TV. It’s one of those nagging topics that just sits at the back of your mind and is discussed by all moms everywhere. I too have struggled with this question.When I first started having kids I had decided that I would never (NEVER EVER SAY NEVER…) let my kids watch TV or movies before she was 2 years old and then limit it while she was older. As she got older I slowly started letting her watch more and more. When my second child was born was when TV watching was at it’s high. My daughter watched probably 1 movie almost every day-ish for a few months. I hit a breaking point when my daughter started acting up worse than normal and when discussing it with my husband we realized that it quite possibly was linked to her elevated amount of screen time. That’s when I introduced the idea to my daughter of Movie Fridays.
My 3 year old daughter knows her days of the week because she knows that Friday is her movie day. She wakes up every morning and asks “Mommy, was that a nap or a sleep (bed-time)?” After I tell her it was a “sleep” she says “Good! What day is it?” The closer it is to Friday, the more excited she is when you tell her the day. For instance, if you mention it is Thursday, you can bet her tone and eyebrows will be raised and there will be a special sparkle in her eyes when she repeats “Thursday!!” Having Fridays as our designated movie days has been great for my daughter as well as for me. She knows that she gets to watch a movie on Friday and therefore doesn’t ask to watch movies every 2 seconds on the other days of the week. It’s great! I was so tired of her asking if she could watch “one episode” every single time she was bored. Because she doesn’t ask, I don’t break down as often either and let her watch them. She watches movies on Friday. Period. (minus the occasional mommy break-down moments.. we’ve all been there).
She gets to watch a movie and eat popcorn during her little brothers nap time in the morning and it’s a special treat. Sydney’s mood has improved tremendously and I really do believe that it is due to the decrease in screen time. I can totally tell a difference in her attitude on days that she watches TV vs days that she doesn’t. I’m not saying that watching TV is a bad thing all together, it just needs to be in doses.
Being that we only had one car for the first 3 years of marriage it meant that I had to come up with a million other ways to entertain my daughter since my husband took that one car to work during the day. I came up with a list of random things that you can do to help the time pass in a better, more positive way. This will hopefully help you avoid those TV watching days just a little better.
Please excuse the extremely cute chubby baby “nudity.”
Bath time. My kids LOVE bath time. Especially in the winter, this is a great way to change things up and also keep the kids happy and entertained.
Read books. After breakfast almost every morning we sit down and go through our library pile of books. All 10-20 of them! Seriously. We spend about an hour and a half just snuggling and reading books. It’s fabulous.
Walks. We do this a lot! We did this more before we got our second car, but this is a great way to spend your time! Everyone gets out of the house and is able to get fresh air therefore yielding better family vibes.:) It’s also really important for kids to have time to get out and run around and also just be out in nature.
Go to the park (invite friends). Often times we end up over at the park twice a week. I love it because I am able to have a few minutes of me-time when I can watch the kids play and I can have time to think. We also invite friends to the park sometimes too. Then the kids have friends and I have friends to have adult conversations with.
Go to the Library. We go to the library at least once a week. This is a great source of entertainment for my kids and gives me a mini break. When we can make it, I try to get to story time as well. Story time gives me a few minutes of not being needed. I love my kids, but when a mom can have a mini break, take it!:)
Bake together. I love to bake. This love of baking I have has apparently transferred over into my daughter as well. Any time I pull out my measuring cups or a bowl, my daughter runs in and starts pulling up a chair and asking if she can help. It’s messy and slow a lot of times, but it’s worth it.
Go for a run with the kids in the stroller. This creates some really great me time. My kids know that when they are in the stroller and I am running that they can chat with each other. This is mommy’s quiet time and I don’t chat with them unless someone is bleeding or we dropped (and usually ran over) a toy along the way. I put one head phone in (that way I can hear them if I do need to help them) and crank the music.
Exercise videos. Even if my kids aren’t participating, they are usually playing nicely just because I am in the room with them. My daughter usually starts out doing the exercises with me but by the end has gotten distracted by a toy and is off in the corner playing quietly with it. My son on the other hand, that’s a different story. Usually he plays as well with teh occasional crawling on my back while I am sweating over doing planks. It’s entertaining.
Clean the house. My daughter LOVES to clean. I have a hard time letting her sometimes because it ends up taking me double the time to get a job i HATE done than it would if she wasn’t helping. But aren’t we trying to use up time anyway? PLUS then your child is learning some very needed hard work skills. Just make sure you don’t do any cleaning with kids that requires bleach.. or I guess any other harsh chemicals.
Grocery shopping. I know some of you might be laughing on the inside at this one, or maybe even laughing out loud. I LOVE to take my kids grocery shopping. I grocery shop once every 2 weeks and the kids and I look forward to it. I split it up into two days. The first day I hit up the normal grocery store, and usually Walmart as well for the diapers, and then the next day we head over to Costco. My kids know that they get a special treat at both Costco and the grocery store. They get to choose one special treat from the bulk bins (usually 3 gummy bears or a small handful of m&m’s), and then on our Costco day they get the samples and most the time we buy a treat (usually the berry smoothie) from the food court after shopping. This has helped to make my grocery shopping trips a fun thing for the kids and I.
Play time. You can either get down on the floor with your kids and play with them with their toys, or sit on the couch in that room and read a book while your kids play. If I am in the room, my kids will play for a good hour or 2 sometimes.
Books on youtube. My daughter is a big fan of the videos on youtube where people read books to you. We get books from the library a lot that have the CD with it, but this is nice because it turns the pages for you. I don’t have to help her get back on the right page every few minutes when she forgets to turn to the chime.
Check out local museums. We recently bought passes for some local museums here and we LOVE taking advantage of those. I love it because I can go any day that we are just bored and have nothing going on. I also love it because if a child starts having a meltdown and we have to leave I can without feeling guilty that we spent x amount of dollars!
Good luck trying to decide how your family wants to tackle the TV watching dilemma. Hopefully these ideas can give you some ideas for things you an your kids can do instead of watch TV. Also, since Easter is quickly approaching and I still haven’t even thought about Easter baskets… Check out my post from last year Three Steps to Having a Healthy, Happy and Inexpensive Easter (Filling Easter Baskets for kids)
Happy Easter Y’all!