We Gave Up TV for a Week and This Happened

It’s been an exceptionally gray week in February. Nasal secretions are especially green and slime-like and those of us who aren’t coughing are seriously tired of listening to those who are.

We’ve been cooped up, worn down and suffice it to say, tensions are running high.

And by tensions, I mean fights over who watches what on Netflix have been more contentious and  frequent than usual. It has gotten to the point where, if I have to referee one more argument that includes the words “Beat Bugs” and “Veggie Tales”, I am going to rip the U-Verse cable out of the wall and hang myself with it.

So we devised a plan (I say we, but what I really mean is, in a fit of rage I came up with this solution and my husband was kind enough to indulge me). A plan to ween our children off television – even if it was only for a week. Here’s what happened:

We Got Creative

No, I don’t mean I went on Pinterest and dredged up a thousand DIYs to fill up our time. I do that sometimes, but not this time. What I mean is, we figured out ways to make our boring, routine weeknights less boring and less routine. We ate take-out food for dinner on the floor of our sun room. We played board games as a family before bedtime. We drew comic books on the coffee table and finished Oliver’s class Valentines. We also did chores, rented a jackhammer and painted with toilet paper rolls. In short, we came up with ways to fill our time that involved the whole family stretching themselves a little bit. And it felt kind of good.

We Danced

It became clear pretty quickly that despite the fact that TV never really took up an inordinate amount if our day, there were going to be some blocks of time we needed to fill during its absence. Enter The Kitchen Dance Party. I am not what you’d call a strong dancer, but desperate times call for desperate measures. So my kids put on socks so I could spin them around really fast, and we danced our faces off.

A few notes about dance parties (get it???)…

We took turns picking songs, because there are only so many times I can shake my tail feather to Black Dog. I’m sure you have your own kid song kryptonite.

I’ve found that these dance parties are roughly 6,000 times more fun, if you take out your mom bun and swing your hair around like Taylor Swift.

How to give up Screens for a week-2

We Established a Mantra

It drives me crazy when my kids tattle on each other. If I’m being completely honest, I’d rather listen to bickering in another room than someone ratting out their brother for purposely stepping on their LEGO plane. But when no amount of covering my ears seemed to deter the onslaught of narc-ing during prolonged periods of playtime, we reestablished a mantra that my children finally seem old enough to understand.

“Work it out.”

Things started out rocky, but I’ll be darned if after a few days of hearing it, my 5-year-old didn’t charge into my bedroom yesterday morning, with his mouth full of a big, juicy tattle and turn right on his heels as soon as he heard those three little words. Work it out.

Even if they don’t work it out exactly the way I would have, I’m just happy they’re finding solutions to their problems that involve compromise and not my bleeding eardrums.

This parenting strategy is loosely based off an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, so we’re fairly confident of its efficacy. 

How to give up Screens for a week

We I Stopped Missing it

Before this week began, I used to watch the clock compulsively, awaiting the arrival of 7pm. That was magic moment when we could all plop down on the couch together to turn on Netflix and zone out until bedtime. I can honestly tell you 7pm has come and gone this week, often times without me noticing. My kids have started playing together for longer stretches, with toys they haven’t touched in eons. There are longer bubble baths and book reading sessions. We have found ways to make it through the day.


By my count, it’s been nine days on this island* I’m not going to lie to you and tell you my kids aren’t asking to watch TV anymore. Because they are. And I’m also not gong to lie to you and say this is a permanent change for our family. But it’s a change for now, because, hell – it’s working.


*If I’m being completely transparent, we took in a family screening of The Batman Lego Movie earlier this week. And if I’m also being completely transparent, I will share that a massive hissy fit was thrown by our toddler immediately following the film? Coincidence? Maybe? Sugar crash? Oh yeah, that was totally it.


  1. Love the idea of taking some time off from the TV! Great tips! and omg I love your sense of humor “I am going to rip the U-Verse cable out of the wall and hang myself with it” lol you’re my kinda gal!

  2. Good for you! Soon it will become a habit and Spring will be here! Good mama skills!

  3. I would love to be able to do this. My kids watch waaaay too much TV. But I don’t know if I’d survive!

  4. I love this idea and want to do it so bad! Why is it that turning off technology seems to daunting? Definitely going to talk to my husband about this…even if it’s just a couple of nights a week!

    • That’s awesome! It is totally hard at first. I think we’ll probably land on something like “no tv during the week”. Just to give their little brains a break 🙂

  5. Such a good idea! It can be tough, but so refreshing at the same time! It’s always good to take a break. We cancelled our cable not long ago and it’s been major!

  6. This is actually something I’ve been thinking about doing recently. Time to unplug the TV.

  7. Work it out is the mantra we all need!! We have TV free days but a week (or more would probably be good for us too!

  8. Love these ideas! We started doing puzzles after dinner until bedtime to take place of tv time. It can be so easy to just flip it on and sit for hours and hours. But I will take the dance parties and quality time any day!

    • Yes! Puzzles are an awesome idea. To fill the dinner/bedtime gap, I think we might need a 1,000 piece jigsaw with lots of sky 😉

  9. Love this idea! I really do find that the more TV that my son watches (he’s 3), the worst his behavior is! We love dance parties too! Great way to pass time, burn off some energy and get laughing!

  10. How did the project with the jackhammer turn out? I’m impressed that you can now check that box on the list of life experiences!

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