Things to Do Other than Watching TV

Updated on December 03, 2010
M.A. asks from Dickinson, ND
23 answers

Ok, so call me crazy or unrealistic (because I know that's exactly what my husband will do), but I want to TRY to go without TV, as a household, for a full week... yes 7 full days. I have not mentioned this to him because I know the first question he will ask me is, "well, what are we going to do instead." This is so sad to me because as a family and as a society in general we have grown so dependent, if you will, on television. Lately it seems like it's gotten worse! My kids want to watch TV all day, the second my husband gets home from work he plops down on the couch and turns on the TV, even in the evening after the kids are in bed we unwind in front of the TV. I feel like my husband and I are missing out on so much, with each other, with our children, on life! Before I present this "crazy, unheard" of idea, I want to have a really good game plan so that we don't just get bored and resort back to turning on the tube. I would like suggestions on many many things we as a family can do together (I have a 3 year old girl and a 1 year old boy), as well as many more things my husband and I can do together, without TV (movies included). Obviously I've thought of board games, but it's hard to do many of those with a three year old, let alone a one year old. Also, some reasons I could use to try to convince him this would be a good idea would be very helpful as well! It's very cold where we live, so outdoor activities are really limited.. also the fact that it's completely dark out by 4:30pm (before my husband even get's home from work).

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Honolulu on

For games I recommend games by the brand "Think Fun." Which is available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. These are GREAT games for any age, child or adult. And can be played with 1 person or more.

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answers from Des Moines on

Do it. My suggestion for stuff you and your husband can do... have sex. Seriously, every night for a week. It will give your relationship a boost and I don't think he'll be complaining about the tube not being on.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

I would approach him and ask if you could turn it off just one night of the week, Make Friday nights family game night and pop popcorn and play candyland, and entice him to come to bed early after the kids are asleep wink wink.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Bismarck on

We live north of you and our compromise is hardly any tv in the summer and a little more in the winter...just another idea to add to everyone else's!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

What would you do to entertain the kids if you lost power?
That is what gets my creative juices going... what I used to do with ours, was drag all the chairs out from the table, and either line them up backwards (back to back) and drape a blanket over them and make a tent, or put the blanket over the table without the chairs. The kids always LOVED any sort of "tent" stuff. Hand them a flashlight and EVERYthing is an adventure after that.

Reading books under a "tent" is way more fun than just sitting on the sofa. ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Believe it or not, there are places in the US where the TV reception is so bad it's better to ignore television altogether. And people live to tell about it. I don't happen to live in one of those places, but sometimes I pretend that I do.

However, it's hard to plan it as if it were a vacation. If you have games, books, and a yard, you have some paths to take. Sit down with your husband and plan at least a couple of nights when you all do something together... reading, playing a game, a night walk, even going out to a movie. Have art supplies handy so your children can draw. One night I was taking care of my granddaughters while their parents went out, and when they got home there were twelve paintings awaiting them. (They're a little older than yours.) Put on music if you need a little noise in the house - play CDs or turn on the radio. Think of make-believe games with blocks. Can you go from there?

You'll be amazed at how it can change your home. You can do some of these things in the daytime, too, instead of having the tube on. Since you'll need to be the leader, get your imagination going, and you will get help get your three-year-old's imagination going (and your one-year-old will follow).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

First, let me congratulate you on this bold step, and encourage you that it can be done!

My daughter is 2 and a half and has almost never watched TV (they watch 20 minutes a day at her day care) because we almost never turn it on in her presence. We do lots of things. We read a lot of stories, we make up ball games with a soft ball (throwing the ball in a pot, throwing the ball back and forth, having her chase the ball), we play hide and seek, we play both kid and grown up CDs and have "dance parties."

A lot of times my husband will take care of her in the evening while I cook, and then one or the other of us will take care of her while the other cleans up the kitchen. When I'm alone with her during the day and cooking I will have her in the kitchen with me, giving her magnetic letters to play with, or her own kitchen toys, or I'll put some rice and beans in bowls and let her mix those up, or have her smell the spices, or stir things, or help in other age-appropriate ways.

You can do arts and crafts things, painting, drawing (even the little one), play dough, blocks, puzzles, etc., etc. I try to get her outside when when we are home together even though it's cold, just to get her moving and into fresh air (I live in MN so I can commiserate with the cold, dark winter thing!).

Three other things to consider: Your husband probably does need to unwind at the end of the day when he gets home from work. Talk to him about other things that could be helpful in him unwinding--even if it's putting a small TV somewhere else that he can watch for a limited time before throwing himself into family responsibilities.

My husband and I don't even watch TV after our daughter goes to bed anymore. We sit and talk. This was not always the case, but I think it only strengthens our marriage.

Finally, the Amercian Academy of Pediatrics, I think, recommends NO tv for kids under 2 and no more than 2 hours for older children. There's something you can share with your husband when he protests....

