This is a tech tip that can help Dad’s on a budget regain some ‘me time’ and become your childs hero this holiday season. Free Pay TV.
Parents do their best to keep their children entertained during school holidays. It’s a great time to get away, for a month, a week, a day. You can get active with your kids and spend time together as a family, creating those all important memories.
Sometimes though, we can’t get away. Maybe due to work, ill health, bad weather, or just a plain old lack of cash. So you’re stuck at home going out of your mind as your kids get bored, louder, and more demanding. One more game of hungry hungry hippos and someone may lose it. ‘Why don’t you read a book’ I call – pfft – fat chance of that when the computer games call. But even they can get ‘boring’ all too soon. Free to air TV, the traditional babysitter? I don’t think so. Then what?
I’m assuming you have access to the internet. I’ve retained my sanity through the ever increasing choice of TV and movie streaming services. Yes, you may eventually run out of things to watch on these too, but not for a while. I’m sure you’ve heard of them by now. No need to name names. Ideally, you’ll have a smart TV, in which case access is fairly straightforward, and you’re likely to already have a subscription to one of these services.
No smart TV? Easily solved. You can usually stream to your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, on which you could crowd around and watch. Or you attempt a couple of methods of wirelessly transmitting or casting the signal to your TV, using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. More likely, you’ll need a relatively common cheap lead to directly connect, probably an HDMI cable. These are more reliable and faster than wireless anyway. Of course, you’d need to check your devices and TV to ensure this would all actually work.
There are also now smart TV boxes. They are still a bit pricey for some but getting cheaper rapidly. They connect to a non-smart TV and via wi-fi give you the Android smart TV system, and subsequent access to all of the streaming services. Brilliant!
Now, here’s the trick. Every streaming service I have encountered offers a free trial period. Anything from a week to a month. Yep. Hundreds of free TV series, movies, docos and kids shows. I’ve found the better offers are by signing up via their websites in a browser rather than on the TV itself.
Your kids will have so much to choose from, as will you. You could subscribe to multiple services if you were TV junkies I guess. I’d recommend one at a time though. This means you can just trial another service at a later time, and to be honest, I’d rather our kids weren’t stuck inside watching TV. Get them out of the house I say!
Important. Cancel in time.
Set multiple reminders a few days BEFORE the free trial period is due to end, then go online and cancel the subscription. Do this! When you originally signed up, they would have taken your credit card number, but not charge you for the free trial. As soon as the trial ends though, they will charge you in advance for the following month.
You see, you have effectively subscribed for a month to month service, that can be cancelled at any time, usually at a certain fee. It’s just that they give you the first period free. If you remember to cancel the service/membership/subscription before the free trial ends, they can’t charge you. Unless you want to pay to subscribe, in which case go for it.
Hey presto! A free streaming TV service. Instant Hero.
You may already have done as I’ve suggested. Once you’ve had a trial of a service, they don’t let you have another. While I haven’t tried this, and I’m not endorsing this, I wonder if you tried resubscribing with a different email address, phone number and the like, you might get a second bite of the cherry. Or maybe they record your IP address, in which case you may not have any joy.
I’m not here to give a lesson on routing a generous free trail service from commercial providers. For the record, I am a monthly paid subscriber to the service I found to my liking after trialling many for free.
The other thing. Recording.
If you have a smart TV or smart TV box or maybe even your computer (not sure), and probably other devices, you can connect a portable hard drive to record digital TV. I don’t have this myself, yet, but my understanding is that you can record from free to air TV and replay at your leisure. I’m unsure if you can record streaming services. Maybe someone can comment and tell me?
The other other things. Turn the screens off. Your time.
I touched on this earlier. I am not advocating sitting your children in front of the idiot box all the time. I do think that in most households, TV is a part of kids lives anyway, so why not give them something different and probably more exciting, maybe even educational to watch these holidays.
You may even get a chance to have a cuppa and read the newspaper. Speak to a friend, without so many interruptions, who knows. Blimey, you may even find something you like to watch! I did. Nah, don’t use the free time to do the housework.
We do plenty of non-screen activities.
One more thing. Censorship.
Be mindful of what the little ones are watching. When you first setup most streaming TV services, there are options to restrict access using the censorship ratings and recommendations applied to shows. You can usually set up kids and adult profiles.
“I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can’t stop eating peanuts.” Orson Welles
What things, other than TV, computer games, or any form of screen, are you doing to keep the little gems occupied these holidays?