We have a 42″ TV on the wall of our living room. Sometimes it’s on, sometimes it’s off. We have satellite, and half our DVR space is filled with movies and shows appropriate for the Imperfect Children. I believe in sense and moderation (and Mr I usually agrees). We live in a technological age, and I feel that it’s more appropriate to expose our children to technology and teaching them how to use it appropriately than to shield them from it. It’s also just plain handy on a rough day.
Here are some of the ways that I use TV in our day-to-day (not necessarily daily) lives.
Hair. My two girls have a lot of hair, and my best method of taming it is usually braids. I get a lot of comments and compliments on their hairstyles, often accompanied by “How do you get them to sit still?” (especially YC). My absolutely shameless answer – I put them in front of the TV. All I have to do is put on Winnie the Pooh, Doc McStuffins, or Sofia the First, and I have 20 minutes to groom two gorgeous gals and pack our outing bag for wherever we are headed. Boom. Done.
Sick days. Mine or theirs, doesn’t matter, even the unofficial “screen time rules” of the Imperfect House are out the window. The past 2 days, YC has had a nasty GI bug that has her alternating between writhing in obvious digestive distress and exploding out every possible part of her diaper. You can bet your booty that I’ve used TV in my arsenal of ways to distract and calm her. Sorry, but there’s no better comfort than snuggling on the couch – if it’s their misery, I hold them close and let them be distracted by pretty pictures and songs; if I’m the one under the weather, they get their mama time without me having to fully engage.
Dinner, or other child-unsafe kitchen prep. Our playroom has a window that looks into the kitchen, which is open for air circulation purposes. If they are playing in there, and I start making noise in the kitchen, there is immediately a toddler at the playroom gate calling “Mama, MaMAAAAA!” If they’re in the living room watching a “movie”, I can chop vegetables, bang pots and pans, and open and close the burning oven to my heart’s content. Bonus if I leave YC’s shoes on – I can hear her coming through the dining room with plenty of time to make the kitchen safer for her to come in and say hello before I escort her back.
Learning. Yes, I said it. I find educational value in the programming my children watch. EC has learned (and YC will likely learn) a lot of things from her favorite movies and shows. Of course there’s reinforcement and encouragement from us, but I have to give credit where it’s due. It started with BabyFirst TV – I remember her learning colors, letters, counting, songs, even musical concepts that it didn’t occur to me to teach her at that age, even as a former music educator. I remember when she learned rainbow color order and the days of the week from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and I believe she has learned as much about fairness and kindness from Sofia the First as she has from us or preschool.
Fun. I like to relax and watch a movie or show sometimes, just for the heck of it – don’t you? Why is it shocking that they would, too? Though I’m not wild about YC’s habit of climbing up on my lap, handing me the remote and pointing to the TV almost as often as she climbs up with a book in hand, I have to admit I love seeing her face light up when I ask her if she’d like to watch a movie, and her rushed toddle to the living room as she declares “pooh, pooh, pooh!!” (yes, it was one of her first words, and I’m fine with that), and her equally bubbly elation if the theme for Sofia starts instead. And hearing EC sing along with EVERYTHING is just freakin’ adorable.
I feel no guilt about utilizing TV in the lives of my children, and have absolutely no qualms about the shows and movies that we have introduced them to. They don’t watch anything that I’m not happily willing to watch with them. In fact, I could probably list all the movies and shows they watch and why I like them – but maybe that’s a post for the future.