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Monday, June 9, 2014

Talking Bout a Revolution

There's a quiet revolution going on at the Leipprandt house. We've all but stopped watching TV during the day.

This may strike you as less than "revolutionary" but my littles and I might as well be throwing tea into Boston Harbor.

When Sweet B was born 3 years ago, I found myself dragging in the mornings after a broken night's sleep. Unfortunately my 19 month old toddler was unsympathetic to his mama's pleas to stay in bed until 10am. To deal, I got in the habit of turning on morning cartoons. I would curl up on the couch and fall asleep next to the Squirt and Mickey would keep watch for 30 minutes...or maybe more. Old habits die hard and this was still our routine when I had Blue Eyes just a little over a year after Sweet B.

Eventually all the kids started sleeping through the night and I resumed my early riser routine, but instead of dying off, the TV habit evolved. I'd get up before the kids to have quiet time and when they got up they'd settle in expectantly on the the couch and wait for me to turn on cartoons. Then I got a bonus round of time to blog or catch up on blogs or read the news or Pin cute outfits. Important stuff.

I suspected that 30 minutes of mindless TV wasn't the best way to start my kids' day, but it seemed to be working for everyone. A few months ago I started to notice some ugly behavior in the kids that seemed to be absent on days we had to get going early and didn't stick to the usual cartoon routine. Nothing major - your typical sibling bickering and some attitude in my 5 year old - but there seemed to be a correlation.

So one morning I didn't turn it on. I had a puzzle out on the kitchen table and when Sweet B came wandering out of bed I was ready to engage with her and we did the puzzle together. Things seemed to go more smoothly that morning. The next day it was stickers. Just some stickers and computer paper instead of Jake and the Neverland Pirates but the kids seemed to interact more like actual human beings are supposed to that day as well.

Something about not turning the TV on first thing has made it easier to keep it off all day long too. It's probably been two months now that we haven't turned the TV on until I'm making dinner or
-gasp- not at all. The change has been incredible. Yes, the monsters still bicker and fight and drive me insane at various parts of each and every day, but their overall level of cooperativeness has drastically improved. Amazingly (and at the same time completely predictably right?) their creativity has skyrocketed. I used to shout at them to JUST GO PLAY! at some point each day and bemoan the fact that always seemed to need me to suggest play activities. Now it's pretty common for me to find the three of them (ages 2, 3.5 and 5) engaged in make believe play together. Some times they wake up and go straight to the playroom (WHAT!??!) There have been days when I get entire tasks (laundry/dinner/shower) accomplished while they are happily playing together.

I don't know how long it's going to last with Baby #4 coming in a few weeks, but for now I am loving the change.

I'm curious - what are your TV habits? Do you watch first thing in the morning? Not at all? Do you notice any behavior changes in your kids when you watch more or less?

 
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