Monday, April 28, 2008

Tuesday Ten: Turn off the television

Tuesday Ten: National Turn Off Your Television Week

We participate. Not because we're hopping on the all-television-is-evil bandwagon, though I've certainly got some concerns about the impact of television and screen time on developing brains. (But we won't go into that beyond mentioning that I was raised without a television at all, and loving husband grew up in front of one. We've reached a workable balance for our family.) We already have screen limits in place, so we aren't trying to make a point. We participate simply because it usually gives us a chance rediscover pastimes, individually and as a family, that may have been neglected in favor of the easier screen choices. And we have fun together.

Ten ways ways to occupy time, Poohsticks style.....

1. Watch insects.

The praying mantises are growing. We did an emergency release into the garden despite the still-chilly weather at the beginning of the week. Apparently praying mantis young are not as cannibalistic as we were led to believe, and we simply had no way to feed them all. So they were let go to fend for themselves.

The remaining mantises are well-fed and housed in middle young gent's bug habitat. They're getting longer and creepier by the day.

2. Play all things to do with knights, castles and swords.
That's pretty much been our week around here, boys running around with swords. I wonder if medieval mothers said wearily, "If I've said it once, I've said it umpteen times: No swords in the kitchen."

3. Ask Mom incessantly, "When is no-screen week over? Is it over tomorrow? Can we watch a movie anyway? How many more days? Can we play on the computer? Why not?"

4. Start a business.First-grade gent tried selling flowers off the front porch a few weeks ago, and the fifty cents or so that he raked in made him hungry for more. He'd mentioned selling worms like the boy in Where the Red Fern Grows, and we've been so busy that I've been putting him off. Sunday he and his brother made signs: "Worms for Sale--25 cents a cup" and "Duck Food 75 cents", picked worms out of the compost while I turned it, and off we went to the park. They sold two cups of duck food and six worm cups. I suspect that the folks fishing were kindly interested in supporting a fine young entrepeneur more than they were really in need of worms, but hey, whatever sells, right? Now I've got to take them to the store to buy Hot Wheels with the $3 they earned.

5. With the leftover product, feed the ducks yourselves.

6. Birdwatch.
Then enter the results at

We saw canada geese, mallards, rock pigeons, crows, a scrub jay, American wigeons, and an American coot. I love the wigeons. They're a dainty little duck, with a narrow head and a cry like a cross between a whistle and a beep.

7. Go to the library.
We spent a lovely forty-five minutes between choir and piano at the library with friends. The library has a beautiful children's courtyard. It's a work of art. The benches and ground are inlaid with beautiful tile, with animal and nature poetry printed in some of the tile. We had a scavenger hunt, searching for riddles and poems and sayings.

8. Learn to ride a bike.

Mommy-guilt: I realized that I had a seven-year-old who didn't know how to ride a bike because I hadn't taught him. Pure laziness on my part. So I geared up for a grueling afternoon of grinning my face off and cheerfully saying, "It's all right, get up and try again!"

I gave a push and he sailed around the yard.

9. Ride bikes all around the neighborhood.

10. Play games, read stories, snuggle, garden, play chase, go for a walk, listen to music. We intended to try each of the activities on the activity list we'd picked up from the library when then boys signed their no-screen pledge. But we were too busy playing to look at the list.

Bonus, #11. What teens do when they're disconnected from their lifeline:
Listen to music.
Talk on the phone. A lot.
Play games with the family.
Invite friends over to draw, play Cranium, talk, goof around. (Then go to a movie.)
Draw and paint.
Read magazines.
Talk to their parents.....maybe we should do this every week. (Just kidding, girls.)

1 comment:

Faith said...

Very cool - reminds me of the month last summer where we (almost) eliminated tv. I've been thinking about having a weekly tv free day - we already have one "screen free" day (Sunday) where the kids are permitted to watch tv only if we watch a movie (or Red Sox game, lol) as a family - I'd like to have a tv free day. I think the kids would find it easier than I do!