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#1 of 31 Old 10-15-2008, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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).

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#2 of 31 Old 10-15-2008, 04:55 PM
 
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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.
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#3 of 31 Old 10-15-2008, 04:59 PM
 
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Music and musical instruments. Even a very young child can play along on rhythm instruments. :
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#4 of 31 Old 10-15-2008, 08:21 PM
 
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What about a nice long bath? You can sit & read while your child plays.

Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).

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#5 of 31 Old 10-15-2008, 08:25 PM
 
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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.

SAHM to Declan (12/12/06) and Blythe (2/9/09)
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#6 of 31 Old 10-15-2008, 08:51 PM
 
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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.
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#7 of 31 Old 10-15-2008, 09:15 PM
 
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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.
Massage.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#8 of 31 Old 10-15-2008, 10:21 PM
 
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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.

hth!

A, wife to R and mom to 3 boys: D~ 10/05, J~ 8/07, and B~ 12/09 jumpers.gif

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#9 of 31 Old 10-16-2008, 11:54 AM
 
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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."
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#10 of 31 Old 10-16-2008, 12:01 PM
 
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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.
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#11 of 31 Old 10-16-2008, 12:01 PM
 
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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.
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#12 of 31 Old 10-16-2008, 01:45 PM
 
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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.

A writer/runner/thinker/wife with two daughters (11/02 and 8/05), one dog, three cats, seven fish, and a partridge in a pear tree... in Vermont.
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#13 of 31 Old 10-16-2008, 03:40 PM
 
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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.
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#14 of 31 Old 10-16-2008, 08:22 PM
 
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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!).
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#15 of 31 Old 10-16-2008, 10:14 PM
 
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what about old games like marbles, pick up sticks...or string tricks or oragami? or checkers?

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#16 of 31 Old 10-16-2008, 11:17 PM
 
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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!
peace,
robyn
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#17 of 31 Old 10-17-2008, 01:19 AM
 
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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...

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#18 of 31 Old 10-17-2008, 01:44 AM
 
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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.

Mama to Raina (9/06) and Peter (8/09)!
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#19 of 31 Old 10-17-2008, 07:05 AM
 
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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..)
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#20 of 31 Old 10-17-2008, 07:50 AM
 
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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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#21 of 31 Old 10-17-2008, 10:16 AM
 
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This may not be popular, but what reduced the amount of tv in our household is to improve the quality of the TV we did watch - and because most TV programs really are cr@p, by raising our standards, we lowered the total amount.

We have TIVO, and the kids are only allowed to watch TIVO'd shows - pre-vetted and commercial free. And I find that if I have nothing TIVO'd, I turn off the TV. The two TV rules in our house are "no surfing" and "if no one is watching, TV turns off"

You can also get DVDs/videos which are calmer - documentaries with great soundtracks, some of the baby einsteins are good and soothing (I doubt their ability to add IQ points, but they have really great classical music soundtracks and are pretty inoffensive as background).

And of course, music music music. I turned off the TV a lot more when we has music playing in the background - turns out I just wanted to background noise, and music is much better than jabber jabber. You can also ask your dd to make up a dance to the music and "perform" for you, or draw a picture to accompany the music, etc.

I love the idea of audio books.

We also have a computer in our family room and sometimes get our kids to watch YouTube. Go to YouTube and search on a favorite topic - garbage trucks, sharks, metro trains, etc. There are literally thousands of mini videos on any topic imaginable (in any language imaginable).

My kids are pretty adept now at using the mouse and can click on various videos to go from one to the next - the user interface is very easy for non-readers - and I can sit on the sofa reading a book (and keeping an eye out for inappropriate content, but so far, I haven't seen anything too out there - and if it isn't a garbage truck, my kids are uninterested anyway...).

Just some thoughts.

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#22 of 31 Old 10-17-2008, 10:30 AM
 
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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).
I can't throw tomatoes. My kids stay up that late too. You're lucky your DH can take care of bedtime. I seem to be the only morning person in my family, but because my husband has to go to work in the morning, he and I have "traded places" and he goes to bed early while I stay up with the kids.

I do not play with them past about 9:00 though, usually. They're learning to do their thing and leave me to do my thing (usually reading). We do have a large DVD collection, but my kids also play with toys, read, write, draw, do projects, etc. at night too. In fact, lately I've been seeing how strongly my oldest is a night owl because she keeps starting projects at 11 pm, wanting to engage me, and I keep having to say "Show me in the morning when I'm awake!"

For a three year old, I'd set her up with an activity that she could do mostly independently, without too much mess, and sit nearby reading. Whatever mess does happen, I'd take care of in the morning.

Now to read the rest of the thread!

Michele, mom of DD 5/01, DD 11/03, and DS 11/06

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#23 of 31 Old 10-17-2008, 10:34 AM
 
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What about a nice long bath? You can sit & read while your child plays.
I used to do that a lot with my girls. I'm finding I can no longer use bath time as a time to relax with my son though. He not only splashes too much, he likes to throw out scoops of water!!!

