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hatin on TV

After ripping another blogger a new one yesterday, I thought I'd take a moment to pick on my own hypocrisies today. The topic is television.

We canceled our TV service a little over a year ago because Dan and I both agreed that we didn't want to be a household focused on television. Not to say that every household that owns a TV also orbits its family life around it, but some do. Mine did growing up. So it's a danger we wanted to avoid, and we went cold turkey and canceled our subscription.

Theoretically, all would be lovely and unplugged in our house, except for a little thing called THE INTERNET.

I don't know if you know this? But on the internet you can WATCH TELEVISION. So in our less innovative more exhausted moments of parenting Harvey was introduced to Phineus & Ferb and also Shaun the Sheep. And that's all it took - one tiny taste of the drug in his system - to make him whine for television CONSTANTLY. When he wakes up in the morning, when he wakes up form his nap, whenever he sees a laptop. Constantly.

So now he watches an average of one hour of TV a day. I hate this. Every time I turn on YouTube for him it makes me feel sick inside. I am failing as a parent. If only I could think of something else to play/cook/destroy with him, I wouldn't have to rot his brain away. If only I could make the laundry/dishwasher/rest-time more interesting, he'd gladly stick by me for that ten minutes instead of throwing his body on the floor in front of a live screen.

There are particular challenges to raising an Archibald child that we did not foresee in our idealistic planning. Harvey does very poorly with playing on his own. Some days he'll entertain himself for a whole ten minutes, some days zero. The rest of the time I have to be playing with him, one-on-one, constantly. Which, don't get me wrong, is lovely, but it makes even the bare minimum of household upkeep awfully difficult. Not to mention cooking. Or moving something from one room to another. And if I don't want him to watch a show, I'd better also give up on email forever (which, since I can't talk on the phone at all when Harvey's awake, also means I'd have to give up on all adult contact for about the next ten years.)

Also, I'm pregnant, so sometimes after I walk the dog for a mile while simultaneously carrying a 30 pound toddler on my back and a 30 pound belly on my front IN THE MIDDLE OF A SNOWSTORM I need to fucking sit down. (Yeah, I know that sounds dramatic - I get very worked up about the needs of the dog these snowstormy days.) Anyway, that means computer time for Harvey post-walk while mama lies down and tries to regain the will to move. That usually takes about a half hour, which when added to the few minutes in the morning when I have to take out the trash or clean up from breakfast plus the few minutes in the evening when I simply can't answer one more friggin request that starts with "mama get - " adds up to about an hour of TV.

So there's a heaping pile of justification for you. That's how a hippy non-TV family ends up with a one-and-a-half year old getting a full hour of TV a day. Hypocrisy and piles of justification.

One hour. God. I really do feel like a monster.

Of course, I could be guilty of the same misplaced grief for which I admonished Meghan and her husband yesterday. Like stuff, TV is not evil incarnate. It's got its good points and its bad. It makes you feel okay about doing nothing, and then later when it's not on it makes you feel worse about doing nothing. Kind of like pot, which even thought I don't partake, I can't raise a solid argument against. So it's not like I'm going to hell for turning on the Disney channel (or stealing it over You Tube for that matter)... I'm only suffering cognitive dissonance for not being able to live out the distraction-free life of which I dream. The life where every moment is exciting or educational or productive. The life where no one needs to take a break and no one needs to be shut up.

Meanwhile, Harvey's nap is dangerously close to over and I still need to cook him noodles. You know what would open up a lot of time in my schedule? Not blogging!


Keep the TV going, I like the blogging! ;)

p.s. It gets a little easier (in some aspects) when you have two because they will entertain each other. I don't have to entertain Tristan constantly like I did JR.

He's still in the age where he's not going to play by himself, but slowly and surely this will change!

Also, my husband and my sister-in-law watched TV in the mornings regularly growing up (I didn't, but I did watch movies quite a bit). One is a vet, the other is a lawyer/engineer. They both eat well and run marathons. TV clearly hurt their chances at a normal active lifestyle.

Not that I let D watch too much TV, my rule is generally that if he whines about it, he's not getting it, but if it's going to be on for 1/2 hour while I can run around and do some laundry, or clean my kitchen, or sleep, then so be it. Also, we *gasp* watch movies and eat (organic, pan popped) popcorn (usually we watch together, although occasionally I may be working on my laptop at the same time). In fact, we have four movies that are much beloved... Cars, Nemo, Beauty and the Beast, and Charlotte's Web (the Debbie Reynold's version). The horror.

That would be me with all the movie watchin'

Thanks for the reality check, guys. I actually don't know ANYONE who lives with young kids TV free. Well, there is this one German couple I know, but their kid plays on his own like 95% of the time. He's like a magic toddler or something.

Well, I think you're doing fine. My parents didn't let us watch TV because they hated the advertisements and all that nonsense (we watched Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow, and that was about all). Internet, DVDs and Tivo have taken care of that particular problem.

I have two issues besides the advertising. First, I hate having it running in the background all the time. I can't stand the constant noise of it unless it's something worth listening to, and I don't think that kind of constant stimulation is particularly good (it's different than music). So, we only have TV on if we're actually sitting in front of it. Second, I think the problem with TV happens when it comes at the expense of children being active. Since my child is actively running around the majority of the day, I feel like sitting down quietly to watch part of an entertaining movie is fine, if not a good thing to do. I also feel like there is a difference between me sitting next to him and him sitting by himself.

Just don't let him watch the "I am not sleepy" episode of Charlie and Lola. My niece went through a period where she would refuse to go to bed and declare (loudly): "I am NOT sleepy and I WILL NOT go to bed!" Her mother (my sister) was NOT amused.

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