A Punishment's Silver Lining

Oct 8, 2012

Last Sunday, we came home from church, fed the boys lunch, and put them down in their beds for naps. Then Mike and I collapsed on our own bed and within minutes, seconds maybe, we were soundly asleep.

Within my sedated state, I vaguely remember hearing the gleeful laughter and giggles of the three boys. They all three share a room, and usually this is not a problem at all, but occasionally it does turn into something of a playfest. I usually put an immediate stop to it, but sometimes I let it go because I love hearing them have so much fun together. On this particular afternoon, however, I didn't do anything because of sheer, wonderful laziness.

Mike eventually went to put a halt to their fun, and he found that they indeed had been having "fun." They had found a black marker (I have absolutely no recollection of leaving a marker in their room) and...you can probably imagine what I'm about to tell you: they had colored all over themselves (in their ears, on their faces, between their toes...everywhere), all over their sheets, and they had drawn big gigantic circles on the carpet. Miraculously, the walls were virtually unscathed (it was probably only a matter of time).

Aaron's feet and the carpet
I was livid. I didn't even go look at the damage for a good two hours because I was worried if I saw it before I had time to adjust to the idea, I would completely lose it. While I was calming down, I gave thought to an appropriate punishment. Three minutes in time-out was not going to do it. It had to be something they would notice and remember. One of the things Aaron and Max really like is watching a show in the morning while I'm getting ready for the day. So I decided to cut it...times seven. A whole week of no TV.

It's a good thing I had two hours to convince myself this was a good idea. Truth be told, I enjoy having them watch a show almost as much as they enjoy watching it. It gives me a quiet moment to get a handle on the day. This punishment was going to hurt me, too.

The boys were not thrilled about the consequence (at least I knew I'd chosen a good one!), and Monday was about as painful as I was expecting: they were grumpy and whiny, they didn't want to play by themselves, they made a constant stream of messes, and they were bored. I almost caved, but when it comes to consequences, I am unrelenting. I held out.

On Tuesday, things brightened a bit. After a little coaxing, the boys went downstairs and listened to a picture book on CD. Then they went to the playroom and played until it was time for us to take Aaron to preschool. And it only got better from there.

I won't meticulously describe all the days that followed, but let me just say that the transformation was amazing. Instead of hanging around me and whining, they were playing downstairs or outside. Their creativity skyrocketed. They were playing with toys they had completely forgotten about and sitting at the kitchen table drawing detailed pictures and relaxing on the couch looking through books and making up their own games.

Yesterday, I told Mike I didn't want the week to end. I loved what no TV had done to my boys. The crazy thing is, it wasn't like they were watching TV all day before. They were watching about an hour each morning...none in the afternoon, none in the evening. But eliminating it literally transformed the whole day.

So this morning, I didn't tell them the week of punishment was up.

And they didn't ask.

They were too busy playing.


  1. It is amazing to see the effect that tv, even in small amounts, has in our homes. We regularly limit the amount of tv in our home, but on those days we are more lax, it is definitely more difficult to get our kids to listen, or do the things they are supposed to do. If it were up to me, we would get rid of it all together.

    The Happy Wife/Danielle (Parent) Garcia
    Ldsmom2201 (at) yahoo (dot) com
    Twitter: The_Happy_Wife

  2. Love it. We don't miss TV either.

  3. Oh that is awesome. I love how something bad turned out good. So cool!

  4. Wow, that's good to know. I am strict about minimizing screen time but I feel like Eva still years for it and whines about being bored without it. Maybe we need to do a complete video fast for a couple weeks!

  5. I've always (semi-jokingly) said that money & time are two things I just don't want my kids to learn. Glad your punishment worked well. :-)

    Just two questions: were you ever tempted to smile at how ridiculous your kids probably looked with that much marker on them? (That always gets me.) And, how'd you fix your carpet? (Carpet problems in a rental home would've done me in, too. We've only dealt with marker on walls, fridges, stoves, furniture, clothes, skin, vehicles...but nothing so huge that was also someone else's. Yikes.)

    Fun blog. Keep it up.

  6. I have never regretted banning morning TV since we did it almost a year ago. It is not a good way to start the day... They can still watch it Saturday mornings, but I wish they didn't, because they are so much grumpier when they start the day that way.

  7. I think I'm still in shock over the carpet to fully grasp anything else you said. OH MY GOSH!!

    Ok, deep breath. My coworker recently got rid of her TV and said that it's made a huge difference in their evenings with their kids. I could live without TV and really try to actively play with my daughter instead of turning on something (although there have been moments...). But funny how the small difference in the morning made such a huge difference in the day!



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