The idea of letting children watch television for 90 minutes a week sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it? You ask yourself, how is that even possible!? Well, I promise it’s easier than you think but it will require some work on your part to stay committed.
I will be the first to admit that my children are huge media junkies. They love televisions, phones, tablets – you name it, they’ve probably been introduced to it at some time. They have their favorite fictional characters from their favorite shows. However, my children are also aware of our family’s media rules.
One rule involves how we consume media in our home. We allow one movie a week (no exceptions). The movie is something everyone agrees on watching together. We have a designated day so the children know when movie day will be. There are 5 reasons why my husband and I enforce this rule in our home.
Limiting My Kids TV Time: Why They Only Watch 90 Minutes a Week
Watching television is a habit quick to form but difficult to break. I grew up in a home where the television was never off. Someone was always watching a show, a movie, or music video. Personally, I will always prefer a good book over a movie any day.
Fast forward to today: I will be the first to admit I once used the TV to help pacify the kids so I could make dinner, or get something “important” done. I noticed the more television my children consumed, the grumpier became. Overall, the house was a pretty miserable place to be when the television wasn’t on.
This is when I knew this habit had to break – cold turkey. My little ones had a difficult time with this change, especially since they “had to see” their “Princess Pink Race Car Puppy Adventure” show. I know this change takes time, including a few miserable days. But your little ones will be so much better because of this change. I know mine are.
My children know what it’s like to be bored. I know this is a scary thought as a parent. You don’t know what kind of trouble they might get into, what damage they might cause, or how your bank account is going to suffer.
However, boredom can actually be a good thing for children. It allows them to process their thoughts, be more creative in their playtime and helps them navigate this emotion to where they’ll learn where they turn their attention to when boredom does come. This allows you, as a parent, to help guide them by giving them suggestions on appropriate activities.
Children are balls of energy waiting to run out of fuel. When my children were watching TV nearly every day, I realized they had difficulty going to bed and staying asleep at night. This would snowball in emotion with grumpy and grumpier days. And when the kids don’t sleep, the parents don’t sleep.
Children need to release their built-up energy. This can be done through play time, running around, or helping with the housework (just to name a few ideas). Anything that gets a child on their feet and out of their seat will help with their energy levels.
I know it’ll take a lot of patience on your part, especially if you invite them to help with the laundry or another household chore. I can promise the laundry will take nearly three times as long to fold, but you’ll be teaching your little one’s life skills and bonding with them.
My children know they get one movie a week if certain standards are met and kept. Yes, they have to earn their movie. What are these standards?
They have to pick up their toys, by themselves, at the end of every night. We expect them to read, or be read to, for 30 minutes a day. Hitting, fighting, pushing, biting, yelling, or anything else that will damage a relationship is not allowed.
If they choose to hit, fight, push, bite, or yell then an apology needs to be made and a service given. They cannot have a “movie-driven-death-bed repentance” on Wednesday night hoping for redemption on Thursday.
As they get older the standards will change to meet the lessons we are trying to help teach and enforce in their lives. We all want our children to be productive members of society.
We want them to be happy, healthy and know how to take care of themselves. They cannot do this without certain life experiences. And what better place to have these experiences than in the safety of their home with parents who love them.
5. Other Activities
Some of the more commonly asked question asked in our home include, “who wants to play with bubbles or make some yummy brownies? Does anyone want to come to the library with me? Play outside? Draw with chalk? Who wants to do their exercise and work out?“
My children are expected to play, explore, get dirty, and live life. Yes, they still have their grumpy moments and their disagreements when two children want to play with the same toy. However, they’re learning life skills on how to work with people, fairness, and compassion.
I promise changes are not easy, and yes some children might be completely defiant about it, but the end result is worth it. Children are only little for so long, and they are in your home for such a short time. Enjoy each moment you can by making memories and teaching them.
By breaking the habit of watching too much TV, allowing yourself to be bored, relieve your energy, read together, and finding other worthwhile activities to do together, memories will be made and laughter shared.
Have you decided to limit your children’s media time? Leave a comment and let us know what worked well (and not so well).
Micah Klug is a wife, homeschooling mother to five children, and author. She teaches time-tested solutions to help parents remember what matters most in life, including strengthening their home, faith, and family relationships. To learn how a child who grew up in an authoritarian home is now creating an environment of peace and joy in her own home visit this page. If you want to contact Micah, send her an email here or email [email protected].