Television: The Evil Babysitter

We’ve had a bit of an epiphany over the last week. When our kids watch less television, they’re a lot more enjoyable. You’d think that two highly educated adults like my husband and me would have discovered this a long time ago – we certainly don’t live in a bubble. But TV is convenient. And it’s a free babysitter, as much as I hate to fess up to using it in that way.

To make a long story short, Chloe had to atone for some sins this week, and we banned her from TV. In all honesty, we did this with some trepidation, because we were afraid that by banning her from TV, we’d be punishing ourselves. But we stuck to our guns. As a result, Sophie watched less TV too. What happened? Did the girls mope around the house like zombies, suffering from TV withdrawal? Nope.

Quite the opposite, in fact. They played games with each other. They did arts & crafts together. They listened to music. The house was messier than usual, but that’s a small price to pay.

Perhaps most astonishing of all was that Chloe, remembering the points system we had created for her a few months ago to encourage positive behavior, set the dinner table every night this week. WITHOUT BEING ASKED! If I believed in alternate universes, I would have been convinced that the Chloe I encountered this week was some kind of clone of the Chloe I birthed.

Not once did Chloe ask to watch TV, or moan and groan about the ban. Sophie watched some of her shows (she hadn’t been punished), but Chloe wasn’t interested. When I asked Chloe how she felt about TV’s reduced role in her life, she even admitted it wasn’t so bad.

The end result of this experiment is that as of Monday, we’re significantly reducing the girls’ TV time. I’m not going to make false promises, because stage II of this experiment might turn out to be a lot shorter than we intend it to be. But for now anyway, no more evil babysitter for us, at least not for the next few weeks.

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