Monday, September 6, 2010


My kids aren't normal....and I am so glad. At a time when normal for kids is living indoors in large sealed climate controlled homes watching Disney, Nick, MTV, PS 1, 2, 3, X-Box, WII, DVD, Blue Ray, Chat, IM, Text, Face Book, and 15 different practices/camps/private lessons, today my kids played with card board boxes, crayons, spray paint, and a dolly for most of the day.

Here’s what we are doing these days. We are fasting media. But before you call CPS, let me explain. We have never been much of a media family, in fact in our 16 years of marriage I think we have had cable for about 2 years. Not because we’re broke and it didn’t make the budget, but because we always had an intrinsic gut level feeling that it is a huge life sucking brain vacuum. So rather than participating in a voluntary TV brain lobotomy, we talk, play and hang out with each other, read, or work around the house.

Have you ever gotten one of those chain e-mails that talk about the good ole days when kids were free to roam and play, the kind that make you long for a time when life was more simple? Yeah me too, but guess what? It still exists if you can unplug long enough to notice. This brings me back to our media fast. We had noticed our kids being unusually restless and discontent over the past several months. Comments like, “I’m bored” and “there is nothing to do” or “it’s too hot” or "its too cold” became normal. In the past the kids loved to read. In fact, I would at times pick up 20 to 30 books Gretchen had on hold at the library and the kids would bombard me when I got home to see if the books they ordered were there. We realized that we had unwittingly let media/games via the computer take a dominant role in their daily activity. Not unsupervised, but stuff like, Godtube, WebKinz, and NetFlix. We said we didn’t have TV, but streaming cartoons and family flicks through the portal of Netflix is kinda like TV. Right? So we wanted to simplify and get back to basics to see if it impacted our kids attitudes. Guess had. It’s been amazing to see the kids become content again with sketching notebooks, board games, books, and yes, cardboard boxes. I have not heard I’m bored for awhile now and loving it.

Here is another great benefit. They don’t want a bunch of stuff or think they are fat because they are comparing themselves to toothpick girl on whatever teen rave sitcom. Advertisers spend millions and millions of dollars and thousands of intellectual hours figuring out how to make our kids discontent. Not just with stuff like toys, but with who they are. All so they will go out and drink their earth saving water or wear their hip (or far below the hip) jeans, or use their sport equipment so they won’t be losers anymore and will finally attain “coolness” ..... for a moment.

So don’t go and throw your TV out the window or bash your computer screen just because my kids dig playing in cardboard boxes and read books, but give it a shot and see for yourself. Set aside a period of time, unplug and watch your kids (after they start breathing again from an anxiety attack) begin to master the art of creative play and thought. It may take a bit of an adjustment period, so don’t, after only missing ONE of their favorite shows, give up. And don’t give up because your neighbor, or family members think your are a freak. Hang in there and see what exciting and creative being your child will become.

And by the way, don’t worry about peer pressure. Your kiddos might become influencers on your street when they cruz their tricked out cardboard box by.


Jody said...

Luke and Caleb LOVE your car, Jacob!!! They want to know how you got the wheels on the front?

Vicki said...

Well...I LOVE it!!! I love having different kids...isn't it great? I really wish people would just give it a try:)

Anonymous said...

Aunt Jody I am not good at explaining things on the computer. But to make long story short the dolly that I used had wheels on the front.If they want more info tell them to call me .I would LOVE to talk to them

Anonymous said...

So completely awesome and TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish I would have put more of this “theory” to practice when our boys were growing up. There wasn’t “as much” going on “back then” as now but the boys did know how to go outside and P-L-A-Y. I feel sorry for kids now. Their parents wear them out making sure they are in everything coming and going. They are physically exhausted. Not to speak of not time

Uncle Herb and I watch the least amount of TV we’ve watched in years. We invest our time listening to pod casts of ministry, which feeds us, Uncle Herb loves to read, I love to diddle around the house, we go out and play golf, which we might do this afternoon. And actually have time to sit and have conversation. Our TV’s aren’t off limits but we find our life is better filling it with other good things.

I look back on my childhood with the greatest of memories of the simple things.

When you mentioned boxes made me think of our boys in South Carolina ….they loved taking big boxes to make a club house under these two trees in our back yard.

And, I remember two cousins who liked to go put pennies on the RR track by their grandma’s house

Love to you and your sweet little family. I had a GREAT time with your big sister, Diane, a couple weeks ago when we went to a conference. It was definitely something God put together.

Aunt Ev

Crystal said...

Great points. We do media fasts too and I would bet I'll remember this blog as I'm raising our little ones =).

Ginger said...

We had a similar problem after we got rid of tv. After awhile we started watching shows on the internet. Not as much, but still too much.
We've severely limited not just how much we watch but also what we watch. We listened to A Disney Critique (Vision Forum) and made the decision to cut out all of the Disney films made after Walt died. Even in Disney movies from the early 60s, we'd see feminism. Yuck!
For my kids, their abnormality comes out in paper dolls. They make paper dolls all. the. time. In other words, they draw people and cut them out. They will do it for HOURS!

Shane said...

Those shots are great! Thanks for sharing. If I tell my kids clean their room, it's a chore. If I clean it with them, it's an activity. The TV was not on yesterday. Instead, we put laundry away TOGETHER and cleaned rooms. Way more beneficial than Hannah Montanna!