Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Sunday Parenting Party - Late to the screen free party

Taming the Goblin

Its time for the Sunday Parenting Party. Please link up any parenting posts you have. We try to keep this linky exclusively for parenting issues (anecdotes, advice, pleas for help, humour) so please don't link kids activities unless they are specific to a parenting issue - e.g. how to calm your child or how to deal with messy play fears. Thanks. This week I'm linking the following: 
(Goblin is nearly 4)

I have come a bit late to the table with this whole screen free thing. I like TV and I think kids can learn a lot from selective viewing of certain programmes (not whatever that bloody cartoon is that makes all 3 year old boys run around trying to "Hulk Smash" each other). But TV has crept into Goblin's day to the point where it is taking over, and displacing important other types of play and interaction. 

So as part of our change in routine to try and address Goblin's new phase of super aggressive histrionics, we have agreed to cut TV time right back. The first week of less TV went fine, Goblin didn't really ask for the TV. We replaced it with imaginary play and we started playing games at the dinner table. I broke out lots of sensory play stuff that we hadn't really used in a while and Goblin really settled back into playing all day rather than zoning out in front of the TV between outings. 

I noticed that the time spent in the mornings talking to each other as we played a game and ate breakfast really set us up well for the rest of the day. I'm not saying it was a miracle cure to the dramas, but in comparison to Goblin watching TV while I sit next to him on the sofa reading Facebook on my phone, this was certainly helping to connect us first thing in the morning. And that connection stayed through the day as we played together. 

But then he got ill. And thats when he just wanted to veg out, so the requests for TV time increased. We aren't stripping TV from his life completely so we tried to oblige, but the trouble is that every time we went to turn the TV off again we were met with a tantrum. Every time, without fail, even if I said "you will have no more TV today if you throw a tantrum" I'd still get the tantrum. It becomes easier not to have the TV on at all. 

But all these 'screen free' advocates don't warn you how much hard work it is entertaining a child with no TV at all. Especially because Goblin is at the point where he doesn't nap every day. So I have 13 hours to entertain him. Aaaagh!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not actually having to play with him every second. He is actually quite good at playing by himself for periods. Its just that normally we have a play date or go out somewhere on my day with Goblin. But since he has started nursery three full days a week he doesn't want to go out on his day with me, he wants to spend it at home playing ... with me. Its really very sweet. 

But by about 4pm today I was so desperate to turn the TV on (for my sake, not his). I didn't. Instead we did some "yoga" - Goblin style, and did some glueing and sticking, and played Candy land, and cooked dinner together, and did some painting, and built with Lego, and then went up to bed and read some books. Yeah, we did all those things between 4 and 7pm. Holy cow how am I going to keep this up!!!!
Some great reads from last weeks link up were
Mommy meltdowns ~ Fireflies and mudpies 
In the land of odd ~ Don't chew on the dinner table
Dear babysitter, special needs does not mean all sweetness and light ~ My skewed view

Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and Boogers, Play Activities, Crayon Freckles, Taming the Goblin, The Golden Gleam, Prickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)


  1. We don't really do TV - primarily because the cable doesn't work downstairs :-) - but do watch Curious George, Charlie & Lola and Ben & Holly DVDs on loop at times. Although I know I am guilty of using them at times for babysitting I do think they are pretty high quality baby sitters - Alice @ Mums Make Lists x

    1. We are big Curious George fans although we haven't watched much recently because Goblin is currently obsessed with Diego (as in the spin off from Dora the Explora) but he only wants to watch the episodes with Aleccia in them. Charlie and Lola irritates me because Lola says things incorrectly and the cartoon is aimed at children of an age where they won't get the joke, so Goblin doesn't really get to watch much C+L (mummy veto).

  2. We were TV free until Isaiah was 2.5, then it creeped in and, like you said, slowly took over. And as someone who didn't introduce TV until a later date, I noticed extreme behavior changes. And although I loved the time it allowed me when he was in front of the TV, the down side was sooooo down. So we are taking a full no TV month long cleanse, (which we do periodically) and slowly I will let it in again, but I will be much more mindful now. I hope :-)

  3. I'm not anti-TV either, but I do believe more play is always good. I totally understand about how it is just easier to turn on the TV than have to entertain them though! My 4-year-old doesn't play much by herself and doesn't understand why I can't just play games with her all day! We have a rest time after lunch where she gets to watch a show for half-an-hour (sort of a replacement of a nap) but it's more a rest-time for me than for her! I applaud your efforts to limit the TV though! :)

  4. It's taken me a lot of parenting years to find a place where we feel TV is working for us and our kids rather than against us... and of course that place tends to change as the kids get older, or when they are sick, or I am sick.... it seems it is something I will always have to think about how to manage the best way for us.

    Right now my kids are allowed to ask to watch 'a show' (after bath, while waiting for dinner) or put on 'a DVD' (on weekends not during the week as the big kids are at school and get precious little time to play as it is) they are not allowed to just have the TV on as I had the same issue when I wanted it turned off. This also seems to make me kids think about what they are watching and why they want to watch it more which I like rather than the mindless 'I can't think of anything to do so I'll turn the TV on' that we have had in the past.

    Good luck with finding what works for you and your boy and I am so pleased that I have remembered to come join this great linky again!

  5. So Goblin has a crush on Alicia?? :)

    I was reading somewhere that the down-side to Diego/Dora is that they YELL everything. Pay attention and you'll see what I mean.

    Since I "banned" Spongebob and Fairly Oddparents, I've felt better about my boys' TV habits (I will let them watch those shows once in a while if they're being good. The funny thing is that they KNOW I banned those two shows because they make the boys "act crazy"...and they'll promise to be good). [That was the most confusing, poorly-constructed sentence ever, but you get the drift.]

    If you have Netflix or Amazon Prime, try Peep and the Big Wide World. It's a science-education show about three cartoon birds and it's so well written and thought provoking for the kids (it's our current favorite show)

  6. How awesome you are limiting TV. We just cut back our TV time too. We only ever watch it during dinner prep time, but during the summer I had increased the time slot from less than 30 minutes to sometimes as much as 1 1/2 hours. Granted it is blazing hot in the summer here and we are stuck inside all afternoon/evening, but summer has come to an end the school year has started so we have less free time. We went back to less than 30 minutes and that sometimes even gives us time to go play outside after dinner now.

  7. Thank you for featuring me! Sorry it took so long to get back to you... we have had a uterine-ly active week... ;)


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