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Alternatives to TV that are more vegging-out?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
For a low-TV household, we sure do watch a lot.

We have a single, 13 inch television. No TV service/reception. The DVD player just totally died and we actually have managed to resist the temptation to run out and buy another one (it's been several weeks). The thread we're hanging onto is the VHS player, which is 15 years old and still works great. We have probably 5 VHS videos in our collection, and I can assure you that we're long since bored of all of them. So we get some from the library, and occasionally break down and rent them from Movie Gallery (probably twice a month) when the urge strikes us and the library is closed.

You would think that with the above parameters, TV watching would die an unnoticed death in our household. But no! It's on for HOURS a day (not necessarily given total attention to, though).

I know all the alternatives to TV. They are active, which is kind of the point. Go for a walk. Paint. Dance to music. Etc.

But in the evening, we're TIRED and want to VEG. Sure, I would hope we would eventually transition to the active activities, but I want some ways to VEG while we cure our addiction!

DD is 3 yo and probably isn't going to be able to do board games yet, but eventually that would probably do it for us. But what now?

DH and I would LOVE to read, but that's not a family activity (at least not with DD being 3 and not able to read yet). I do read her books at other times, but I want some other things to do when we're just, like, BLAH after a long day.

Commiseration? Ideas?

ETA: I realized one important fact about our household which I took for granted but would make a big difference between the end of day routine for us vs. nearly everybody else: DD stays up until 11pm or midnight. Yeah, don't bother throwing tomatoes; I hate it and have stopped struggling for a while now. I go to bed at 10pm and DH deals with the nighttime parenting. Bless my DH. But anyway, I don't get any downtime-away-from-DD (at all. ever.), so that impacts my desire to just veg. And my veg activities have to include DD (so no reading mama-books).
post #2 of 31
I'm with you: at the end of the day I don't want to move or think. Our son goes to bed very shortly after dinner, though, so we're not dealing with our own lazy butts and a 3.5 year old at the same time.

One day last week my son napped, which meant we had lots of evening time to fill. We went outside and sat around and looked at the stars and the moon and listened to bats. It's not quite as vegging out as the TV is, but neither is it running a marathon.

Also, on a rainy day this weekend, we painted together. Usually he paints on his own, me occasionally running interference with damp rags, but that day we were looking for something to do together, so we did that. It required no brainwork whatsoever, and I personally sat on the floor because I'm sick.

In terms of games, my 3.5 year old just got into Hi Ho Cherry O, and real jigsaw puzzles (not just the big blocky ones), so I imagine those will be options for you soon.
post #3 of 31
Music and musical instruments. Even a very young child can play along on rhythm instruments. :
post #4 of 31
What about a nice long bath? You can sit & read while your child plays.
post #5 of 31
What about reading a play aloud together? Assign parts and read through "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or something. Especially if the LO still has energy, you can make her act out the lines as you say them.
post #6 of 31
Originally Posted by lifeguard View Post
What about a nice long bath? You can sit & read while your child plays.
Yep! I love bathtime. girls will stay in for an hour or more if i let them!

What about play dough for your daughter? the clean-up is not fun but our girls will play for an hour or more without asking for much from us. Really most simple art projects will keep them busy for hours. takes work to set up and explain and ten to clean up, but while they are actually working I can get a ton done or have a few minutes to myself.
post #7 of 31
Listen to music, old radio shows or audio books.
Look at the family photo album or home movies.
Sit outside and watch cars go by, animals/insects or stars come out (weather permitting).
Read a newspaper, magazine or book together. Maybe your dh could read something out loud and you could listen.
Just talk to each other.
post #8 of 31
Lots of good ideas here! DS1 just turned 3, and there are lots of nights when DP and I run out of energy far earlier than DS does. Jigsaw puzzles are great - we have a few floor puzzles and it's nice to sprawl out on the floor with a loose couch cushion and do a puzzle together. Drawing and coloring together is a good activity, too. We also have a few "I Spy"-type books for younger kids - one of them is Thomas the Train, I can't recall what the others are - with the big picture, and you look for certain things in the picture. Highlights has a new magazine, Hidden Pictures Playground that's similar to that. I pull those out when I'm feeling lazy and don't want to read aloud.

