Friday, March 21, 2008

It's only 2 weeks

First of all ... this is Aaron. I think this is only my second or third time to write a post on this blog. I've been saving up all my thoughts, and now I'm going to dump them into one long post.

Not really.

I'm really only talking about one thing ... TV.

Let's get rid of it.

For two weeks.

Hopefully a few of you are still reading - those of you who didn't immediately click on the first available link and then delete this blog from your RSS reader swearing never to return.

We were sitting at the table the other night eating dinner, and I could see an old music book on our piano. The book is from the early 1900's. I bought it at an auction. The cover was open and on the first page there was an inscription written in wonderful old calligraphy.

When I pointed it out to Heather we both commented on how much smarter it seems that people used to be. I guess calligraphy just seems smart.

As we discussed our current level of stupidity, I commented that I believe it is due, in large part, to our televisions.

I mean think about it ... How has television dumbed us down?

Think about these statistics:
  • The average American watches more than 4 hours of TV per day.
  • 99% of American households have at least one TV. 67% have 3 or more.
  • 66% of Americans regularly watch TV while eating dinner.
  • Americans rented 6 million movies last year, but only checked out 3 million library books.
Together we gave up 250 billion hours last year to our televisions.

That's 250 billion hours that we could have been doing something else.

Something relational.

Something active.

Something educational.

Something productive.

Instead we sat in front of a box in our living rooms or bedrooms and allowed ourselves to be passively entertained.

To be told what's cool ... what's acceptable ... what's important.

After I made my little speech about how I believe television is making us stupid and lazy, my wife asked, "Then why haven't you gotten rid of that thing? Do you just want us to be stupid?"

Well, there's a couple of reasons.

First of all, I like TV. I enjoy lounging on my couch laughing at Dwight Schrute every bit as much as the next guy. I enjoy watching those silly Japanese people try to make it through the Ninja Warrior obstacle course - all the while secretly nursing my belief that I could make it much farther than that idiot who just fell off the Spider Wall. I like to see Dr. House pull some miraculous diagnosis out of his rear at the last second and berate those around him for not being as smart as he is.

Secondly, I know that my family likes TV, and I was pretty afraid of the collective reaction to any announcement that we would no longer be enjoying the steam of entertainment that flows from the 150 channels in my living room.

I'm kind of a wimp.

But we're going to do it.

We're turning off our TV for 2 weeks starting this Monday.

And the whole point of this post is to ask you to do it too.

Join us for 2 weeks with no TV.

No video games.

No movies.


We're going to read books and play games and sing songs and go outside and enjoy each other's company.

We want to see what life in our house will be like over the next 2 weeks with absolutely no television.

We'll blog about the process, and we invite you to do the same.

We'll share what we learn. We'll share the ideas we come up with for how to spend the time we once spent watching The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. We'll share the times that end up being hardest ... the times when we really miss the TV (I already know that Saturday mornings will be rough with no television for our kids to watch while we sleep in.)

But it should be a good learning experience for us.

So let's do it.

Our TV's will go off when we go to bed this Sunday night and they won't come back on until Monday, April 7. (Maybe even longer if we decide we really like this new life.)

Two weeks.

We can do it.

You can do it.

Who's in?


Ryan Price said...

I'm in... HA! Who am I kiddin... I've been in for the last 7 months.

Seriously though... I think that is an incredible idea. Although I didn't watch a ton of TV back home anyway... save those nights at the Hendrick house watching Ninja Warrior (Ninja PLEASE)... now that you mentioned that in the post, I really miss that show!

But, I have really loved not having a TV here in Malawi. I have read through so many books and have been able to enjoy so many other things. I don't even recall a time when I went through TV withdraws or anything. It has been nothing but refreshing.

However, I still spend an incredible amount of my time on my computer (although it's mainly because my internet is so slow!).

Who knows... maybe after this TV thing, we all need to take a computer fast. That hurts just mentioning it!!

Way to keep people challenged though. Looking forward to seeing how it goes.

Landreneau Family said...


I can promise you that you will see amazing fruit. We are going to enjoy tv on Easter Sunday for the first time since Mardi Gras day. This has been our second year to give up tv as a family for all of Lent.

