Tips on how to turn-off the TV in your home.

Difficult as it may be to imagine in the techno-crazy world of today, there are families that make a conscious decision to live without a television. It has nothing to do with cost, the quality of television programming, saving on TV licensing fees or that they can’t afford one of the new, wondrous flat-screen, wall-mountable, 3D television sets that might just about fit on the side of their house - if they built an extension! The decision to become a television-free household is made on the basis of quality of life.

It never ceases to amaze how often people sit through a film and then turn to their neighbouring couch potato and say “well that was a load of rubbish wasn’t it?”. It’s a scene that even has a regular, re-occurring parody slot on far too many sitcoms and comedy programmes. What is really scary is that we do this consciously night after night. Sometimes, it’s even possible to predict within the first ten minutes of a movie that, as the credits role, we’re going mutter these words, but we still sit there and keep watching. Why? Is it habit or is it because we’ve forgotten what the alternatives are and the kid’s will scream blue-murder if we take the television away? Here are a couple of tips from a family that’s tried to do away with the TV-set:

  • If you’re not ready to live without television completely, limit it to a certain amount per day (this includes DVDs). If you choose this option, here’s a word to the wise; kids are mightily persistent and it’s very probable that you’ll give in to their constant, pitiful calls for “just one more Mickey Mouse” or your hubby’s insistence that he just has to watch the “game”.
  • If at all possible, get rid of the television (or televisions if they have managed to multiply in your house). Not entirely of course, just put it in the cellar or the attic out of sight for a month and see how you get on. The tantrums that ensue will be short-lived and you can always be a bit sneaky and tell everyone it’s broken and gone for repair. After a month, the family will be so engrossed in alternative activities that requests to watch the telly will be rare.

So what are the alternatives:

  • Send the kids out to play. Better still, go with them and kick the ball around, play camping, build a go-cart or anything, just get out in the fresh air.
  • Board Games - Operation, Monopoly, Battleships, Guess Who, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo. They all still exist and are great fun.
  • Cards - invite friends over to play card games. Make it a cheese and wine with cards party.
  • Arts and Crafts - paint Easter Eggs, make pictures for the walls, make home-made gifts for birthdays, valentines, mothers’ day etc.
  • Make Music - have each member of the family choose an instrument and learn to play together - jammin’ sessions.
  • Learn a new skill - you know, the thing you always wanted to do but never had the time!
  • Exercise - get out and play football instead of just watching it on the box.
  • Read and then have book reviews (this includes Mum and Dad).
  • Cook together and come up with new, creative meals.

Developing any new habit is difficult but after a few weeks you will find that your quality of life has improved enormously. You’ll be spending more time together as a family, communicating more, learning new skills, finding out new things about each other and maybe even becoming a little fitter and more active, and therefore healthy, not only in mind but also in body.