It’s been a rotten week. Internet went kaplunk! Then the computer crashed. I weighed in and it was enough to make me (almost) cry. The kiddos are growing restless of summer. Then the new Disney’s Family Fun Magazine arrived and I was so excited to see, on page 92, a highlight about my family!
We recognized our children were Television Tyrants when we would walk in the house and one of them would automatically turn the television on. It wasn’t necessarily that someone was “watching” it, but it had to be “on”. It was on through dinner, causing heads to turn from the table and food to hit the floor. They’d barter bedtime with “on the next commercial” or “after this show”. It was out of control.
So we started a project. No TV for one week.
The first day was absolutely a nightmare. The children screamed. They couldn’t “function” without the television. It was too cold to venture outside so they had to rely on, dare I say it…”imagination”.The first morning after our project started, my husband started it off with the school lunch menu. He reviewed the lunch items for that day and then said, “I bet I know what you had for lunch?” At first, eyes rolled so he added, “If I don’t guess right, I’ll clean your room.”When the children came home from school, and before Dad came home, I asked each child what they had for lunch (so there’d be no cheating!)That night at dinner, my husband started the ball rolling with the conversation starter “I know what you had for lunch”…he didn’t guess right–earning the children a FREE Room Cleaning!It started the conversation rolling as they couldn’t wait to tell us EVERYTHING they ate, who they ate with and from there what their day was all about at school!It’s a “featured” conversation every night.Now, we start every meal with “I know what you had for lunch”.Some of our other favorites:1.) Tell me three things you did today that make you proud.2.) If you could invite anyone in the whole world to dinner, who would be sitting at the table with us?3.) What do you want to be when you grow up?4.) What was the greatest thing you learned today?
By day two there were still withdrawals, but dinner time was a time of conversation. We eat dinner as a family, but the conversation, with television blaring in the background was less than appealing. “What happened at school today?” had been a response of “nothing”…now, Day Two without television suddenly had us talking about the adventures of monkey bars, the lunch menu and what so-and-so wore today.
It’s opened conversation and brought out the comedian in our children.When we started the topic “I’m a Nomad and able to travel wherever I want–tell me where I should go and why…” My six year old said, “Mom, you can’t say “Crazy”; you’re already there!”My four year old is a curious one, at dinner he was asked, “Tell me something I won’t believe happened to you today.” He thought about it and said, “I peddled like a maniac on a bike today and had to tell Mom “somethings wrong, I’m not going anywhere”. Can you believe it. I’m a good peddler!” (it was a stationary bike !)It has also changed our family for the better:In the beginning we heard things like: “But the Jonas Brothers are on!” and “Why do we have to talk? I don’t want to talk.” “I’ll be at the table after this show.”Now they say things like: “I can’t wait to tell you at dinner about my day!” or “I have some BIG news to share at dinner tonight!” They each ask, “Can I help you with dinner?”My six year old says, “Dinner time without the TV is the best time I’ve ever had!”They understand that there are NO interruptions at dinner. We all focus on each other–our day, our triumphs and some times we even ask for advice.
Here are some more tips to get the conversation rolling:Take the time to read through papers that come home from school; listen to them interact with their siblings and friends. These will give you some “topics”.Try and start with praise before the question. Something along the lines of “I heard you had an assembly today; I know you really love assemblies. What about this assembly made you giggle?”We give each child a “turn” to answer the question. They can “pass” or “answer”. They may only “pass” once during dinner.Be silly and let your children ASK YOU questions or pick a topic.We have a “dinner dilemma jar” where slips of paper contain questions. We have used this and it initiated conversation in the beginning when the children were still whining about NO TV and they were “missing my favorite show!” The questions are things like: “Who is your best friend? Tell me why?”; “How high can you count? Prove it.”; “Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?”; “What has been your favorite family vacation?”
Check it out…the article is about giving up television. My kiddos think they’re celebrities for sure and are back at crunchin’ TV time to keep “fans” from disappointment!