It sort of happened by accident. One day we were a cable-loving family happily glued to the television screen watching crappy reality shows and the next we weren’t. But let me be clear: our decision to cut the cord didn’t come from a place of parenting righteousness. It wasn’t because my kid was scrolling a screen more than she was playing outdoors. It wasn’t because I’d swapped our plastic toys for wooden spoons or because I’d decided kale was a good alternative to cookies. It was out of our sheer laziness that my husband and I accidentally ditched cable. We’d moved into a new house and never got around to setting up the box.
But here’s the thing: five years later, we still don’t have cable and we don’t care.
We don’t care about your Super Bowl or your Kardashians. We don’t care about the marketing mayhem that peppers every seven-minute segment of tightly scripted sitcoms. And, trust me, as an 80s kid who lived for commercial-laden Saturday morning cartoons and tuned in to prime time nearly every night of the week, this came as a surprise. Growing up, missing an episode of The Wonder Years or My Two Dads was like showing up to school without a scrunchie or leaving your Caboodle at a friend’s house. You just didn’t do it.
But being cable-less has some serious perks, especially for parents. Don’t believe me? Here are five that could nudge even the most devoted to flip the switch.
No Black Friday black eyes or back ordered bullshit. Without irresistible images of factory-made colorful garbage, your children will ask for things like bicycles and books for their birthdays. No more standing in line or waiting for months for something that’ll just break in a week. (I’m looking at you, Hatchimals.)
No jaunty jingles to get stuck in your head or to be heard at high decibels as your children belt them from their bedrooms. Take that, Meow Mix.
No March Madness known to kidnap middle-aged men who still think they can shotgun a beer every time a free-throw is made. Trust me, he’ll still find a way to watch the sports, but it won’t be at your house and you won’t be scrubbing cheese dip off the wall or hear anyone say, “Beer me” like a freaking caveman.
No news. I don’t need some high-definition anchorman telling me what I ought to know. We are well into the 21st Century, and we’ve got better ways to curate the headlines. I’ll take the news how I like it, thank you very much.
No money spent on programs that are intended to make you feel bad about yourself or the life you live. You wouldn’t invite an asshole over to dinner, so why invite one into your living room?
Do I worry my child won’t grow up happy and healthy if she’s not exposed to the same levels of consumerism as her peers? Not at all. In fact, I’m glad she doesn’t know what movies are coming out on DVD or what toys are supposed to be the best. Someday she’ll learn, but for now, I don’t need my seven-year-old mad because she didn’t get something she saw on t.v. There are plenty of things for kids to stress about, but not getting what you want because a commercial said you needed it shouldn’t be one of them.
And, besides, we still have Netflix. We aren’t savages.
Jenna Barclay is a writer, educator, and mom. When she’s not wrangling her precocious penguin-loving seven-year-old and plotting to take over the world with her husband, she’s over at Adventures in Mom Jeans giving bad advice. You can also holler at her on Facebook and Twitter.