Why We Got Rid of Our TV, and How It’s Going 2 Months Later
*Note: Every home and situation is unique, so what works for me may not work for you! These are my personal thoughts and experiences, and they are not meant to induce guilt or provide a template for life. They are meant to get you thinking!
A few months ago, my husband and I moved our family from a postage stamp lot in suburban St. Louis to a newly-renovated home.
This new home is on land, by a private lake, near a small town, in rural Missouri.
During the renovation we stayed with my parents. We had our own separate living area with our own separate TV. During that time, I let my kids watch it quite a bit every day because, honestly, it was a good way to keep them out of trouble. In the evenings my husband and I would turn on HGTV, etc.
My dad also enjoys politics, so all this was in addition to the news channel that was often playing in the background throughout the day.
What I found was this:
1. I found that my kids would ask to watch cartoons often. If I refused, someone was probably going to throw a fit. The ingratitude and entitlement I saw were alarming.
2. If one of my children were happily engrossed in creative play, at the mention of TV by another child, the first one would instantly lose interest in her activity.
3. TV was an easy babysitter for me, and I was using it too much.
4. I found that when the TV was on in the evenings, I would watch it even if I didn’t really care about the show. In my tiredness, it was hypnotic.
5. When the TV was on in the evenings I would not be productive with my time, and I would usually stay up too late.
6. TV led my husband, children and I to be more idle, and I couldn’t see what we were gaining from it.
7. National news channels highlighted the ugliness, division and hatred in our country. Because I am a sensitive person, this stressed me out. (I can pray for our president and nation without knowing all the gory details.)
8. False worldviews and strategic agendas are rampantly streaming across our televisions (even disguised in the most innocent of packages). It’s a lot to sift through!
I also considered the temporary nature of TV watching. Although good can come from it if we are pointed back to Christ, driven to prayer, or equipped in some way, overall, it is momentary pleasure. It is about being entertained for hours, that add up into days, that add up into weeks, that add up into months or more of our brief lives on this earth.
TV is not necessarily bad (although it certainly can be), it’s just really… temporary. It can be fun or even helpful, but at the end of our lives, we will probably have little to show for all that time spent.
As I examined myself and these observations, I realized that some of my own behaviors weren’t adding up.
I chose to homeschool my kids so we could spend more intentional time together, and yet I was content with allowing them to watch TV to get away from them.
I put TV on for my kids during the day so I could get work done or take a nap, and then when they went to bed, I watched television.
As much as I love winding down to an episode of Fixer Upper, even Chip and Jo don’t own a TV!
All these thoughts percolated until one day, I hit my limit. I couldn’t wait another moment to tell my husband, so I hastily fired text messages at him in the midst of his full-time home-remodeling responsibilities.
And then, crickets.
No response all day. That pretty much confirmed my suspicion that this was not going to happen. But then again, it’s not really the sort of thing you decide in a text message.
That evening he opened up the conversation. By this point, I wanted the stillness and accountability almost desperately, but I didn’t see how he would agree. After he heard me out, he dropped this bombshell,
“I was never going to put up a TV in our new house.”
He explained that, in his mind, there was simply no good place to mount a TV. He also said that he agreed with me. So it was decided. And two months ago, we started our new life together in our quiet, country house.
How it’s going now, two months later
There’s not a day that goes by that my heart doesn’t soar with gratitude that I have the opportunity to live this simple, peaceful, not-so-overstimulated, not-so-idle life. I feel like my home is a sweet oasis. I am so thankful that my husband and I were unified in this significant life-style change.
And the kids?
Well, the kids never really questioned it. They are little (ages 6, 4 and 2), and it was their understanding that the new house simply didn’t come with a TV. Since it wasn’t an option, they adapted almost instantly with no complaining. Ha!
I think they felt a little lost at first. They had to relearn patterns and expectations about how their day would go. However, after two months, they do not miss it one bit. (As far as I can tell that is. If asked, they would probably say differently).
Now TV is a special treat for grandma and grandpa’s house. We have even had a couple of special movie nights where the kids drag their little chairs into the office and watch something on dad’s computer. We’re averaging about one per month.
