Friday, 15 April 2016

Life Without a TV

Before I became a mum, I was a bit...shall we say...unrealistic.

I thought that me and my boys would sail through life, that it would be a breeze. That I'd never have to be one of those mums who would beg their child to stop hurling themselves across the supermarket aisles, mid-tantrum (I have been. I am.)

That I'd be an organic earth mother who only fed her kids veggies, fruit and never ever any rubbish. That lovely bubble burst the second my child hit toddlerhood.

Along with that, I also thought that I'd never plop my kids in front of the TV while I enjoyed five, blissful minutes to myself. To drink a hot cup of coffee in peace...

Of course, that thought pretty vanished the second my first child started crawling. Thanks to CBeebies and Thomas the Tank Engine, I can always guarantee myself a few minutes or quiet time. While it doesn't seem like much, that precious time is my sanctuary.

Given that, I'm still not sure why I challenged us to go TV-free for a week when MoneySupermarket* first got in touch with their One Week Energy Challenge. Given the task of ditching one electrical item for a week, at first I thought I'd play it safe and ditch the hair straighteners (cheating - I never get time to use them) or perhaps my home phone (redundant thanks to my iPhone addiction). However, call me crazy, but I like a challenge. I've never been one for making my life easier...

Me and my boys
So, last week, we all embarked on a television-free zone. I wouldn't say willingly - my boyfriend was gutted he'd be missing the football, while my toddlers...well, fellow mums can only imagine how hard life can be to go a week without Thomas the Tank Engine.

As for me, I was frantically wondering how I'd get my Grey's Anatomy fix (my "me time" when baby is napping and I don't have to work /clean / wash endless socks / cook 100 dinners / run round like a headless chicken) but then realised that, if worst came to worst, there's always my iPhone...

Anyway, come Day One and I was already bracing myself for a mini meltdown when I had to explain to the boys that Thomas was gone. And not just gone for one day, but all week long. Yet I was amazed to see them shrug without protest.

"Ok," said my eldest. "Can we build a rocket instead?"

Once the initial shock wore off (I had been prepared for tantrums, screaming fits, hysterics. The lot), it was blissful. Instead of watching TV, we played in the garden, built dens, planted herbs and flowers, read books, built towers, sent teddies into space and completed endless jigsaws (and lost endless jigsaw pieces).

We baked cookies, sat and chatted, cuddled, drew pictures (or circles and a line. But a picture, nevertheless), played in the bath, and went to the moon in a box. All in the hour or so a day I'd normally let them watch TV.

It actually amazed me just how much they enjoyed life without a TV. Our imaginations had to go wild. Without it, we got closer and felt happier. 

As for us adults, well...while we missed a couple of huge football matches - much to my boyfriend's disgust - it was amazing to curl up on the sofa and just chat. No distractions, no bitching about how spoiled the characters are in MIC. All we could do was enjoy one other. 

As an added bonus, there was also a lovely money saving opportunity, too. A week without TV obviously helped out with bills, especially when you consider that we  stupidly  often leave it on standby for most of the day ( most houses can save about £85 simply by switching off at the wall). And when you live in a house with four children, you need all the help you can get. 

The verdict? Being telly-free was wonderful! My boyfriend and I spent time talking (the thought of it!) instead of mindlessly watching shows we didn't really want to watch. We even got in an early night or two! As a result, we felt less frazzled, less strung-out and more in love.

My toddlers spent more time happily playing together (ok, I did have to disarm one from hitting his brother over the head with a train station more than once. But still - that's boys.) and we all sat down to play games or read stories before dinner, when normally TV was our saviour. I felt closer to them and, honestly, felt like we enjoyed far more quality time.

In fact we loved it so much, that we're introducing far more TV-free time in the future. Just don't count on the toddlers to keep world peace in the meantime...

*This post is in collaboration with MoneySuperMarket, but all thoughts are our own.