Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Confession and 25 TV Free Toddler Activities

I have a confession. TV is something I use way to often. It crept in slowly and then before I knew what happened it became a really bad habit. I don't feel like I'm being the best mom I can be for my kids when I let the TV take so much of our time. For a while I was in a bit of denial telling myself that it wasn't that bad... Other parents let there kids watch TV as much as they want! I have a lot on my plate so it's ok to use the TV to get things done, and finally I would tell myself that my son should be free to choose how he spends his "free time". The truth is though, that once TV has become a bad habit and crossed whatever boundaries you have set it begins to rob you of your time, creativity and intentional presence. You may be wondering just how much TV we could possibly be watching? Well in the denial phase I tried to tell myself it wasn't that much. I mean, a show here and show there... a little outside play.. another show... I still planned fun crafts and walks during our days but before I knew it my 2 year old was watching upwards of 3-4 hrs EVERY DAY. It is so hard to type that. So hard to admit that for the last 3 months I have allowed the TV to rob our family of that much time. Especially my son. He deserves so much more from life! It's hard to expose such an imperfection knowing that I will probably be judged. I want to justify it by saying that my kids got whooping cough this year and the TV was a needed friend during that time. After that it was a habit that was hard to kick... I was tired or busy or my toddler or baby was teething... The truth is though that there isn't an excuse for lazy parenting.

After much prayer and conversation my husband and I have decided to set a more defined TV boundary. We decided that the best thing for our family was to limit TV time to 30 minutes a day and a family movie once or twice a week. The reason for the 30 minutes is because my oldest is only 2 and my youngest is only 10 months. I need to keep my 2 year old occupied while I put my baby down for his nap. I realize that I could find other things for him to do during that time, but I am comfortable allowing that 30 minutes. I certainly haven't perfected this yet, I am still working out the kinks. It is an adjustment for both me, my husband and my son. After the first couple of days it was much easier, my son stopped asking me to turn it on. It is becoming normal for me to do my responsibilities without the TV. Which isn't a surprise considering that in all of history women didn't have TV's! What has been the biggest blessing is that I am a more focused mom. I am more intentional with my son and what he could be doing. I never turned the TV on because I didn't want to spend time with my son. I love him and love including him in everything we do. I am so very glad to have woken up to this issue now instead of years down the road. This is always something I have felt strongly about. Perhaps this is why I have felt so incredibly guilty for letting it take so much control.

So, now on to what I promised! Here are some of the things I am doing to replace TV in our home. Many of these activities work "double duty" for play and home preschool. I have been reading "Home Grown Child" (see my review a little later this month!) and have been using her checklist to make sure all his needs are met within his play. Naturally, there are some things that he doesn't need my help with and others that require some planning and/or participation on my part. Here goes!

1. Play with blocks
2. Play with playdough
3. Paint with watercolors
4. Color
5. Puzzles
6. Reading
7. Threading cards or pasta
8. Play/study with nature table (this is our table of items he has collected in outside on walks)
9. Simple Sensory Activities (play with shaving cream, transfer water from container to container...)
10. "Wash Dishes" (fill the sink with soapy water, sponge and some unbreakable dishes)
12. Help with chores (I always remind myself that it doesn't matter if they are actually helping, only that they feel they are!)
13. Play outside!
14. Garden (we have a small garden space just for our boys)
15. Play Invitations (more on this below)
16 Tinker Time (let them take something apart and put it back together without your involvement)
17. Full Body Finger Painting
18. Make a Bird Feeder
19. Bath time just for fun!
20. Sprinklers
21. Water Table
22. Sidewalk chalk
23. Make and paint a box playhouse
24. Scissor Time
25. Dress Up

Of course, my son has plenty of opportunity to decide on his own what he would like to do. This list is for those times when he needs a little help getting started. I mentioned above the idea of a play invitation. My biggest struggle in regards to TV time is early mornings. I have an early riser and a baby who still wakes at night. It is so easy to flip on the TV and rest on the couch... I have found that when I do this, that is when the shows pile up! I read somewhere that another mom with this same struggle began setting up play invitations the night before. For example, she set up a tea party that was very inviting for her daughter first thing in the morning. Tonight I set up some trains and tracks that will hopefully "invite" him to play. Sometimes I rest while he plays, but overall I have found that I am much more productive as well! Lastly, I just want to encourage you to remember that boredom is OK! It is normal and healthy for young children to get bored! It sparks creativity and initiative. Just make sure you "intervene" before mayhem breaks loose! For many more ideas, check out my Pinterest page "Fun Stuff To Do" and Happily Domestic's Pinterest page. There is much inspiration to be found!

How do you handle TV time in your home? Has this been a struggle for you? How do you help your toddler stay busy?

Written By Happily Domestic Contributor: Brittney Thompson

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Crystal @ Serving Joyfully said...

Great ideas :) Thanks for sharing at Thriving Thursdays.

Amy K. said...

It is good you realized that the tv watching was becoming a problem, most moms don't seem to care. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Great ideas and I love the picture of your boys playing in the water. -Cyndi

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