Thursday, October 26, 2006

Taming TV

Well, I have come to realize lately just how dependent I am on TV. I am not the one watching it, Emily is. But, I am the responsible adult and I am allowing this.

I was one of those who would always say my kids weren't going to watch much TV, if any. But, here we are and it hasn't happened that way. We don't have cable. We don't even have network TV, we get one channel - PBS. So, I'm not concerned about the content of what she is watching - but the amount.

There was an article in this month's issue of Focus on the Family magazine about a family who gave TV up for a week. I was afraid to read it when I saw the title of the article because I knew I would be convicted and challenged. I finally read it this past Monday - after having the magazine for a week. I was struck by some of the behavior the mom noticed in her kids and how it changed after she took away TV privileges. I have noticed some of the same behavior in Emily and do not want it to become a pattern!

I am not feeling the need to give TV up entirely. But, to cut waaaaaaaay back on what I allow Emily to watch. She is not happy about this turn of events and I must say, it has been exhausting for me. But, we are on day four now - here's a recap:

Day One: Putting off reading the article still. I read it over lunch - and decide to give it a try. David has to work until 9pm - so I am on my own the entire day. Emily gets up from her nap and I try everything I can think of to do with her - we go for a walk, play outside, stir colored water in a bowl, try to make cookies, take a bath, take David's coat and some hot chocolate to him as he was working security at a middle school football game (another story entirely), read stories, sorted files, put shredded paper in a trash bag (Emily takes it out with glee), climbed in and out of the dryer, etc... Total TV watched today: 30 minutes. While this is a great success - all I can think about is , "How in the world will I ever entertain her tomorrow?" (By the way, there were great amounts of pouting, whining, crying and asking for a "Vee?" I'll spare you all those details.)

Day Two: Well, I decide the first day is behind me - so let's try it again. I just decide that I will let her help me with everything I need to get done this morning. She puts the clothes in the washer, helps me scrub the toilet (she loved this!), puts each article of clothing in the dryer, colors, plays, reads stories, helps me cook dinner, "washes" dishes, helps me gather the trash and take it to the dump, helped empty the dishwasher, helped set the table, etc... Total TV watched today: 30 minutes. Ok, now I'm feeling better - we made it through another day!

Day Three: I had Bible Study at church this morning, so I would imagine there was a video on in the nursery at least part of the time. But, I am not going to count that since I did not have control over it specifically. She had fun playing, though came out stomping her foot at me - which seems to be the norm after being in the nursery. Maybe being around other two-year-olds doing the same thing? I don't know. After she gets up from her nap - we made brownies. I am noticing a BIG change in her attitude and in her willingness to play by herself this afternoon. She helps me set the table for supper, plays, takes a bath, and watches one thirthy minute Veggie Tales movie as a reward for her great day. She did not even *ask* for a movie this afternoon/evening. Wow. Total TV watched today: 30 minutes.

Today we are starting day four. I'm feeling good about the success, but exhausted by the work. But somehow, I am feeling like I am getting more done. I'm not sure how this is possible because I was not sitting and watching TV with her. As David said, maybe I am just feeling better about what I am doing since this TV slug is not sucking out all our energy and good attitudes!

After just three days - I am so encouraged. I am sure there will still be rough spots. But, we are heading in the right direction!


Grace said...

Oh No Monica!! Tell me it isn't so. if you think Emily has been watching alot of TV, I will not even mention the amount that Bri has been watching lately. If you could please go into more detail on how Emily "helps" you with tasks. I guess also I am in a different mode entirely since yes I do use it as a baby sitter (not all day long) since daddy is gone. I do need my sanity to cope :D I can't say that I will cut back totally but am interested to hear your info on Emily helping. also can you direct me to the behavior the focus on the family mentioned as I would like to compare Brianna.
Thanks you my dear friend who I miss greatly and wish we could be company for each other again!!

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Way to go Monica! I'm proud of you. It is hard to parent like you are, but I promise it will pay BIG dividends down the road. Hang in there.

thehomespunheart said...

Grace, I'm sending you a copy of the article - plus I just posted a bunch of practical stuff about the helping and such.

There is a house for sale across the street from us and I was secretly dreaming that you and Brianna could come stay there while Bill is away and we could spend TONS of time together! Miss you!

Neighbor Jane - thank you so much for your sweet encouragement. I've heard several times lately that I should parent with the end result in mind - yes, it will be worth it!

2boysmama said...

I noticed the same whiney behaviour in my son. I limit his tv to only 30 minutes a day (or one show).

It has helped!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Followed the link over here from your comment at "Like Merchant Ships". Very nice blog, I'll be coming back.

Anyway, I was the same as you, convinced I wouldn't let my kids watch too much tv, but then fell into the pattern of having the darn thing on all day in the background. Well, at the beginning of the summer I changed the rules (Princess is 5, Buddy is 3 btw).

The house rule is now that they can have the TV on in the morning (they get up at 6am every day-it's nice for them to just sit quietly for a while until I am fully concious-and there has been a time or two that DH and I have gone back to bed and left them out there, especially when someone has decided to start the day at 530 or something) The TV gets turned off at about 9am, then the rule is no TV until after dinner at night.

Since dinner is about at 6 most nights, and bedtime is 730, this works out to be about 30 min to 1 hr at night.

The funny thing is that they frequently don't think to ask about TV after dinner now. Sometimes they only watch 15 min or so before bed. Also, since Princess is leaving for kindergarten at 740 am, she is only watching a bit in the morning. Buddy is often happy to have it turned off well before 9.

I have noticed that, like you mentioned, once they get used to the TV not being on they have found lots of ways to entertain themselves. Also, since our TV time is set for certain times of the day, if they ask during the day I just tell them "no-what's the rule for tv" and they'll say (usually a bit sulkily) "not till after dinner" then go back to playing without too much discussion!

Amy said...

Wow! You inspire me! We will not discuss our television viewing habits...maybe that says enough right there? It is something our family needs to work on.

Thank you for the ideas!

Grace said...

Oh Monica wouldn't that be fun!! And then Bill could get out of the Marine Corps and we could buy the house and live across the street always and do crafts!! ahh Heaven!!