Sunday, May 24, 2009

TV take over

When I was pregnant with my Boy, I assumed that there was more to life than kid's TV, and that I'd have boundless energy and imagination for coming up with various ways to entertain a child besides TV. Reality set in, and I realised my baby was of the "high need" variety, and needed constant stimulation, i.e. all-singing, all-dancing mummy, for a minimum of 8 hours a day. Needless to say, before I knew it, it would get to "winge-o'clock"/the witching hour/happy hour (that time between tea time and bedtime) and I had run out of nursery rhymes to energetically sing, board books to read, toys to play with, parks to visit, garden to run in, arts and crafts to ruin, walks to take. Not only had I run out of energy to THINK of what to do, and actually DO it, but my Boy didn't want to know anyway, and that's when the TV came on. To start with, just one cbeebies programme, then off. Then til Daddy came home. Then, when Daddy also couldn't be arsed to do anything, til bedtime. Oh, what a slippery slope.....

Until, about a month ago, my Boy (who at 18 months knows very well how to work the TV), would simply wander over and turn it on. This was obviously Not Good. So a battle of wills ensued. "No, we're not watching telly right now, come and play with Mummy..." Cue massive tantrum. Which, thankfully are usually very short lived with the offer of a book or ball and some attention. In a way, I'm almost glad it got to this point as it made me realise I do need to be doing more with him, now he's a bit older and can do more. I though the habit would break quite easily, but it seems that if Daddy, Granddad and sometimes Nana is the caregiver-in-charge, the TV may well be the FIRST port of call, instead of my very last straw after being up since 6am being happy, smiley Mummy all day.

So a blanket ban and some rules followed. TV was to be one 20 min episode of a liked programme (e.g. Peppa Pig, In the Night Garden, Charlie & Lola). Said episode to be recorded on sky in advance so that when it finished, TV goes off, and grown-up cannot be persuaded otherwise by the next programme starting. (plus can fast-forward any ads) Cupboard lock to be fitted on TV cabinet, shortly after this learned that TV remotes need to be inside said cabinet, lest the be presented to me by a crying toddler. TV not to be watched at Nana and Granddad's house. Try to save TV time for near bedtime when ideas thin on the ground. Always inform one another if TV has already been watched today.

Vocal disagreement from Boy lasted around two days, and now he doesn't even "ask" for TV. I also make a point of TV being cuddly family time, and not using it as a tool to just get this or that job done. I also make an effort to practice animal noises/signs with him as we watch and various characters appear, and we sing and clap to songs together.

But the thing that I was most pleasantly surprised about the TV ban is that the locked cabinet seems to deter HID as well as Boy, and not only has there been more "chasing" and ball games when Daddy gets home from work , while Boy is around, but the other evening, we actually sat at the breakfast bar in the kitchen and talked while preparing tea, and when it was ready, we did not carry it to our arm chairs and watch TV while we ate, we stayed in the kitchen and enjoyed each other's company and music on the radio. What a result! The two men in my life are no longer square-eyed :-)


At 12:56 pm , Blogger Margarita said...

I should try that in my house! I too end up giving up halfway through the day and need a rest, so the tv goes on for a couple of hours, along with her snack. But then it's turned off. It's still hard though when you have a kid who's crying for the tv, and you just have to look like a monster and say no. Ah well, it's better for them, right?

At 9:02 am , Anonymous Experimental Mum said...

At least the majority of TV programmes for children now are bearable to watch and informative - but I just can't stand the sound of In the Night Garden!

At 10:33 am , Blogger clareybabble said...

Since we were told my son has a speech delay, we started turning the tv off lots and that has helped so much. My husband and I both love tv so it was hard at first but sometimes we go the whole day without the tv on and hardly notice. However my son has found the cbeebies iplayer and sneakily tries to watch on the computer! Damn!

At 11:03 am , Blogger Perfectly Happy Mum said...

I am definitely guilty of leaving the TV on way too much I think. I went through a phase of feeling very bad for it. I thought I was being lazy and irresponsible for letting my little boy watch too much of it. Like yours I have seen my then 18 months old walking around with the remote control saying "beebies". I even wrote a post about this myself
I think our problem is that we over analyse too much. If you ask Elliott if he would rather watch TV or go to play in the garden, there is absolutely no hesitation about it... he runs to the back door screaming "MY GARDEN!!!" :)
just relax about it, as long as your boy as got a good balance and spends time playing and running around, there is nothing wrong in an hour or so of peace! :)

At 11:52 am , Blogger allgrownup said...

Clareybabble: I've heard that background noise can cause some speech issues, I'm quite careful about the radio etc, but I'm not a tv fan myself, I don't know how to work it really, and don't keep up with any soaps or many big shows either, although we do record "Lost" we watch it when we want to i.e. not when we're shattered on a Sunday night. I would open a book or laptop before the tv goes on, every time.
Perfectly happy mum: just read your post, an interesting take, with baby number 2 on the way, tv may well turn into my ally, not enemy. Although, we have a kitchen door that Boy can't open :-)
I still don't know what is best really, there was a girl at my highschool who's strict Christian parents did not allow TV at all, she as such an outcast....wouldn't want that! I am definitely not a believer that TV causes hyperactivity disorders, nonsense, everything in moderation, right?

At 8:54 am , Blogger The wife of bold said...

Lol, i can totally sympathise with the whole tv issues, although the problems are with the older two and not my 18month old twins (whom i would love to find some stimulation in a tv prog that last longer than 30 seconds)! I actually wrote a similar post last month which details the pitfalls of letting the kids have too much free reign over the telly, i.e:
the 3 year old calling her daddy a"loser" - in mock american accent, thanks to too much high school musical - bad mummy:)

At 9:51 pm , Blogger SandyCalico said...

My toddler would have the TV on all day if I let him, but I don't. I record the few programmes he really likes (Big Cook Little Cook, Something Special and ITNG)so that when I'm cooking for example I can put one on to keephim entertained. After that I pull the plug. He's fine with it, mostly. He'll occasionally try the button when he thinks I'm not looking!
Like AllGrownUp says 'everything in moderation :-)


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