Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm turning into one of those people

Disclaimer: This is not a post for bashing on parents who let their kids watch TV.  There are just a lot of things it's easy to be opinionated about before you have children.  :)

Before Olivia was born I taught preschool.  During that time, I formed some very strong opinions about just how much little kids don't need to watch television.  It was obvious which kids in my class watched TV and which kids spent their time just playing.  And the later just did better and seemed happier.  A lot of that had to do with the fact that their attention spans weren't as short as their TV-watching counterparts.  It wasn't just a matter of numbers in a study.  It was obvious to me.  So I swore then and there that my kids were not going to watch TV all the time.  And I felt pretty strongly about not having my kids watch any TV for at least the first several years.

Ahem.  Well... uhh... heh heh.

I'll say this: I still think that all of that is true, the importance of kids not watching TV and all that.  But I can also see the value--as a parent--in having a few minutes (or twenty) to get something done when you know your kid will just sit in one place for a little while. 

So how did kids television weasel its way into our house?  It started innocently, as I'm sure it always does.  We were at the public library one day picking out movies and books.  I spotted a video about dogs and picked it out thinking that Olivia would like to see the dogs.  Well, she did like the dogs, but it was a documentary kind of movie, not really made for 18 month olds.  So the next time we were at the library we picked some videos out that seemed a little more age-appropriate for Olivia.  And it didn't occur to me to stop and think about if that was something we even wanted in our house.

It seems like overnight we went from never having the TV on while Olivia was awake to letting her watch "baby" (I don't know why she calls TV shows that) almost every day, and multiple times most days.  I still have mixed feelings about it.

But I do want to step in here and say that I do feel some kind of comfort in at least just having it be PBS shows on DVD, so there is some indication of simplicity, quality, and content.  And no commercials to worry about.  And at the end of an episode it comes back to the main menu instead of moving on to another show.  And, to be totally honest, I'm not worried about Olivia watching Busy Town, Berentsain Bears, and Caillou

What I do worry about is how easy it is for me to just turn on a show and have Olivia occupied for as long as its on.  And that's a big part of why I was so reluctant to get into all this in the first place.  But of course I can't blame anyone but myself for bringing videos into the house. 

Anyway, I hope this hasn't come off as a post about how you must be a terrible parent if you let your kids watch TV.  Because, if it is that kind of post, then I'm in there with the rest of you.  I guess mostly this is a post about my own inability to decide how I feel about it. 

Any input out there?

Any explanation as to why Caillou is bald?

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because, unfortunately, this cold seems like it's going to get worse before it gets better.  Today may be a very "baby"-filled day.  :)


Kelly said...

Calliou means stone in french, and is also slang for bald. He started out as a book character who was much younger, so he just didn't have hair yet. When they adapted him to a show and made him older, they kept him bald.

When I first saw him, I thought he had cancer. Oh, the things you learn!

Katie Lewis said...

Haha. Thanks Kelly! Bryan (my husband) thought he had cancer too.

Mike Koponick said...

I always thought that Calliou was like Charlie Brown, just one of those bald kids.

Anyway, I felt the same as you Katie. I didn't like letting Maddy watch TV, although she adores Cat in the Hat and Curious George. Those are the only two that she watches and I really don't allow her to watch too much more than that. We are lucky to have three PBS channels in the Philadelphia area which does gives us some choice for PBS type stations.

Now, to train Grandma the same thing regarding TV watching.

Polly @ Pieces by Polly said...

I credit a lot of Katie's progress in reading to the fact that we don't have hardly any TV in the house. Our TV has no reception, so it's only good for watching VHS tapes. DVD's have to be on the computer...which means there's competition from anyone who needs to actually use the computer.

Katie is good at reading, but Katie would ALWAYS choose to watch a movie over reading or I'm glad movies are a treat at our house rather than the norm.

But with all that said...there are times I let the kids watch movies, just so they're occupied and out of my hair.

Emily said...

I think you're great parent, even if Olivia does watch some TV. I don't know if you saw my list a few days ago on my blog about things I want to do with our kids besides watching tv, but I know you're already doing many of them and that Olivia is being exposed to a lot of real experiences. And is being taught many things.
We always say that we don't want our kids watching a lot of tv either. I think if you just set limits and stick to them then it's okay. And yes, sticking to the right kind of shows, like you're doing.
And, well, TV is very appropriate on a sick day. At least I think so. In fact right now I'm sitting here with Carly watching "You've Got Mail." Although she would probably prefer watching that dog documentary you mentioned. :)
Feel better!

The Extra Ordinary Bree said...

When my husband and I first got married we agreed no tv. It was fun. We'd read together and listen to the radio and just talk. We had our first baby and still did not buy a tv. It was fun. We read together and told stories and went to the park. We went on to have baby #3 and #4 and one day bought a tv. We were remodeling the house and needed something to help keep them occupied so we could finish up the hard wood floors and the paint and etc. Now we have a tv it's on right now, though no one is watching it. They are outside, playing on the playground. Next month our annual contract on the dish is up and we are canceling it... I can't wait.

