My family lives a wild, unusual lifestyle that many people have questions about: We don’t have a TV. I know. It’s kinda crazy, but we actually love not having a TV.
Here are the answers to the most common questions I get about *gasp* living without television.
You mean you don’t have cable?
Nope. We don’t have a tv. Once upon a time we had one that had a digital antenna, which gave us lots of over-the-air programming. Now we don’t have cable, dish, or antenna because we don’t have a tv.
Then how do you watch movies?
Mostly we just don’t. A few times a year we go to the theater. On those nights we just have to have a movie night, we’ve got enough computers for everyone to watch their own, but in reality the kids sit together with one laptop to watch The Lego Movie for the zillionth time.
Are you, like, religious or something?
Not regarding television. We just have a lot of other things we enjoy more than watching tv.
What do you do?
What don’t we do? We have a family garden and more bookshelves than the library. There’s an entire room dedicated to Legos and an arsenal of Nerf guns in the shed. Our house is older, so the grown ups have plenty of projects. Our kids have never said, “I’m bored.”
It sounds unbelievable, but when we were packing the house to move down here, we agreed that moving our old, heavy and boxy set wasn’t worth it. We couldn’t remember the last time we’d turned it on.
Are you secretly judging me for always having my tv on?
Absolutely not! Daniel Tiger is who I turn to when I need backup on life skill lessons. And I’m a sucker for streaming a good binge-worthy show for myself. I dig podcasts, too. Screens can be awesome entertainment. We haven’t given them tablets or phones, though they do get a basic Kindle once they become regular readers. Our oldest does get some computer time each week to play around with coding.
No, seriously. What do you do all day?
A typical day at our house follows a predictable routine. After breakfast the kids do chicken chores (because yep, there are chickens), get dressed, and empty the dishwasher. Then they play Legos. Mid-morning is when they pull out art supplies and create some new treasure to give me. Currently we have a lot of Origami Yodas floating around.
After lunch they pack up supplies for being gone for a few hours. This is usually some sort of organized activity like sports practice, a club, or a class. Other times it’s grocery shopping, going on a field trip, or hitting the beach. They play outside while I cook dinner- riding bikes, shooting Nerf guns, or kicking a ball around. On really hot days, they often play music together.
After dinner they have another round of chicken chores and check the garden if they didn’t in the morning. Then it’s bathtime, reading, and probably more Legos before bed. They fill the gaps with other household contributions (the term we use instead of chores) and reading. Once they are in bed, I have some time to myself to finish any cleaning or straightening before reading or, you know, talk to my husband. I’m not ashamed to admit to some mindless streaming when I’m wiped out, too.
How do you get them out of your hair?
There are some times when I need the munchkins to be occupied away from me. I usually plan for this before they get up or after my hubby is home to help wrangle them. Honestly, though, they are good about doing their own thing. When I tell them I need to get some work done, they find something quiet to do, or at least make the noise far from me. When they aren’t flexing those independence skills, they like to help me. They are all curious and enjoy some hands-on learning. They cook, clean, and even help with minor car repairs. (And before this comes off as “my children are perfect angels,” I still have to nag them to put their clothes away and get trash out of the van.)
What do they do for downtime?
These kiddos of mine are very active. Those times when they do need to chill out, they tend to pull out the CD player and maybe a coloring book. We’ve found some kid-friendly podcasts that keep everyone happy, too. StoryNory has storytelling of classic tales and original works plus poetry and music. Tumble is super short science topics kids love, great for younger listeners. And Brains On! is science aimed at a little older audience. But don’t let the recommended ages stop you from exploring. All three of our kids enjoy these.
I know it’s weird and maybe even unbelievable, but life without a television is pretty darn good.