I enjoy television. My kids enjoy television. I know that some criticize the notion of families sitting around staring at the boob tube together, but this summer in particular, we had some good bonding experiences around the TV. For example, one day a show called Hole in the Wall came on after Terry's football game ended. Kyle, Amanda, Terry and I all watched (and laughed) together at this silly game show/reality event sort of show. We haven't become regular viewers, because in general we are watching less TV, but Kyle still asks me when the "bust through the hole" show is coming on again.
When I was at TJ Maxx early this summer, I picked up some Good Eats DVDs, because they were a bargain (about $5 with 3 or 4 episodes on each DVD) and also because it's a show Amanda and I enjoying watching together on the Food Network. We had so much fun watching an episode here and there throughout the summer while Kyle was napping or otherwise engaged.
Terry and I also bond through TV -- yelling at reality stars together (or politicians). Whenever we're watching a silly sitcom, and I laugh out loud, he says, "I like it when you laugh," because somehow I've gotten the reputation of no-fun Jennifer, even though it is he who recently decided to stop watching a lot of the mindless TV that we used to veg through hours of each night. No matter -- the point is that over the last couple of years, we have been watching much less TV. Mostly as shows that we used to enjoy watching went off the air, we simply didn't replace them in the line up. Instead, we read or talked or just went to bed earlier.
Another thing that has worked for us is watching TV on DVD. For a while, we've done this with 24 and more recently we decided to watch the last season of Friends, which we never really saw. Netflix works great for this. We get to enjoy a show, but on our time (I should probably explain that we don't have TiVo, so we can't just record and watch later as a matter of course. I have been flirting with the idea, but everyone I know who has it says that they end up watching much more TV, so I'll just continue recording House on the VCR so that I can watch it on my own the following day. Between that fact, and the extra $5 (or more?) for the rest of my life on my Direct TV bill, we've again decided against it).
I've realized lately that something needs to change -- again. This time, it's my children's television viewing habits. This summer they watched quite a bit, and Amanda finally got into all the Disney tween empire shows. Now neither of my children are responding well to moderation, so I just told Amanda and Kyle that there will be no TV on school days. Much to my surprise, Amanda said, "That's a good idea, Mom" (proving that even independent tweens actually want to be parented). Kyle complained a little more. I will allow Kyle to watch TV during the day on the two days he's home from preschool while Amanda is at school, but for both of them, there will be no morning or afternoon TV.
See, I don't do well with moderation, and I don't think the kids do either. I was allowing Amanda to veg for 30 or 45 minutes when she got home from school before doing homework and chores, but half the time it led to an argument when it was time to turn it off, "But Mom, I've never seen this episode."
In spite of the fact that she thinks it's a good idea, I think that it will require willpower on my end, so that's why I'm posting my intent publicly. I know that it's going to be a good thing, and it's the right thing for us to do, but it's also not easy always being the enforcer. With complete abstinence, those kinds of arguments are avoided, once they get used to the idea.
What about you? How do you (or do you?) moderate your own TV viewing and that of your children? Are you pleased with how it's working out?