One Family’s Approach to TV-itis

Years ago, our family consisted of seven addicts. We did not have a Word of Wisdom problem—we had TV-itis. The TV disrupted mealtime and bedtime, spurred silly arguments among our children, and stifled the communication in our family. But it was not until I heard a Relief Society lesson on the influence of television in the home that I finally pulled the plug and put the TV in storage. Here are some steps we used to combat the “withdrawal symptoms” from TV and a discussion of the positive changes this decision has made in our lives.

First, we made it a family project to find worthwhile activities. One activity that resulted from our brainstorming was to gather a series of interesting, inspiring books. In the evening we popped popcorn, huddled around the fire, and chose someone to read to everyone.

Second, I began the enjoyable task of teaching my daughters cooking, embroidering, machine sewing, knitting, and crocheting. I taught one daughter first-year typing. Music lessons and gymnastics became part of our lives. My husband taught whittling, drawing, and painting to our children. Daily practicing was no problem because the noise and enticement of TV were nonexistent.

After eliminating the TV we quickly began to see the value of our decision. A real change occurred in a boy who had been living with us that year and was struggling in school. When I attended parent-teacher conference at midyear, the counselor showed me how the boy’s grades had dramatically improved beginning in November. “What happened in your family in the month of November?” he asked. “We got rid of the TV,” I replied.

While permanently eliminating television may not be the answer for every family, our lives are definitely happier and richer without it. And the children are developing talents and abilities that will bless their lives and their children’s lives in the years to come.Geraldine Bartholomew, Winder First Ward, Salt Lake Winder West Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Our New Easter Tradition

A year after my husband and I were married, my mother-in-law died of cancer. We were expecting our first child and were saddened that our children would not know their Grandma Judy in this life. This experience prompted us, years ago, to create a new Easter family tradition to help our children understand the blessings of the Resurrection.

On the Saturday before Easter Sunday, we take our children to visit and decorate the graves of our loved ones. Visiting these graves gives us a wonderful opportunity to discuss the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the true meaning of Easter. We teach them that because Jesus Christ was resurrected, their great-grandparents, Grandma Judy, and all who have died will one day be resurrected. We have even gathered around a loved one’s grave and sung the hymn “He Is Risen!” For families who do not have relatives buried nearby, this tradition could work at any cemetery.

We hope that by continuing this tradition, our children will develop a true understanding of Easter and a testimony of the Resurrection of our Savior. As we have made new family traditions that focus on Jesus Christ, we have felt the Holy Ghost illuminate our lives and bring us closer to our loved ones.Pamela Richardson, Midvale Fifth Ward, Midvale Utah Stake

“I’m Thankful for You”

Mark Twain said a good compliment could carry him for two months. Likewise, family members can lift one another with a list of compliments in the “I’m Thankful for You” activity. Here’s how you play:

  1. 1.

    Sit in a circle. Give each family member a sheet of paper and have them write across the top: I am thankful that ____________. Mom or Dad can help those who are unable to write.

  2. 2.

    Ask family members to write their names on the line and pass the sheet of paper to their left. Then everyone should finish the sentence by writing at the bottom of the paper one good quality about that family member. One could write, “I am thankful that Sarah helps me with my homework” or “is so thoughtful.” Other compliments could be “I am thankful that Dad tickles me when I am sad,” “helps me,” or “trusts me.”

  3. 3.

    After all have written the quality they are thankful for, have them fold the paper up a line or two, covering the words just written, and pass it to the left.

  4. 4.

    Pass the sheet to the left until all have written what they are thankful for on each piece of paper. If the family is small, the papers can go around twice.

  5. 5.

    When you have finished rotating the papers, the person to the right of the family member named at the top of the sheet reads the list of compliments.

This activity is simple and inexpensive, but the words are priceless. Our family participates in this about once a year to remember how grateful we are for each other.Marlene Ellingson, Southern Estates Ward, Mesa Arizona Kimball Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker

How to S-t-r-e-t-c-h One Income

I am a father, student, and part-time employee with a wife and six children. A friend of mine, feeling financially besieged after the birth of his first child, asked how we supported a large family on less than one income. After contemplating his question, we determined 10 ideas that have worked for us:

  1. 1.

    Pay a full tithing. The mere 10 percent of your income will be repaid to you in blessings, opportunities, and assistance.

  2. 2.

    Pay fast offerings.

  3. 3.

    Meet your important obligations first. Pay all your bills and known expenditures (including savings, if possible) as soon as the paycheck arrives, then live on whatever is left. This helps keep variable expenses such as groceries, gas, and entertainment under control.

  4. 4.

    Save on groceries. It is easy to let this expense get out of control. You can save a surprising amount by planning ahead. I suggest:

    • avoiding prepared foods

    • limiting the times you eat out

    • taking advantage of sales (stock up on sale items you could use in your year’s supply)

    • using coupons to save money

  5. 5.

    Save a percentage of your income in a place that is difficult to access. This makes it less tempting to raid your funds.

  6. 6.

    Save for periodic expenses. This pertains to Christmas expenses, annual memberships, subscriptions, or anything that comes due quarterly, semiannually, or annually. If you know your auto insurance is due twice a year, put aside one-sixth of the semiannual payment every month.

  7. 7.

    Avoid debt. Try not to buy on installment. It may be necessary for a car, a home, or education, but it is not essential for furniture, a stereo system, TV, toys, and other wants. For unavoidable debt, borrow only what is absolutely necessary. If you use credit cards, pay off the balance in full every month if you can.

  8. 8.

    Save on new-baby expenditures. It is not necessary to buy a brand new crib, dresser, play pen, changing table, car seat, swing, or new clothing. These things are often found, in good condition, at yard sales and thrift shops.

  9. 9.

    Have insurance. Health, auto, life, and renter’s or homeowner’s insurance are worthy investments. Getting a high deductible will save you substantially on premiums.

  10. 10.

    Avoid impulse buying. Wait at least a day before buying anything expensive. Keep a general-purpose, short-term savings account and use it for special sales or good deals. Knowing how long it has taken you to save will help temper rash impulses.

Our house is not likely to be featured in a magazine, but as students, living within our means is top priority. For today, it is much more important to live on less than we earn. A spacious home full of expensive things is a small comfort if you have crushing debt. We enjoy the peace that comes from following the counsel of the prophets and living within our means.Chad Petty, Chapel Hill Ward, Durham North Carolina Stake

[photo] Photo by John Luke