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

You could try baking cookies. Cutouts are fun the 3 yr old and your hubby could frost them and the 1 yr old put on the sprinkles.
Get some melting chocolate and make candy. It's vey easy and all you need is a double boiler to melt the chocolate, add some pretzels, or rice crispies, or peanuts, or a few drops of pepermint extract. You then drop by teaspoonfull onto wax paper and let it harden.
Decorate the tree and the rest of the house while listening to holiday music.
Make an early dinner, bath the kids, and put on PJs bundle up the kids and get in the car and go look at holiday decorations.
Since the kids are young you can put hem to bed fairly early and have some time to play board games or cards with your hubby.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I hated the TV when I was married - couldn't talk above it, it stayed on when no one was in the room, it was on during meals - UGH!!

I have not had TV in my home since I moved out four years ago and will never have it again. We do have a DVD player for occasional movies. I find movies are more controllable - no commercials and no hook into the next show and the next, and no remote to channel surf.

My daughter and I do fine without TV. We play, build forts and make things, read, do puzzles, play with our cat and hermit crabs, and spend as much time as possible outside. We live in MN and it is cold and dark here, too. That doesn't mean we can't go sledding or ice skating. We also have two karate classes, swimming lesson, piano lesson, and theater class each week...and homework. When would we fit in TV?

BTW - my daughter watches plenty of TV when she's at her Dad's house, so she's not "culturally" unaware or anything ;-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Glens Falls on

Well, I didn't see this mentioned and it won't work for your little ones but one of my favorite rainy day activities is a jigsaw puzzle. You and your husband can work on it when the kids go to bed. With your 3 year old, you can play I Spy, Simon Says, Mother May I, and Duck, Duck, Goose - no supplies needed, I love those kind of games. I'd consider giving everybody an hour of TV, though.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Make Christmas ornaments - have the kids paint/decorate/etc.

Head to the library if the hours permit.

Get a book on crafts for some project ideas.

Make sock puppets with your 3 yr old and have put on a puppet show for Daddy and the 1yr old.

Get everyone in the kitchen. Bake something fun and let the kids help. Pick something fun and kid friendly - like worms in the dirt (pudding, cookie crumbs and gummie worms) Have a dessert night.

Read stories to the kids.

Since your week will include a weekend - head to the park. Go feed the ducks at a lake (if any are still around). If its too cold for that - hit an indoor play area. Even a McDonalds indoor play area will work.

Go do some Christmas/Holiday shopping.

Put up your winter decorations as a family.

Do some winter cleaning -- right before the holidays we go through the kids toys and make three baskets for keep, donate, and trash. You guys can take on a room a day and help de-clutter the house. Get the kids involved and Dad. Go through clothes, toys, everything.

Volunteer as a family. Food kitchen, Woman's shelter, etc.

I hope that helps -- good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

Just turn it off and see what happens. Sometimes on the weekend we fall into the tv rut, and I just turn it off. It forces my daughter to play with her imagination, and my husband and I usually end up reading books, although I guess that doesnt promote family time. We also have board games and card games (memory, etc, that the little one can play too). And we're a family who likes tv. I am watching my Stargate Universe right now while the dd has her nap, and I was mad I missed it last night. :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

Board games you can play as a family that are age specific for your wee ones. Books are awesome. Take up a craft or few--what about working on making a few of your own Christmas decorations together? Bake cookies, make candy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Madison on

Turing the tv off every night this week seems like a crash diet instead of modfiying your schedule for every day living. Having a game night on one night, going to the library night on another night, or even a music night where everyone dances to CDs makes it easier because it becomes the schedule instead of tv.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Instead of watching TV, we do chores. I know. Sounds awful.

I do the boring everyday chores, like wash dishes, etc. My husband gets to do the "sexy" chores, for which he is rewarded. He likes to fix stuff. So I push broken stuff in front of my husband, along with the tools he needs. He fixes it.

It's kind of like setting out a craft for a child, only more useful. (Don't tell my husband this!)

Bonus- the kids see him working, get curious, and learn how to fix stuff too :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We do watch a lot of tv at our house and it won't go away.

However, we do other things as a family as well. We love to play the Wii sports together. My daughter and I are currently reading a series of books. She is on book 2 and I just finished book 1 and can't wait for her to finish #2 so I can get started on it. There are 4 in the series.

Hubby and I are hooked on the daily newspaper. He works the sudoko daily and I love the crossword.

