October 4, 2010

The State of Our Union

Last month I posted that I had taken away our various sources of online movies and movie clubs.  I also decided to put the TV in the closet.  And the Wii went with it.  It's been a month now....this is the State of the Union.

1.  The kids were rather put out the first few days and there was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  After that they rarely talked about it.

2.  The house is cleaner because we have more time to clean and because they earn the privilege of cleaning if they complain about the lack of TV or Wii.

3.  The boys are reading more.  A lot more.  One of the 10-year-olds is reading huge, gigantic books.  700+ page books in 2 days.  The other 10-year-old who HATES reading (what happened there?) is actually sitting down and reading books of his own free will.  He even told me the other day, "Since we don't have TV now I'm finding lots of great books to read."  

And the 6-year-old has discovered that HE can read books on his own.  He actually taught himself to read at 4, but has only read during the times we sit down with the express intent to read.  Lately he's been picking up books and reading them to himself.  But even better, he's asking his 4-year-old brother if he can read a book to him.  I find the two of them curled up on the couch many times during the day, with the older one reading to the younger.  How precious is that?????

4.  There is less fighting.  We used to have major fights many times a day.  I thought this was probably normal, having four boys and all.  Well, since the TV has been off we haven't had more than 3 or so fights for the month, and even those were little.

5.  Everyone is playing together.  Nicely.  It's been incredible to see them all playing together, including each other, helping each other.  The older boys are more patient with the younger ones and they do EVERYTHING together now.

6.  The house is quieter.  In a good way.  There is a feeling of peace and serenity now, instead of noise and confusion and loudness.  

7.  They do their schoolwork cheerfully.  In fact, they CHEER when I say it's time to do school.  It's a treat, a privilege, something to be valued now.

8.  They are much less anxious and stressed.  They used to hurry through their day, complain during school, worry about when they would be able to watch a movie or play the Wii.  It consumed their every waking thought and they were constantly asking when they could play, or planning what they would play, or acting out what they would play.  Now they just play, read, laugh, and don't worry.  It's like a huge load of concern/stress/worry has been lifted off their shoulders.

9.  We have had almost no behavior problems during the month.  One of our sons is famous for digging in his heels and refusing to do pretty much anything without a huge fight.  We've had one incident thus far.  They all are much more willing to help with chores, have better attitudes, are kinder to each other - pretty much any good thing  you can think of for "good behavior" and we've seen it.

10.  I'm spending more time with the boys.  I thought I read a lot to them....but I'm reading even more.  Instead of "checking out" in the afternoon because I was tired or feeling sick, I was "forced" to actually deal with my children, to parent them, instead of saying "Go watch a movie."  We read more, played more games, went outside more often, cooked together, drew pictures together, and just talked more.  We also spent more time organizing, cleaning and getting rid of stuff we don't need.

11.  We're listening to great music more often.  Because there isn't that constant noise in the background (either from fighting or the TV/Wii) I feel "up to" listening to music during our breakfasts and lunches.  Previously I just wanted some QUIET, so I rarely played music.  (Oh, I also go rid of every CD that wasn't classical or church music.  And a few kids songs CDs.  The rest has left the building.)

12.  Our days seemed calmer, less rushed.  We got more things done and had more free-time than we had previously.  It almost felt like we'd been given extra hours in the day.

My husband and I are discussing when and if the TV and Wii ever come back.  I've been so happy with the State of the Union, that I'm ready to get rid of them!!!!  We can always watch a select movie or two on the computer if we REALLY had to.  

And the Wii is just a trouble maker, in my opinion.  We originally got it so they could get some exercise during the scorchingly hot Texas summer days.  But they weren't getting that much exercise.  And if one boy was doing a "workout" while the others did schoolwork, well, those doing schoolwork always ended up in the room with the Wii and then they'd get in trouble, blah, blah, blah.  (The Wii Active workout is AWESOME, but I'm not sure I want to keep the huge TV and the Wii just for that.  All the other garbage comes with it then.)

The thing that concerns me most with the Wii though is how they obsess about when they'll get to play.  They count days, watch the calender, ask repeatedly about when they'll be able to play, plan what they'll play.  It's non-stop.  Instead of reading or playing they talk Wii ALL THE TIME.  It's been wonderful to hear them actually talking about other things, and doing other things.  If we kept the Wii "only for Saturday" they would (and have) spend all week waiting for it.  If the Wii was "once a month" all their time and energy would be spent waiting, planning, discussing, worrying about that one day a month.

So, we're trying to figure out where to go from here.  It's a hard thing to be different from everyone else.  To be the only people around without a TV or a video gaming system.  Peer pressure is an awful way to make decisions for my family....sadly it does play a part though.  

My husband and I are discussing phrases like "intentional parenting", "courageous parenting", "parenting is not a popularity contest", "creating a refuge from the world", "stand for what is right at all times and in all places" and others. 

I'll let you know what we decide.


  1. oh this is amazing to hear...I'm sending this on to my dh.....what ages are your boys?

  2. Kylie - They are 10, 10, 6 and 4.

  3. So curious to see what you do! We've put ours in the closet before and it was wonderful. This motivates me to put it back!

  4. Wow! Just remember--you are not the only one!! We are going on year five of no video games and year one of absolutely no television at all. It's amazing how much of, as President Hinckley said, "better things" there are to do.

    We do occasionally (as in once or twice a year), watch a movie on the computer, but we are acting, not being acted upon, and it is beautifully different.

    I would recommend reading "Playstation Nation" for a quick, easy read about the dangers of gaming. Also, of course, Elder Bednar's CES address was amazing.

    Years ago, I was doing some political blogging for a talk radio host, and I did some research into gaming addiction. The Wii behavior you are describing is the behavior of addiction. I would suggest taking some time to peruse this forum...


    here is just one story I used in my article that shows the addictive nature of gaming:


    Gaming addiction is real, and it's not as innocuous as we try to fool ourselves into believing.

  5. Way to go! Nice to hear the results of your month. Makes me wonder how much families and communities were more involved with each other on a personal level before the dawn of tv.

  6. We don't have a television in our house. We do watch things over the internet and use our computer to watch movies together periodically.

    I have no desire to have my children be involved in computer games. I just do not see anything good about it. I teach the 10 year olds at church. I let each child tell something about their week. The boys always only talk about tv or video games. I finally told them they had to come up with something else to tell me because I was starting to worry about them :).

    My boys are only 4 and 6 but I know my 6 year old would become addicted very easily to computer games and I do not want that for him!

    I think this topic definitely falls under "courageous parenting." Thanks for sharing!

  7. I admire your courage. I have thought about doing this many, many times! I think, that it is a crutch, even for me, as a parent. We didn't have TV for about 4 months (when everything became digital), but we still had the Wii, playstation, DS and movies. My mother-in-law was worried about the boys, because they couldn't watch cartoons and she brought a converter box up for us :0). We are already a cause for concern, because we homeschool :0) and becoming TV and video game free might just send us over the edge! LOL It is good to hear about your brave efforts!