Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
By Wendy Thomas
We had gotten into a bad habit of letting the younger kids be “babysat” by the TV while we got the older kids dressed, fed, and off to their school buses. As everyone got older, TV in the morning just seemed to be part of a (horrid) routine.
Then one day I got a call from the school nurse who told me that my daughter was in her office with a stomachache. Well that's strange. None of the other kids were sick. My daughter didn't have a fever so the nurse sent her back to the classroom. She lethargically made it to lunch time, at which point she seemed to be over her “illness.”
Then a few days later it happened again. But this time, the nurse told me that my daughter said her stomach hurt because I didn't give her breakfast.
This is the conversation we had that morning (and virtually every other previous morning):
Me: Make sure you eat breakfast.
Her: I will, as soon as the commercial comes on.
Me: Ok, but make sure you eat.
Her: Moooooom, I will. At the commercial.
In a battle between TV kiddie commercials and nutrition, which do you think won? My kid couldn't be pulled away from the TV long enough to get herself some food before she went to school.
That night I sat every one down at a family meeting. We're done I told them. New rule in the house – no TV during the school week and eat breakfast before you leave for school.
At first there were tears, there were fights, there were even threats of moving in with friend's who families let them watch TV but over time (and with no giving in on my part) the kids eventually accepted that TV was not going to be part of their lives – at least from Monday to Friday.
Breakfast started to be eaten, backpacks were actually prepped for the next day and homework was started in the afternoons. Board games were rediscovered and the living room became a place where people hung out to have conversation.
Another thing I noticed is that my kids no longer made those outrageous grocery requests for things like cereal that turned your milk blue and yogurt that came with candy bits to mix in. They couldn't ask for what they didn't know about. Around the holidays, I didn't hear a peep about paint sets (two sets for $19.95!) dolls that you could feed or for remote control cars that transformed into robots.
When we turned off our TV we saved hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over the years by not being sucked into the hypnotic sticky web of children's marketing.
To this day we only have one television in the house and while we do get cable, most of the time if we watch a show, it's on a documentary channel. And while, sure, my kids don't have a clue who is on American Idol or what the girls in “Pretty Little Liars” are up to, my kids are also the ones who after dinner will seek out a sibling and say “hey, I challenge you to a game of Chess.”
Wendy Thomas lives in Merrimack with her husband and six children, and has been published in various regional magazines and newspapers. Check out her blog, Simple Thrift-Creative Living on Less, at http://simplethrift.wordpress.com.
Last updated by Morgen Thiboult Sep 29, 2011.