Childhood Unplugged.

When I was a younger women, I’d dream about what motherhood would be like. I used to subscribe to Adbusters and I remember an image they published of a young girl in front of the TV. Her mouth was open, eyes dazed, body slumped. If the TV had not been in the frame, you would have thought she belonged in a mental hospital.
I vowed not to be the kind of mom that let her kids sit in-front of the TV for hours on end.
It seemed like an easy decision before real kids actually entered the picture. Now that I am a mother, I realize that getting the kids out and encouraging them to interact with dare-I-say-it, their environment, is – well – a lot of work for me.
I’m not a perfect parent. In fact, I’m well aware of my shortcomings. Truth be told, I put Super Why! on for Hooper so I could sit down to write this post in peace. Van’s napping.
The flip-side of limiting technology in your child’s life is that you have play an active roll. By the same token, for me, less TV means more fighting over toys, more hitting, slower and more frustrating meal times, and less peace n’ quiet.
And yet, I think know it’s really important.
It’s with great pride I introduce you to Childhood Unplugged. I’ve been invited to share one image, once a month, along with several other photographers I’m pleased as pie to be associated with. You can click on the button below to see the image I chose and to check out the images others chose as well.
How did you unplug this month?

13 Responses

  • We don’t have a television, that’s how. haha. We went to a relatives house where there was a tv and Lane didn’t even seem slightly sort of interested. I’d kind of kill for some zone-out time every now and then.

  • Ashley, your journaling and images get me every time. I can so relate in every way to what you said. Thank you for sharing this journey of stretching ourselves as mother’s to do the hard stuff. xoxo

  • Television has never been important to my husband and I. We probably only have one because we have a built-in wall unit in our home where one goes, ha. I could easily go months without watching television but now that we’re old and tired and not as exciting as we were pre-kids, my husband and I like to snuggle up and watch a show together here and there more than ever before. I vowed to be a no TV parent, too. For a long time, it was easy. (I only have one kiddo, though. I imagine it’s way harder when you’ve got two to juggle.) My son didn’t know what a TV did or was until he just turned two and my mom babysat him for a couple of hours so I could attend a blogging event. I came home and he said “hi mommy! Ethan watch Mickey Mouse, Disney Junior.” It ended up being a huge argument with my mom and I felt a little overwhelmed because when we got home, I had to be The Mean Mom who didn’t let him spend 50 hours in front of the TV. He spent the next few days tantruming like a madman because nothing at all I suggested — not even things he LOVED — seemed fun when he knew what the TV did. Argh. He turned 2 in June and he just started watching the occasional show. I mean that in the sense that sometimes I’m trying to cook dinner, my husband is working late, and he’s climbing on the dining room table and shatters a glass (true story). I put on PBS and let him watch a show while I clean up the mess and finish cooking. I prefer to have him help me cook and sometimes he loves to, but he’s two, and sometimes he just wants to cause chaos. Or eat deodorant (true story #2). So sometimes the occasional PBS show (usually Curious George, since these are his favorite books) is a necessary babysitter for 15 minutes while I get stuff done. Sometimes he still goes a couple of days without it, and it’s usually my last resort (if he’ll accept a canvas and some paints instead while I cook, that’s a done deal first), but things just begin to feel futile without it. I try to keep myself unplugged (i.e. off the computer, TV off and no phone conversations except emergencies or making plans) while he’s awake. That’s always been my rule.

    Sometimes we go play at a friend’s house and their idea of a playdate is putting the TV on and watching it over and over while all the moms talk. Ethan doesn’t really sit in front of it that long, and it’s kind of hard, especially when it’s a show like Spongebob Squarepants that offers absolutely no educational value whatsoever. It’s always hard to be an unplugged mom, especially when it’s a zillion and four degrees here in Florida all the time and when it’s not, it’s raining.

  • we don’t have cable, so that certainly helps. but netflix is almost too easy anyway. i (attempt to) save tv time for when i absolutely need to get something done (or let’s be honest, just have a moment to sit). our girl is now old enough to enjoy things that she would just eat up until now. we’ve become big fans of play-doh. she will sit and squish it for a solid 30 minutes, and thankfully we have all wood floors so clean up isn’t so bad. that and sidewalk chalk. always sidewalk chalk!

  • I love the idea behind this! It’s so easy, even if the tv isn’t on, to be on my phone while I’m with my little guy or let him play on the ipad. I want to make a conscious choice to play outside, play with toys, get creative, and even be present in those difficult times of arguments and interruptions. Thanks for the beautiful post!

  • Love your images, Ashley! Your image on the main Childhood Unplugged blog left me captivated and so intrigued. It was great following the link here to see just what was on the other side of the door. Looking forward to being on this journey with you and unplugging regularly :).

  • Um, I love TV. I said it. I will never be that awesome of a person who can just go without TV. The very idea gives me chills. I think there’s a balance that’s important and you seem to have that with the boys. They love being out and about, thanks to their mama.

  • Great idea! I really do love the idea of spreading the word of less technology in kids’ lives. I admit, I had our TV on (literally nonstop) with Bubble Guppies, Finding Nemo or Puss in Boots playing for my daughter (who is only 17 months old). I don’t know what came over me. I was in the zone as much as she was, but my zone looked more like cleaning, dishes, laundry and less holding her and less of her getting into the cat’s water or the dog’s food. I came to a moment (actually, after reading up on my favorite blogs and noticing that I never see a TV in their photos and that they’re always doing activities inside/outside) where I had enough of TV. I forced my husband and baby into a TV-ban for an entire week. I loved it. Husband wasn’t so crazy about it but we ended up socializing, interacting and actually reading more (at the end of our day). It was so lovely. I put music on instead. Ever since then, the TV is rarely on. And, I’ve been getting rid of toys that light up and basically take batteries. I totally salute you (and those involved) in your efforts in promoting more thinking and less zoning 🙂

  • I love this! TV isn’t an issue in our house, but iphones and ipads certainly are. My kids can literally sniff out when I set my phone down. When I wake up in the morning, I put the ipad in a cabinet that they can’t get to. Though I don’t allow phone “play” when we are at home, I do allow it when we are at a store. I have made a conscious effort to be as unplugged as possible when my kids are awake. I will admit, it is a challenge. But I want to set an example for them and I want to be able to enforce rules about electronics that I also follow.

  • exactly: less tv means more fighting and fussing, hence your last image. i like how you keep it real. (and i really like your images- all of them, not just these.)

  • Was distracted by those AMAZING pictures, so good. I reckon all it takes is having the mindfulness to unplug – its ok to use technology and be thoughtful to limit it where you can. We always take books and colouring pencils when we go out for dinner so that we’re not offering iphone games to keep her occupied. Plus we can interact with the drawing of monsters and princesses if we want to.. I look forward to checking out the new series. Belinda x

  • This is such a great project. I am definitely guilty of letting my kids watch way more tv than i would like. I rarely watch television myself and I find it hard to think if it’s on in the background but my husband and inlaws (who i live with) think the house is ‘too quiet’ without it so it’s almost always on 🙁

    one of my son’s first words was ‘dvd’ which i’m pretty appalled at! and they can both turn the tv on and put dvds on by themselves.

    I think my life would be a lot harder without the tv (especially with having 2 kids as i often let my daughter watch a dvd when i’m putting her brother down for a nap) but they watch waaay too much 🙁


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