We are very selective in what we let our children see, and doing without it for 7 weeks straight makes us even more so. It also makes us more selective of what we choose to watch ourselves.

I think this is a great endeavor!


Hendrick Family said...

Two weeks without TV!

Aaron says we'll live, but I'm not sure.

To be honest, I hardly ever watch TV. When I started blogging, I knew that something else would have to go if I was going to keep up with this thing. For me, it was TV.

But, my kids...especially our oldest son may move out the next two weeks because the TV will be off.

If you're into learning from other people's mistakes, then here ya go...

When Anson was little, we let him watch WAY too much television. It was so tempting to always say yes about TV because he would sit there and watch it, not moving, not doing anything the entire time. So, if the house needed cleaning...I thought it was great that he would watch TV. As a young, silly, stay at home mom, I could do practically anything I wanted because if I needed Anson entertained, the TV would do the trick for him.

NOW, we have a child who is not happy inside the house unless he's watching TV. We don't let him watch it like he wants to, but there is definitely this "issue" with the TV in his little heart that does not exist in our other children.

Hayden would NEVER watch TV when he was younger, and barely will now...and we've noticed how much he fills his time with other things, like drawing, reading and writing. He and Ashton do those things all the time. Within two days, Hayden and Ashton will have filled an entire spiral notebook each with a new book, filled with pictures and writing.

Unfortunately, since we used TV as Anson's entertainment when he was little, if the TV is off, Anson has a hard time finding something else to entertain him. It breaks my heart! I want him to have hobbies and interests like his younger brothers, but know it's so hard for him to learn that now, as an older child, instead of when he was their age.

When Aaron told the other boys that we weren't going to have TV for two weeks, I don't even think they said anything. But, poor Anson...he's so upset about it.

This has been another HUGELY CONVICTING moment for us. As a young, twenty something mother, I would have wished someone would have said, "Even though TV turns Anson into a saint, it's going to hurt him in the long run. Turn it off and make him color, or find other things to do!"

So...this week will probably be filled with updates on things like that...if Anson is still living here...and what we're doing to help him find ways to fill his time. Hopefully he will find things over the next two weeks that will begin lifelong loves of those new activities.

About TV...

Am I smarter than a fifth grader? No.

Is Christopher Robins smarter than I am? Yes.

People WERE so much smarter at one time. I asked Aaron during that same conversation if people can devolve. Now, to believe that you, have to believe in evolution. I wasn't meaning devolve in that way. I just meant, is it possible that we're all getting dumber and no one cares?

He said, yes...devolve is a real word, however, we've never heard of devolution.

Anyway...I just think we're all getting dumber and dumber when it comes to academic things, and lamer and lamer when it comes to artistic skills (like writing and playing instruments, and calligraphy!)

I do hope some of you join us.

This has definitely been a journey for us in regards to TV.

First, a few years ago, we completely cracked down on the kinds of shows they were watching. We knew we could NOT win this battle for their hearts and souls when TV was telling them things contrary to God's Word at a higher rate and in a flashier way than we were able to teach the right things.

And now it's come to this.

I can't wait to see what we notice this week about our kids and our relationship with each other.

Although not watching TV won't affect me much in a literal sense, it WILL affect me. I will have to deal with a lot of "I'm boreds." I'll have to find creative ways to keep them entertained.

I would love for you to join us. This would be a fun test to do together.


Jenn said...

it's interesting that you bring this up because just the other day i told my friend i didn't think i could watch movies anymore.

sara & i watched a movie a few weeks (the first one i'd seen since hairspray i think haha) ago that was not even that bad - but had one inappropriate scene. however, i caught myself having impure thoughts/pictures in my head all the next week.

a few days later i started reading a book that meg suggested and it was amazing - no impure thoughts and no non-God-glorifying pictures.

i realized how when you read YOU get to create the mental images of the characters.

even if they say they are at the beach or something - i can picture the dude with a shirt on - or the girl dressed in modesty. situations like that.

personally. i think this is a great idea. especially because the two weeks are directly during march madness.

don't get me wrong - i dont care about basketball. but i'm hoping some daddies out there see your post and are challenged by it.

as for me - TLC & Bravo are off! maybe i'll even finish the book i'm reading!

jenny said...

