Fighting the Television


If you live, well, just about anywhere in the U.S. this winter (warm weather folks, kindly keep it shut) it has been downright BRUTAL. I am loathe to write about the weather, but holy moly this has been a long, cold, snowy winter. Options for child entertainment are slim. Declan and I take a class on Tuesday morning and other than that we rely on friends, Barnes and Noble, and the occasional drop-in to a playspace to keep us occupied. That means for the most part we are inside…together…a whole lot.

We’ve played picnic and camping and cars and spaceship and school like 50 billion times. We’ve read every book in our house over and over. We go on pretend missions in the hallway and have multiple dance parties daily. But you know what? It gets old. And exhausting. This mama has a cold and a lot of freelance work to finish up and I hear that tv calling to me. Usually it sounds like one of my children saying “can we pleeeeeease watch something?”

It is a constant struggle not to turn that thing on and enjoy the wonderful freedom. And I give in. Oh I do give in. I’m not an anti-television person by any means. My kids watch some everyday. But I always feel guilty. Should I be engaging them more? Are their brains turning to mush? How many times can they sing the “waffles” song from Teen Titans Go in a row before their little heads explode?

It starts early in the day, when D and I have exhausted our playing. I turn it on and then I can rest for a minute and then I feel guilty for resting. I play a few rounds of Quiz Up on my phone and start to feel like a terrible mother. I write a blog post or read the posts lining up in my Reader. I feel defeated. That damn rectangle on the living room wall has won again. I try to tell myself it isn’t that bad. They don’t watch all day and I’m an involved mom. Or am I? But I just can’t help how wonderful it feels to plop down on the couch with my two boys after school, cuddle them up to me, and turn on a little tv. It’s family time right? Right?

Declan is sleeping now and then we’ll pick up Brady from chess. But it’ll start again the minute we walk in the door. Should I turn it on and get dinner ready or resist and listen to the whining? Should I let them zonk out to the tube for a bit, or try to get them playing together until we eat? I don’t know who will win today…oh who am I kidding? That television is winning today. Mommy’s throat hurts.

IMG_4507See? We don’t always watch tv on the couch.



14 responses

  1. I hear you! I freelance from home too. The kids watch at least 30 min of TV nearly every day. I was so curious to see what they’re actually watching now so took the time yesterday to sit down with my 10 year-old and watch #TotalDramaIsland — not exactly the Brady Bunch. I loathe TV, not for TV in and of itself, but for the mother guilt it brings on. I started shipping them off to the local rec center mid-day now to get their exercise in with their peers. Best thing ever!

  2. Love that picture! I struggle too with this…its so hard. I feel great when I let them watch “one show” and we all win but then 30 minutes flies by as I sit nearby reading or writing on my laptop so I say, “okay, just ONE more” and then I feel like a total slacker mom who should be doing some awesome Pinterest craft with them. And occasionally (or rather, once in a blue moon), we do 😉 Its not warm here in FL but nothing to complain about but we still have been cooped up with wet cold or rain and I’m over it. I feel tired so much lately and I think its the absence of sun. Come on spring!

      • It’s definitely good for them. What I want and what is good for them doesn’t always translate into them actually doing. 😉 haha! Occasionally they will each find something either on their own or together to entertain themselves but more often than not if I said, “ok guys, play nicely together while mommy reads/writes” they would bombard me with questions, requests, complaints, or constant, “mommy, look!” so….the tv wins sometimes. But then the next day I keep it turned off out of sheer guilt. ha

        • Ain’t that the truth! I don’t have the issue of two children needing to “play nicely” so I’ve got it a little easier…for the time being.

          If you really want to kick the TV habit, set up some rules and hold on tight for a little while. Its a little like getting them to sleep through the night. Ha! Anyway…

          I’m thinking about cutting out the AM TV. I read a blog post (or a forum post, I can’t remember), about how this mom had a spot set up with arts and crafts items and after some rougher mornings, it eventually became habit that instead of TV the kiddos went and worked on something creative when they got up. I love this idea…I’m just not sure how I would implement it yet. Wish me luck!

  3. I am seriously considering not allowing TV anymore because of how much Crazy Pants asks for it. After Christmas we realized that we needed to be consistent with TV time. He gets a couples shows when he wakes and a couple while I cook dinner. We watch a movie as a family on Friday nights. I have been EXTREMELY indulgent lately because we got snowed in and he has been sick for like 12 days now or something. Today, we finally got back to the regular schedule and it wasn’t as hard a transition as I thought it would be!

    As for feeling like you need to engage more, I have been studying Charlotte Mason’s writings on home education, and she advocates “masterly inactivity.” Basically, let your kids alone and they will use their imagination to pass their time, all the while learning about things. You don’t need to be actively engaged at all times of the day. Children don’t need to be entertained and experiencing boredom once in a while forces them to flex those imagination muscles. Studying this particular brand of home education has allowed me to be easier on myself. I felt that I always needed to be engaging and entertaining, but that’s actually probably not the best for them anyway.

    Long story short, I hear you! You aren’t doing anything wrong 🙂

    • I totally agree, kids do NOT need to be entertained all of the time. Our culture makes us feel bad if we aren’t crafting with them all of the time. When my daughter does go in her room to play (sometimes by force) within a few minutes, she is quiet and lost in play. My son too. I LOVE peeking in on them during these moments. I should use the time wisely but it is so fun to watch!

      • Oh I absolutely agree. Mine do play alone or together quite a bit. Working on child development books for so long has really driven home the importance of solo or child-only creative play. I just think the crazy amount of time we’ve been spending indoors is killing our creativity a bit. I can’t reply to the thread above anymore (hmmm, I might have to change those settings). I have the same problem as Kerry, getting two to play nicely. Sometimes it works and sometimes that tv goes on. I can only hear “that is MINE!!!” so many times in one day. As for AM tv, after a lot of trial and error with my older one, who has trouble with transitions, we found tv to be best answer. If it’s on he will sit and eat breakfast and then when the show is over he gets ready for school. Arts and crafts would be a bad thing for him. We had a big problem when he first got his rainbow loom. Oh those were some tough mornings 😉 I’m glad this sparked such a conversation!! It’s definitely something a lot of us struggle with.

  4. We had a good thing going with set TV times and they just didn’t ask at any other times. But then they started with the sibling thing and it’s really hard not to want some peace and quiet just to decompress between slugging matches. You sound like you’re actually doing pretty well. I can’t manage much at all except slow breathing in thirty minutes so it’s a big pressure.

    • Those sibling brawls are tough to overcome right? Sometimes in my house it’s constant “STOP IT”, “IT’S MINE!!”, “DON’T TOUCH ME!!!!” I can’t help turning the tv on to stop the madness sometimes.

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