Other ideas - playing the games on the Fisher-Price website (kids don't need to use the mouse); having your dc tell you a story, and write it down; send your dc off with a bag or basket to find 2 blue things, or 3 yellow things, or something you can wear, etc (you can do this one half-asleep!); have an easter-egg hunt in one room with plastic eggs - send your dc in another room while you quickly hide them, and then relax for 5-10 minutes; watch a slideshow of pics from your last visit to the zoo, museum, or a parade; bake cookies or cupcakes ahead of time, and let your dc decorate them with colored frosting, candy, and sprinkles (cover the table with a disposable tablecloth for easy cleanup, and put your dc right in the bath afterward); find a big cardboard box, cut off the flaps and cut out a hole for a door, and voila - a playhouse! Give your dc markers and stickers to decorate it.

post #9 of 31
Well the TV decline may be a blessing in disguise. TV is actually stimulating, not vegging, for a lot of kids.

Books on tape or CD are great. If you are tired, you could get her a player that she can use and teach her how to work it.

I'd recommend quiet and calm activities - play camping with stuffed animals, build cities with blocks (or boxes if you don't have blocks), teach her how to do basic sewing (my 3 yo made himself a cheetah, with help), banging nails into wood, etc, etc.

For games, you could try Hi Ho Cherry-o - my guys love it. My now 4yo was a game master at 3 and would play *anything* - we just made the rules really free form. We focused on turn taking at first and let everything else go. One of his favorites was "Bird Bingo."
post #10 of 31
iTunes has audio podcasts for free with storytelling and old radio shows and stuff. Your DD may or may not sit still to listen, probably needs a toy to play with at the same time, somebody mentioned play-doh that's a good idea. Or dolls and figures perhaps.
post #11 of 31
Originally Posted by almama View Post
Books on tape or CD are great. If you are tired, you could get her a player that she can use and teach her how to work it.
You could get these on tape or cd from your library. My kids love to listen to books on tape. They also have great adult novels as well that you can listen too while relaxing or having a bath.
post #12 of 31
Baths are popular with the 3-y-o here.

So is playdough, and stringing beads on pipe cleaners, and playing with cornstarch mixed with water.
post #13 of 31
markers and crayons and lots of white paper. scissors to cut little tiny pieces off, or you draw wavy/crooked/bumpy lines and then dc cuts them. the best - strip down to undies, and let dc "draw" on your back with lotion while you veg.
post #14 of 31
I second, third and FOURTH the "audio book" concept.

There are tons of sites online that have free kid's stories you can download and play on your computer. Whatever app my laptop uses to run them (Windows Media Player maybe?) displays a screen saver (whirling colored lines) that is hypnotic to my 5 yo DD.

Robert Munsch has lots online... there's a site called storynory that is great. We do a lot of these. Like you we have a 13 inch TV with no reception/cable... but our DVD player works (neener neener neener!).
post #15 of 31
what about old games like marbles, pick up sticks...or string tricks or oragami? or checkers?
post #16 of 31
Thank you for this thread!!!!!

I literally just cut and pasted so many of these ideas into a sheet I'm putting on my fridge....

I would love to cut down on TV at our house but we use it for the veg times too and I can never get enough energy at those times to do something else (otherwise we would be doing them). The 4-6pm time is the worst for me...it's the lowest point in my day (always has been) and I'm usually just flat out of ideas and need a friggin break - so these are AWESOME ideas! thanks!
post #17 of 31
audio books and guided imagery cds, tapes. And if you have a record player, I find tons, tons of kids records with stories and songs for a few cents to a dollar. Records are so much fun to play and listen to...
post #18 of 31
My DD quit napping fairly young, but needed some time to relax in the afternoons. We set out some basic art supplies most days and spend some time doodling.
post #19 of 31
We've got a ton of russian nesting dolls, dd loves to take them apart & put them back together, open & close, that sort of thing, she spends hours doing that.

Tell her three or four "bulding block words" and let her build a story around them, like "elephant, tambourine, peanut, tent" , you'll get to hear a great story & she will use her imagination!

colourfull rice is a big hit,too, she loves to sort & mix, you can dye it with foodcolouring anything sorting will keep my sweet Emi entertained for hours, sorting by size, colour, matching toothpicks (we've got a lot of colours)..
sorting stones by "feel" is great,too ( i mean, rough rocks on one pile, smooth on one, & so on..)
post #20 of 31
Sometimes I do read novels with my kids present. I give 3 yo dd a "chapter book" and we sit and read. She does not read yet but loves to pretend and I figure it's setting a good example for her too. I don't fool myself though, I'm lucky to get a full chapter in
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