Wednesday, June 27, 2012

{Messy Parenting} TV Time

I suppose I could call TV one of my triggers.  If I hear too much noise, my anxiety increases and I begin to lose my patience little by little.  I can only watch television if it's educational (i.e. stuff on National Geographic and PBS), calm (i.e. nature shows), or funny (i.e.The Office).  And, I can only watch in short spurts.

With Emily and Andrew at the age where television is the best tool to keep them occupied while I clean or navigate the bed rest thing, it would be easy to allow it to suck up our whole day.  Except that I would turn into a grumpy, impatient mom in an instant.  So, I've made rules for them and for me.

The kids can either watch one Disney movie (that I have already watched with them and feel comfortable with) or a few shows on PBS.  I adore PBS because it doesn't have commercials and it teaches the kids so many things - math, science, spelling, reading, etc.  All together, the total viewing time may not exceed two hours a day.  I, also, do not turn on any adult-themed shows when they are awake primarily because, you know, they are adult-themed.

There are a gazillion shows aimed at kids on TV, so I have a limited few that I let the kids watch (because they don't bug me).  These include, Super Why, The Cat in the Hat, Dinosaur Train, Sesame Street, Word World and Word Girl.

I realize my strict viewing rules seem unnecessary and even ridiculous to some people, yet it works for me and my kids.  They seem happier and more eager to play with toys and read books when the television is not on.  I am also happier when the house is filled with playful noises rather than TV noises.

And that's how television works at our house.  Do you have any rules? Favorite shows?  Favorite movies?  Share!

(Please don't take this as an attack on you if your kids watch different shows, more than two hours, or whatever.  This works for me and I would never, ever judge you if something else works for you.  Remember, this is messy parenting - there are no right or wrong parenting methods.  Except beating, but I think we can all agree on that.)


  1. Now that she's older, the rules are different. When she was your kids age, it was mostly PBS and no more than an hour or so during the day, with Simpsons as 'family' viewing at night. Sesame Street is how she learned to count to 20 and how I got a shower every day for years. I'd hear that fingernails on a chalkboard sound of Elmo's World intro and knew I had just enough time for a shower without worry of what she was up to.

    Now that she's 10, the TV rules during the school week are limited. Although thanks to the spring TV schedule, she did catch a few episodes of "30 Rock" and when she found out some of her friends' older siblings of high school age weren't allowed to watch it, she ranted about how we 'are too loosey goosey and need to tighten up'. AHEM. Her father defends us by saying most of it is over her head anyway.

    Summer time though, she gets unlimited screen time. We don't have cable, so she has very limited options. She actually ends up watching a good amount of cooking shows on the PBS Create channel. And she's about to spend 3 weeks at 'away camp' where she has zero access to anything electronic, so I feel like it balances things out.

    I think we have pretty similar viewing habits, although we do watch a good bit of sports. Mostly college football and baseball, with some tennis and major league baseball throw in for good measure. Lately, she's started watching Pro football and basketball - not sure if it's because nothing else is on or because she's becoming a sports fan. Either way, we make no rules about sports watching.

  2. I have a two hour maximum too. And PBS is my standby. Though we do a few shows on Netflix (busytown mysteries is a current favorite). Funny, I get bored of the same shows again and again and need change more than my kids do.

    It's a good rule you have (especially if it keeps you sane!), and now I'm intrigued to know how you fill the hours in a day on bed rest with kids. Blocks? Books?

    We love our crayons and markers, play dough and scissors (all plastic ones that only cut paper for wee ones). But all those are messy. When my oldest was 3, we started with beads on a pipe cleaner (great small motor skills practice).

  3. Good for you for knowing, and implementing, a TV plan that works for you. I care much more about content than quantity when it comes to television. My kids watch a fair bit and I don't really limit it, but I care a lot about the programs they watch. As long as they are age-appropriate and I feel like there is *some* educational value, I'm okay with it.

    I have given this topic a fair bit of thought and have wondered at time whether I should adopt more rules when it comes to TV. I think because my girls are so active and verbal and well-socialized - and often choose imaginative play/games over TV - I'm just not that concerned. If I had different kids, I imagine I might be more focused on this?

    Great post. Might whip up a little TV post of my own.

    Hope you are feeling good! Good luck with the best rest; I can only imagine that is super hard with the little ones...

  4. I limit what my daughter watches. PBS offers good educational programming and above-all I don't have to worry about commercials that promote adult themes. In the summer, it is hard to keep her occupied so my TV threshold is maximized, but even so, I am still cognizant of what she is watching.

  5. My kids are 3, 4, 7, and 9 and our tv rules are that they have to have their chores done and get permission before they turn the tv on. I don't have a time limit per say, but when it starts getting on my nerves or they start fighting, it goes off. We don't have cable, so everything they watch is on netflix. I love that there aren't any commercials! During the school year, they definitely have to have all school work done before the tv gets turned on, too, and then, only if there is free time left.


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