We recently had the pleasure of moving to a new home for the first time in our married lives. It's such a peaceful experience, moving. As I systematically packed a box and moved on to the next, my 3-year-old daughter would move stealthily behind me and remove items or switch them around. We're still missing things. I know for a fact I had a hand mixer at one point. It has vanished—along with some of my sanity.
As we were getting all the big items ready to move, I knew of one item I wanted to leave behind. It was daring. It was bold. It might have been completely crazy. But I left our TV right where it sat, in its place of pride in the family room. Honestly, it was scary to even think about. If you walk into almost any family room you'll immediately notice that all the furniture is positioned around the television. For us, that always made it less of a family room and more of a, "Let's all sit silently around the boob tube and veg out room." I didn't want that for our new house. And while there are definitely moments when I miss it, overall the effect has been pretty amazing and definitely positive. Here's what has actually happened since we ditched the TV and went with the literal meaning of "family room."
1. My 3-year-old doesn't wake up asking for PAW Patrol anymore.
There was a definite adjustment period and the whining got to me more than once. But when we finally got over the hump, my daughter would wake up and start playing with her toys or help me make breakfast instead of starting her day with her face in front of a screen. There have been a few times where I'll give her my phone when I'm too exhausted to function that early, but for the most part, it's been a good transition. One of the ways we eased into it was by allowing a timed amount of iPad or iPhone play, which we lessened every day.
2. Toys are actually played with instead of sitting in the closet.
Lego sets and castles, crafts and tea sets were just collecting dust. All of that money seemed wasted. She would play with something for a few minutes and then ask to watch a show and the toy would be forgotten until I could coerce her to play with it again. Now she spends hours organizing her My Little Pony toy set and having conversations with them. And speaking of...
3. Imaginative play has gotten a big boost.
My daughter has always been creative, but I noticed a definite upswing in the amount of imagination and resourcefulness during playtime. Wind chimes were suddenly fascinating, her play tent turned into her "house" where she would take pretend naps, and the list goes on.
4. We started cooking together as a family.
Before we got rid of it, I would typically turn on the TV when I started to make dinner. Hello, screen babysitter. Now, my daughter has a permanent step stool in the kitchen and is all about helping. She's learning, it makes her proud, and more likely to eat what she's making. Yes, it definitely takes longer and there's a bit more of a mess, but hey, that's life.
5. I started getting more involved in playtime.
She still has plenty of time to do her own thing, but when she invites me to a tea party, I'm all about joining in instead of watching Gilmore Girls reruns. It's tightened our bond even more and I'm grateful for that.
6. The living room has become a place to gather, talk, and play games.
No longer is the furniture arranged around the TV. Instead, we have a stack of board games at the ready. After family dinner, we sit around, drink coffee, and chat. I now have wall space to hang photos of our travels and honestly, I personally think it just looks a lot nicer.
7. The TV time my kid does get is more special.
Currently, the closest TV is at my daughter's grandparent's house, which is a short walk away. When she really wants to watch a show, we have to think about and plan for it instead of just reaching for the remote because it's easy.
8. My husband and I get more quality time.
Don't get me wrong, we still watch Netflix on our laptop in bed sometimes. But for the most part, we spend our evenings after our daughter goes to bed talking, planning, dreaming, and getting some good one on one time.
I'm not telling you to go out and trash your TV. And I have absolutely zero judgment of those who do have a TV in their living room. For us, it was just hard to abide by a certain amount of time per day. Oftentimes it was simply easier to give in and say, okay, let's watch a show. But then that would turn into three. So for our little family, we decided to remove the temptation and at the end of the day, I'm glad we did. After all, I'll always have Netflix.