The tv is usually on but we still manage to have quality time together.


answers from Duluth on

im interested in looking at all the answers; i have the same problem. our 4 year old son doesnt always want to watch tv per say, but it is a problem in our houes too. :(:(

anyway, yeah.
color! kids love to color, and they love to be with their parents. it might seem very boring but for your kids it would be awesome. ;)



answers from San Francisco on

At my kids elementary, we have TV Turnoff Week, which is a national program. Google it and see what you find. We did it this fall and it was awesome, we wound up playing more games and changing our habits even after it was over. Some quick ideas:
Create a TV cover with an old pillowcase so there's a reminder that it's not coming on, decorate it with creative ideas of things to do instead.
Color, play with old toys, go for a walk, play outside, ride bikes/scooters, put on a play, read books... get creative!



answers from Chicago on

Not sure how you celebrate the holidays but maybe you could incorporate holiday activities into the rest of the ones you gather. Maybe something like a handmade popcorn & cranberry garland, construction paper garland, put some white craft paper up on one whole wall & have everybody finger paint, make Christmas cards for friends & family, have story time with the kids, knit, embellish a canvas bag with your initials & sparkly jewels, make & decorate paper mache ornaments... If you have a garage maybe you & DH could take turns working on special household projects (put up crown molding, refinish a piece of furniture...).

If going without TV is going to be a regular thing (like once a month or something like that), weaning the family off vs going cold turkey might help. Maybe start with turning off the tube for one whole weekend, then extend the following weekends by one day at a time until all 7 days are roped in.

Hope these ideas help or at least get your creative juices flowing. :-)



answers from Des Moines on

I have a one year old and and three year old too:) The oldest loves puzzles, reading, crafts, balloon games (just blow up a balloon and let them throw it around -- no mess, and the little one will love it too). We make forts and tunnels out of the furniture and blankets, do tinker toys and building blocks, and both kids love hide and seek. The little one just joins in, or does "baby" versions of the big kid stuff. Involve your husband in the fun -- he might like all of the extra playtime, too:) Oh, and we have a mini trampoline, which the three year old loves (and I love to burn some energy on these cold days!). Have fun:)



answers from Minneapolis on

With the kids: outside is time consuming but worth it, and if you go out on a night with the moon and snow it is quite bright. Pile up snow while the kids are goofing around and then the next day you can get their help digging out a fort (probably take up a week of outside
Inside- music and dancing, make your own instruments (cardboard or plastic food container plus dried rice or beans...glue shut so little one doesn't get into eating them...then decorate with collage materials or markers), shaving cream finger painting in an empty bath tub, make your own natural playdough (recipe on Internet), wooden blocks (3 year old can stack up and then 1 yo can knock over), for board games check out Cariboo by Cranium or cooperative games from Family Pastimes, lots of reading books (touch/feel books for the little one), use couch cushions or pillows to make tumbling mats, jumping on the bed, set up a rubber bin with small depth of water and place on a plastic mat(add tub toys or plastic animals, add coloring to the water if want)....I could go on and on.

Grown up evening activities: talking about your day (really talking and really listening), are married, reading, crossword puzzles or other, researching something you have always wanted to know about, card game, sewing, woodworking project, fix something that is broken.



answers from Honolulu on

For games I recommend games by the brand "Think Fun." Which is available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. These are GREAT games for any age, child or adult. And can be played with 1 person or more.



answers from Dallas on

We don't watch much tv at our house- all we have is the local channels and I'm not much interested in them. We do rent movies and also have a Wii- it's on only on weekends during the school year.
Get ready for a lot of "I'm bored! What can we do?" going from a lot of tv to none is a big switch! We play outside, if the weather permits- we play ball and tag. We get glow sticks from the dollar store and turn off all the lights and have a sock war(everyone gets clean socks to throw at each other). We read together or by ourselves. My kids build stuff with legos, play with play dough, help with chores. My husband and I will listen to the radio together- talk or sports- and discuss items of the day.
Christmas crafts are fun. Get out the board games and pop some pop corn. Discuss goals with your spouse- bake cookies together. My husband and I play rummy together after the kids are in bed, or talk about books and articles we have read together.
Turn up the music and dance with your kids- this is a ton of fun! and I am always surprised at how out of shape I am after one song! Go over homework with kids- make sure they know what they are learning. Call up grandparents and talk to them for a while. or just sit and enjoy the silence!
Good luck! The beginning of the week will be hard- the middle, harder- but by the end, you might start to like it!


answers from San Antonio on

Book: 365 tv-free activities you can do with your child

Playdoh is a great one.
We like to turn off the tv some nights and just watch our son run around (he's 2.5).
Read books.
Play board games -- there ARE some y'all could do together. Chutes and ladders? Uno? Dice games?
Cook -- my son likes to make doggie treats. PM me for an easy recipe that allows your kids to use their play-doh cookie cutters. You roll it out with a rolling pin and the kids can pound and play just like with play-doh, but then feed the treats to the dog for a few weeks.
Cut out magazine pictures and make a collage (themed animals, people and their feelings, food, etc.)
Or with the magazine pictures, make flashcards for the baby and to help your 3 yr old read. (ie: boy/girl, happy/sad, dog, cat, banana.....)

Good luck! Let us know how your first few days go. I want to check back here next week to see a 'so what happened.'

Next question: Just for fun..what Do You All Do with Your Kids on Week nights..getting Bored;)