The 5 Stages of No TV

We recently moved house. Twice. First to my Mum’s place for two weeks, and then to a rental for 10 months while our actual house is being renovated.

Moving house again after having moved house eleven times throughout the course of my adult life seemed a little more than I could bear. Of course, renovating our house is clearly an exciting undertaking, but as we trudged around our neighbourhood looking for somewhere to lay our hats for less than a year my heart became heavy. Not again….

I yearned to avoid doing it.

If we could experience life on a houseboat, for example, that would somehow seem purposeful. Travelling Australia in a campervan for the duration could do the trick. Or a stint on a farm. Or Tuscany.

But moving all our worldly goods and chattels to a three bedroom house up the road in Ferguson Street just didn’t quite hold the same allure.

Still, it had to be done. And so I decided upon the only new experience I could come up with: minimalism.

Each of the children was allowed to bring just one box of toys. No more kids books than would fit into our small bookshelf. No vases. No trinkets. No ornaments of any kind. No pictures. No more than 6 plates, bowls and glasses.

And no TV.

We are 9 days in, and I believe there are five distinct emotional states one experiences in this situation:

Stage 1: Smug Self-congratulation

The night we moved in, we ordered pizza. We sat around the living room eating and chatting. It was nice. “See Hubby? If we had a TV, we would probably have been watching it and not having this lovely family time!”

And the next night when we played a (simple version of) charades, I smiled an “I told you so” smile at Hubby as our children mimed going to the toilet.

Stage 2: Nowhere to Hide

The moment you realise you have given up one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal can be a shock. Of course, it should have come as no surprise that it is now almost impossible to have a phone conversation without being interrupted by persistent demands for attention, but somehow I was so immersed in Stage 1 that I hadn’t considered it.

Stage 3: Delighted Contentment

There is nothing quite as satisfying as watching your children rush downstairs to immerse themselves in some imaginary game and then play together for AGES and AGES. This stage could be mistaken for Smug Self-congratulation, but is subtly different due to the uneasy knowledge that Nowhere to Hide lurks menacingly nearby.

Stage 4: Temptation

There is one member of our family whom I am convinced is suffering from TV withdrawal. She is three, and it could be that the intensity of her tantrums over the last week are related to her being the devil’s actual spawn, or (preferably, I suppose) she may be missing the calming effects of her trancelike viewing of Peppa Pig and Angelina Ballerina. At the height of these appalling displays, I am almost tempted to get in the car and drive to the storage facility in which our TV currently resides. Almost.

This stage, it is also fair to note, might also result in one watching the final episode of Offspring on their laptop. It seems like a double standard, I know, but the no-TV rule cannot seriously be expected to apply to Patrick’s funeral…

Stage 5: Acceptance

I haven’t reached Stage 5 yet, but I am hoping it exists. I imagine this stage involves not even thinking about TV. When I am on the phone, the children all hunker down on the couch with their favourite books. And after they go to bed, the Scrabble board is brought out almost without thought. Those four unwatched episodes of Breaking Bad we have on iTunes fade into the background as guitars are played, clever discussions are held on a wide range of topics, and who knows what else?!

It’s possible we’ll be stuck in a perpetual loop between stages 2, 3 and 4, at least for the short term. And we may well be forced to chalk it up to experience and reconnect Foxtel immediately upon arriving back home (or as early as next week).

But for now, I’m embracing the novelty.

And if from time to time I decide to get myself a couple of chocolate chip biscuits and lie in bed watching Time of Our Lives on i-view while no-one is watching, then surely that’s my prerogative…

Image courtesy of tungphoto/


8 thoughts on “The 5 Stages of No TV

  1. I wish I would take the initiative to do this! I am bothered by the TV most of the time, because the children are constantly drawn to it. I refuse to let my kids have one in their room, because I have enough problems keeping their attention now! I believe I really could go without it…..but, like you said…..what if I need just a small fix of one of MY FAVORITE shows?? 🙂 great post!

  2. Nice to have you back… life sounds busy and you are much braver than I – as I hate watching TV on my laptop! I find my kids are more interested in screen time – laptop & ipad and try to convince me that it is homework, rather than the box itself.

    Good luck with the renos and do let us know when you are back south for a work jaunt!

  3. I applaud you for taking the plunge that I have often considered (though only semi-seriously, West Wing re-runs just wouldn’t be the same on the laptop!) I think we could just about go without tv for the kids. Short-term experiments have certainly been encouraging. The thing that holds me back is….what would I do when they are sick??? Just picked up a sick and miserable Miss 3 from kindy and all she wanted to do was flop on the couch and watch Peppa. And as it is becoming increasingly apparent that the little darling has shared her germs with me, I am more than happy to oblige!

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