When Noah was little, we rarely watched TV. I was of the mindset that TV rots kids brains and I wanted nothing to do with it.
But right before Hailey was born, I had a hard time doing much of anything so we started watching more TV. I was so uncomfortable that I didn’t really have another option.
And then she came and I needed to heal and figure out nursing a newborn while watching a toddler. So we continued to watch a lot of TV. It was a survival mechanism for those first few, sleep deprived months.
I need to cook dinner – turn on the TV. I needed to get a project done for my boss– turn on the TV. I want to talk on the phone for 30 minutes without constant interruptions – turn on the TV. I’m feeling totally overwhelmed right now – turn on the TV.
I knew it wasn’t great, but it’s what I had to do to get through that season of our lives. But that season is past and I knew that we needed to make a change. So I decided that we would give up TV for lent. Or at least give up using it as a babysitter. I still watched a little bit during nap time or once the kids went to bed.
How It Went
The first week was down right horrible. Noah was totally incapable of entertaining himself for more than 5 minutes. And having him help me resulted in a bigger mess and then no relief when it was time to pick it up.
I felt like it was a losing battle every single day and it was awful.
Noah and I both had a few temper tantrums due to extreme frustration about the whole situation. I ended up caving for about 30 minutes to regain my composure and take a breather a couple times. I figured God would rather me cave to what I gave up for Lent than hurt my kid, so I went that route.
Looking back, that first week was a detox. We were addicted to the TV and we most definitely experienced withdrawals. I was used to using the TV as a babysitter and I had to figure out a new way to get things done.
As Lent went on, we did pretty good. We watched an hour or so on rainy days or when Jordan had to work really late. But overall, we cut WAY back on screen time.
What I Noticed
After that first week of horrible withdrawals, things started to calm down a bit.
Once we got through the what-the-heck-was-thinking-how-am-I-going-to-do-this stage, I noticed a few things.
- Noah occupied himself more with his toys, books and imagination
- He became more involved in helping me
- He was more attentive to Jordan and I when we were talking to him
- He had fewer tantrums
- His attention span got longer
- Our home was more peaceful
Some of this may have been him maturing over the 40 days of lent. Some of it was the weather warming up and having the option to play outside. But I’ve noticed that if we started falling back into the excessive screen time, Noah would start slipping back into acting out. So I do believe there is a correlation there.
We also had to replace screen time with other activities like reading, playing outside and helping me with household chores. So I think that a lot of him being more attentive was also because I was being more attentive towards him.
I was forced to focus more on my kids and less on trying to get something done or playing around on Facebook.
In my ideal Mommy world, the kids would be totally screen free. But I’ve had to be honest with myself and our situation in life right now and I know that we can’t go that extreme.
If I didn’t have to work, we might be able to do it. If I lived closer to my family or could afford a mother’s helper, we might be able to do it. But for now, I do need the TV to babysit my toddler every once in a while.
So I’m just focusing on screen time in moderation. Now that it’s warm most days, we’ve been going a week or so without turning on a kids show. I watch TV during nap time or after the kids go to bed. But over all, the TV is off most of the time. And that’s what we’re shooting for.
How does screen time work in your house? Have you ever been able to go totally screen-free?