How no television for a year changed our life

One year ago our television broke.

We were devastated. Hubby and I thought to ourselves ‘How are we ever going to survive this?

Admittedly, we didn’t use the television that much, or so we thought. I mean we only watched the basics: footy every Friday night (this was our wind-down time after a long week), of course we had our weekday favourite television shows, and we sometimes watched a Saturday night movie. Oh, and we also had it on every morning for the news.

When we looked at our television consumption, it turned out we were spending approximately 10 hours a week (at least) watching television. But we were so ignorant; we actually believed we didn’t watch much television.

The realisation shocked  us.

So, we made the touch decision not to replace it.


Proudly supported by ACT Health, Good Habits for Life

Then our perspective on life changed. The once tough decision to not replace our television turned out to be the best decision. In fact, it wasn’t just our perspective that changed, our lifestyles changed.

Suddenly we had more time on our hands, but we weren’t bored.

We talked more. We listened to each other more. We had deeper conversations, not just those superficial, ‘hello, how was your day‘ ones.

We interacted more with some serious board game tournaments.

We read more. Were less stressed. Slept better. Exercised more, and spent more time cooking healthier foods.

We were happier, and we generally could get into life more. We connected again.

Instead of having the television on in the ‘background’ we put on some music, or heavens-above, read or talked to each another.

Then our baby boy came along.

It didn’t take us long to realise that our decision to have no television has had a profound impact on his life and on our roles as parents.

This is how:

Changing decisions around purchasing toys

We thought more carefully about the toys we bought him. Instead of buying expensive items and merchandise from TV, which only had one purpose, we bought educational toys that either lasted for a longer period of time, or aimed to improve a range of his developmental areas.

More engaging activities

We actively engaged in play time with him more rather than having one eye on the baby and the other on the television. He responded to use better too rather than being distracted by the bright lights of the television.

Riding a bicycle on a country road concept for healthy lifestyle

More educational playing

As he got older, he spent more time reading books as he saw us reading too. He also spent more time outdoors, even on colder days where he could rug up in his jumper and beanie.

We had more time to eat healthier

He ate healthier as we had the time to cook him whole-fresh foods from scratch rather than relying on package mixtures (see some of the recipes here).

We were happier

We all know the high rates of depression and obesity in Canberra, and nation-wide. We found that when we didn’t spend time watching television our mental health improved. Not that we felt depressed to begin with, it was just that we felt much better without the television on because we spent more time together, exercised more, ate healthier, didn’t watch numbing television programs for the simple reason of, ‘well it was all that was on’.

We felt happier in ourselves, and this had a profound impact on our parenting.

Our son was happier

When we spent time with our extended families who owned televisions, our son looked at it with curiosity but didn’t demand it to be on. He didn’t know any different and was very happy playing with his blocks, trucks and books. He laughed more and spent more time playing outdoors.

Getting into life: Why we continue to have no TV

All in all, we are very happy with our decision not to own a television. It has had a profound, positive impact on our lives both in terms of how we spend our time and how we interact as a family. We are content with the basics in life of spending quality time together reading, playing games or going outside into the garden or local parks. We have connected more with people and things around us.

Role modelling good habits

It has made me realise that as parents we really do have an impact on how our children grow and how they live their lives. Our son has learnt from us to appreciate the simple things in life and the importance of spending time together as a family. He has learnt, how to get the most out of his life.

In what ways can you get into life more with your family?

For more ideas on how to engage your little ones in every day activities, visit Good Habits for Life website.

ACT Health runs a range of programs to support you and your children to set good habits, such as Fresh Tastes: healthy food at school and Ride or Walk to School.

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About Lauren Jackman (161 Articles)
Lauren Jackman is the author of Canberra Mummy. A self-confessed perfectionist, Lauren writes about the truth about pregnancy and parenting for perfectionist mummies. Lauren is a mum, wife, author, runner and a not a bad cook

12 Comments on How no television for a year changed our life

  1. We have no technology days and I have to say we love them! The kids aren’t a fan at first, but once they get into it, their imaginations take over and the atmosphere is generally better. I love it.

    • It does take a while for kids to adjust, particularly if they have favourite TV shows. How can drawing compete with Peppa Pig!! But you are right, their imagination does take over and I find that kids sleep so much better after creative play as their brains are just so much more active!

  2. With 3 kids under 4, the television is my savior some days, but after reading your post, it does appeal to me not to have the tv on.

    • I totally get that! Sometimes it is just easier to have the TV on, particularly when cooking tea. We only have one at the moment so we include him in the preparation stage i.e. getting food out of the fridge. Otherwise we have a poster of animals on the kitchen door so we real off animal names in between chopping, dicing and frying!

  3. I love the idea of having more communication and connection within our family, but for now TV is a necessary evil at our place. Plus I couldn’t do without my tragic English soap. Having said that, I do my best to use music as background noise rather than TV as TV noise is just NOISE after a while,so I totally get the value in that.

    • We often have music on at our place too. We often play a range of music so he develops his own likes and dislikes and isn’t so influenced by us. We’ve been listening to some classics at the moment, a bit of Frank Sinatra before bedtime is always good wind down music!

  4. I think it’s a great idea – not sure how I would coper personally, but definitely for my child. Less TV the better. I only watch maybe an hour or so at night just before bed, usually while I’m blogging, but I’d like to keep the majority of my daughter’s time screen-free.

  5. i have 2 friends with no tv and one friend with no mobile phone. One of them said having no tv has made her clairvoyant. I have a small tv and really should do the same. it is a big waste of time…. It puts me to sleep to be honest. I have more energy and get more done if I don’t turn it on.

    • haha, a clairvoyant! Well that’s a secondary benefit if I ever heard one! I find we all sleep much better without, and am able to spend more time with the kiddies.

  6. Wow, while in theory I’d love to do this, I just can’t see it happening in reality… good on you for sticking it out!

  7. We have several TV’s in our house but no TV service. I find people’s respones to this so funny sometimes. I love reading and people constantly ask me how I could possible find time to read working full time and have two toddlers. They seriously don’t believe that I can read that many books in the time they are watching TV. (That said, I am not under the illusion that my reading is automatically ‘better’ than their TV viewing, it’s just my chosen form of entertainment. What I do think is better is that I am intentional about my choice.

  8. I would LOVE not to have a TV but my husband is not at all keen. He watches a great deal more TV than me. P

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