Okay, I think we may be in! We have also thought about doing this, but it has always stayed one of those "that would be cool to do" things.

Like you Heather, I too have fallen victim to letting our kids be babysat by the great and powerful "Box" in our living room and playroom. Emily, our oldest who is 10 now, is going to DIE when she hears our latest house rule of no TV! But I'm up for the challenge.

So you say no tv, does that include the WII????? Oh, say it isn't Guitar Hero? What will my husband fill his idle time up with?

We had gotten into a bad habit of turning the tv on while eating dinner!!!! My parents would die if they knew that! However, I have since stopped this and now we play a game of encouragement from time to time...We all go around the room and say something nice/encouraging about the person next to us. It's really fun and it gives my girls a chance to lift each other up with words instead of tearing each other down...

I can tell you this, the best day ever was when we took a tv out of our bedroom! Our friends thought we were crazy...We sleep so much better and we read so much more..

D.O. said...

First of all, it's "Spiduh Walkuh!!"

Secondly, you guys quitting TV for a week is slightly different than if I did it, in that you can sneakily, at the end of two weeks, go back and watch whatever you missed thanks to DVR, if you so choose.

But you did pick a good time of year to do it. LOST won't be new again until April 24th, and you'll still get to see the top 8 in American Idol duke it out.

I'll think about going sans-tv for two weeks (I did go much longer, on a regular basis, during my two middle years of college)... after March Madness...


Mimi said...

I just talked it over with Alan, and we're in. No tv for 2 weeks. He doesn't think I can do it. I love a challenge.

CarpioFamily said...

Awesome Idea! We have been without cable for the past three months since we got our first house. As we were moving I brought up the idea because we spent way to much time in front of the tube. We thought Easton would have a hard time without t.v. but he has not said a word about it since December he has just played in his room more or played outside which is good because when he would zone out on the tube I would have to call his name like three times just to get him to look at me.

Kaylene has found more time to sew things for the house instead of watching Dr. House and has learned how to make her own laundry soap and dish soap which has saved us money which I am all about.

I have had more time to just read and love on my family. We just replaced that time with stuff that matters like loving on each other or spending time with our extended family or church family. In the end what matters most spending time with the family and loving on your wife by helping her clean or beating Halo 3.

BHG & Co. said...

Hey Aaron...

first of all. Cudoos on posting. Even though we're not actually "talking", it's almost like we are, and I miss hanging with you at JITB and Errands, and the YAK (if you still have that program).

Considering TV... We are SO with you. In fact, the only person who will be challenged by this will be me. The TV is never on at our house until the kids go to bed. I am then I am the one who turns it on.

So for two weeks, no late night Scrubs re-runs. No Tiger Woods golf. And I will wait before I check-out the next season of 24.

And just to increase the challenge. When I was Youth Pastor we challenged the students to a complete media fast (TV, movies, internet). The Junior High students fasted for 1 week. The high school students fif it for a week and a half.

I realize not everyone responded. But there was one high school student who responded. And he watched a lot of TV. Especially difficult was the impact on his morning routine. In the morning (instead of two hours of tv) he found he had time to read his Bible and pray.

At the end of his 10 days without tv, he could not express the difference it had made in his life. He continued to go without any television for quite some time afterwards.

TV affects us more than we know.
- it hinders social skills.
- it robs us of time.
- it gives us a false sense of rest, while wearing us out.
- it cripples our imagination.
- it teaches us that our lives are boring.
- undermines our value system and priorities.

All that to say, we're in. And to those excuse makers, if high school and junior high students will agree for a week, surely you can for two!

You have no idea how much you will gain and how God will bless your experience.

Hendrick Family said...

I LOVE that Mimi and Alan are doing this with us. Yay!

