for myself so that I don't just switch from one zone-out activity to another?
I think my internet time needs to be in sinc with the kid's video gaming time. While they play, I play. I get just as absorbed in blogging as in t.v., mostly because of the pictures. I need to keep all non-writing activities (like browsing, research, picture sorting and loading, linking-up, etc.) to within that 2-3 hours a week the kids are going to be playing video games.
What can I personally do with my free time that's not t.v. related?
I've always wanted my pictures organized. I think that would be a productive use of free time. Also, I could teach myself some new recipes and maybe get Abby involved in some of them.
What can I do to make this experience better for the whole family?
Read from the physical bible instead of just listening to it on my iPad.
Cook enjoyable meals and eat together at the table way more often.
Play with the kids instead of sending them off to play.
More family games, puzzles, and activities.
Read aloud to the kids and start tucking them in at night with prayer.
Create one or more virtual scrap books together and maybe even order one.
Take silly family pictures.
Do some school stuff that's just for fun (like science projects we've put off or educational games that weren't as interesting as the t.v. show we were into).