It’s been over two weeks since I have let the kids watch anything on the computer. A year ago we put our TV in storage mainly because we didn’t really use it. I only watched Oprah (I still miss her) but we didn’t have cable and with Hulu and others like it you can really afford to put your power sucker in the basement. The kids watched PBS but it got a bit out of control with how much they asked to watch a show. In fact my son would get overly cranky if I said ‘No’ to anything he wanted in regards to TV.
After the dismissal of the TV came PBS kids online and although we never did a lot of watching shows or movies I still felt like it was having an affect (or is it effect?- I will never learn the rules for those two words!!!) on his moods. He asked to watch something several times a day and it was driving me nuts. I’m not hyper idealistic about not watching TV and I’ve never been judgmental in knowing that friends or other parents let their kids watch TV. Parents are often too critical of other families anyway, why add more fodder? But as a family we didn’t really see much value in TV mainly because the ubiquitous commercial tells your child what they need you to buy for them; cheap junk that they won’t play with a week after purchase. And a lot of shows are just lame anyway!
So a few weeks ago I decided that we weren’t doing ANYTHING on our computer for at least a week. Then when the week was over we’d celebrate with a party. And we did. We made pumpkin pancakes with my leftover pumpkin (the kids love making food that came from our yard) and we talked about how fun our week was without it. Then I just decided that we would keep going into the next week. Anyone who knows my kids or has read my blog can understand my children a bit through what I write. My son is super creative, smart, friendly, compassionate and…. active! It’s been hard to get him to calm down a lot of days but I have to say I noticed a huge difference in his behavior when we cut out the computer all together. He just played more, wasn’t as moody and wanted to hear more stories (we’re moving on from picture books with simple sentences to longer stories with less pictures). I can testify to the fact that this experiment has mellowed him a lot. He’s still got a lot of energy but he’s certainly not as moody and he takes more initiative to think of something to play. He seems to need a lot less stimulation.
I’m not certain yet how long or how far we will take this experiment because I really believe that moms need a break sometimes and often this is the only way to get one. If your family isn’t around to help relieve the load this may be the easiest and fastest way to take some of the stress off when the kids are going wild. For me I had to make more effort these past weeks to lay down what I wanted to do in the moment so that I could read long books or get them started on a project. But once we had time together (and that’s what kids crave most, time with us) and once I touched, hugged and kissed them they were a lot more eager to play on their own.
TV can make a hyper kid even more cranky and hyper. I’ve known that statistic for a while. But if you are struggling to keep high energy, emotional kids in a zone of peace and playfulness then consider cutting out the kid’s shows all together. They balk about it at first, just like we do when we don’t get our way in life, but after a while they do adjust and the payoff is huge. Besides, it’s almost summer time…. you can let them run around in the sun!