Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mommy Confessional

I've been feeling guilty lately. Pretty sure my son's brain is slowly turning to mush (does that really happen??). Bennett watches way too much TV. I keep reading parenting articles about limiting screen time to no more than 2 hours a day. Eventually their boredom would propel them to use their imaginations. That sounds like a lot but we're far exceeding that number (gulp). I mean, sure, I could console myself with the fact that we're not nearly as bad as some families who never turn the TV off but the fact is, if we just judged our own success based on other people, I could pretty much slack off on all kinds of stuff and still feel good about my parenting skills.

Bennett, 17 mos:

So anyway, this is how our day goes: Bennett gets up between 7 and 7:30 and goes straight downstairs and knows how to start his own movie. Jon gets up for work and gets Bennett's breakfast before he leaves. I usually sleep til 8 or 8:30 (ideally I'd get up at 7:30 but I'm excusing myself right now due to pregnancy exhaustion) then I get up and take a shower and we're not ready to leave til at least 10 or 11. (Dawson doesn't get up til at least 9.) And the TV has pretty much stayed on the whole morning til we leave.

Then when Dawson goes down for his 3 hour nap, I let Bennett watch TV or play computer games so I can chill and have some me time. So realistically speaking, he was watching at least 6 hours a day!! That's a little sickening. I NEVER wanted to have kids who couldn't entertain themselves or didn't have any imagination.

So earlier this week I made a commitment to myself to turn the TV off in the morning by 10 at the latest (small steps :) and then let Bennett watch 1 movie or play 1 hour of video/computer games during Dawson's nap. The rest of the time will be up to him to entertain himself. The other day we were going to Nana and Poppy's for dinner and Bennett's obsessed with playing Angry Birds on Poppy's iPad so he had to forgo all of his afternoon screen time so he could play the iPad later. It went pretty well and he ended up playing with Lego's for quite a while.

I do realize that as soon as preschool starts, (he's going 4 days in the afternoons) he won't have any screen time besides the morning and also, as Dawson get older, they'll play together better and next year will actually be able to go outside together without me having to supervise Dawson's every move.

I just wanted to throw all this out there for A) some encouragement and accountability in this area and B) possibly for some ideas of some activities for Bennett to do all by himself. I think I should probably get over my hate for huge messes and let him do some painting at home because he does like that. He's never been interested in coloring. I did get a huge Kindergarten workbook (the Brainquest line) at Costco that he likes working through. So anyway...this has just been on my mind a lot lately and hopefully some of you can relate to my struggle!


  1. Haverlee,

    I can totally relate. been ther done that the first few months after having Hudson. I really like to sleep until at least 7:30, or whenever Hudson wakes.

    What we started doing was having Jack stay in his room and play until 8. We put an alarm clock in his room and he could come out when the alarm wentoff or if he noticed it was 8. Now he has started waking up walker so he has an hour and a half in his room each morning, but we also let him play his Leapster and sometimes my iPad. He has gotten really creative though Nd can play for a while by himself his men, leggos, cars, and a play rug.

    It works pretty well. Every now and then he wants to come out because he is hungry, but we just have to stay consistent with it.

    Congratulations on the new baby coming! I can only imagine how tired you must be!

  2. Sorry Haverlee, KF is Kim Freund :)

  3. Oh my, I didn't notice all the autocorrect happening. Sorry for such a messy comment!

  4. You are so good at thinking of things for kids to do!! I remember you filling up a bucket of water with toys for 1 year old Ava way back when.

    Today 5 year old Ava took out her sock drawer and amused herself for an hour by putting every single pair on and walking around like she had casts on her feet. It's amazing what they come up with on their own.

    you could set out a bowl of water and given him a paintbrush and had him "paint the deck"
    string cheerios or apple jacks onto a pipe cleaner and bend it into shapes or a bracelet.
    sort coins or mix up all the silverware and have him sort it back to normal...

    I don't know if this link will work, but this is my kid project pinterest board that i keep adding to when i find something. every picture is linked to an explanation:

  5. My son was the same way...some of it was my fault. If I had to get ready to go somewhere, or do something or just wanted to rest, I'd put in a movie and let him watch. It was easier than having to check on him every five minutes to see if he had gotten in to anything!

    We taught him how to use the VCR at an age younger than I had imagined we would, but it's OK. He always had toys and books in his midst (I found that books relating to what he was/had watched were something he enjoyed) and he's an amazing reader now (he's 14 1/2). It's awesome to see him pick up a book and get lost in it...he's always done that and continues to this day. I don't see his love for books wavering or even being diminished because of TV.

    I wouldn't worry too much about it...yes, every parenting magazine will tell you how bad it is, etc., but as long as they have options, they'll do just fine!!

    Bennett seems like a smart boy and if he can forgo TV time when told he has to in order to do something else he wants to do later, then I'd say it's not as big of a problem as you might fear it is.

  6. P.S. About the reading, please don't think we left him to read all by himself!! I read to him nightly until he was about 12! (He'd be very embarrassed by me telling anyone that!) Now we read as a group or on our own.

    P.S.S. Also I wouldn't be too concerned about Bennett's imagination. Every child has a different way to play and 'imagine' things. I would get worried sometimes that my son wasn't playing 'correctly', but then I realized 'duh', it's just his own way.

    OK, enough of my rambling. :)

  7. It's hard, and after Eva got sick this summer, there was a lot of t.v. watching in order to keep her calm and quiet :) So we have been cutting back around here now that she's better.

    I agree with you that cutting back slowly seems to do the trick and also allowing them to choose the one or two shows they want to watch each day gives them something to look forward to.

    We do a lot of playdoh, legos, watercolors and ethan loves to play with his cars. We have a subscription (courtesy of papa and nana) to Highlights: High Five magazine which has lots of stories, games and craft ideas for kids preschool-early elementary. Ethan loves them and is entertained for long periods of time. We actually save them in a binder so he can go back through them again and again.

    Good luck! :)

  8. You're a great mom! We all have our "thing" we want to be better about. My kids would love it if mine were too much TV!

  9. Haverlee,
    i have been thinking the samething lately! And by haverlee i mean chris harrison...forgo!! hahaha!

  10. Haverlee,
    As long as you're aware of it don't worry too much. You have two small kids and pregnant again. Congratulations by the way!!! We went through that time as well because I just sometimes needed a break. Now that they're older t.v. and computer only are allowed on rainy days. This phase will pass and they won't be scarred by it. :) You're a great mom!!!

  11. Oh man- I can hardly remember the days when I got to sleep past 5:30am. And I Dream of the day when Kallen will sit down to watch tv for more than 2 minutes!I would totally be tempted to do what you are doing for a little time to yourself during Dawson's nap. You are a great mom! Send him outside while the weather is still nice and you can! :)


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