Thursday, December 13, 2007

TV, or NoTV....That is the Question

One of my biggest battles as a mother is an inner one - that of television utilization. For some reason, lately I have felt as though I am drowning in housework - laundry piling up, dirty dishes in the sink, the floor needs vacuuming/sweeping/mopping 2 minutes after I do it, etc, etc, etc. While my home is never 100% immaculate, I usually feel as though I can stay on top of it, for the most part anyway. But lately, whether it's been my heavier work schedule, my tending another toddler in addition to my own 2, or simply the added activities/responsibilities/excitement of the holidays, it seems my house hasn't been clean (for longer than an hour) for over a week! And everyone knows that, in our house, dirty house = unhappy mommy.

As I've struggled to get on top of things this past week, I have been SO tempted, on more than one occasion, to plop my kids in front of the television. After all, there are so many educational shows which teach children the alphabet, social skills, creativity, and even Spanish, I rationalize in my head. Then my mind recalls the statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics that children under the age of 2 should NEVER watch television, and guilt, shame and doubt about my ability to raise my children fill my mind. Still, what is a woman to do when faced with 8 loads of laundry waiting to be folded, a sink full of dishes needing to be washed, a floor desperately in need of cleaning, and only an hour before dinner is to be served...all while trying to divert the attention of three toddlers from herself into their own self-directed play (and keep them from killing one another)???

I am reminded of the poem "Handprints on the Wall":

One day as I was picking
the toys up off the floor
I noticed a small hand print
on the wall beside the floor.

I knew that it was something
that I'd seen most every day
but this time when I saw it there
I wanted it to stay.

Then tears welled up inside my eyes,
I knew it wouldn't last
for every grandma knows,
her grandchildren grow up way too fast.

Just then I put my chores aside
and held my grandchildren tight.
I sang to them sweet lullabies
and rocked into the night.

Sometimes we take for granted
all those things that seem so small.
Like one of God's great treasures.....
a small handprint on the wall."

When this thought crosses my mind, I want nothing more than to sit with my children and read them story after story, build castles and towers, play dress-up and make-believe, and spend every waking moment with them. But then I return to reality and remember that dinner will not magically appear on the table and that, if I let my house get too bad, the state of Utah will come remove my children from me.

So, to my previous question...TV or No TV? This past week, I must admit, I have caved. I let Kai and Kea watch 30 minutes of Barney Monday, 30 minutes of Superwhy Wednesday, and 30 minutes of Little Einsteins today. Will this ruin them? I can't say. But I do know that the laundry is folded, the dishes are done, and the floors are clean (at least for know). And, as my kids will tell you, CLEAN HOUSE = HAPPY MOMMY.

I'd love to hear your opinions/ideas/what has worked for you...


Rochelle said...

Hey Sarah-- thanks for commenting on my blog! Here's how christmas morning runs down... everyone buys a gift (or makes a gift) for everyone who is there on Christmas morning. Then we take turns handing out our presents. Some years, everyone opens their gifts from that person all at once... other times we go one at a time. It does take forever and a day depending on how many people are home that year... but we love it! I hope that helps!


The Mudaliar family said...

