I cannot have tales of imperfect parenthood without including the topic of television. As a stay-at-home mom, I probably have my kids watch more TV than they should. EC has a limit of two hours and LR usually watches only one hour on any given day. However, I'll be the first to admit that the limit gets stretched more often than I'd like. EC watches an hour in the morning while LC naps and I take a shower, clean up after breakfast and get online to check my email, blog, etc. Of course, there are times, like this morning, when EC is sneezing, coughing and complaining of a belly that hurts, when the morning TV gets prolonged. I rationalize this by reminding myself that I got to watch television all day long on the days I stayed home from school. And if watching TV gets her to rest and feel better, than its a good thing, right?
For an hour in the afternoon, EC and LR watch videos while I prepare dinner. Again, its a choice I have to make - do I want my kids to be TV-free or to have a home cooked dinner. For the sake of our health, as well as my sanity, I've chosen home cooked meals. Cooking each night is a bit of a creative outlet for me - I like to plan the meals and find new recipes to try. So, most days, I'm looking forward to five o'clock when the pots and pans come out and I get to chop and dice my through a new dish. And for as long as I can, I'd like to keep whole, unprocessed food going into them as often as possible.
Again, there are days when I just cannot mentally wait until 5 pm to switch the TV on. Sometimes the house is beyond messy and making me crazy. Some days its just been too much for me to handle and an hour and a half of The Muppets Take Manhattan seems harmless.
I limit the kids to wholesome shows - mostly PBS and commercial-free videos. And they actually learn stuff from these shows. When EC memorized her alphabet so quickly, it had nothing to do with my stellar teaching abilities. She watched a Blues Clues video over and over that week. Perfect way to teach a toddler her alphabet? No, but before I knew it, she was pointing out and correctly identifying letters everywhere we went.
I'm sure that each parent struggles with how much television is too much. And I know that this is the easy part. One day, she'll have an iPod, computer, cell phone, and more to provide electronic distraction. I try to remember that everything in moderation has to be my motto. And the days like today, when EC isn't feeling well and is overdoing the television, need to be balanced by a day of outdoor playtime when she's feeling better.