Ever since I was pregnant with Elijah I have been hearing about the ill-effects television has on children in general, and specifically children under the age of two. The American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends that children under the age of two watch no television at all. Because of this, I persistently have this little nagging feeling of guilt every time I let Elijah, and now Noah, watch television.
But let’s be real. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a work-from-home-job and a busy husband, and as previously stated in a prior blog entry, I have not been afforded the luxury of a nanny, or a personal chef, or a personal assistant. If something needs to get done in this house, it’s going to be by me and no one else.
Take dinner for example. If we want to eat, I have to cook. Cooking is not my strong suit and 4PM is not called “the witching hour” for nothing. I would much rather have Elijah and Noah watch an hour of Sesame Street (and let them suffer whatever ill-effect might come), than experience the trauma of third degree burns from scalding hot water because they were under my feet when it was time to drain the spaghetti. I chose the lesser of two evils, and I have decided to stop feeling guilty about it.
But lest I begin to think the television is God’s gift of free babysitting, I do try to keep my boys television viewing within the following boundaries:
I need to know what my boys are watching.
The television does not go on unless they are watching a previously approved show (by myself and Michael), a video (that we have also either watched with them or pre-viewed by ourselves), or a sporting event (that Michael is watching with them). Letting them watch television actually requires a bit of work (or at least time) on my part.
I need to engage my boys at their level when appropriate.
Even though Elijah is only 2 1/2, we have rules about watching television. There are certain shows he is not allowed to watch, (even though other 2 1/2 year olds might be able to) and commercials are always out (honestly – I have to turn off some of the commercials for myself because they are so scary!). We have tried to make a point to let him know why we don’t watch certain things so that he understands the heart behind the rule. When something questionable comes on, even in an approved show, we turn it off and talk about it at his level.
I try to keep to my own realistic time limits.
It’s impossible in this house to not watch any television ever (by myself I’m kind of like a closet junkie) but I try to limit their viewing time to a prescribed recreational viewing time, and when it is absolutely necessary (i.e. when they are crazy and I need to make dinner). In my mind, I try not to exceed a total of two hours a day.
Now if I could only get them to EAT dinner . . .