Thursday, May 28, 2009


I just finished reading a book called "The big Turnoff: Confessions of a TV-Addicted Mom Trying to Raise a TV-Free Kid". It's kind of an interesting perspective, as it was written by a true TV addict who in the process has freed herself from the addiction. The book really got me thinking, which I guess proves that it's worth a read.

So far our approach has been no TV for BR. We keep the TV off whenever she is awake. To be honest, this is only partly for her, and in a big part to allow me not to be distracted by the TV. Even though I think I have mostly gotten over my TV addiction, I still do find myself drawn to TV drivel wheneve it is on. It doesn't matter what's on, even the majority of commercials tend to capture my attention (which I guess they *are* designed to do). So my best bet to give BR as much of my attention as I can while also taking care of the house and meals etc, is to keep the TV off.

In the beginning, I think it was mostly about her. I didn't want to expose BR to TV as a baby, and wanted to keep my full attention on her, so throughout my maternity leave I managed to keep the TV off, with the exception of one day where I was sick and feverish and stayed on the couch all day. I think that really worked for both of us, as it allowed me to get more involved with BR, without the distracting background flicker, and it's meant that she doesn't really have any interest in the boob tube. We tried to show her the movie "Cars" once, or at least parts of it, and even though she is a huge fan of all vehicles, she was totally disinterested.

Reading this book has made me re-examine my reasons for turning the TV off when BR is awake, but also the reasons why it's quite often on after BR goes to sleep. The former is a little easier to explain: of course there's the studies, and the AAP recommendation to not expose children under 2 to TV. Personally, I don't think she would gain anything from watching TV at her age. She is pretty calm and quiet to begin with, she can spend 30 minutes looking through her books, so it's not like I would ever feel the need to "pacify" her with TV either. And let's not forget that I have not yet seen a TV program for young kids that I have actually liked. I think this is the one parenting choice I've felt no ambiguity over, although I still find it hard to admit to people that I'm keeping her away from TV, since it seems so ingrained in our society that "baby einstein" is the way to go...

Of course with all the reasons why TV is bad (and oh so addictive for me), I'd love to say we limit the adult's watching time as well. But the truth is we don't. Pretty much whenever BR is asleep, the TV comes on. Of course, when she's falling asleep, we're trying to be quiet to not disrupt her, so watching TV with captions on seems like the most considerate thing to do. DH reads at work all day, so he's not up for reading in the evening, so I watch mostly to keep him company. Or at least that's my excuse ;) Although lately I've also been bringing my laptop to the couch, so I can multitask, and maybe reduce the TV's power over me. Of course some may argue that that's only replacing one vice with another :) But a lot of my computer involvement is more active (like writing blogs, especially BRs), and end up producing something more tangible, which watching TV never does. So I guess I am making small baby steps toward freeing myself as well from the clutches of the addictive TV monster. But it's a slow process, and I'm starting to come to terms that we might never really be completely TV free.

One of the things I am striving for, though, is to never watch TV live. We watch pre-recorded shows (and skip commercials), and full seasons of shows that we find worthwhile. Our favourite one at the moment is "Dollhouse". This certainly limits the mindless channel surfing that used to eat away at my days and nights...

As BR gets older and stays up longer and longer, we will see how our resolve to keep the TV off fares. I am quite hopeful that we can keep it up. I am really looking forward to introducing her to all sorts of games, like Scrabble and SET, and hopefully that will be enough to keep our little family entertained in the evenings!

As with everything related to parenting, this is certainly a work in progress...

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