Switch off Sunday – a TV free experiment

I found a note book recently that I had when I was pregnant with Sofia. I’d jotted down ideas about the kind of the mum I wanted to be. One line really struck me “Don’t use the TV as a baby sitter.” I really was that naïve!

Fast forward to now. My 7 year old daughter loves TV and will happily sit in a CBBC trance. She is very proficient with the Sky remote. My 3 year old twins also love to watch TV.

TV loveSwitch off Sunday

I’m not anti TV at all. There are some great shows. I particularly like the ones that teach the kids by stealth. Our favourites are the Octonauts (we are all very down with marine biology), Messy Goes to Okido (nothing cuter than a 3 year old saying “I am made of atoms, everything is made of atoms”) and the Go Jetters (for a little bit of geography).

The boys stopped napping just after they turned 2 and a little burst of TV after lunch at least meant that they sat still and had a little bit of quiet time in the day. Everyone knows that an overtired toddler is a destructive force of nature and a bit of chill does take the edge of their natural urge to fight and scribble on the walls. Plus it is a way of entertaining my tribe when I’m trying to cook dinner or having a quick shower.

Everything in moderation

Like many aspects of parenting it is all about finding a happy balance. Lately I’ve had the nagging feeling that we have been turning on the TV a bit too frequently, using Mike the Knight reruns to buy an easy life. There were days when the TV stays on just a little bit longer than I would like to admit. I’m also conscious of the things we are not doing instead of watching TV – running around outside, baking, making things and just hanging out together.

Switch off Sunday

This inspired the idea of switch off Sunday. We have decided to do a family experiment to have a day each week when we don’t watch TV, watch any videos on the IPad or let the kids play on the computer. Sunday is the one day of the week when we are usually all together as a family so maybe we should be spending our time together a bit more consciously.

Attempt number 1

This is where the idea nearly fell at the first hurdle. Our first switch off Sunday coincided with the clocks going back an hour. Everyone with little kids knows that this does not mean an extra hour in bed. It just means that your kids wake up at stupid o’clock and you are extra grumpy to have such an early start on a Sunday. Every bit of me was wanted to switch on the TV but I’d already told Sofia that it was going to be no TV day and I had to follow through on what we’d committed to doing. At this point the title for this post could well have been “mum has a stupid idea!”

We were out and about most of the day so watching no TV was not an issue. We got home a bit late and everyone was tired, hungry and a bit grumpy. For the second time my commitment totally waivered but we stuck with it. Sam started playing with water in the bathroom. He did get very wet but was spontaneously entertained. I kept an eye on him while playing cars in the corridor with Leo. Sofia has always been quite good at finding things to do and did some reading and drew some pictures.

Take two

This week was our second switch off Sunday. Again we were out all morning but after lunch it was very tempting to go with the easy option of having a relaxed snuggly afternoon with some reruns of our fav shows. Instead we got out the bikes and headed out on a family bike ride to Cambridge Botanic Gardens. We don’t go on bike rides very often and definitely wouldn’t have done this if we hadn’t banned TV for the day. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon – seeing all of the beautiful autumn colours and running about in the fresh air.

Cambridge Botanic GardensThe tricky moment of the day was again when we got home. Everyone was tired and I need to cook dinner. Rolando kept people entertained playing music and getting out a space hopper for the kids to bounce about on.

 What we have learnt

Sofia was initially not enthusiastic about switch off Sundays. I’m not sure we have won her over yet. It is tricky to not have a fail safe way of distracting the twins when they are tired and these were the moments when our commitment waivered. However I think we collectively made more of an effort to do different things that we probably wouldn’t have done if we had watched TV. I was impressed with the moments when the kids spontaneously found other things to do.

I am wondering if it would make more sense to have a maximum amount of TV allowed per day or specific times of the day to watch TV throughout the week rather than focus on one day.

For the moment we have decided to carry on with Switch off Sunday. Once we have tried it for a bit longer we will decide if it is going to be a permanent feature of the week.

I’d love to hear your experiences – Do you have any rules about how much TV your kids can watch?  Let me know in the comments section below.

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16 thoughts on “Switch off Sunday – a TV free experiment

    1. Thank you – I’ll do a follow up post in a while when we have really tested out the idea. Being outside does have a great effect on us all even though I have to force myself to get us all out of the front door when the weathers not as good. I guess the real challenge will be a really rainy Sunday!

  1. What a coincidence! I wrote about our TV experiment recently as I noticed that my boys were watching ALOT of tTV over summer holidays! I just stopped putting it on one day and they have never asked me to put it on – they quite happily played with their toys and found other ways to keep themselves entertained.

