Friday, August 04, 2006

"We are NOT a T.V. Family"

I will scream if I hear another person say, "We are not a T.V. family." I've been staying at home for over a year now, and I can remember the days when I would in a better than you tone of voice say to other parents, "Yeah, I know who Dora is, but we don't watch T.V." Then I would suddenly think to myself, "Yep, I'm such a great parent, aren't I? My kids are going to be creative, happy and a great asset to society because of this lack of T.V." What I would do to be able to take back my words or my attitude. One day I cracked--it wasn't long into my career as a stay at home mom that I found out how wonderful T.V. could be for all of us.

Today was an exceptionally bad day for us here in the 105F midwest heatwave. It really is too hot to play outside. (Our newborn can't quite enjoy a day at the pool when the temperature gets so high.) We started the day by dumping out cereal, washing hands in our milk glasses, spilling dog food onto the floor along with dog water. "Time out, time out, time out," I scream. All while thinking of crying along with the fussy kids.

Nothing was working. No one ate breakfast. The two year old has opted to forget about the newly learned potty training and proceeds to pee on the floor. We are dog sitting two additional dogs on top of our two poorly trained beagles. The house is dirty, dogs are barking non stop at the workers who are putting in the fence in the God-awful heat. Right now I'm thinking we would all be happier if I went back to work.

At ten o'clock, my friend that I trade off watching kids with, came to pick up the girls, only to find PJ's still on my two year old. Is this where I say, ahh, life is better now that they are happily on their way to storytime? No. Instead I continue on my rampage thinking painting the baby's room is how I'm going to spend my time alone. (Oddly enough, I do find painting rewarding and relaxing.) I start putting the supplies together. Simple, right? The paint is by the front door. Rags, stirrers, paint roller, got them. Paint brush....Where is my favorite top of the line paint brush? I proceed to flip out like a crazy woman.

I get my husband on the phone to walk me through where he put it and wouldn't you know, he put it in a box of stuff with the bristles pointing down? If he would had thought about it, he would have hung up at that point since I lost it again and started screaming at him. Really, the only reason he even used my paintbrush in the first place was because he had the kind heart to help a friend of mine paint a room in our new house, before we moved in. (I couldn't help since I had just had a c-section a few days prior.) Hmmm.... Is this a hormone thing?

So, how does all this tie back into our television? Fo a moment I was really thinking I was going crazy. I couldn't help but put on my mother's shoes, and feel sorry for myself when in hind-sight, I am so very lucky.

After nap time, when the two year old still woke up with intentions to destroy, I turned on the T.V., which is commercial free thanks to my hubby making his own TiVo. And then I said, "I'm so proud to be a T.V. family". My kids have been quiet for the last 40 minutes while I write this article, which has helped put it all in perspective. I don't have to go back to work to be a better mom, I just need to remember the power of televsion.

Thanks Dora!

7 comments:

Karen said...

I love this post! I think that tv is like simplified meditation -- and meditation is great for the human psyche, right? With tv, instead of you controlling your brain, the way you try to do with meditation (and which I could never do anyway-- even in those hypnobirthing classes), the tv whisks it away for a little while. I look forward to tv/movies sometimes. Why shouldn't my kids?
And it's so true, I think, that sometimes we can get stuck in the "all or nothing" mentality, but tv lets you go to "almost all" as a stay-home mom, and what's wrong with that? It gives you and the kids that little break that sometimes makes all the difference.

StuntBec said...

Hmmm...I found one of the last sentences you wrote somewhat disturbing, "I need to remember the power of television." I know it's tongue in cheek, but...

What about alternatives to TV time? On really trying days (maybe 2/week for me), we have enforced quiet time, when silence reigns, and the kids are allowed to do only 2 things: either look at books quietly, or take a nap. No negotiations, and no third warnings. The kids understand this, and actually respect the quiet. This quiet time did not just spontaniously happen, I've been working and working on this from day one, because my husband and I really are dead set against TV. We don't like the marketing, the commercials, the way it makes the kids (and us) zone out. And I need quiet time. My 5 and 3 year old no longer nap.

