Below is a picture of our new family room. Can you find what's missing?
It's actually a trick question because we don't think the room is missing anything. I was hoping you'd notice that the family room doesn't have a television. Did you? We're not finished decorating or putting in the finishing touches, but we are so, so, so, so thrilled with our decision not to put a television in the family room.
When we first saw the house, we considered putting a television above the mantle, but I cringed at the idea of making a television the focal point of the room. I didn't want to put a TV up on the wall behind the chairs either. So, no television in the family room!
We have one television in the entire house, and it's in the basement. That TV has the basic channels (CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, and FOX), and we have an Apple TV, so we use that to stream shows & movies from Netflix and HuluPlus.
It's amazing how the geography of the television has affected how much we watch. Since the only television in the house is in the basement, we have to be much more deliberate in choosing to watch something. We no longer have it on as background noise or as a tool to help the kids transition to or from nap/bedtime. Instead, TV time is a special treat and reward. When the TV is on, we're actually watching together and talking about what we're seeing. TV watching is back to being an event to look forward to and enjoy together.
I love the transformation not having a television on the main floor (or upstairs) has had on the kids. They are outside as much as possible when the weather cooperates, they're using their imaginations to come up with fun games, they explore and play in every room of the house, their listening skills are sharper, they're more engaged with whatever activities they're doing, I've noticed a jump in their language skills, and (perhaps my favorite benefit) they have been sleeping soooooooooo well because they are much busier.
As for Philip and I, we are more productive, we have better conversations, we don't rely on the television to fill our evenings, we're reading more, we're getting to bed earlier, and we're waking up earlier. Even though Philip is still commuting back to Omaha this month as he finishes up residency, he's waking up early enough to go to our new gym and workout before heading in to work. I'm using that extra time in the morning to have quiet prayer time, make everyone breakfast, and get the crew out the door so that I can get my own workout in. It's been a little slice of heaven!
The only drawback we're anticipating is a potential riot from friends and family when it sinks in that we don't have a TV on the main level during Husker football season. If it's a home game, now we can just head downtown to watch the whole thing live!
Until then, we are loving all of the positive changes.
What's the TV situation like at your house? What about when you were growing up? Did you have a TV in your bedroom? What kinds of rules or limits do you have with screen time at your house (if any)?