The Great TV Turnoff (Time For Jenga)

Jenga, The Game For Very Steady Hands.

          Jenga, The Game For Very Steady Hands.

 

This is the story of what happened when we told the girls there was no tv, phones or ipods for a week. Be prepared for tears, laughter, tantrums, multiple games of Jenga and of course a happy ending where everyone ends up wiser and with a life changing experience they’ll never forget. Last week’s post dealt with the loss of Innocence and my girls growing up. Writing it gave me a sharp reminder that some time soon, (although hopefully not too soon) they’ll be adults, move out, have their own families and end up sticking us in a home where they’ll come weekly if we’re lucky and we’ll all play Rummikub together. Woah, that was a scary glimpse of the future, I feel slightly traumatised now.

Although everyone always trots out the old clichés like, “Treasure every moment, they grow up so quickly,” IT’S SO TRUE. I got thinking about how the girls will remember their childhoods. Will they say they were loved by us? Definitely. Will they say we spent loads of time with them playing games and generally having fun? Possibly…… The truth is, whilst I want to be the ever present dad, having fun with them every single day, life can get in the way. The reality is that a lot of the time, I’m working at parties and when at home working here too. I’m not the best time planner and do get very easily distracted but deep down I know I could be more present.

 

Wee Smelling Home, Here We Come.

                        Wee Smelling Home, Here We Come.

 

We’ve never been ridiculously strict with them but at the same time they don’t live boundary free. We try and give them some space to do their own thing with guidance from us. There are no strict time restraints on screen time for example, we trust that they’ll be sensible. What are we thinking, that never works! The reality is that they’ll watch tv all day if we let them. When they come in from school we ask if they have homework and these are the normal replies:

 

“Yeah, but it’s not due in for ages.” This normally means two days.

“No, nothing at all,” and then the next day at 7am, “I completely forgot, I do have homework.” Cue an hour of sheer panic, crying and shouting, “You’re so mean” as we won’t help them do it.

“Yeah but I need to rest for a few minutes as I’m so tired after school.”

 

All these scenarios normally result in the tv going on or the girls disappearing into their rooms where they stay rooted on their phones / ipods til dinner. Ok, I appreciate that we’re looking pretty lax at boundaries right now and you’re right we are a bit. Part of the problem is that we’re both children in adult’s bodies. We both find it difficult to think and act like responsible adults.

So, as a result of all this we decided that from last Monday we would have a break from all screen time. I told Katie when she came in from school, sat down on the sofa and picked up the remote control. She didn’t take it well…..at all. There was a sharp intake of breath following by hysterical crying. I looked at her incredulously and asked, “Are you crying because you can’t watch tv? If so, you’re really addicted and that’s not good.” Her reply broke my heart a little. “I’m crying because I always ask you to do things with me and you never have time. You’re always in the office working and mummy’s always doing work in the house.” I hadn’t felt this guilty since forcing Jade to ride Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park even though she was sobbing, begging me not to make her. 

 

No TV, End Of The World.

       No TV, End Of The World.

 

I promised Katie we would play games and have fun every day. Fortunately Jade’s been stupidly busy revising for exams so she was easy. If there were no exams things would be very different, oh yes. Monday night we spent time sorting out the spare room and then opened the chest that houses approximately 30 games which were covered in a thin layer of dust. We played Jenga which ended up 5-4 to me followed by our new favourite The Chameleon. If you’ve never heard of it, check it out, it’s splendiferous. 

Do you know what, we laughed together and I felt a bit sad. Sad at the realisation that I couldn’t remember the last time we all really laughed together whilst doing something. That’s a bit tragic really. Each day this week we’ve played games together, laughed together and hung out. It’s been pretty cool and I can definitely see a difference in all of us with us not sitting almost comatose staring dead eyes at bright, glaring screens. It’s Friday night now and I’m writing this then making 60 balloon models for tomorrow’s parties. A promise is a promise so it’s games before balloons. Rummikub and The Chameleon tonight and maybe this can carry on. I’ve learnt a very important lesson this week. The time with our children IS precious and I’m going to do everything I can to make the most of it.    

 

Best...Game...Ever...Seriously.

                   Best…Game…Ever…(After Frustration)

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