Overall, we fell into new rhythms quite easily and quickly.
In the afternoon, instead of TV, my kids read and play quietly in their rooms. This is our daily rhythm, and it provides me the space I need to get some writing done.
In the evenings, I watch the sunset over our lake with my Bible and a cup of tea, or sit up talking and dreaming with my husband, or maybe I get some work done, or go to bed early. How about that for an idea?
Yes, my kids are with me more throughout the day. And yes, they require more work to keep up with now. But I’m not pregnant. I don’t have an infant. I’m healthy, and I have more support than ever with my husband working from home. There is constant activity, so I don’t struggle with loneliness or boredom.
I’m grateful that I get to live a life that feels ever-so-much-more intentional to me.
Now, in our home, there is more quiet, more rest, more books, more intentionality, more music, more discipleship, more time outside, and more self-discipline.
If you ask me, it’s pretty great!
Are you longing for a simpler, deeper, richer life?
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So, I’ve complied these into a free, quick-reference, 30-day scripture writing plan!
The practice of simply writing scripture helps us to focus our hearts and minds and interact with God’s word in a tangible way. It is incredibly simple, yet profoundly helpful when you’re feeling scattered.
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Thank you for your wonderful post. I have gone back and forth for years. It would be mostly just for me. My kids are in their 20’s and each have purchased a tv for their space and my husband was given one as a gift from his mom for Christmas. At this point the one TV I would get rid of would be the family room one it’s the only one I watch. I never use to be a TV person I just couldn’t sit still that long, but as I was pondering the other day I broke down in tears thinking of all the life I’ve lost to TV in the past years. As someone who has several mental health conditions I have been using it as a way to distract my brain instead of actually working on my therapy’s. Thank you again for the encouragement I need to revisit this idea.
I’m totally on board with you! There were a few years in my childhood when we didn’t have a tv — those were the years I became a bookworm! When I went away to Bible college, there was no TV in the dorm, and I didn’t buy one. I wanted to focus exclusively on Christ during my years there. Then, after I graduated and got married, we didn’t buy a TV for our home. I actually just realized it’s been TEN YEARS since I had a TV. I wrote an article about my experience of digital minimalism at https://jaimieeckert.com/minimalism/decade-of-digital-minimalism/. It’s been totally worth it. With that said, I’m not a mom yet, so I don’t know how big the temptation will be to get a digital babysitter once I have little ones of my own! It’s great that it’s working for you, and I really, really hope I can make it work with kids as well as it’s worked for me these last ten years!
Thank you for sharing this journey to being tv free! I would ditch our tv in a heartbeat – and Netflix on the iPad etc.
But I think my husband would be a hard sell.
I see how my 4-year old gets sucked in. And I feel like I’m losing him. Thank you for showing us a different way to live intentionally.
I’m kinda with you on no more TV, but we discovered Crossflix, Pureflix and ChristianCinema.com so were all about Christian programming through our Roku device. Cancelling the TV subscription next month when the contract is over and it is quite a huge difference in my mind and soul. Thank you for an interesting post.
You are so ahead if the game. If I had to do it over the tv would be a planter.
The extra work now will save you in the long run in spades. Tv’s actually turns our brains into opium so we’re clueless to what’s going on.
But that’s a very large can of worms.
Oh that sounds delightful! Something to definitely think about 🙂 Thanks Katie!
Thank you for sharing your story and experience. It can be helping us to our home project.
Love this post! I’m not quite as brave as you, so we haven’t gone tv free, but I recently implemented the rule ‘no tv before dark’ (my son is almost in high school) because I felt that his days seemed to be getting to the point where they were ruled by what show was on when! I got a little bit of push back, but now that he knows that’s the rule, he will go and find other things to do, including reading more (yay!)
Yesssss! Thank you for chronicling this decision and it’s affects on your family. We need to see this activity lived out. Constant technology becomes the go to for us too and it’s just not healthy!!! Thank you for being obedient and transparent 🙂
This post was such a blessing and very timely in my life!
I’m so glad Rachel!