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advice on television...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi all! I am a SAHM to two children ages 3 1/2 and 15 months. I always said my children would never watch tv - but that was before I became a mother!

Anyway, I admire and agree with the Waldorf position on television viewing for children. The problem is that I have not been able to implement it in my daily life. After my son was born, I was depressed and exhausted (he was sick a lot and didn't sleep for more than 2 hours at a stretch until he was 7 months old) and I found myself using the television as a babysitter for my then 2 year old daughter a lot. Then I found myself using it as a babysitter as my son became a toddler, just so that I could get a "break" from them I guess. (Normally I am with them alone from 6 am to 7 pm, and I find it quite a long day, even with playgroups, et cetera). Anyway, although my daughter can take the tv or leave it, my son loves it and wants to watch it all the time. Even though he is only watching Baby Einstein or Teletubbies, I truly feel he shouldn't be watching tv at all, but I just don't know how to get through the day without it. I've been trying so hard, but with these bitterly cold winter days I find myself out of energy and ideas by 4:00 and that is when I turn to the tv.

sorry to ramble, but any advice would be helpful to me on how people have either given up the tv or found ways to want to engage with their kids for that amount of time
post #2 of 10
Before we became Waldorf parents our children watched some TV. We had to quit cold turkey when we started Waldorf and we found it to be the best way to eliminate TV. It was hell for 2 weeks, but then the kids found ways to entertain themselves. Playdates with other children helped a lot. My ds was 4 at the time and my dd was 2. I am, however; a working mom so I didn't experience the wall you experience at 4 PM.

I would suggest that if you do try to eliminate the TV, wait until Spring when the kids can outside. That way you will have all summer to get used to the no TV.

I also talked with my children about TV and why it is not good for them while their brains are growing. I would also say to them when they would say they were bored, that it comes from too much TV. They soon stopped saying they were bored.

Good luck. Hopefully some SAHM will post here with their ideas. Also there is a tribe in the Tribe section, for TV free families. Some are Waldorf but not all. I would ask there for some help.
post #3 of 10

Don't plan the whole day, it leads to burnout

We're a no-TV family (although we do sometimes watch movies on the computer.) My husband is an actor and he is often on the road, so I'm totally on my own a lot of the time.

I think part of your problem may be that you are trying to organize your children's whole day. Naturally, this leads to burnout ("I find myself out of energy and ideas by 4:00") and to their expecting you to entertain them all the time.

There are a number of things I have to accomplish during the day that do not directly involve my 2 1/2 year old ds. These include: keeping the house fires burning, sweeping up the ashes, fetching wood, cooking, cleaning dishes, gardening work, doing the laundry, and also yoga and playing the piano - which keep me sane and healthy. DS helps me with things that are within his abilities, such as mixing up batter or bringing in kindling, but when I can't involve him, either I just let him be nearby and we chat and gently tease each other, or he finds something else to do. At other times, I focus directly on him by reading, or helping him with his paint set or a puzzle or something like that.

IMO, you should think about transitioning to a model where you don't *have* to constantly invent amusements for the kids or else leave them to the tender mercies of the TV. Much of AP is based on tribal or prehistoric parenting methods, and I don't think there are too many tribes where mothers have nothing other than kiddie play on their daily "to do" list. Also, I know some older people who, when their kids complained of being bored, gave them chores. They learned to stop complaining and amuse themselves right fast!

In terms of making the transition, try going about the things you have to do and singing songs or reciting nursery rhymes. Put on some funny music that they can sing along with, or some very rhythmic music that they can play instruments along to. Keep healthy snacks out on the table for them. I would spare them the "TV is bad for you" lecture, they are way too young to understand. I've heard of famlies who got rid of their TV telling the kids it was "broken." This may or may not be your kind of approach, but it would be a way to go cold turkey.

Hope this helps.
Melinda & Squeak
post #4 of 10
Melinda has lots of good ideas and I totally agree with her approach. Children should not expect their parents to entertain them and play with them: parents have other stuff that needs doing. [Speaking as a grandmother, we are the folks who should be available to play with children, but only as a special treat, not everyday.]

The difficult hump to get over is how to "teach" your children to play by themselves if they have gotten used to being "entertained."

My daughter remarks that her children are pretty good about finding things to do as long as she is busy with what they perceive as legitimate activities: folding laundry, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, exercising (maybe). Reading, knitting, resting and talking on the phone do not appear to be legitimate activities to most children under 3 years of age. So one thing is to place them in a space with some interesting toys and then start doing some work nearby.

I don't think that TV is necessarily the core problem. I suspect that a lot of people use TV's around children because of the prevalence of the peculiar idea that parents are supposed to entertain and educate their children and it is first of all a really exhausting undertaking and second of all makes it impossible to cook dinner, hence the 4 PM slump.

Children should be able to entertain themselves and the education they should receive from parents is that parents are responsible people who do the necessary work so that life can run smoothly and rhythmically. A child learns more seeing her parents keeping house (I'm not recommending the TV version of supermom here) or gardening or going for a walk and enjoying nature than if the parent is always trying to "teach" them and enlighten them.

I think I'm having a rant day, sorry. I just posted a long screed over on the waldorf (st johns) list, too.

post #5 of 10
Off Topic:

I think I'm having a rant day, sorry. I just posted a long screed over on the waldorf (st johns) list, too.

What is that Deborah? You can PM me if you don't want to post it here.

I should clarify, that we didn't start discussing TV's bad sides on brain growth until the kids were older. At the beginning we just said that it was better for us as a family to eliminate the TV. We then place the TV in a very out of the way location.
post #6 of 10
I'm not sure if it is okay to post information about other mailing lists here, so I will PM you. If anyone else is interested, please send me a PM and I'll send you the contact web site info.

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for your replies - it has really helped me a lot. I honestly appreciate it and will be making some changes in our home.
post #8 of 10
I wanted to chime in a little bit. My lil' guy is just 6.5 mo. so I don't have the same issues of convincing him, but I like you had come to watch tv a lot more after he was born and wanted to get out of that. So, we decided to give up tv for Lent. I had tried a few weeks prior just cutting down, but it didn't work. TV is addictive, but after a few days it will be easier, cover it up if you have to, I leave the radio on for noise a lot of the time. I second what other posters have said, let the children work on entertaining themselves, that will be good for their brains as well.
post #9 of 10
Originally Posted by cgmom
Thank you so much for your replies - it has really helped me a lot. I honestly appreciate it and will be making some changes in our home.
Hope your changes go fairly well. Don't beat up on yourself if you hit sticky spots. Changing habits is one of the most difficult things any human being ever attempts.

post #10 of 10
I believe in 'entertaining themselves' to a point.. my moms thing was children should always entertain themselves even if it meant the TV and electronic toys... I personally play with Kai ( 15 months old) alot however with in the day I pick up house etc.. What is wonderful is at 15 months old he is already imitating things such as sweeping, dusting, putting things away ( and taking them out lol) so it proves they do watch and learn this way to.. We got rid of the tv last june and DH and I say we dont know how we ever had time for it...... We enjoys the outdoors sooo much some other things we do are go to the park, playgroups, storytime, music together class, zoo, walks, beach .. however when we are just at home 'inside' which isnt alot we will read books or kai will play with toys.. Of course he still likes me near by so often i will lay in his room and take a light snooze (ears and eyes stilll alert) while he plays. IM not sure if any of these suggestions help however thats how we do it.........

i worked as a OT before SAHM and i do find it amazing how many parents DONT know how to play with their children interact AT ALL : (
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