    During the week now the boys tend to watch around an hour or less of TV and that is usually after their dinner/homework etc. We are more lenient on this at the weekends. Its worked so well that its become a part of our routine now and I quite like it! 🙂
    Maria @ Surburban Mum recently posted…A spooky HalloweenMy Profile

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I’ll have to check your post. It sounds like it’s worked well for you. We are definitely finding there is a bit of a pain barrier to get over. My twins are 3 and there are days when they are on a bit of a mission to wind each other up but I think this will help us find other more constructive things to do to keep everyone entertained.

  2. I haven’t done a switch off day – I am too scared too. But I did have a moment where I thought no my son in particular is watching too much TV and reduced it – although if you don’t watch it, it really does creep back up again. Especially when they are being tired and/or ratty. I’ll be interested to read more about this and see how it goes.
    Laura’s Lovely Blog recently posted…Weigh, Lose or Stay – An UpdateMy Profile

    1. It’s definitely the tired ratty moments that are tricky this is when the boys tend to start annoying each other and fighting over things! I’m going to try for at least a month and see how it goes. I’ll definitely post a follow up on what we decide to do long term.

  3. This will sound crazy but we haven’t switched on the TV since May. I was number one fan of TV and I used to watch every single program available lol and therefore my eldest daughter used to be glued to the TV too. Since I started blogging all my spare time goes to blogging so I don’t have time for TV and therefore my girls don’t watch it either. I guess they follow what we do. My husband helps me with the blog and youtube channel so we spend the evenings together dealing with it which is nice so as you can see there is no more TV at home. It wasn’t planned and I don’t have a problem with it but things are better that way. My daughter likes youtube though she is with her Ipad but not TV. She is mostly playing with her little sister. Interesting post! 🙂 xx
    A Moment with Franca recently posted…Celebrating Halloween!My Profile

    1. How fascinating! It’s interesting to look at it in this way that your life is full of other things which don’t leave time for TV. I love that your husband helps you with your blog in the evenings and that it is a shared interest (my husband is my spelling and grammar checker – which is funny as I’m the native English speaker but he finds all my mistakes). My daughter also loves YouTube she watches all the Disney songs in Spanish.

  4. A switch off TV for the whole day! It sounds like a really interesting (and brave) experiment! My TV is on first thing int he mornug when hubby gets up and once my girls are awake the TV goes off otherwise we’d be late of school! TV tends to go on again round dinner time so i can cook in peace! Weekends is a hit and miss but i never have it on all day.
    Rachel (Lifeofmyfamilyandme) recently posted…Hans Christian Andersen book reviewMy Profile

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I’ve had to ban TV in the mornings as well as it was just making the kids really slow to get ready. I’m not sure if it is going to be a permenant thing or just an experiment. I’ll do a follow up post in a few weeks after we’ve given it a good try.

  5. Before Rowan was born (our 16 month old little boy) we always said we would never let him watch TV, 16 months later and he would watch TV all day if we let him. There are a few times during the day that we allow him to watch TV but we do try and keep him away from it as often as we can. Although somedays I do put it on so it distracts hims whilst I get some jobs done.

    I think it’s brilliant you’ve started doing the Switch off Sunday and I can’t wait to hear how you’re all doing with it further down the line.

    Laura x
    Mummy Lala (Laura) recently posted…The Wishlist Linky #1My Profile

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. There are certain shows that do literally send my boys into a trance. It did made me laugh all of the ideas I had written down about what I thought made a good mum. Some of them I’ve stuck to and some where a bit unrealistic, especially with 3 children. I’ll do a follow up post to update on how it is going.

  6. Wow, very brave! I feel guilty about how much tv I let T watch- I had originally said no tv until he was 2! We try to limit it to after breakfast then if he’s grumpy late afternoon, but I sometimes need to distract him for a few minutes while I make a meal. I think it’s great that your kids found other things to do instead of watch tv. I’m going to check out some of the educational programmes you mentioned though, there are only so many times you can watch Thomas! The atoms comment is so cute!
    Helen | Wonderfully Average recently posted…Little T at 19 monthsMy Profile

    1. I think that it is all about finding what works and feels right for you – I need to be realistic that a lot of the time I’m looking after my three kids on my own. Messy Goes to Okido is the cutest – one of my favourites! I tend to Sky plus series so that we can choose what to watch so that I don’t have to sit through stuff that gets on my nerves.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting! I’ll do another post to update on how we are getting on, I think planning a follow up post will give me a bit of extra motivation to keep going.

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