We have a TV for the first time in seven years…but what on earth do we do with it?

Super good at proper screen distance.

Super good at maintaining proper screen distance.

I have had a very important evening. Mostly I have been Nodding Wisely While Tim Adjusts the TV Bracket. I am taking this task very seriously, because I have it on good authority that wonky TV brackets are the woooorst. And I have never had to think about TV brackets before, because we have never had a TV.

Ok, not never. We had a TV at home, growing up, and loved it like a fifth sibling. I know the Postman dance from SMTV Live, and on Thursdays I had special permission to stay up late so I could record episodes of Buffy onto VHS tapes, which we then watched until they were glitchy.

Tim really did never have a TV at home, a circumstance which has resulted in him knowing everything about everything, being able to play the drums in this incredibly hot fashion, and many exchanges like this:


Tim: no

Me: oh, right.



Anyway, by the time we got married I hadn’t had a TV since university, and so we just never bothered. We had a projector, lots of movies, and more catch-up TV than you could shake a stick at, and this made up for not being able to watch Embarrassing Bodies exactly when it aired. Once babies arrived, we had to work a bit harder to find programmes they might like – trying things out on iPlayer rather than stumbling across them by accident – but as baby problems go, that one rated way below keeping Henry in vests that didn’t smell of sick.

This house doesn’t have room for a projector, so for the first time in seven years, we have a TV, and a bracket, and CBeebies, and everything.

Kitted. Out.

But what is this thing called CBeebies? Why is it full of grown-ass people trying to show the camera every last one of their teeth? Why do they all talk like they’ve got an excited weasel bouncing on their diaphragms? What in the actual heck is going on with Grandpa in my Pocket?

There’s this thing called Swashbuckle, and I can’t decide whether I’m excited that the two lead pirate characters are both women, because women can run pirate crews and nick off with jewels too, yay, equality, or appalled at that hideously perky thing they’re all doing with their faces.


oh my goodness STOP IT

The boys are enthralled, obviously. All this gurning is like toddler crack, and who am I to deny them a bit of harmless swashbuckling? I do, though, want some proper screen rules in place now that we need them. There’s a lot of good onscreen – not least an unlimited supply of Thundercats jokes – but I want them to use it, not have it use them.

At the moment they watch about an hour of TV while I make dinner – though that doesn’t include the emergency Sarah & Duck I put on for Teddy when he doesn’t want to nap, or the 5am Small Potatoes when he decides he’s had enough of sleeping, or the afternoons where I’ve got so behind we binge on Pixar instead of going to the park. I have a rule that we don’t watch anything that makes me feel ill (GRANDPA IN MY LUNATIC POCKET). I have another rule that there are no rules at all when anyone is cutting teeth or (when this was relevant) growing a foetus.

As with most things, I am tweaking and refashioning as we go, trying new strategies, keeping the ones that feel right and trying not to feel like I’m making things up as I go along. As with most things, this is not true.

What are the screen time rules in your house? Can your kids watch TV without having a gale-force meltdown when it’s time to turn it off? And can you get through Swashbuckle without wanting to throw up a bit in your mouth? 

PS, Sarah & Duck is gorgeous. Sarah & Duck can stay on this TV all day long if it wants. Do not mess with Sarah & Duck. 

5 thoughts on “We have a TV for the first time in seven years…but what on earth do we do with it?

  1. We have had to revamp our TV and screen time rules over the years. My 8yr son has ALWAYS struggled with turning the TV or video game off. My 9 yr and 11 yr old girls don’t like it but their tantrums are not even close to the same magnitude of their brother. Last year I got so tired of the daily evening battle that we instituted our current system: no screen time on school nights (except for homework related stuff) and they ‘earn’ minutes of screen time to use as they like on the weekends by doing their homework and family chores. It has worked well for us. My toddler, on the other hand has much less rigid rules. In fact it sounds a lot like what you described, except he watches his hour in the morning while I’m feeding baby and cleaning up breakfast after the school send off. I miss the TV before dinner, and I occasionally turn something on for the toddler, but over all no TV and screen time on weeknights has been great.

    • I think this is a great idea – I have a friend who has a ‘no screen time on school nights’ rule (her kids are school age too) and it seems to work really well for them. I think once mine are old enough to be getting homework – and not wanting to be picked up while I’m making dinner – we’ll probably switch to that as well.

  2. I had a worse problem as in F just didn’t used to like TV at all?!? I used to leave it on in the hope he would sit still for 5 minutes, like ever.
    Luckily now they are both down with a bit of telly tbhi don’t stress about how much they use, largely i guess because they are quite good at self regulating themselves and would always rather be outside! x
    p.s so glad you got one phew! And when i first saw the title i was like how the hell did you manage but understand a bit more one i saw you had the projector!

    • Yes, we still watched tons of catch-up TV, just didn’t have live TV or any channels.
      Oh gutted that your little F didn’t like TV at all! Glad he got into it in the end. Mine would both be addicts if I let them – they love doing other stuff, just can’t resist the screeeeeen 🙂 ps, enjoy Blogfest! I always wimp out of blogging conferences and then wish I hadn’t. Next time! x

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