Kelly said...

oh i love life with no tv! ashley and i don't get any tv channels originally because we couldn't afford it and now we LOVE not having it...that whole redeeming the time thing (Eph. 5:16). It's GREAT for me because I was the kid who probably watched up to 6 hours a DAY at one point in my childhood. ridiculous-be encouraged by that Heather for Anson! Also, a great book is Cross and the Switchblade by Dave Wilkerson and in the beginning he talks about how his chill time at night was watching 2 hours of tv before he went to bed and the Lord prompted him to try and sell his cd (this was in the 60s or 70s) and he didn't want to, but just tried and it IMMEDIATELY sold! So with these 2 new hours of free time he started praying instead and in those hours the Lord led him to an article about gangs in inner-city New York City, which ultimately led to him moving from small town new jersey to inner-city new york and ministering to gangs, drug addicts, and prostitutes. Such a great story! Just thought I'd share! Yay for redeeming the time!

Saja said...

Haha. My first reaction was 'Well that's why I was an idiot!' Joking ofcourse!

But I would like to say that I think what you're doing(and everybody else joining in) is wonderful and inspiring.

There's a TV sitting in my room but It just collects dust(until I decide to take a movie out from its grave). My old job ruined the TV for me, thank God, so I didn't go through a big struggle. lol I used to watch commercials for Suddenlink to make sure they were in top shape to be aired. A lot of times I ended up watching the same commercial over and over...and then when you turn on the TV at home there they are again. By the time I got home I wanted to do ANYTHING but sit on my booty and watch the eye killer (I seriously think I need to get a new eye prescription).

Ryan Price said...

Carlos makes me laugh. I love that because they aren't watching TV, his wife is able to make soap... that's just terrific! Love you Carpios!!

Anonymous said...


I think I watched at least 6 hours of tv per day as a kid. It was gross. Of course I had to sneak to the other side of the house in my parents room to watch.

But! this is a good challenge. We do not have cable. But up until 2 years ago (when I became a believer! WHOOP!) the Lord challenged me to give up the computer. So I did. Cold turkey. No computer. This made life hard. Especially while student teaching.

But, he fulfilled the REAL desires of my heart with that time. I HAD to find things to do. So I hung out with people more, I became more organized.
These were TRUE treasures. In the end, I LOVED it.
Thankfully the Lord has since given me back the use of a computer so that I can use it as an organizational tool to serve Him better.

I will be looking to see what ideas you have to "put-on."

I'm looking forward to ideas on how to delight in the Lord with my time.

Kathryn, Michael & Alex said...

I love it!!

We are in.

Out with the TV!!!

Heather, I did the same thing with Michael and he definately likes TV more than Alex. Alex can entertain himself in his room for hours.

When we moved into this house, I only got basic cable and it made a huge difference and Michael has adjusted. It forces him to use his imagination!!!

Anonymous said...

I was probably one of the most nervous and leery ones in our family when we cut off cable months ago. I was also SURE that the kids would go nuts when Mark told them we were getting rid of cable. WRONG. It was incredibly easy. You never could have convinced me of that. We play more board games than ever before. We do still play video games - and I am serious when I say I will be the one most hurt by giving up Guitar Hero for 2 weeks, but the coolest thing happened with Patrick, our 10 year old. He became an AVID reader. I'm talking HOURS of reading per day. Whenever anyone was looking for Patrick, someone else would say, "He's probably in his bed reading a book." I can't even keep up with his book demand most days. That has been one of the best results of it. The kids do still watch some t.v. on the computer, like old episodes of shows on Disney, etc., so if we do the 2 week challenge, I need to make that clear to them as off-limits.


emily ward said...

Well, since our tv is one that Stephen won when he was in 7th grade, we have been debating just throwing ours out indefinitely. I must say though that we do like watching sports together and giving up March Madness may just be madness itself! :) I'll post later but I am pretty sure were in! Oh yeah... does watching scores online count?

Hi. My name is Alanna. said...

We'll do it with you!

I gotta tell you something kinda stupid but also gross and good at once. ;) A couple weeks ago I told the boys that TV was out till they could keep their bathroom clean. Not meaning they have to scrub the toilets and wash down the shower with pinesol everyday. I'm just askin for ya not to pee everywhere but IN the toilet. Try aimin for the water hole for a change. And do NOT dump an entire family size box of Puffs tissues in the trash, on the floor, and everywhere else in between simply b/c it's there, it's white, and it's clean. And maybe try washing the toothpaste DOWN the drain after you spit.

