16 October 2009

TV: Unplugged

It's been a week since Presley and Cash have watched television. They haven't even tried to turn it on today. I pulled the plug, quite literally, because I couldn't stand to watch another episode of the drivel that is 'Big and Small'.

There has been a great deal of fuss made this week about the Australian government's guidelines that television should be banned for the under twos and limited for the under fives. You can read about it in The Times and The Telegraph.

Some have called it mummy-bashing. It's another way to criticise parents and mothers in particular for raising obese couch potatoes. On Twitter @TheNobleSavage had this to say:
"Sorry, but I'm not convinced that kids watching tv is the end of the world. Mothers have enough guilt w/out this bollocks."

Flea, Sally's daughter, has never watched television. You can read why on Who's the Mummy?.

Dulwich Divorcee has no problem with her children watching television, so long as it is rationed.

Liz at Living With Kids agrees and there are some excellent comments on her post too.

Well, I pulled the plug before all of this started, but I'm not the first to do it. Hot Cross Mum banned television for a week last month. She found it tough going for the first couple of days.

Since I started blogging I have watched less and less the idiots' lantern. In the last week I have watched 'Strictly Come Dancing' and an old episode of 'Wife Swap' we had recorded and never watched. I also sat on the sofa with my laptop whilst Andy watched 'Electric Dreams'. That's it. That's enough for me.

Presley was never that interested in the tellybox. I recorded three programmes each day from CBeebies for him to watch: 'Something Special', 'Big Cook Little Cook' and 'In The Night Garden'. He would happily watch these while I did some housework. Then along came Cash and I was busier and it was easy to leave the television on to entertain the boys. I would forget it was on.

I have to admit I did use television as a baby-sitter - something I said I would never do before I had children.

It was even worse after Cash learned how to turn the set on. He's the biggest telly-addict of them all. I kept telling myself that they didn't watch that much television. They were only watching the quality programmes: 'Nina and the Neurons', 'The Green Balloon Club', 'Mister Maker' and 'Grandpa in my Pocket'. Of course if you add up, that's a fair few hours of television each day. I'm quite ashamed.

I started to get quite sick of CBeebies, especially the cartoons and the noise. I particularly dislike programmes like 'Nuzzle and Scratch' and 'Bits and Bobs' (I'm not sure I even paid enough attention to get their names right)! Every time I turned the television off, Cash would turn it on again. 'Big and Small' was the final straw. Noise. Then silence.

I've loved being a mummy this week. Presley and Cash have played with all their toys. We've read all their books, many times. We've had massive tea parties. We've been artistic. We've sung and danced and played musical instruments. We invented the sock game. Don't ask. I think it's rubbish, they think it's hilarious. They've 'helped' me with the cooking and housework. We've watched the squirrels and birds in the garden. We haven't missed the telly at all.

So what now? I'd be happy to leave the television unplugged, but I believe in everything in moderation. Also, I've just bought some In The Night Garden toys in the half-price sale at Toys R Us. So I suppose I'll let them watch that!

Do you limit television in your house? Have you achieved a balance?



  1. I don't have a problem with TV watching but do severly limit it... sometimes! On days that Squidge goes to nursery she gets 30 minutes in the morning while I'm getting dressed. If I'm not done in those 30 minutes I shout down to her to turn the telly off and she does- with a little moan. The other 5 days it just depends- if it's a dry day and we go out she watches maybe 1- 1.5 hrs, more if we're stuck in the house all day. I find that she is a moany whiney pain in the butt if she watches too much tv. Doesn't want to stop and eat, won't pick up her toys, all because she doesn't want to miss anything. It's all about balance-if she has watched too much tv one day the next day she gets none. On the days when I restrict she plays with her toys and reads her books. Moderation! I don't feel guilty that she watches tv because I know I spend a lot of time with her.

  2. My motto is everything in moderation. I try to screen what the minimads watch, but I agree that a lot of children's TV is drivel. I hate Nick Jnr for the adverts, but the boys love superwhy and MaxiMad can actually read some of the words now and actually join in, but we watch it as a family.

    I find that I use Disney DVD's a lot too.

    So it is on first thing in the morning after breakfast before school and after bath before tea or vice versa, but then it is reading time.

    I also have a no screen time after 6pm rule and limited that too.

    I refuse to take on board any more mummy guilt. I am not a perfect mother, nor to I try to be. I am preparing them for an imperect world!!

  3. I agree with Nobel savage - parents are being bashed with so much crap these days, I dont find it fun being a parent anymore.

    Good on you for pulling the plug. I'm afraid the only plug I'll be pulling will be mine own, if things dont lighten up a bit!

    Well done you, for switching off the TV. A brave woman indeed.

