i never thought…

…I would be a parent who limits TV time. I watched a fair amount of TV, and think I turned out pretty well, and assumed the same would be for my kids. I never understood not being able to watch TV at all. I mean, when I was growing up, I was limited to the types of programs I could watch, but not really the amount of time I spent watching it. When my friends were watching In Living Color and The Simpsons, I was not – my mother said these shows were not appropriate for children. My kids watch Noggin’, the self-described preschool on TV. But my kids turn into zooommmbbbbiiieeesss (that’s how long it takes to get their attention) when it’s on and have FITS (yelling out loud) when we turn it off. I’m afraid the research might be right (gasp!!) that even educational TV is not so good for their developing brains, at least not in the context of the uber-competitive educational landscape that they are going to enter, which is so different than when I was a kid. So sociology rules the day as I must tailor my parenting not just to my kids but to the social word they will be entering. So it’s time to limit it to an hour a day.

Now the hard part – truthfully, the TV has served as the ultimate babysitter – they sit, quietly, transfixed for as much time as you need them to be to do what you want to do. And I’d like to say that what I want to do is my research – transcribing, reading, researching – but in reality it’s the scarf I’m working on knitting or the collection of short stories I just started. Or just because I want some amount of lack of chaos, and I rather have the TV blaring at me than two little kids screaming at me. So now I actually have to do things with them, and I feel like such a bad mother just saying that, but it’s the truth. We don’t have a lot of “doing stuff” time – we generally just play in the living room. Sometimes I catch my hubby looking at the clock, and we silently look at each other like, “OMG, has it only been 10 minutes???”

But I think I’ll just approach it like I should everything – one day at a time. I feel so overwhelmed when I think about the future in too much of it’s entirety. If I just say to myself, “What are we going to do for the next 1.5 hours before bed”? it makes the task much more managable. Please don’t think I’m a bad mother – I’m just, perhaps, a little more honest (in public no less) than most.

9 thoughts on “i never thought…

  1. I’m there, too. I had an original plan of limiting tv to an hour a day. That turned into tv only between lunch and dinner, which shifted to no tv before noon, and now i just keep it on. But just Disney, which has no commercials, so I tell myself that makes it better.

    I grew up in a house where the television was ALWAYS on. Literally. Even when everyone was asleep. I had freedom over my choice in shows as far back as I can remember (assuming my mom wasn’t already watching something). In college, I organized my class schedule around the tv guide.

    Today I think the television addiction is more temporary. Once they’re old enough to read and write, they’ll turn to computers and get addicted to that.

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  2. “I feel so overwhelmed when I think about the future in too much of it’s entirety.” I totally know what you mean by that. I have a 3 month old, and most of the time when I think about the future and him growing up I get excited about all the fun things we’ll be able to do, etc. But sometimes I totally panic at the thought of doing this forever – always having to entertain him, plan my life around his schedule, etc. etc. Sometimes it still feels a little like I’m just babysitting and that it should be time to give him back soon… but on the other hand, when my mother hints about wanting to take him to her house around the corner for one night I have a nervous breakdown lol.

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  3. we had a big problem with this too — our daughter watched WAY too much tv. we just moved and it occurred to us that at our old apartment most of her toys were in her room and the tv was in the living room — no 3 year-old goes to play by themselves in their room and much of the time you are trying to cook dinner or whatever and can’t go play with them.

    at our new place, we turned the living room into a play area and she watches much less. no arguments and no rules but she now walks away from the tv to play when her favorite movie is on. i don’t know what your layout is but for us, turning public space into a playroom so she could play while we cook dinner or work has been a great alternative. and, it’s not like we have people over all that often anyway so there isn’t really any reason to keep it nice or put all the toys away every day.

    also, i keep some toys in plastic bins in the garage. about every two months, i swap them out — our daughter then gets really excited about the new batch and doesn’t seem to remember them from the last swapout. good luck with it — i’m struggling too.

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  4. Yeah, that’s about what we ended up with as well. Jillian’s old enough now that she’ll play in her room, and she spends a lot of time in the art room we now have set up, but she still wants the television on. Downstairs. I’ll come into the living room, and it’ll be empty, so I turn off the tv. Next thing I hear is a shout from somewhere upstairs:

    “HEY! I was LISTENING to that!!”

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  5. LOL to everyone’s comments.

    NSP – our living room is also our play room. We tried to swapping out toys, but it became too much work! We should try harder – the toy bins are too big, so they don’t dig down into them and they get bored.

    Anomie – that’s funny – I do that to my husband!

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  6. I don’t know what the hell YOU were doing, Gradmommy, but I was watching The Simpsons and In Living Color back in the late 80s- early 90s.

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  7. No you weren’t, don’t lie. I specifically remember not being able to watch them, but then again maybe that’s because I was the good child and you were…well…I won’t even go there 🙂

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