You know I have issues with that myself, with five kids (well three at home right now) it is SO easy to turn on the tv, or even the computer, in fact they are such pros they just turn it in themself. I know what you mean about spending time with them, esp now that 2 are in school and 2 are preparing for school there times when I feel overwhelmed with the things I need to either teach them or help them understand, esp since they are so young and on 5 different levels (one reading, learning to understand better what he is reading, one stuggling to learn to read, one just learning how to read, one just learning his ABC's and so on) how do I sit down with each one individually and give them all attention that they deserve. The after seeking out advice, I found something that I myself thought I would never do, a schedule, I hate schedules. makes me feel trapped, but let me tell you, things have gone SO much smoother. I have to admit that last year I did A LOT better, but I have still stuck to most of the schedule, and I am hoping to get back into into. But still..things still go pretty smoothly (at least as best as one could hope) a friend of mine, who seems to always has an imaculate house, told me when I asked, that she doesn't clean everything every day, she has a schduele, she picks one thing a day, well besides the straitening and the dishes. but the floors, things like that. So I picked one thing a day, like clean the kids rooms one day, Do laundry another day (I only fold it one day a week cuz I am terrible at laundry) but I scheduled out the day for the kids. and included them in the cleaning, they enjoyed it, at first but still stuck with in with some insistance, but I gave them there time to, activity time, to do crafts and things. I even gave them a few minutes to watch tv, when I was cooking or something.
but they watched it A LOT less. I guess part of me sees the value of not watching tv, but on the other hand and maybe this is just justifying, but we are already teaching out kids wonderful values as long as we stick to that, I don't think tv can do much esp in moderation. besides taking a break every now and then is nessasary, even if it means just a few minutes for you to clean. It's not bad to think of yourself for a few minutes, in fact it benefits the kids. Like you said a clean house is a happy mom, I think that is true for most moms that care deeply about all they are charged with.
I hope some of that helps, I am still strggling with it myself. I think I am at my happiest as far as the tv is comcerned, when they watch it as little as possible, or at least earn it, my kids are allowed to do whatever they want, tv, games, computer, as long as their chores are done.
but evething is still a constant a battle, trying to perfect it. But isn't that what life is all about!!!
Hope things are good

Krista said...

I felt like a bad mom when I read the part about no TV AT ALL from the AAP. While we certainly do limit Drew's TV time, and put the tv on a timer lest we forget, he is 3 and watches about an hour of TV in the morning, since he is such an early riser and no one else in the house is. I think it's just a case by case basis, and tv should never take the place of human interaction, but all I know is Drew is a smart, sweet, obedient kid who has watched tv every day for practically his whole life- and it doesn't seem to have hurt his development any (not that I'm an expert) But a big part of the reason we let him do it is because he is just as happy playing alone with his toys, and doesn't throw fits about tv time. If he made a big deal out of it, we might have to limit it more. I say follow your gut. If something feels wrong (regardless of what "THEY" say) don't do it. My philosophy is all good things in moderation- follow your "mom instinct."

Bucket-Of-Toys said...

I know exactly what you mean! On the one hand I hate the TV babysitter but on the other I'm so grateful to be able to do something, anything for 30 min even if it includes using the bathroom uninterrupted! Last year we had no tv, only borrowed one when the baby was born and then sent it back. Now we have one we promised was only for watching BYU football but I still feel like sometimes it should be worth it to pull it out and plug in for 30 min! When i was pregnant and sooo sick I let Callan watch hours of television because I was too sick to do mush of anything. The guilt still eats at me but that was almost 2 yrs ago now and I'm glad at least he had something to do while mommy was sick. I say I'm not going to let them watch anything at all and then I get so frustrated with the mess or the busy-ness that I cave and regret it later. So basically I have no answer, I'm just agreeing about the TV trap. I guess I'll continue loving it/hating it while I still have a house to clean and 100 other things to get done. Maybe if I work on my calling while the tv is on it might help balance the negative impact? :)

Natalie said...

Hannah loves TV and videos, so I have to be careful about it. But I don't mind it in moderation and as long as she's watching shows I think are ok of course. She really seems to enjoy the "down time" just like the rest of us. She loves to read and play too, but sometimes (especially in winter) it's hard to do that all day every day. Especially days when she doesn't take a nap, it's nice to have her watch something in the afternoon so I can have a little break.

Taylor said...

You are a saint to be panicking at the prospect of your kids watching 1.5 hours of TV! That's really great.

Thinking that videos are educational, as the Baby Einstein Co would have us believe, is sort of an insult to education. If you ever have a chance to see "Little Einsteins", it's almost hilarious to see how factoidy the show is. They play a clip from a famous composer, feature a famous piece of artwork by a famous artist, name-drop famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal, and viola! You're kids are instant geniuses!

That being said, there are some things worse than others. It's interesting to see where other "authorities" line up in the age debate. After all, it was beloved PBS that brought us TV for one-year-olds, the Teletubbies.

One thing that really concerns me is that TV and videos (and habits of watching them) will just increase brand awareness and attachment. I don't want Hannah to ever hear about the Disney princesses. They are my sworn arch-nemeses!