What My Kids Have Done During Our No-TV Summer

Now, before I start, I'm not a TV hater. I'm a commercial hater, yes, but not a TV hater.
 I mean, I personally prefer reading or the pursuit of talents and interests, but I've also been known to enjoy a TV series or two in my day. In fact, I grieve Mad Men still.

But, on the first day of summer vacation, on a whim, I haphazardly established The Summer of No TV in our house. It was a wonderful but exhausting end to my first year of teaching, and in that moment, on the first morning of summer vacation, all I wanted was some peace and quiet, with the past week's events still swimming in my head. Normally, I'd decompress with some coffee-time and let my girls plop in front of the TV so that I could do so! 

 --Meet our girls - the two of them. Wonderful and ridiculous. The light(s) of our lives. 
--One 8, and one 22 months old. 

I shall refer to them, herein, as Big'n and Lil'n. 

Back to the desire for decompressing coffee-time. 
There was guilt in my heart (along with the past week's events in my head), and as a teacher and oh-so-caring mom, I knew that summer should be filled with togetherness and discovery - not Sponge Bob and snooty tween shows. 
(And especially not commercials.)

Plus, I don't know if this is true with your TV, but mine contains a magical little TV troll that makes my girls turn into mean, irritable little monsters.
 I wanted to avoid the monster-children during vacation 
at all cost.

So, "Go and play something," I said to Big'n on the first day of summer vacation. "You are not watching TV all day." And her eight-going-on-eighteen response was, "So I can't watch TV ever again?!" I quickly came up with some conditions. "No TV until Daddy is home from work." And from that moment on, it has been
The Summer of No TV  
(before 8pm, and then it's too late because it's bath and bedtime...disclaimer).

Now, I haven't been totally sure what to expect, or how difficult it might be to NOT allow my girls to stare at a TV or gadget all day long. I will admit that, while finishing my degree, planning for my classroom, grading papers, or just trying to have an adult conversation, the TV has been a very useful child distractor for several years now.

That took a lot to admit.
Please don't judge me!

But this summer needs to be different. Big'n needs to stay in somewhat of a routine, and Lil'n needs to experience as many cool things as possible with us before school starts again, when her mommy will hand her over to the grandparents every weekday.

And I've been reading wonderful blog posts lately about how it's OK to let your children be bored, and how it's OK to not plan fun activities and play dates for every day of the summer. -And, especially, how it's OK to not feel guilty that you don't have a Disney trip planned (fun as that would be). Because of these wonderful parenting blogs which are turning the trend back to simpler times, I am armed and ready to take TV away from my children, despite the B-word which lurks nearby constantly...


So glad that tide is finally turning, BTW.

OK. I did plan some things to do during the summer, to nurture their interests and academic needs, not to avoid the B-word. We've scheduled tutoring, basketball camp, swim lessons, art classes, and the Public Library reading club. We also started lap-sits at the library for Lil'n, who is in dire need of socializing. Our calendar of activities is still quite sparse, despite all that I've signed up for, which is leaving a lot of time for the girls to play and use their imaginations at home...

...and say the B-word.


Here's how it's going, one week in:

Big'n asked, "What should I do?" 30 times. 
(Maybe more. 
I stopped listening.)

Big'n wrote me letters about boredom and dying from boredom sickness.
(I admired the pretty handwriting & spelling, and thought about how wonderful her teacher was this year.)

They both stole things from each other and picked/poked at each other. 
(I reestablished our timeout routine. Shout out, Super Nanny!)

They both turned on the TV anyway.
(I disconnected the cables.)

Big'n dug out the old Kindle and played it behind the bunk bed.
(I hid the Kindle.)

Big'n stole my cell phone and over-texted friends.
(I hid my cell phone.)

Big'n bargained for TV.
(I stuck to my guns until she went for another bike ride.)


Big'n blamed mommy for ruining her life.
(I accepted my new title as Life Ruiner.)

Oh, and Lil'n put every small thing we own in the center of each room's floor.
Somewhat of a toddler inventory.

Boy. That was fun.

But then things started getting a little cooler.

Here are the cool things that I've seen my kids do during this, our first No-TV week of summer:

Big'n rode her bike around the neighborhood and back each time boredom ensued - so, often.
( If you knew how long it took for her to learn to ride a bike, you'd be practically crying right along with me!)

After that, Lil'n discovered that she wants a bike, too. 
Enter tricycle!

Big'n actually read a bunch of books! Willingly. She figured out that it's fun to read to her baby sister. She learned some mind-blowing facts from some nonfiction solar system books.
Her mommy's heart smiled.

Big'n also started scrapbooking about school and summer (using old scrapbooking stuff that lived under my bed for 7 years).

Lil'n started holding crayons and scribbling!
She's a righty!

Big'n painted rad watercolors of the frog that she found in the garage.

Jumping - The Garage Pet

She built it a habitat. She named it Jumping.

The two of them created a backyard oasis for their mother - complete with sand, an umbrella, a comfy chair, and a license for free spa treatments for life. 
I don't even care about cleaning it up.

They did all of this without my help. 
Without my ideas.

Daddy got home after a day's work one day, and remarked how great it was to see them outside, running around the backyard. He's been guilty of using TV with them, too. And guilty of trying to please our often unpleasable Big'n.

What's best of all, after the first week of our No TV Summer, is that our girls are playing together. I mean, really playing with each other. Big'n isn't running away from a Lil'n who's annoyingly tagging along. 
And Big'n finally has a sister to play with - something we wished for, hoped and prayed for.... for this long.
As parents, we have never felt contentment like this.

If I'd let them use TV and devices to avoid the B-word so far this summer, I wonder how long it would take for them to discover that they love playing with each other and that they're great at coming up with fun, creative, hilarious ideas all on their own.  

I wonder how long it would take for my future best girlfriends to learn how to have fun?

What fantastic ideas do your kids come up with when they're bored of being bored?


  1. It sounds like you can look forward to a great summer. I think this is wonderful. :)

    Polliwog Place

  2. I love this! And your style of writing! So true about the TV...so easy to use as a boredom buster but kids need to and will find their own things to do :) I grew up with out a TV and still don't have one. We're readers and adventurers! I'm looking forward to hearing more about your fun-filled summer :)