We aren’t anti-TV. In fact, FireDad and I have shows that we really enjoy after the kids have gone off to bed for the night. During the day, the boys are allowed to watch non-commercial television stations (Noggin, PBS) or their movies (ranging from Thomas the Train to Toy Story). We don’t let them watch television all day long but they are allowed a certain amount of TV-time each day.
Except for today. And this past Sunday. And various other days which are decided the night before or the morning of.
No-TV days happen in our house. I don’t feel like a big ogre for employing them either. Well, I should say, I don’t feel bad anymore. When I initially noticed that television was having too much of a grasp on my children, I felt bad in just the realization. I thought I had limited their time enough. I thought I was doing the right thing! And then, when our first No-TV day happened, I felt bad because they were upset. Today? I don’t feel bad. It was necessary. It will be over by 7:00 this evening. And tomorrow my children will not hate me anymore.
At least for the No-TV thing.
Why did I start the No-TV thing on occasion? I can tell when they’ve simply had too much screen time. You can tell me that television doesn’t rot their brains. You can tell me that certain shows are educational and beneficial. You can giggle (with me) when one or the other quotes something cute from a movie. (Have you ever heard a three and a half year old use the word trousers? It’s adorable.) But when they won’t play outside because they want to watch something on television, they’ve hit that “too much” level. My children love to play outside. Outside is the best thing since sliced bread. I have, on occasion, had to bribe them with television, snacks and everything but money to get them to come inside. But yesterday, BigBrother whined at me that he wanted to go watch TV for the whole hour that we were outside. I detest whining. And whining about television seems to be a big indicator that something needs to change.
And, so, we are now enduring our second No-TV day in a three day time span. Sunday was a No-TV day as we were at my parents house and I wanted to make sure the boys were enjoying The Farm, their grandparents, the dog and the general outside-ness of it all. Today is a No-TV day because, as I said before, I won’t tolerate whining about television. This, of course, has made for a grumpy BigBrother. He’s quite miffed, really. And I almost feel bad. Almost.
But so far today, while I haven’t gotten much work done, mind you, he and LittleBrother have danced and sang to a few CDs in his room. They have changed imagination outfits a few times (fighting over a Thomas the Train belt for awhile that caused removal of said belt). They have read some books. And they are currently racing cars in their playroom. After I finish up some work, we have a day full of outside fun, coloring and t-ball planned. I may get wild and crazy and let BigBrother help me with supper. At the end of the day, neither child will say to me, “I wish we would have watched more TV today.” (Or, rather, BigBrother had better not say such a thing or I may have to go cry in the bathroom for awhile.)
No-TV days make more work for me, for FireDad. (I also learned, the hard way, that No-TV days on FireDad’s shift day are, shall we say, rather difficult. I learned my lesson.) As they are young children, a preschooler and a toddler, their attention spans only last so long. It’s true that they’re playing together right now but my guess is that we’ll have to play a game or do a puzzle in short order. Despite that this will make more work for me to attend to after they hit the sack tonight, I am okay with this fact. Work will get done. Just like television will still exist tomorrow.
I do, however, refuse to feel guilty that my children watch television. Or that they need breaks from television. Or anything of that nature. You can tell me that whining is an indication that we should throw out our televisions and quite possibly even our CD players and sit in silence for a years’ time. I’m going to smile at you, nod and then do my own thing. Just as I will smile and not at someone who tells me that No-TV days aren’t necessary. These two little boys are my children to parent. With their father’s help, we will make decisions together that are in their best interest. I don’t care what you do with your children. I don’t care if you are a No-TV-Ever family or an Always-On family. But I know what my kids need.
And today they need to dance and play and color and laugh and whine about something other than television. Tomorrow they can go back to thinking I’m mean for something else.