Michele, mom of DD 5/01, DD 11/03, and DS 11/06

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#24 of 31 Old 10-17-2008, 11:13 AM
 
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Audio books worked wonders for us for a loooong time for our "crappy at going to bed" then 3 yo, now almost 6. She's MUCH MUCH better at the bedtime thing now. Whenever we got a book from grandma and grandpa they recorded themselves reading it and rang a bell of some kind (they live 1000 miles away). I put it on repeat on the cd player and asked them to put "that's the end of the book" at the very end.

Quiet time:
  • my kids love to play with dried beans and a muffin tin/measuring cups. I set them out on the table with a big cookie sheet or on a folded fleece blanket (to dampen the amount of bean-bouncing off the table).
  • feltkids! We bought a bunch at a yard sale and man are they popular.
  • legos
  • doll play

We tend to set limits -- after dinner in our house is quiet activity time. Mom likes to read or knit, or play with kids. Dad the same. It's not time for active running and jumping. We also keep the tv off then because screen-time wakes the children up. After about 30-40 minutes of quiet-ish play then we head up for bath, official story time, and bed.

Kristin -- mom of Erin (11/5/02) and Leah (9/29/05)
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#25 of 31 Old 10-18-2008, 04:50 PM
 
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Audio books worked wonders for us for a loooong time for our "crappy at going to bed" then 3 yo, now almost 6. She's MUCH MUCH better at the bedtime thing now. Whenever we got a book from grandma and grandpa they recorded themselves reading it and rang a bell of some kind (they live 1000 miles away). I put it on repeat on the cd player and asked them to put "that's the end of the book" at the very end.

Quiet time:
  • my kids love to play with dried beans and a muffin tin/measuring cups. I set them out on the table with a big cookie sheet or on a folded fleece blanket (to dampen the amount of bean-bouncing off the table).
  • feltkids! We bought a bunch at a yard sale and man are they popular.
  • legos
  • doll play

We tend to set limits -- after dinner in our house is quiet activity time. Mom likes to read or knit, or play with kids. Dad the same. It's not time for active running and jumping. We also keep the tv off then because screen-time wakes the children up. After about 30-40 minutes of quiet-ish play then we head up for bath, official story time, and bed.

Oh wow, these felt things do look fun, even i could spend hours moving the furniture & all that !
Will definitely make some felt boards for dd!
thank you!
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#26 of 31 Old 10-18-2008, 08:11 PM
 
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The following may help:

Making a fun craft.
Doing Playdough or even making it.
Coloring together.
Drawing pictures.

Johannes CAN read, so we are able to do this together. But, even though your DD may not be able to read, could you all read together, such as books that teach valuable lessons with lots of pictures for her to enjoy? Just some ideas.

Are there any games she CAN play? Perhaps, you could make something up.

I hope this helps.

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#27 of 31 Old 10-18-2008, 11:19 PM
 
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Your three year old could go to town on poissonrouge.com as a veg-out for you TV replacement. I love love love that site!!!!!

Three year olds can also play simple card games (go fish), memory, dominoes, bingo with pictures rather than numbers.
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#28 of 31 Old 10-19-2008, 09:13 PM
 
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Long baths with me on the dryside of the tub with a book are great for relaxing. To jazz it up you could add trucks and cars and scrub brushes for car wash, plastic dinos for dino wash, farm animals for farm animal wash, and of course, plastic dolls. Also audio books, of course.

I'm not much of a tomato thrower, but I am curious: what is your daughter's sleep schedule? Does she wake late in the mornings, take huge naps all afternoon? Or is she simply very high energy and can go and go on little sleep?

Happy mom to DS2000, DS2002, DD2004, DS2006 and DS 10/2009:
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#29 of 31 Old 10-20-2008, 01:54 AM
 
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Our DS1 loves, loves, loves Candyland. He and DH will also play w/ his Playmobil or Imaginext castle for a long time. He also loves dress up costumes and has a bunch, so that can occupy him a good while. We also spend a lot of time outside before it gets dark, parents and baby on a glider swing, DS1 on his tree swing. We've never done tv at night, although we do during the day (but aspire to be tv free).
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#30 of 31 Old 10-20-2008, 02:56 PM
 
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For our own entertainment, we read after dd goes to bed (around 7:45pm).

We do have family "vegging out time", though, on Sunday mornings. Dh and I read the paper, while dd colors, plays with play-doh, does puzzles, builds with blocks, or plays with some other toy. She will also sometimes flip through her books on her own and look at the pictures, and she LOVES looking at photo albums. I think part of it is just building in the idea that you are not there to "entertain" all the time, and that sometimes your child will have to play independently.

We also read chapter books with her sometimes--she's only 2.5, so there's only so much we can do at this point, but she will listen to a chapter of Winnie the Pooh or something like that.

Honestly--and this is not coming from a tomato-throwing place--I wonder if the best thing to do might not be to change around your routine so your dd has an earlier bedtime. If I did not have several hours to myself in the evening (granted, they are usually spent doing schoolwork, but it's still time for myself), I think I would go crazy. Those hours to recharge and focus on my own work are really essential for me to be able to parent my child the rest of the time.

ETA: Have you considered hiring a mother's helper to give you a little free time during the day? Even a couple of hours, a few times a week, might make a big difference for your sanity.
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