So why did I "test" the waters?
Mostly from feeling a little peer pressure. I was starting to wonder if it was "ok" for him to dabble in a little bit of "netflix" watching here and there. It really didn't seem necessary for him. I really felt like I was forcing it and therefore that was that.
You might ask, my child already watches TV, we can't go back.
When Hudson turned 3 he was given his first TinTin book. I thought it was cute (not knowing the stories) because his daddy also loved TinTin. As the stories unfolded I couldn't believe what was being read to him, and worse than that was the imagery that he was looking at. He had no idea on how to decipher or process these images. We didn't change it. He continued to read them for over a year. We kept saying "well, he doesn't watch TV so these are just excitement for him." Then one day, I had just had it. I said "this is not appropriate" and I took the role as parent. I explained to Hudson that, unfortunately, those books are for much older kids and that he can't look at them until he gets older. There was a fight! "But mom, they are my favorite!" And they were. But I couldn't allow him to continue down this path. Months have passed and there is no reference to the TinTin books.
I talk to a lot of people who wonder how we do it. It's funny because it doesn't seem that hard because it's a non issue. TV never comes into my mind when things are either going crazy or when I am needing some down time. The best thing I can recommend to people when they are either question whether to cut back on media or to choose to not do media at all, is to have a plan.
We have a weekly rhythm that we hold quite sacred. This then doesn't allow for much time to think about needing an outlet like media to step in.
- Hudson goes to preschool Monday, Wednesday, Friday. During that time is strictly focused on Nolan. Nature walks, coloring, baking, painting, etc.
-When Hudson is not in school, here is the rhythm:
1) Monday: Cleaning day
2) Tuesday: Baking Day
3) Wednesday: Painting Day
4) Thursday: Building Day
5) Friday: Free play day
The other things the kids do is play doctor to their animals. They take their temperatures, give them love, carry them on their backs or tummies if the animals are not feeling well, and then tuck them in to night night.
Hudson knows what each day brings and he actually looks forward to them. Kids use their parents and their homes as a place to feel safe and I feel that they find safety in Rhythm. Feeling like there is order in their world. We will also do other things during these days. We do massive amounts of coloring, painting, nature walks, puzzle making and truck playing. Those are just the things that always happen on those days.
What about when I need down time?
Yes, it's not easy to raise two small children all day every day. There are times that I need an escape. Some times that I want to come and catch up on emails, scroll through Facebook, etc. I simply set my children up with an activity and tell them that I am going to go on the computer for a few minutes. They understand that I need down time and for the most part they are very respectful of that. They are not constantly at my feet when I disengage from them for a bit.
I feel that not having television or video games has really helped them be able to focus on doing this without constant stimulation. They are able to find ways to battle their boredom and some times I will see them just gaze outside with their thoughts.
There have been many studies done on how television effects the brain and that is is not recommended for young children. I firmly agree with this. There will be a time when it's right for them to sit and watch a show or two. When they can understand it more and decipher the images that are being implanted into their brains. I know that time will come. We will sit together and decide when that time is right. People frequently ask me when I will let them watch television? The answer is: when they are ready.
This need for media free is not just falling on our children. I too have seen the effects of television and media in my own life. We are living in a society addicted to technology. We are always connected and further disconnecting to our true lives. We strive for having the latest gadgets and toys that are supposed to make us faster, more connected humans, but in turn, I feel, we are becoming a less engaged society. I have been challenging myself to also cut back on media. To start engaging in more meaningful relationships. To work on my inner soul and self and to develop a better knowledge of this world that we live in. Not the fast, busy world that I don't mesh well with, but this beautiful world that is ours. The one I see with my eyes and the eternal beauty of what lies in the world.
So try it if you think it necessary. Pull out some board games with your child and see just how fulfilling that can be. It's the most delightful thing to hear them talk to you about the game, to show that inner competitiveness, and just the pure bonding of it all. It's beautiful.
Yet another disclaimer: I am no expert. but I have living proof of a media free home.