Vanessa Macrae's beloved TV is hidden under a blanket in a corner of her basement, and if everything goes according to plan, it'll stay there gathering dust all summer long.
The Winnipeg mom is aiming for a screen-free summer with her husband Ryan and 2½-year-old son, Hart. Macrae says she loves Netflix and House of Cards as much as the next person, but she was sick of how TV was dominating her time with her son.
"I believe it was Monday — last Monday — and I just, I had had enough," Macrae said on CBC Manitoba's Weekend Morning Show on Saturday.
"From the second we woke up, he wants it on. He wants to watch Netflix and we have to get ready, we have to go to daycare, and it's a constant fight. So I was driving him and I thought, 'That's it, it's going in the basement.'"
When her son got home that day to find a blank wall where his TV used to be, Macrae said she told him it was broken.
"He kind of went, 'Uh' for a second, and then I told him all the things that I had planned for us to do for the summer," she said."I said, 'What do you think?' and he said, 'Good.'"
For the next few months, their to-do list includes things like heading to the wading pool, checking out the library and playing outside.
New recommendations for screen time
New recommendations from the Canadian Paediatric Society suggest children under two years old shouldn't get any screen time at all, and kids between two and five should get a maximum of about an hour a day.
Macrae said she thinks that's attainable for parents, as long as they plan for it.
"I think it's more weaning the adults off of the TV than the kids, because it's hard. Being a parent is really hard," she said.
"There's a lot of people telling everybody what they should do and how they should do it, and everybody just trying to get by. But I kind of felt like when it wasn't an option for me, I had to get a little more creative … because I knew I couldn't, it wasn't there. I just had to do something else, and then I did."
So far, she said her experiment has been successful. She passed her first hurdle on Friday when her son got sick and she didn't cave, she said.
"That was a challenge, because, you know, we couldn't be outside," she said. "But when he was healthier earlier in the week, we'd come home, I set up the sprinkler — like, he'd rip his clothes off in the backyard, go through the sprinkler."
Macrae said she'll reintroduce the TV at the end of the summer, and hopes to keep time spent in front of it under control.
But she's not going to beat herself up if she slips.
"I think if Ryan and I have had a good family day outside with [Hart] and it's nine o'clock and I want to watch an hour of Netflix, I'm going to do that," she said.
"I think it's like this 'all or nothing,' or you do it and you're terrible or you don't do it and you're weird. You just do what's going to be best for you and your family."