Tuesday 26 March 2019

I'm A Celebrity is a real game changer for our little family

Justine O'Mahony

Do you remember long ago, before iPhones, Nintendos, Playstations and social media were invented, what we used to do on Saturday nights? We used to watch TV. Saturday nights were for climbing onto the couch and watching shows like The Generation Game, Blankety Blank, Blind Date, Only Fools and Horses and Dallas.

Those of you of a certain age will remember a time before remote controls when your parents would nudge you to get up and "turn over" the station so you could watch something else. This usually provoked a row over whose turn it was to "turn over" the station but still, it was good clean fun.

I may be looking at this period through rose tinted glasses but they were good times. We may have all pretended we hated each other but it was family time, precious moments spent engaging with one another even if it was just trading insults.

A few years ago we bought this big L shaped couch for the living room. I had this dreamy notion of having us all piling onto it on a Saturday night to watch TV together. It never happened. One child spends all her time in one room on her phone whilst the other does God only knows what in his bedroom.

Every time I suggest we all watch TV together they look at me like I've finally lost the plot! My children, it seems, are not into TV and even less into spending time on a couch with their parents of a Saturday night. What kind of loser does that??

But that all changed last week with the return of I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Having lured them onto the couch by dangling a takeaway in front of them, I turned on the telly and told them they couldn't leave till it was over.

Initially they weren't happy, but within 15 minutes they were hooked, totally engrossed in Harry Redknapp's crazy tales of yore and John Barrowman's madcap antics.

The following night I called them and they came, the night after I didn't even have to remind them it was on. They jumped onto the couch with an assortment of snacks and watched good old fashioned family TV with their parents for an hour and a half.

It is amazing what you can find out about your kids when they don't have their heads stuck in a phone. We've had more chats in the last week than we have had in the last five years. And so there are changes afoot. From Christmas on there will be a social media ban one night a week in our house where they have to spend time with us.

They will probably hate me and try to run away but I'm prepared to take the risk. They'll probably ban me from drinking wine as payback.

That will be fun!

Gorey Guardian