Just a thought.

So, this was the deal:

I'll do the heavy duty cleaning, but y'all gotta keep up with the basics, and until you start doing so the TV stays off.

It was like heaven.

(And I know that b/c heaven doesn't have TVs. Sorry for all y'all who were counting on watchin TV in heaven. ;P)

No TV went on.

They colored, played nicely, entertained one another, and found other things to do - with each other without any arguing or calling me every two seconds to solve yet another issue that was guaranteed to have the effects of an atomic bomb on our home but probably could have been resolved had they been working on their social skills instead of watching TV and letting someone else solve all their problems for them.

It was easier to approach any of them at any moment and enjoy them or interact in any way. Their responses were MUCH better. So was mine.

And I never had to walk over and turn off the TV to get their attention.


They kept their bathroom clean!!!


I KNEW it could be done.

For a whole something like 5 days I'd walk by and see a spotless bathroom.

It was like being in one of those Gain commercials where the wind is blowing the wonderful smelling laundry in the wind.

My soul was happy.
So were my eyes.

Since then, the TV has returned. And guess what? Their bathroom habits have slacked.

Don't stop by if you need to pee.

Trust me.

Their getting along with each other abilities have also declined.

I seriously believe that TV hampers children's ablities to interact with other humans in a productive manner. They get all these emotions running thru them as they are transported into another world on the screen and then when it goes black, they have nowhere to take all that b/c "it was just TV," right? Uh - NO. I'm NOT sayin this is true of EVERY thing on TV, but this is the "comments" section of the blog not the blog itself, so I won't take the time to fully expound on all my TV thoughts. ;)

Personally, I watch TV next to never. I can't even remember the last time I did. The closest I get is turning on CMT or GAC thru the stereo and listening to it like the radio. And that happens once every other week at the most.

I had a thought about this TV diet. When people go on real diets, they usually stop and think about what they're taking in from then on.

Why not do the same with TV?

I personally don't like The Suite Life and if I had a different life I certainly wouldn't want that one. So why live it? Why let it in my house even if it is just on TV?

While the TV is off I think I'll make a list of what we WILL watch when it actually IS on again. I'm pretty selective about what books I read, what foods I eat, what clothes I wear - why be so passive about what I let in our brains via TV?

I don't need to list what we won't watch - just what we will. If we're gonna live our lives on purpose, this should be included. The kids know why we do certain other things we do, why not this too?

If nothing else, making the list will give you something to do during the "off" time. Maybe even include the kids and let them pick their favorite shows and make a list as a family of what stays and what goes.

And on a more personal to you note, I gotta say there's still hope for Anson with what you were saying about letting him watch too much TV as a first time mom. Beth Moore said, "A life of consistent victory happens one day at a time." So one day at a time you can change Anson's habits, heart, and appetites towards TV. And one day down the road you'll all be able to look back and say, "We are victorious with TV. Consistently." It's a team effort to be sure. And y'all are a fantastic team. You'll make it. So will Anson. He just doesn't know it yet. You'll have to know it for him till he does too. ;P He has some fantastic parents. And a terrific Heavenly Father who won't let that little heart settle for something as simple as life thru a screen. (Nor all our other "first borns" who watched WAY more TV than the rest. ;P)

May all the rest of us be unwilling to settle for that either!

alisha said...

we're in (and to be honest, this wasn't an easy decision for Val!) but i know we can do it, easy breezy, we love reading & i've been wanting to learn sewing.

And not that we're trying to get out easy, prior to the 2 week challenge, Val and I committed to judging films for a festival in MS-so we have to watch a handful of films & score them before April 4th...

Nicole said...

Hi Heather! I have never commented on your blog, but here goes.....
I originally linked to your blog from Jenn Bacak's blog. Then, I happened to run into you at the park. (I introduced myself & we chatted while our kids ran around & played. I think one of your boys pee'd on a tree :) You were so fun to talk to & I have enjoyed keeping up with you & being challenged by your entries ever since.

