Now that my sweet children have less than a week left of school, I thought I’d interview them to see if our little, “expand your possibilities” project left a sour taste in their mouth or had them singing an, “I am empowered” tune. But first, a little background.
I loved morning news (must be an informed citizen), HGTV and the History Channel. I was a Today show junkie for as long as I can remember, unless a work schedule prohibited it. On lazy weekends my husband and I would daydream by watching House Hunter’s International. (I don’t really remember lazy weekends but somehow we fit it in!)
My children loved cartoons, CMT and any other interesting thing they could find to draw their attention away from other responsibilities. (Sounds like the adults, doesn’t it). Monkey see, monkey do. I’d have to fight the television to receive their attention to remind them of homework, piano practice or chores. For years I had heard about other families not having T.V. at all. I admired these families and I could see how they were individuals in a cohesive family unit. I wanted that too. We had and still have amazing kids. Our lives were not perfect but there was respect for each other and gratitude among each of us. We had family meetings and “philosophy” talks allowing each child to know they were free to be who they wanted to be. We taught and are still teaching integrity, morality, self-worth, generosity and a love for thy neighbor. We taught them to say “hi” and to make a new kid at the school feel welcome. We taught them to appreciate differences. We taught them (and are still teaching them) that just because “something is, doesn’t mean it has to be.”
I knew we could do better.
It took about two years to convince my husband to try it. He liked the idea, but wasn’t ready to dive in all the way. To be honest, I knew I would miss seeing “Where in the World is Matt Lauer.” I lived vicariously through other people’s travel adventures. Is that you as well?
Finally, last August, three weeks before school started, we did the deed. I spent time on the phone with Dish satellite explaining to them that, “yes, we were happy with their service, and no we don’t want a reduced plan. Yes, we really are getting rid of T.V. viewing as a chance to seek and realize our true potential as individuals and a family.”
The Dish agents response, “You have got to be kidding me. How are you going to survive?”
That my friends, is exactly why we did and are still doing it. The American world is addicted to the coma inducing box and is slowing forgetting how to be creative, how to think, ponder, love. I wanted my children to learn and know they could “survive” without T.V. or any other “must-have” item they would encounter throughout their life.
Disclaimer: We did watch DVDs from home, friends or the library. We weren’t completely off the tube. But we all know for sure that life was actually only enhanced without the box doing our thinking for us. Here’s what the family had to say:
“Yes, it was O.K., because sometimes we can watch DVDs, right mom?”-age 5 (I don’t expect her to understand the philosophy surrounding it yet!)
“Austin was always watching what he wanted when I wanted to watch something anyway so I didn’t mind (getting rid of the T.V.) We’ve got to play more and now I want to make a treehouse. It was ok and we don’t need it.”-age 9
“In the beginning I was optimistic about it because I knew it would open up time for starting new habits. My brother and I started to create more of a relationship while working out and getting in shape together instead of fighting over the remote control. I finally found a hobby that I liked and found out what I enjoyed, my likes and dislikes. I became more creative. I started to think for myself and learned how to handle tough situations in my life. I’ve improved my relationships with my sisters because I spent time with them when they asked to play. I would recommend not having a T.V. because even though there are channels you enjoy, its money and time you could use on something more useful.”-age 14
“I’ve completely increased my muscle mass and gotten in better shape. I’m a sexy beast. And yes…my grades are all A’s and B’s now. No more missing assignments. Yes, mom I know. And yes, I could live without it in the future. T.V died and internet came alive-but even that got boring. I went outside and spent more time thinking. People don’t need everything they think they do.”-age 17
For a little while I did miss the news the most. Now MSN headlines and NPR provide me with all I need. I’m able to attend two schools at once, run my business, and be the personal assistant to the five other spirits in my family. This is only one of many seasons of my life and I know there will be so much more. While doing something “mindless” every now and then has its place, I certainly don’t want to miss the messy bits called life by spending every evening infront of the T.V. I am blessed to have this choice.
My hope for you is that you will stop daydreaming about being on Dancing with the Stars and go take a dance lesson instead. You’ll have the time when you intentionally choose to live!
What are you going to do today that changes everything for the better?
Let me know your thoughts here or follow/chat with me on twitter @radiatevitality.