Archive for September, 2010

Our family has survived our second week of the TV/gaming fast with zero fanfare.  Some have asked “How can you call it a fast if it’s not absolute?” since we will allow TV and computer access on exception (for example,  school & work related matters).   I liken it to the Old Testament “Daniel fast”.  Daniel and his friends refused to eat the rich foods from the royal table and ate vegetables & fruit instead.  After 10 days they appeared to be healthier than the other Israelite captives (Daniel 1:8-16).  While our TV/gaming fast is not 100% absolute unplugging, it has proved to be a healthier choice already: more rest, more human interaction, less attitude.

Although of everyone in the family I think I suffered the most this week the night hubby and kids left me in the house alone for 5 hours while they went to watch the Phillies vs. Braves in Philadelphia.  That night wasn’t just ANY night.  It was THE season premiere of Glee, one of my favorite guilty pleasure shows.  There was also that Netflix  DVD of Ironman sitting on our desk taunting me for the past week.  I was Glee’s own Sue Sylvester incarnate that evening, continually berating myself for even considering such an insane idea as a TV fast.  What on God’s green earth could I have been thinking?

The good news is I somehow remained distracted with the backlog of to-dos I had waiting for me and didn’t otherwise cave in to my burning desire to indulge myself in front of the “glowing rectangle”  (a term coined by a dear friend of mine) .  It had to have been none other than God’s grace for I am absolutely incapable of such self-discipline, ESPECIALLY when no one is around to see me.

The rest of the week, thankfully, was a cake walk for me.  My kids are still counting down the days until the end of the fast and hubby is hanging in there…not complaining or grumbling (at least not to me).  However, Mr. Mallard, our pet duck is deliriously happy as he has been getting much more one-on-one time with each member of our family than before the fast when into effect.

Here’s to hoping that the next 2 weeks get even easier!


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Our 30-Day TV & Gaming Fast

Today marks seven days into our family’s TV & gaming fast.  The idea started years ago in my heart as a slooooow burn…and turned into a roaring fire a little over a week ago.  I was fed up with the collective amount of time that each member of our family (including me) spent on mindless TV viewing, video gaming and computer gaming.

All of our addictions started out innocently, of course, and with careful moderation:

  • My kids never watched live TV; only carefully screened programs that were recorded on our Tivo. But even my 6yo ended up watching waaay more TV than he should have.
  • I used Tivo to record my “guilty pleasure” shows that I only watched late at night after everyone else was fast asleep and my body could work no more.  But staying up until 12-1am only exhausted an already exhausted mom even more. In addition, that midnight hour quickly became a time for an unneeded 4th meal of the day.
  • My husband would come home after work and innocently tune into the news but then would end up surfing…and surfing…and surfing…until he finally fell asleep in front of it.
  • When the Wii came into our house, it did so with the provision that it would only be used on the weekends and that’s pretty much how it’s been used.  However, it’s taken the place of other more beneficial ways for our kids to use their time during the weekend.
  • Computer gaming was also very minimal during the course of the day except this past year it quickly became an obsession with our 9yo.  At first, I observed his keyboarding skills improve and his spelling (as he chatted with other gamers), and I was surprised to discover that my ADHD child no longer seemed to have a problem sitting in a chair for more than 10 minutes at a time.  Indeed, he was spending EVERY spare minute he had in that computer chair and becoming increasingly upset when it was time to walk away from it!

What was the straw that broke the camel’s back?  It was a combination of many things:

  • Consistently poor sleeping habits which resulted in fatigue in both my husband and I (and irritability on my part)
  • Poor behavior of the children including a desperate and tearful attitude to rush through lessons in order to get their “computer time”
  • The lack of good, old-fashioned exercise and playtime outdoors
  • The decreased amount of quality family time
  • The decreased amount of quality husband & wife time

As one would expect, my suggestion to start this fast was not a very popular one with my family.  “I don’t like it” my husband announced.  “Mo-O-om!!! 30 DAAAAYS???” wailed my oldest.  “Let’s do it for 60 days, Mom!” said my smart-alec 6yo in an attempt to antagonize his older brother.

My plea was to do this only for 30 days with the intent to revisit the household climate and go from there.  And so it began.

So how’s it been for this family with the first week under our belt?  Let’s see:


  • I’ve experienced angst in not being able to watch the first Oprah episode of her final season as well as experiencing significant angst in not being able to watch any of the fall season line-up of  my other guilty pleasure shows.
  • My kids ask me daily how many more days until the fast is over with.


  • My husband is getting more meaningful sleep by actually falling asleep in our bedroom as opposed to in front of the TV.
  • I’m getting to bed much earlier and getting upwards of 7-8 hours per night which has put me in a better mood during the days.
  • Because we’re getting to bed earlier, so are our children which means they are getting more rest and starting their days earlier and being more productive.
  • My living room floor has been delightfully littered with engineered creations of all kinds: train tracks, blocks, legos, puzzles, etc.
  • My kids have been outdoors more during breaks and leisure time
  • We’re playing more board games together.
  • I’m slowly starting to play catch up on long overdue items (bill paying, taxes, follow-ups, etc.)

We’re still trying to navigate through this 30-day fast, however.  Questions like:

  • Can the 6yo play Leapster in the car? (yes)
  • Can the kids watch DVDs when on long drives? (no – we listen to stories on CDs instead)
  • Can we invite a good friend (who is disabled) to come over and watch the Eagles football game on Sunday? (the jury is still out on that one but probably yes)
  • Can the kids watch a bible video on TV? (yes)
  • Can mom sneak in a Netflix DVD  of Ironman when know one is looking? (she hasn’t yet but is soooooo tempted)

I can’t say it’s been a terrible week on this fast.  Challenging and tempting…but not terrible.

My prediction is that by the end of the 30 days, it will have gotten consistently easier to do without those things, perhaps even weaned some of us off the really bad habits, and overall turn out to be a much more positive experience than the majority of the family ever expected it to be.  I would LOVE to repeat it for another 30 days but the rest of the family might feel the need to disown me if that happens.

Stay tuned for next week’s update!

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I’m 85% of the way through this 90-day challenge and, yikes!… has it ever started to FEEL like a challenge these past few weeks! I didn’t expect that AT ALL considering the content in the New Testament is so much easier to read than in the Old Testament. But I did underestimate my available time during the course of my day as our homeschooling work load increased and as our events calendar quickly started to fill up this month.  For the first time during this journey, I found myself consistently 2-3 days, sometimes 4 days, behind schedule.  The good news is I was able to get all caught up thanks to a camping trip that took my husband and boys out of the house this weekend. 🙂

A major milestone that I reached on this challenge so far was reading the entire Old Testament from start to finish for the first time in my life. Woot! Woot!  As of this writing, I’m in the book of Acts in the New Testament. Reading the first four gospels in a row in a matter of days was a personally moving experience for me. It was more powerful to me than reading it during any previous bible reading plan. It seemed to have much more clarity and emphasis. Reading through the book of John was especially so.

What an incredible blessing this challenge has been for me! I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me over the next 13 days as I aim for two more milestones: reading the New Testament from start to finish AND, at the same time, reading the ENTIRE BIBLE from cover to cover!

T-minus 13 days & counting!

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