Angel said...

Ehhh...I started out that way but quickly changed due to various things in our lives (My Dad had leukemia when my oldest was 2 so in order to leave her with people we started to let her have shows and movies she liked.

We only spring for the most basic of all basic cable so pbs is the channel of choice in our house. none of the neighbor kids like to come over and katie once asked why we don't have nickelodeon.....hmmm....what is a better answer....mommy and daddy are cheap or modern cartoons are kindof dumb?

Danielle Bartran said...

In my previous life I was a kindergarten teacher, so I completely understand where your coming from. BUT, as motherhood happens I've become a little more "flexible" about my opinion of TV. My son is 2 and JUST started paying attention to TV shows about 2 weeks ago. I'd honestly TRIED to let him watch because sometimes "Momma just needs a break" but he was never interested--all of the sudden he discovered Roary the Racing Car and LOVES it. He says maybe 3 words and all of the sudden he can say "ROARY" (am I a little disturbed? yes!) but he loves it. So, I love Roary a little too. I suppose it's all about balance?! But I wont be upset if it means I can check a few things off my list without my house being destroyed by a tornado of a 2 year old!

Mollyandollie said...

This one made me laugh out loud!!! I'm with you sister! I also said I would never ever ever ever let my kids watch tv through the first two years and very little after that. Well, Thomas the Tank is a regular fixture at our house now and I'd like to note that Oliver just turned two. Parenting is full of these "I used to,and now I's".

Emma-Jayne said...

Ha, I don't mind my little dude watching a little bit of tv, he prefers movies like Cars, Wall-E and Surfs up to crtoons on tv, but he does love Thomas the tank and Roary the racing car. But having said that he also loves reading, drawing and building blocks. I have lost count of the times I have had a book wafted about in front of me or the times he just stands at the window looking at the birds outside. So, I think a little tv is ok but I know many woman near where I live just use the tv all day as a babysitter and that makes me sad for the kiddies. x

Unknown said...

I have been feeling the EXACT same way. My son (18 months) has watched what little TV/movies we watch, but we never really watched shows just for him until about 2 weeks ago. Before then, I hadn't ever even thought of it, and I was the no-TV mom -- my kid doesn't need it -- to the point of being a little bit indignant/annoyed when that's what he got for Christmas from Grandma -- 4 DVDs.

Until now. See, he loves to help cook. Which means he will pitch a fit if anything is on the stove and he's not helping. Even boiling water. So, I tossed in a kids DVD (yay for free DVDs!) and he LOVED it. Now he asks for it. I try to limit it to once a day (because really, it's not anything he *needs* and then *I* can only take so much), but it is scary how easy it is to let the TV become a babysitter. But man, that 20 minutes is SO nice to have when we need it :)

Rachel said...

Ha ha, I was the same way too--opinionated before I had my 3. Having the third child is when they started watching too much tv.
One thing I do is I homeschool, so I record a session of homeschooling with lots of counting and singing (Bible lesson too). My youngest loves to watch this (she calls it Baby). So, I try to let her watch home dvds mostly.
Except, lately I have been into sewing-so out comes The lion King or Toy Story.
TV watching is one of my major guilt areas!

Lisa Lou said...

Haha! This made me laugh. Especially because my children will NEVER watch TV. (yeah right...) It does probably help that we don't have TV channels or a DVD player that works. Oh well. We're pretty boring. Our poor children.

Unknown said...

What a great post! As the SAHM of four kids...I get it!

My first child hardly ever watched movies. But number four watches at least an hour (or one movie) a day.

How else am I going to get stuff done around here?! We don't live in the same world we grew up's not safe for kids to be outside alone....or at least with minimal supervision.

I do limit the amount of TV the kids' watch...and we have an official NO TV DAY every week. I'm also super vigilant about what kind's of stuff I let the kid's watch...we don't have television or cable which I love!

My kids seem to be well adjusted...good readers...very articulate...and don't have any attention problems! So I think I'm doing just fine!

I think your little Olivia is going to be just fine!

Bryan Lewis said...

I'm glad that Calliou doesn't have cancer...

Jenn said...

I don't think any parent envisions their kids watching TV when they are newborn, but it inevitably creeps into your life. Allison, my 2 year old, is only allowed to watch three shows...Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Manny. While I am not always proud of how much TV she watches on certain days, thanks to these shows, she knows most of her colors and can identify most shapes, including an octagon. Not everything is bad and we have to stop beating ourselves up for not living up to our own unrealistic expectations.

CK Morgan said...

jonathan used to watch one show a day (signing time) while i showered. Now he watches one (diego) while i shower and one while i work on the computer. lorelai could care less which i am glad about but she is now moving enough that when i came out of the shower the other day i couldnt find her so hopefully she'll be a tad more intersted in the tv soon :)