I’m not exactly sure how long it’s been since Ethan destroyed the TV by throwing a glass cup at it. I can say, though, I’m so glad he did.
Sure, I wasn’t stoked about it when it initially happened. I was quite attached to it. I loved sitting down to watch a show while folding laundry… or just to SIT and not have to think so much. And… I mean, it was EXPENSIVE! But, like a lot of parents now-a-days, we (mostly me) were using our TV to help babysit our little guy while we got things done around the house. It’s not so bad if it’s done from time to time. But we abused it and we paid heavily for that abuse. Not even by the TV being broken, that’s just a thing, but by missing valuable time with our son that I didn’t even realize we were missing out on. We were missing out on the opportunity to build a healthy, well-balanced relationship with our son.
Pre broken TV Ethan was throwing tantrums (hence glass being thrown at said TV, destroying it), started showing symptoms of ADD/ADHD, would refuse to go out to play, and rarely played with his toys. We didn’t realize until after it was gone, how much we depended on it; how much it was taking over our lives.
I see posts on Facebook and articles about how we should be limiting our children’s screen time to no more than one hour per day, even less if you can manage. It’s crazy to me that the proof was always right in front of my face; screaming at me. (Literally Ethan would SCREAM at me!) I’m not sure what made me ignore it for so long. Maybe I was in denial. Maybe I just wanted to feel like I had some time to be me… whatever the reason I’m so glad that my son flipped out on our TV and it’s gone. It’s a big lesson for Nate and I as parents. We learned quickly after not having a TV that there are SO many things to do besides watch TV when we are looking for something to do. (Winter can get boring if it’s too cold to go sledding!) We quickly began playing more board games, teaching Ethan card games, having Ethan help clean around the house more, giving him more responsibilities, learning more, talking more, reading more, etc. It’s been amazing what we’ve accomplished without a TV in our home. It was our one and only, so now if Nate and I want to sit and watch a show when Ethan goes to bed we get to look at a tiny computer screen. I’m not complaining. Our son is way more calm and able to communicate his emotions. If we’ve given him too much screen time, he actually tells us, “I’ve had too much technology!” It’s incredible.
When friends and family started to hear about the dead TV I had a lot of them ask me if I wanted one of their old sets to replace it. They are wonderfully sweet, but we’ve decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea to jump into getting another TV right away. What example does that set? Also, we are happier without it. I can’t imagine going back now. Maybe when he’s much older…or never. I’m not even sure what I need it for anymore. Ethan’s happier. He feels lighter and full of life. He goes outside to play now (even though he HATES the heat…but even during winter he insists). He’s more independent and values play time with his action figures. He’s really turned around with the ADD/ADHD symptoms (maybe before we start giving our children drugs we should evaluate how much screen time they are getting?!…just a thought), and I can feel joy coming from him. It’s just so obvious that his mental health has dramatically improved…and hey! so has mine!
Now that we have less screen time we are finding many more opportunities that have nothing to do with screens. Play-doh ( I have an excellent recipe I should share soon!), painting, writing, goofing around with boggle, going hunting for bugs, playing outside with toys instead of inside (outside helps a lot with getting rid of that screen time itch), and crafts! ALL THE CRAFTS!
He still has screen time, and sometimes we mess it up by letting him have too much, but mostly we are doing great by setting his limits and having expectations before he is allowed screen time. For example: every morning we have School With Mom. We do a lesson from our reading book (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann), do a worksheet (math, cut and paste, etc), write his name, address, and work on other letters, and talk about the days of the week. After his lesson he goes straight to his Nintendo Switch and is allowed to play for half an hour. After that half an hour is up he turns the game off right away and that’s that. He looks forward to his lesson because he knows the reward will be there right away. There’s nothing wrong with screens, technology, gaming, etc. The only issue is the amount of time we allow our children to stare at a screen. Well, it was definitely our issue anyway.
It was a hard, and sometimes painful, lesson to learn but I’m blessed to have figured it out now. I’m so glad Ethan threw a fit and smashed our TV with a glass cup. It’s changed our lives for forever and I don’t plan on going back. In the words of the Dixie Chicks…EARL had to DIE! Na nanananaaaaa GOODBYE EARL!
I wouldn’t recommend busting up your TV sets just so they are gone, but I would recommend unplugging that bad boy for a while and seeing what blessing may unfold from not having it for a while. Maybe you find a way to reconnect with your little one. Maybe you just find more time; time you didn’t know you already had available to you because you were (or your child was) glued to the TV. I promise it’s worth every bit.
The days are long, but the years are short.