I instituted a new rule with J last week. One hour of television a day which is breaking down to 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes after nap. I have come to realize that I was using the TV as a babysitter, something I swore I'd never do. So actually this rule is as much for me as it is J. I need to get some stuff done? Throw on a Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (J's current favorite). I need to cook? There's cartoons on PBS. It is much too easy for me and it is a huge crutch. I know this is a problem, I know this isn't me at my best and J needs his mom not a flat screen full of animated characters.
It's interesting, I was a very strict 'no tv' mom until J hit about 2.5. Everything changed when he became much more interested in what I was doing and wanted to be right next to me the whole time I was trying to do something (like scrub the bathtub). So I popped on PBS and hoped he would watch. And he did. Happily. Then he started asking me for shows. Then I started turning on the TV first thing in the morning and not turning it off for a few hours. This allowed me to get a lot done (or to sit in front of the computer) but whoa. Wow. This is NOT the life I want for my kiddo. I want him playing, enjoying imagination and creation that he does himself not that he watches someone else do.
So an hour. And it's been easy. Really easy. I turned off the TV and created an art cabinet for him. I say "yes" when he wants to do something messy like paint. I sit with him at the table and do my cards while he does play dough. I cook and his step stool is right next to me watching and helping. I do things slower than I would if it was just me, but isn't that kind of the point? I'm teaching and he's learning in the simple act of making dinner. And we're together not just watching a cartoon family on TV. There was an episode on Neighborhood that he was watching the other day (part of his hour) and in it the father tiger was taking a walk with Daniel and telling him how and why he was special. J shouldn't be just watching that happen to someone else on a TV screen - he should be hearing it from me. All the time. Turning off the TV has, not forced because that's too strong a word, it's encouraged us to be together more and I'm loving that.