Overall I am happy for the kids to watch a LITTLE telly, but not everyday and only carefully selected shows.
It is very easy to turn the telly on during "Hell Hour" when we are cooking dinner and getting set for the night. It keeps the kids 'entertained' and out out from under my feet.
Interestingly, I was reflecting the other day on when I was pregnant with Matilda. Orlando used to help us cook, every night, he was part of the process and by 3 he was cooking a dinner a week (with us as chef's assistants) The question of television during 'hell hour' never existed as we never really had a 'hell hour'! Every now and then, when I was exhausted in the afternoon he many have watched a show or two but that was it.
Now, the kids have the expectation that the telly will go on in the evening before dinner. What happened to helping cook dinner? How did this become the norm?
I enjoy watching television. I don't want to ban telly from our household. But when I see the effects it has on the kids, I question its presence in our household.
When the kids are watching too much telly I notice a huge change in their behaviour. They stop playing, wanting telly as their first option, their imaginations reduce drastically, their conversations, songs, and role plays all become rein-acting the different shows they have watched.
So... How much is too much? When is it okay? Which shows are the selected few? How do I change this culture?
I've started by going cold turkey. Other than the family sitting down to a movie on the weekend the kids have watched no telly in a week. It has been a tough week as the kids have argued this decision every evening.
I've been reminded of the fact that when the 'hell hour' begins, if I schedule in some family time first and build something with the kids, they then get in and play happily, while I get things sorted.
I've also tried to start pre-prep ping as much of dinner as I can so that I can throw it together as fast as possible and of course I am involving the kids in the cooking as much as I can.
When their are two of us home, we have one cook dinner and the other on kids duty, spending some real time with the kids. This feels so much better than palming them off with the television.
The television will come back into our house hold, but I hope that this time we keep it under wraps and only select shows that are appropriate. Then, maybe we can watch them on iView so that we don't need the television to dictate our schedules.
We've never watched a lot of television, but it has been enough for me to see it change our children. I want to proceed with caution and see how we go. I feel that the less we watch and the more we interact the better off our family will be. I am open to experimentation and I'm sure we will find a happy medium at some point in the future!