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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TV Fast

About three weeks ago I read this post by Aaron Hendrick, and it got me thinking about TV.
He encouraged everyone to join them in a 2 week TV fast. Why? Because it makes our heads stupid. I could say it smarter than that, but I've been watching too much TV.
So I started asking God, what do you want to say to us about TV?
I wasn't really ready to listen I think, but I told my kids about it, and they wanted to give up TV...not for 2 weeks, but for 2 days.
I was flabbergasted.
I thought, let's start there and see what happens.
So we had a 2 day detox.
But let me trace backwards in what God has taught us about TV.

Young Motherhood
I was all too excited to quit my teaching job (although teaching little deaf kids was awesome!) and trade it in for my real job of Mommy in 2000.
But there are a few things I didn't anticipate about that transition.
One being the absence of communication during the day.
I went from being in school, constantly communicating all day with kids and grown-ups alike, to being at home...with no one...not one person (that could talk) to communicate with all day.
Rusty would come home during lunch and after work, and I could talk his ear off if I wanted to, but that was definitely different.
So when Emma was born, I turned on the TV. I hadn't watched too much TV during college and when I was working. But now I was at home, alone, loving my baby, but desperate for human voices while I sat there nursing her, wearing my spit-up t-shirts, tethered to my house. Don't take that as discontentment with my new job! I loved it, but I didn't know how to navigate through the transition well.
I watched some great classic TV. Anybody ever watched St. Elsewhere? Loved it.
My late night show on Nick at Night when I was up with baby Emma, who didn't sleep, and still to this day barely ever does, was Charlie's Angels. Wow, that show was funny! Discos, feathered hair, lip gloss, and guns. Love it!
But it started a very bad habit. The TV became the background noise for my life, I hate to admit.
I discovered that Emma, who never stopped moving, crawling, climbing, and getting into everything, at the age of 12 months would STOP- and watch a video!!!! She would go into a trance. She was mesmerized with Elmo! Wow! This was a super cool trick I didn't know about!
So Emma started watching shows. Sesame Street. Barney. Caillou, the most annoying cartoon kid ever made, Blue's Clues, etc.
This was NOT a wise decision on my part! I so regret allowing her to watch so much TV!
By the time Emma was 2, and Jax a baby, and we moved here, we made the change. We went cold turkey on daytime TV. We decided we would turn the kids shows off during the day ENTIRELY and watch what we wanted after they went to bed.
We did that. The house was quiet, and it was good. God filled the air with the noises of our home, not the meaningless buzz of TV dialog, and it was so good.
We never looked back, and God showed us how important it was to not let TV take that place of importance in our day and our children's days again.

Live TV
We NEVER watch live TV with the kids.
Rusty and I banned live TV for the kids years ago. We can't predict what will come on the screen. No matter what the program, we still have commercials to battle. With regular channels, you've got images flashing on the screen I don't want, for us or for them. (Don't you love DVR where you can skip the commercials! Score 1 for us!) But on kids' channels, you often have the toys and junk commercials, feeding the greed machine in them. No thanks.
I used to really like to watch Good Morning America. I watched it when I had a job, before I left home in the morning. I loved those people. I loved knowing what was going on in the world, mixed in with some weather, fun recipes, and celebrity interviews.
The last time I tried to watch GMA with my little ones in the room a few years ago, they, without warning, showed a clip from an awards show the night before where Madonna kissed on the mouth both Brittney Spears and Christina Aguillara. I leapt at that TV like a crazed woman! That clenched the no live TV deal.
Short of being psychic, we cannot protect their eyes, or our own.

Movies at Night
A couple summers ago, we started letting our kids pick out a movie at night to watch. It started on vacation, and they loved it! So when we came home, we thought "Why not?" They didn't have to be up early for anything, so it seemed like a fun summer thing to do.
Then we started homeschooling, and while we do start our day at 8:00am, they don't have to get up early to get ready. We do school work in our pj's. So that seemed like a perk to homeschooling! Why not let them watch a movie at night? They didn't watch any TV during the day. We didn't see any harm.
But the harm came in when they grew to be addicted to TV at night. Skipping it became a time for pouting or fits. They were dependent on the nightly TV ritual.
That was not good.

Insomnia and TV
At the same time, I had become dependent on nightly TV watching.
Rusty gets in bed, his head hits the pillow, and he's fast asleep.
That is probably just an indication of how sleep deprived his life is, but I have envied it still.
Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep. Insomnia is far too extreme a word. I just can't stop my brain sometimes. If this has ever been a problem for you, you know that often the fear of not being able to fall asleep is ever-present. It really doesn't happen to me that much, but I HATE it when it does!
So I was watching TV at night to help me not think about being awake, and dull my brain into going into sleep mode.
But this had virtually erased my reading time. That was bad. I had traded reading for TV. It was making my head stupid.
That was not good.

So when we decided to detox ourselves from TV for a few days. It was so great! We extended it to all week! At night, instead of movies for the kids, we played UNO. We read more books. We always did our Bible Study time with the kids at night, but this time was lengthened and sweeter. It took more effort at bed time, but we were really enjoying it, and everyone was falling asleep earlier! Glory!
The TV fast brought us to a new solution of no nighttime TV during the week. On the weekends, they can get a new Netflix movie and enjoy a movie night while we have date night. They will have more freedom to watch during the weekend, but during the week, we have erased the TV time. (Minus a 30 minute educational show in the morning while I finish my Bible Study and prepare their school work from 7:30-8:00am.)
I, too, am seldom watching TV during the week. We have saved our American Idol and The Office for the weekends, which is just as good. (So don't tip us off to what's happenning on American Idol!)
It has been great! I'm about to finish two great books! (I read fiction and spiritual books simultaneously sometimes, so I get both.)
This has been a great thing in our house! We have broken an addiction in our house. TV is certainly not worthy of such devotion and commitment. Only God is.
So there's the good, bad, and ugly of our TV journey.
Now, onto the sugar addiction.


Anonymous said...

"Because it makes our heads stupid. I could say it smarter than that, but I've been watching too much TV."

That was one of the funniest things I ever read. I can hear you saying exactly that. I can't wait to laugh with you in PERSON...2 days away!! WHOOP

(this is Emily)

Marcus and Meg Asby said...

"T.V. makes your head stupid."

I'll have to tell little Lavinia that she's rubbing off on her pastor's sister!!

Christy said...

We have struggled for a long time with TV. It can suck you in. With Katherine we have limited her to Sesame Street in the morning while I am getting ready and sometimes Blue's Clues right after nap (I agree that it is annoying!) For us we try to keep it off with the exception of recording and watching LOST later. Not only does it fill our minds with junk but it wastes time that could be used on so many other more valuable things.

Jennifer Bacak said...

Yes, Meg! That was a wonderful quote from your blog. My head was too stupid to remember the little girl's name that said it. I should have given her credit. She's a smart little girl!

Garratts said...

Reese always tells me that TV makes your brain hurt.

She says I said that to her once.

It makes me laugh, but it is so true.