Sometimes I think we'd be better off without the television. It's a love/hate thing. Stuart and I always watch TV together in the evenings after the kids are asleep. When you've been running around with the kids all day, or, in his case, at work, and then dealing with the evening chaos of dinner and clean-up and bedtime, by 8:30 the only thing either one of us wants to do is whatever takes as little brain power as possible. Plus, we're enjoying Star Trek reruns; Patrick Stewart has such a commanding voice, and we often mock the spectacular costumes and vintage special effects. It's just fun.
Daniel and Anya love watching TV. I know this is normal - most kids love TV - but I've allowed more than I should lately. It's just too easy to come up with an excuse for allowing it, like if the weather is bad and we're cooped up inside, or if someone isn't feeling well and doesn't have the energy for normal play. Or if I'm tired and desperate for a chance to drink a cup of coffee and check my email sans interruption. Also, preschool is out for the summer, so it's just me with my children all. day. long. and I just run out of ideas from time to time. I need a little break every now and then, so I don't mind if they watch a little television - the operative word here being little.
Right now they really like the Curious George show on PBS, which is harmless and entertaining enough. The problem is that I've noticed too much TV (or screen time in general, because they like the PBS kids website, too) makes them difficult. They whine more, they fight with each other more, they are much less creative with their own playtime, they don't play independently very well, they are more demanding with me...in short, their attitude sucks, and it's not as though Curious George is a bad influence. Curious George is playful and amusing and often just misunderstands people's instructions, which leads to hilarious consequences and at the end of the episode we all learn about how canals work or how to build a sand castle or why it's important to follow the recipe for making muffins, or whatever.
No, Curious George is not to blame. I am. It's the whole idea of passive entertainment and how it just not an acceptable substitute for all those other things we do. Reading books, for example. Lately, getting Daniel to sit down for story time is like pulling teeth. He goes through these phases and it's not like I'm worried he'll be illiterate (he can already write and spell, just not read), but it's important to read to your kid, you know?
So the last two days I've just said NO to television or computer time. It hasn't been easy. I've been tempted to allow just a little bit, enough so I can get a good start on fixing supper without interference, or do the dishes after lunchtime. But I'm sticking to this, and despite the constant "Mom, can me and Anya watch a little TV?", which quickly disintegrates into whining when I say "No, not today," I think it's helping. The vague promise that maybe, perhaps, I'd allow just a little bit at some point in the future was enough for them to help me clean up the living room this afternoon. They've been getting along a little better, though not spectacularly (again, this is normal), and just now I managed to read a few story books until they fell asleep on the couch.
I'm not sure how long I'll keep this up. I still don't know if I should save TV for "special occasions" like a rainy day, or allow just a little bit back into the daily routine. Sometimes that's the only way I can get dinner on the table in a timely manner, after all. I'm not really philosophical or dogmatic about this issue; I just don't like the attitude I'm getting, especially from Daniel.
You other parents out there, what do you do about TV?