Any other millennial mothers out there tired of hearing that we need to take the tablets, phones, and electronics away from our children? Me too! Our children are going to grow up in a world surrounded by technology, why shouldn’t we let them start learning how to use it now? Well… Science, that’s why. Damn you Science!!!
Here is the reality, kids spend way too much time watching TV or playing Video games. Sadly, so do adults. The average adult watches 5 hours of TV per day. The average 2-11 year old watches 4 hours of TV a day. That is heartbreaking! Honestly, I thought the 2 hours of TV per day that was recommended was excessive. This includes time playing on tablets as well!
Children need time to be bored, to use their imagination, and to fall in love with books. In order to achieve this, they have to step away from the TV and put the tablets down! Easier said than done right? You are correct, it is NOT EASY to turn off the TV. Watching television is addicting and with Netflix and no commercials, it’s easier than ever to spend a few hours every evening binge watching your favorite show! Follow these steps to turn off the TV for good.
1. Get Active! Think Hiking, Local Rec Center or YMCA, Bike Riding, etc…
Bike riding and hiking have become two of our favorite activities to do as a family when the weather is nice, and we have a local Recreational Center with a little rock wall for the kids and an indoor swimming pool to get out and get some endorphins flowing! Also, the trampoline is great during the summer and the local playground!
2. Find New Indoor Hobbies! Think Board games, Musical Instruments, and Crafts!
My 5-year-old daughter and my husband recently started learning how to play the ukulele together. She has a soprano ukulele (which is the smallest one) and he has the mid-size, the concert ukulele. It is small enough that my daughter can play it comfortably and it is fun for my son and I to dance around or sing along as they are playing. We also have evenings where my son throw a tantrum because he wants to play but he will probably break the strings, it’s called balance. You will be surprised how fast an hour will go by playing a musical instrument instead of watching the latest drama on Netflix.
We have also started playing more board and card games. Most recently we had an evening where we played “Big Bang Theory Clue” so it wasn’t people getting murdered it was the friends from Big Bang Theory doing horrible things like dismantling the Shelbot, it was a lot of fun! My daughter who is 5-years-old (almost 6) got the hang of it pretty quickly and loved that she was playing a big kid game, and my son who just turned 3 was in charge of rolling the dice for everybody. He also re-arranged the characters on a regular basis. With younger children don’t expect board games to go smoothly, the rules are more of general guidelines.
3. Let Them BE BORED!! This is the most important step.
This is probably also the hardest part, because in the first couple of weeks there will probably be a lot of complaining and depending on the age of your children possibly even some tantrums of epic proportions. The first two weeks my son threw a fit every night and there were even a few times my daughter would throw a fit and declare “it was the worst day ever!” Stand firm Mama, they’ll get used to it.
The other day some of my daughter’s friends came over and one of them asked if they could watch TV and my daughter responded without any fanfare, “Oh we don’t watch TV at my house, but we can play with bubbles!” Just remember, the tantrums won’t last forever.
This will also probably lead to a messier household, especially when they are young and to entertain themselves they do things like decorate the house with toilet paper, cut up paper from their arts and crafts bin into copious amounts of confetti, and re-organize your fridge; my son had all three of those things done within two hours yesterday. It will be frustrating, your house will be messy, and you will want to turn on the TV, but take a deep breath and tell yourself, “it’s ok, they are learning.”
4. You Have to Quit Too!
Maybe this is the hardest step. You can’t expect your kids to not watch TV or stay off the tablets while you are binge watching Grey’s Anatomy. I know you are tired, for crying out loud we have to go to work all day and then come home and take care of everything at home, you just want a quiet evening with the TV! I get it, I’ve been there too. Once your kids have broken the habit of watching TV, I think it can be re-introduced within moderation (personally I think 4-5 hours per week is plenty). Find new books that you love! Utilize your local library whenever possible! When your kids are young try and read paper books, they don’t understand that you are reading books on your tablet not playing games. They just see you on the tablet and think that it’s not fair!
You can get some friends together and start a book club or game night! Added bonus, your kids will be used to entertaining themselves better so you might actually be able to have some grown up conversations with your friends while the kids are playing in their room or the backyard!
5. Stand Firm. Commit. You Got This!
There will be times when it won’t seem worth it, but when you see your kids fall in love with books, fall in love with the outdoors, start to build things and create, and most importantly make lasting memories, and it will all be worth it!
Comment below with your favorite alternative activities to watching TV!