It is all too easy to be consumed by a good TV show. During long days and nights of nursing three babies, I've watched more than my fair share. I have used the TV as a babysitter for my older two boys, justifying that usage in order to "get things done." What usually happens is I zone out and just check facebook "real quick," or just watch one quick show. Then, two hours have passed, wasted. Also, when my boys would deign to interrupt me I would immediately feel annoyed. "I put cartoons on for you. What do you want?" Over time, the majority of interactions with them were negative- I was being pulled out of my technological reverie to get snacks, wipe butts, clean up messes, and break up fights. I was missing out on all the good stuff.
After discussing this issue with a friend, I had a realization that my oldest will be starting full day Kindergarten. I will no longer be the person he spends the most time with. Scary. Not to say that my parenting influence will suddenly be over, but in a way I'm sending him off into the world. I cannot let Daniel Tiger raise my child. I have more wisdom and manners to impart first!
I read this little paragraph lately, and it shook me to my core: "There have been over 4000 studies done on the effect TV has on children. A parent spends on average 3.5 minutes a week in meaningful conversation with their child. Children watch TV 1680 minutes a week. 53% of 4-6 year olds choose to watch TV over spending time with their father. Now can we understand ADHD? Childhood health problems? Psychological problems? Motivational problems?"*
I have definitely had days, while nursing my youngest every 2 hours and desperately clinging to any chance of a nap I could get, that I only had a 3 minute meaningful conversation with my oldest child. This makes me feel awful. I feel like I need to make up for lost time, now. Right now.
It's been a week since my kids have watched TV. My oldest still talks about various cartoons and TV shows, but he has not asked to watch it for the past two days. My children are playing with their toys more. We are reading more books together. We are cuddling more. They are fighting less. They are playing outside more. They are moving more. They are asking more questions (and having them answered). I'm excited to play with them and watch them now. This has definitely been the best decision I have made in a long time.