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Sunday, February 28, 2010

No Television?

By Jenny D., Charlotte Smarty Pants

TV - was the big no, no word among my friends when we had our first babies. "My children are not allowed to watch TV" or "My kids get 30 minutes a day of educational TV and that's it." As a working mom, I made it clear to my caregivers that having the TV on during the day wasn't an option.

Then like most things in our house, the creep happened. We started with only letting the kids watch Curious George in the morning while I got ready for work. That quickly turned into two episodes. And then we got a TV in our kitchen so that my husband could watch football on Sundays while he cooked all day. Soon the girls began to ask if they could watch a show here and there while we were making lunch or dinner. Then on nights when I had to get work done, the TV became an option to keep them occupied.

Just putting all of this in writing makes me feel terrible. I love spending time with my kids, doing crafts and playing games. Letting the TV become my crutch was a terrible habit that I had gotten into. I have wondered if my old friends stuck to their guns about it?

This fall we had to move out of our house for a couple of weeks during a home remodel (the longest couple of weeks of my life!). We had family friends offer up their house at the lake for us to stay. It was such a generous gesture; we were thrilled. Then we got up there and remembered this house had no TV or internet and cell phone usage was spotty. At first I was out of sorts, feeling unconnected. I had no idea what was going on in the world, more importantly how to dress my children for school because I couldn't check the weather. And the worst of it...I had to wait until I got to work to get my daily fix of Charlotte Smarty Pants.

After a couple of days, we settled into our new place and started to enjoy life without distractions. The girls and I got back into our old routine of playing board games and reading more. And in the mornings, the girls ran around and played with each other instead of watching television while I got ready for work. I started to enjoy the quiet in the house and not wondering what was on TV. The girls even started to put on plays for entertainment. We had a blast living old school.

So for all of you moms who have managed to keep TV watching at a minimum, I applaud you. I also ask that you don't hold this against me. I know that TV will still be in our future - I have to face it, we are TV-watching family. But I plan to be more aware of it and make sure that the family time, fun and creativity come first.

I would love to know that there are some other Smarty moms out there that have found themselves in this situation, any one willing to confess?


Summer said...

It is a slippery slope, we are worst in the winter when it is so cold outside, but in the summertime tv hardly registers at all. I think the worst kind of TV is when you are parking the kids there so it can watch them. If you are all sitting down together discussing the merits of Spongebob's behavior, or the charity work of the Smurfs, that's not as bad right?

candice said...

I do allow my children to watch television a lot on the weekends, especially when we have bad weather. It reminds me of when I was a child and was always so excited to watch those Saturday morning cartoons. Even though I had a lot of television growing up, I think I turned out halfway normal! :-)

Anonymous said...

I guess I have a different stance on TV. Growing up, the TV was always on at my house and kind of just became background noise. I find that is what has happened now with my children, too. We have never treated TV as something extra-special. If you want to watch it, you turn it on. If not, you do something else. Somehow it has never been a problem. Homework still gets done, and my children have always enjoyed playing outside. We have certain channels that they are limited to, but other than that, I think it has all worked out well.

Anonymous said...

I have one child who loves TV and being indoors, and another who always wants to play sports outside, no matter how nasty the weather. Our compromise has been watching the Olympics. I will miss them this week! But when there are no Olympics, my compromise has been some downtime with TV, then outside time. We do a little of both every day, with no TV on the weekends. (Except during the Olympics, of course.)

TV Mom said...

Kids need to be well rounded and that can include watching television. I don't beat myself up because my kids get more that the "recommended" daily TV time. It all sort of works out in the end. It's always the excess we need to worry about, whether it's watching TV for hours on end or with their nose in a book and never interacting with family or friends. What I suggest is that parents know what their kids are watching and be there to answer their questions, as Summer offered in her post.

suellen said...

We really limit the amount of TV that our children watch. I don't feel weird or guilty that my children aren't intouch with every character. I love that they don't beg for all the crap associated with tv characters! I am happy that they have to choose and negotiate with each other about which two 30 minute programs that they are going to watch for the day. I love that they know how to keep themselves occupied doing something rather than keeping the couch warm. I also love those beautifuly silent, blank stare, mouths hanging open as they gaze into the tube moments for myself to check my email or read a magazine in PEACE! ;)

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