But don't be fooled - we all LOVE TV. We could spend SO much time watching the crap that's on the air. But with books to read, gardens to keep, meals to cook, we force ourselves to stay away from it. We don't pay for cable of any sort, so can only use it for playing DVDs. We are able to entertain ourselves pretty well without it, so I want our children to learn the same. They can watch as much TV as they want at my mom's house, but at home, forget it. Movie night happens once a week, and that's it. Don't click your tongue and think I'm going around passing judgement, and telling people, "we are not a television family." I'm not. I don't care how often other people watch the tube, I just wish people would use their TV with more moderation. It bothers me that people complain that they don't have the time to work in their garden, or get through a book, yet watch TV every night. Anyway...

There are other alternatives to TV. Another way I have of keeping the kids occupied, when I really need some "regain the sanity time," is playdough. We have playdough, cookiecutters, etc., but I only bring it out when I need a good 1-2 hours of quiet. This is a very popular and highly entertaining activity, so I save it for when I need the peace.

But there are certainly days when I've taken out my laptop, and let the kids watch a movie, while we all regroup. It happens. But I'm constantly trying to come up with new "quiet" activities - something the kids can do on the crazy days. Any suggestions??

Jayne said...

Wow. I am just picturing 1 to 2 hours of uninterupted playdough in my house, and it would not result in any form of relaxation or meditation on my part, but rather two weeks of finding dried up dough in my rugs, in the toilet, inside other toys, and in the piano. There would probably be little dried up playdough catfood in our pet's bowl. I would be halfway through paying a bill online when I would hear the water running so they could fill up cups and bowls for a little playdough tea party (with my real teapot from the cabinet they had to climb to get to.
Honestly, sometimes you just need an hour of uninterupted quiet- maybe not even that much if you can actually do something from start to finish without having to clean up an entire pitcher of lemonade off the kitchen floor.
Stuntmom, don't be so hard on yourself. I don't think 30 minutes of PBS is going to turn our children into mindless, materialistic sloths. I loved t.v. when I was a kid, and I am a college educated, socially minded individual today. I think I might ban playdough before t.v. in my house!

Karen said...

StuntBec, I appreciate that you, like me, are trying not to pass judgment and that not judging is also a very difficult thing to do. I have to question whether wishing people would use their TV with more moderation is any different from caring how often other people watch the tube? Perhaps a touch of judgment?

StuntBec said...

Well, yeah, there is judgement being passed when people, esp. people with young ones, watch too much television. If you don't want or allow your children to watch much TV, set an example for them to follow. When my adult students tell me they don't have enough time to do their homework, and then proceed to talk about the latest episode of Survivor, I'm annoyed. Study after study after study shows that too much television is just not good for developing brains. What is too much? More than two hours a day? Here, use your own judgement. A television in your child's bedroom? Do we combine computer time with tevision time, to calculate "zone out" screen time? Just thinking about these issues is such a good thing to do.

The NY Times did a great article on television and children - the statistics were shocking. 19% of children under one have a TV IN THEIR ROOM! I wish I could remember more of the facts, but alas, the article is now behind their pay firewall. It ispired me all the more to be strict with television time. Use it, don't abuse it. And no, I'm not pointing fingers at anyone on StuntMom. We all have days when we need quiet time. Why not branch out and find multiple ways for your kids to settle down?

And a separate aside - am I the only one who has made playdough a peaceful table only toy?

StuntMom said...

Yes, you are the only one with playdough as a peaceful table only toy. It is peaceful for about 10 minutes, then I look away for a moment, it becomes a mess that will easily be a ten minute clean up. No time to myself there.

Anonymous said...

We are definitely a tv family. I do monitor what my kids watch on tv and limit how much time they get. Most of the little shows my two year old watches do the counting and abc's and what not. I have to say it my daughter is two years old and can hold a full conversation. She knows her abc's, can count, colors, shapes, how to spell her name, and is now starting to write her name and she is just going to be three this month. This comment is not to brag but just to show that a little tv doesnt hurt. If nothing else for my daughter it shows her that learning can be fun. Especially when they see Dora counting and learning. Anyways, I have no problem being a tv family as long as it is controlled.