That said, I read your (or Aaron's rather) TV challenge last night. I blew it off. Honestly. I thought we didnt need it. We dont have any cable, so mainly PBS is all that is ever on with an occasional American Idol. Not worried about myself & TV watching, but with a my 4th child being a newborn and my oldest 8 (bday in Feb), I knew they (or I rather) needed some TV time. Then, this morning I woke up to sleepy dragging kids watching Curious George. I asked them repeatedly to get dressed as I turned the tube off. They resisted and it irritated me. Then I was irritated that I was was irritated on Easter! I went & got dressed. When I returned, it was back on. After church, lunch & egg hunt, I found my middle son (5) busy playing playstation and my daughter (8) on webkins. Daddy was mowing, so I asked them to stop & go play outside. They both were unhappy. Something clicked. As I prayerfully considered the challenge throughout the afternoon, I felt conviction. I talked with my husband at dinner & he agreed to the challenge.

Here is the kicker......
The only thing that is ever on is PBS or DVDs of kids movies (mostly). For me, my time eater is the computer. We are in a major-life decision mode right now. I felt a strong pulling to give up the computer. I spend a lot of time blogging. I can justify it in many ways, but it has become evident to me today that this is something the Holy Spirit is leading me to do. 2 weeks. I can make it, right? I know I wont even be able to email because it would be too much of a temptation to blog. With my extra time, I will be praying & meditating on what the Lord would have us do.

One thing I want to make VERY clear. As mommies we have plenty to give us "mommy guilt." If you approach parenting prayerfully, I believe as moms we have to LET GO of some of those feelings. When you have the age range of kids that I do, board games for an example, dont always work for all the kids. And there are times that you might need a 30 minute break to get some laundry put up or prepare dinner. Stick Veggie tales in & feel free for a bit! It's OK!!!! I have had the same TV habits with all my kids. We have never had cable & there has always been lots of outside play and a variation of indoor activities. Even with equal exposure to TV I have one that would sit in front of it all day & others that wont and dont like to. I believe it is a personality trait as much as a training issue. So pray, expose your kids to a variety of activities, and let go! Do what you need to do. It's ok.

Thanks for the challenge!

Nichole said...

I'm in. I don't think that I watch that much TV, but I am excited to see how much extra time I actually end up with! Good idea Hendricks!

Carrie said...

We stopped paying for cable over a year ago. Dave Ramsey made that happen! But it cut our tv way down. I think I'll go for the no tv during the I'm keeping the night stuff. I iron, pay bills, blog, cook etc. while it's on. I guess I'm wimping out! Let me know how it goes. Oh - my husband put our trampoline up today..... guess it came at the perfect time --- no tv.

Hendrick Family said...

I agree with Nicole.

We aren't doing this to conjure up guilt in anyone.

TV is NOT bad. As a matter of fact, I would be SHOCKED if we actually ever got rid of ours altogether. For school stuff, it has proved invaluable. Ms. Frizzle can teach things in much more effective ways than I can LOTS of times! So, TV can be a wonderful resource.

We just want to do this for two weeks because, we have been saying, forever, that we need to be more disciplined about NOT watching TV, or letting the boys watch it. But...we have never followed through.

We just thought it would be neat to take it away for a couple weeks so we can learn some neat things, and be forced to find fun, creative, INTERACTIVE things to do with our kids.

So, no mommy guilt...unless you actually need some convicting by the HS. Then, I will let Him do His work.


Jennifer Bacak said...

This kids and I decided to do it for a little while. We didn't say it had to be 2 weeks. I kind of made them think it was their idea, but it's been off for 2 days, and we all went to bed earlier last night. Hallelujah! I read a book. Books are good, I miss them. And we played Uno tonight with the kids before Bible story and bed time, instead of a show. That was fun.
Good stuff.
The kids and I were actually thinking of setting 2 days a week aside as TV fasting days.
I like that idea.

Rachel said...

Congrats, Hendricks. I hope you enjoy your two weeks without TV. We haven't had a TV in our home since we were married over three years ago. We can't even stand to watch most movies now and only rent something (mostly classics and documentaries from the library, yeah we're that cheap and "old") every few weeks to watch on the computer.

I hope you guys learn a lot during this time! I know I did those first few months without it. It was so hard for me at first, but it was worth it! And I guess you only have two weeks, so it isn't forever.