Kylee’s first “show” was a Baby Einstein video that we turned on while we frantically packed the car to travel out of town. It was pure bliss. The results? One very quiet, content, happy baby for 20 minutes while we rushed around and piled things in the car. That moment changed our lives.
We realized that TV could actually assist in our parenting as an impromptu babysitter…helpful and available at any moment. What transpired from there was a quest to find “quality” educational shows that would stimulate their little minds and ease some of my frantic mom moments.
Over the years I have openly been a “pro-tv” mom. I despised the moms who made you feel bad because your 3 year old watched Word World once a day. I can see the terrible effects that TV has on our society–but I also see the blessing that it has become for a totally stressed out mom of preschoolers who is putting in a full 10 hour day unassisted. A little Elmo could not possibly promote that much harm?!? I still believe this to my core.
My children have quite honestly been educated by Dora, Deigo, The Wiggles, Super Why and most recently The Octonauts on subjects of aquatic life, Spanish, red eyed tree frogs, and reading adventures. I guess ideally I would be teaching these subjects to my preschoolers but I am honestly not that creative 24/7, nor did I even learn that much in my high school French class…at least about French that is. I still embrace those “shows” as we call them, and appreciate their assistance in educating my children on a wide range of subjects.
Having said this–after reading In Praise of Slowness I was struck by the number of hours the average American spends in front of the screen. This could be the television, a gaming system, computer, or I-pad. The stats were eye opening and slightly convicting. My children now ages 3, 6 and 7 are at an age where they can entertain themselves and they do not need something electronic to distract them so that I can get a load of laundry done. They will not stick something in a light socket while I prepare dinner. They have the ability to entertain themselves and yet, going off of old habits, I have been depriving them of this opportunity. Instead of TV being a “treat” for my kids and a much needed break for mom–it shifted to a “boredom replacer” and was being used way more often than I would like to admit. I was finding that my children were not being creative with their time, they were not spending the amount of time I wanted them to spend outside, and they were fighting over who would use the screen and for what purpose.
Over the past few months we have made some switches in our home and this month we are going to make a big change as we are dumping cable and participating in the NATIONAL SCREEN FREE WEEK. The week could NOT come at a more inopportune time. As a matter of fact, as passionate as I was about doing it, when I saw which week it fell on, I almost changed my mind. Chris is going to be out of town 5 of the 7 days of that week. So at the time when I would like to “use” the TV as a helper or assistant the most–I am going to be abstaining! Yikes. Pray for me.
The National Screen Free program is well thought out and an awesome opportunity to make some changes in screen time at home. The resources are awesome. You can download a FREE starter kit to help you think creatively about your week and design a plan with your family. It gives over 100 ideas of things to do other than watch TV, and it inspires you to turn off the tube…period.
It seemed appropriate to share this information this week so that if you have an interest or would like to participate, you will have some time to prepare. I am going to have a few surprises throughout the week that I have been collecting…a book for each child, puzzles, and some crafts so that they will have a few surprises, as well as reminded that there are other options to their slow moments or “boredom”.
Ah yes…boredom! In the our home, the “b” word is a bad word. I have a friend who has a BORDEOM jar and every time the child says the “b” word they must go to the jar. The jar is filled with creative ideas for something the child could do–but it also has chores inside which remind the child to be careful what you say…because you might just be given a chore for that choice! Pretty sure that will be happening at our house at the end of the month!
There is much to be gleaned from less TV in our homes and I long to teach my children how to “do nothing” without being bored. I long to a teach them how to entertain themselves. I long to teach them how to be productive parts of the family…when help is needed I hope that they would be available and not glued to a game or show. You will not hear me say that TV is evil–it has served our family well over the past few years…I just hope to set some new habits in place for the future so that it would turn TV back to where it was originally: a “treat”. (Both for me and for my children.)
Wherever you are on your journey with mommy-hood…I hope that this might be a great resource and something you will consider doing with your family if not this year…in the future! Pass this on to friends and family…there is much to be gleaned from a screen free week. Let me know if you plan on joining the Crazy Cockerhams on our Screen Free week…to Infinity and Beyond!
No matter how many episodes of Barney have been watched in your home…hear me say loud and clear: YOU ARE A GREAT MOM!
May you Be a Blessings and May You Be Blessed!