How to Turn Off the Television for Good!

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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…

REDcoyote-08761Bike 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 ukuleleimg_8472 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 evenmaddie-running 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!

 

 

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Homeschooling as a Working Mom

I was first given the example by my own mother. My mother is a Physical Therapist, and an exceptional one as well. She did not choose between being a mother and having a career, she had both. When my older brother and I were 3 and 1, she found a job as a Physical Therapist at a Nursing Home that was owned and operated by a local family. My mother explained to them that she put being a mother first and that she wanted to be able to home school her kids, so she would need a somewhat flexible schedule and to be able to bring her kids to work. I want to add, my mom worked full time, a full 40 hours and sometimes up to 50 per week when her patients needed her! This is how she did it.

First of all, the owners agreed to let her use a small empty room as her class room that was very close to her office. Although she wasn’t in her office that often because she was usually somewhere in the building working with patients. We only used this for a few hours a day, after we were done with our lessons she would take us to a lady’s house, usually on her lunch break, for us to play and run around and have fun until she picked us up at the end of the day. Let’s be honest, you can’t expect a 5 or even a 7 year old to behave in a nursing home from 9-5. When we are a little older we wouldn’t go to the babysitter’s until about 3, so we had a normal length school day, although it was far from normal learning.

Before you get too worried about the quality of our education, my older brother just graduated medical school with an MD and my younger sister is a Pharmacist, so we were fairly well prepared for higher education. 😉

However, that isn’t really the point, you already know home school students usually do very well or you wouldn’t be looking into how you could home school your own kids! We need to focus on how to get it done!

First of all, to be really successful at being a homeschooling and working mom, it will help to embrace the notion of homeschooling on the go. For my mother, she used travel time as learning, as well as evenings and weekends. For instance, it was a 30 minute drive from our house to my mom’s work, then of course  a 30 minute drive home. She would use that hour as completely focused learning time. We would sing learning songs, do addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc in our head as our mom would quiz us. We would talk about our lessons from the day before or tell our mom about the book we read. Then over the dinner table (we sat down and had family dinner every night) we would talk about other interesting things and my father would often join in then as well. I would argue that we learned more from this hour and a half (the drive and dinner) then the average kid does in an entire school day. Not because my parents were these brilliant teachers, but because we wanted to impress our parents with how much we learned and we loved having their attention (as most children do), so we remembered what they taught us. I remember when I was in public school in 8th grade (my Mom only did home school for Elementary School) my teacher asked the class, why do we have fall back. Nobody was raising their hand so I did and explained why there is a time change. My teacher stopped and looked at me very surprised and asked how I knew that. I laughed and replied that everybody knows that. My whole class disagreed with me, none of them knew that. We had discussed it at a family dinner when I was 6 or 7 I think. I had known that since I was 6! And here were 8th graders that didn’t know! If you are homeschooling on the go, your kids will eat up your every word and will want to learn from you, and you will be shocked at how far ahead they are when you just teach them everything you know as you go about your day!

I currently have a daughter in Kindergarten and a very rambunctious 2 year old son. I’m going to be honest, I might be changing my story when my son is old enough for school on how practical this is, but I hope not! 🙂 With my daughter I have a friend who also home schools who has children the same age, and she takes over playing and teaching my kids in the afternoon when I’m focused on working. We wake up early in the morning and do Math, we are continually learning Spanish, and we read and write every night. My daughter can already read and she loves to read, she is ahead of her grade level and I have been able to work outside the home just like my mom did. You can do it too! You need a good support system, that’s not true, you need a GREAT SUPPORT SYSTEM, find that boss who understands you need flexible time to teach your kids, find that friend who is willing to watch your kids while you are working, and get to work!

Homeschooling on the Go!

 

We don’t have a typical set up for homeschooling, so we have revised traditional school with what we call Homeschooling on the Go! The idea is to create a culture in our family where continually learning is just a part of every day life, you don’t sit down for school and learn for 5 or 6 hours and then turn your brain off; there is always something new and interesting to learn. We started this in our family partly out of necessity and partly because of how much of a difference it has made in our own lives.

For the first year and a half of our marriage, my husband and I were both in school full time and working. We would come home from work every night, make dinner, get our daughter ready for bed and then hit the books! We were so excited when we had finally finished our degrees and could live a “normal” life of just going to work and then coming home and not having to study. We went along like this for about a year, we found some shows we liked on Netflix that we would watch together or when it was nice outside we would go on a bike ride. After we had caught up on all the TV shows that were all the rage when we were in college that we didn’t have time to watch back then, we realized TV wasn’t all that fun and we missed studying! We missed learning and growing and having discussions about our homework! How I Met Your Mother is hilarious, but there’s not a lot to learn from that show, aside from learning that Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious!

We discussed getting our Master’s Degree, but to be honest, we already had a pile of student loan debt and we wouldn’t make that much more in our chosen fields with the higher degree, so we sought elsewhere. We downloaded audible (my husband drives a lot for his work so he could listen to books while he was driving) and we found some great personal improvement books. My favorite one to this day is Dale Carnegie’s  How to Win Friends and Influence People I would highly recommend it to anyone! We also listened and read books on health, body language, political and financial books, and one of our favorites, Spartan Up by Joe Desena. We also downloaded books to teach us new languages, which is probably the most fun activity we do together now, is to practice speaking in Spanish or Mandarin!

20151004_115146From this experience we realized the most important thing we could pass onto our children is the love of learning. Children are born with an innate desire to learn, I believe the most important thing we can do is to not kill their desire to learn. If we as parents are continually learning new things and show our kids how much we love to learn, they will likely follow suite.

This backstory brings me to my point of Homeschooling on the Go! We are very busy, we both work full time jobs, although we are lucky enough to have fairly flexible work schedules, and we spend a lot of time outdoors. Instead of having our children sit at a desk for a few hours every day and learn, we incorporate learning into our life. When we are jumping on the trampoline we count, sing the alphabet, count in Spanish, count be 2’s and count by 10’s. When we are driving up to some of our favorite camp grounds and hiking trails we practice spelling. My daughter calls it the spelling game, we will try to stump each other on how to spell a word.

When we are home we work on writing, reading and art. While I am cooking dinner my daughter will practice writing sentences and she will sit next to me and read to me while I’m folding laundry. Learning is just part of our every day life and because of that we never have to fight with the kids to do their homework, they just learn because it’s exciting and it’s fun. We are able to work homeschooling into our lives instead of working our lives around homeschooling and because of that we are able to pack some much more into every day!

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Note: I do not receive any compensation or kick backs from any company or book that I recommend. They are just what I have found to be most helpful in life, and I hope you can find as much use out of them as I have!