So I'm guilty—my kids watch too much TV. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends as much screen-free time as possible for kids under 2 (even the so-called "educational programming"), citing research that leads them to conclude that attention from Mom and Dad is what's most important at that age.
I admit—sometimes the TV is on as a babysitter. A distraction. Particularly during those early days of being a work-at-home mom. I needed something for them to do that didn't require much involvement from me so I could work without being interrupted ten times in a fifteen-minute period. I kept it on a channels like Disney Junior or PBS, so I didn't feel quite as guilty about it.
But a few months ago, I decided to turn off the TV during dinner (particularly since it was just on as background noise) and my kids had full-blown conniptions. "Mommy, please!" they wailed. "Please turn the TV back on!"
And that is how I knew the kids had a TV addiction. Oops.
So this past week, after hemming and hawing about it, I decided we were going to have a TV-free week. No DocMcStuffins, no Dora, no Super Why. Just homework, reading, crafts, and other activities.
Sure, it would require more attention from me, but that's part of the "Mom" job description, right? I could do this, no problem. The question was, could my kids adjust as easily?
The first day after they came home from school, they set up shop at the table to do some homework. I didn't turn the TV on like I normally do. A big light bulb went off as I realized they got their homework done faster, they moved on to other art projects (my daughter made me a crown), and they got along much better because they weren't fussing about who was standing in front of the TV.
The same thing happened the next day.
And then day after that.
We went a full week without watching TV (except for my husband's nightly MSNBC fix after the kids went to bed). And it was fantastic. Without TV, I was more productive and I slept better at night. The house was cleaner and the kids weren't snacking as much. I finally understand how some people day they don't own a TV.
Will we continue this? I don't know. I let them watch TV on the weekend and they didn't even seem to mind that it had been five days since they last got to catch up with Dora. So maybe this will be an ongoing thing in our household. It certainly hasn't hurt.
Now if I can just convince my husband to get rid of the TV in the bedroom...
How much TV do your kids watch? Too much? Do you think you could go a week without watching TV?
Words By: Tara Pringle-Jefferson