    Love RMxx

  4. When I was pregnant & poorly (at mums) the tv was on all the time. I would get angry at other people (daddy, nana etc) for having it on cos sitting with boy & watching tv was one of he few things i could do, they were actually able to take him out to play, or any number of activities!! Now we are home, i have a new baby attached to the boob at least half the day, that needs carrying the rest of the time(put her down and she cries) so I amusing the tv a lot. But I also arrange trips out,friends to come and play etc, and it's not forever.Our tv is in a cabinet, and we've now got a cupboard lock at my insistence. Tears whenever the lock goes on but it's soon forgotten. But after this recent overload, I'm sick to death of telly, can't wait til I'm fully recovered, we'll be outside all the time!!

  5. I've read this post with great interest. It's a but too late for me to ban the TV now as IJ is six and apart from an hour of CBBC after school, she actually isn't that bothered about it as she is too busy ding other things. She did watch too much of it when she was younger, definitely and I am guilty of using it as a babysitter at times when I've been cooking or ironing. It is safer than her running round my feet. As I don't watch much TV it seems to have made her realise there are often better things to do with her time.

  6. I limit TV, but I think it's ok sometimes. I think my oldest watches it a couple of hours at the weekend. My youngest about fifteen minutes to half an hour a day. I'm not worried. They learn a lot, and I get some blogging time.

    I play the Night Garden for my one-year old (nearly two) and things like Planet Earth for my five-year old, but at the weekends, he chooses what he wants when he gets up first. We're just grateful he doesn't wake us up, and he's good about watching only kids' stuff.

  7. I'm in similar boat to allgrownup with the boob thing, it's much easier to just stick TV on for toddler whilst I'm feeding as I know he will sit and won't distract baby girl from her feed. Once she's finished though I make sure and spend time with toddler and that means TV off. The only other time it's on is if I'm cleaning or showering. It doesn't do him any harm, he's really come on through watching certain educational programs that have helped him with numbers and colours and shapes. We tend to watch a DVD or 2 on a Sunday if it's rubbish weather...currently daddy and toddler are watching Monsters VS Aliens. Everything in moderation!

  8. My oldest now 3.5 didn't watch much tv at all unroll we introduced a mini DVD player for long flights. Now shegets DVDs on weekend mornings, so her 18 month old brother gets them too. Banning tv for under twos is only practcal for the oldest child in a family, somthing these articles completely ignore!
    The fact that my kids are in daycare means they don't get the opportunity for as much tv. If I was home with them they would for sure get a little every day. Here inthe us it is hard to avoid the evil of commercials though, so I stick to DVDs

  9. You've probably seen in my blog my absolute hatred of the crap they play on Beebies. It gets worse when you put the TV up high and then your daughter dearest works out what channel to turn it over to using the remote!!!!!
    I have now outright banned Beebies on Sundays. I hate Big and Small, its just noise, and as for Show me Show me, they can keep it! I remember when I was a kid that we watched Kids TV for no more than a few hours with Pip Schofield in the Broom cupboard, or if you were lucky on Saturdays you could watch half hour of Going Live before you went out as a family.
    Although if they do start showing repeats of Button Moon or Dangermouse my decision may be swayed a little....
    Good on you hun!

  10. Lindy, great comment. You're so right, everything in moderation. I think it will be good to teach the boys about give and take too.

    The Mad House, you're right about the mummy-guilt. I hope I haven't come across as sanctimonious in my TV banning. It certainly wasn't a reaction to the mummy-bashing, but because I realised the TV was on far too much. There are some informative and educational programmes out there and I agree, moderation is key.

    RM, we don't need any more bashing! I wasn't being that brave, as the boys are a lot smaller than me and can't reach the plug! Take care x

    All Grown Up, you do get sick of seeing the same programmes all day every day! Mine have almost forgotten about TV already and I'm sure once you're properly back on your feet, and out and about, he won't miss it at all either.

    Rosie, it's lovely that IJ has plenty of other activities to keep her entertained. With no TV to baby-sit them, my boys are under my feet a lot more in the kitchen, but they love playing with wooden spoons and the tupperware!

    Mwa, your limits sound ideal. If and when I plug the TV back in I'll aim for one episode of ITNG and maybe one other programme.

    Laura, you're very good for making sure the TV gets turned off. I had let it become background noise. It's so peaceful without it!

    Geekymummy, I hadn't thought of the age thing at all! Well spotted. Perhaps DVDs are the answer, although our Tivo comes in really handy.

    Claire, yes, Big and Small, what's it about? I have no idea! I'd love it if there was a nostalgia channel that showed kids' TV from years ago. I'm a bit (okay a lot) older than you I think. I'd love to see Trumpton and Bagpuss!


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