Thursday, December 8, 2016

Screen Time & the DVR List

Before you are a parent you likely have/had all these lovely theories about parenting and how your children would be raised and how you'd never lose your temper and they'd be perfect little angels who ate all their meals and never had sugar and always said please and thank you.  Then you have kids and realize a lot of it is about survival (for all of you) and picking battles and sometimes (most days) you don't have the patience for all your lovely pre-parenthood ideas about parenting.  Some days it's just enough to all make it to bedtime in one piece and with full (enough) bellies.

After 3.5 years of parenting I've forgotten most of our high expectations from before Luke although I am certain I haven't lived up to them by any means.  The one we have managed to stick pretty close to is his screen time.  It's becoming more of a challenge the older Luke gets and the more he is exposed to tv and phones in places outside our home.  We were pretty proud we mostly made it to his 2nd birthday without him watching tv (all those dreams about no sugar for him certainly didn't last two years).  

He does watch tv now (I believe I’ve referenced his love of Daniel Tiger more than once and he's seen No Noggin so many times he can summarize the whole story, right down to the 828 Suckervater) but we still try to keep it to a (relative) minimum.  I constantly feel like my time at home with him is so short (only 5 years!) and I don’t want him to spend it in front of the tv.  As tempting as it can be to park him in front of it some days so I can just get some things done or have a little bit of quiet time, I know it’s better for both of us if we do something together, from reading books to “cleaning” together, or having him play on his own while I do the house/kitchen work.  It’s not perfect by any means but I think we’ve struck a pretty good balance for our house.  (Also, the fact that he does about 2 hours of quiet/nap time almost every day reallllllllly helps.)

Here's how we've been parceling it out for him:
  • When I was run, he gets an episode of Daniel Tiger or Curious George while I shower and get around afterwards.  That's his reward for being good in the stroller.  
  • We do family movie nights (almost) every Friday night where we all watch a movie together with popcorn.  It's been fun for Matt and I to rewatch a lot of the Disney cartoons we grew up with!
  • Matt and I both grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons on the tv so in that spirit, Luke frequently gets some screen time (either the tv or our tablet) on Saturday mornings.   This usually lets us get a little more sleep which is pretty much our whole motivation. 
Those are his regular tv times.  Since I’m not running for the winter, sometimes he’ll watch a few episodes of DT or George during the week but even on days I plan on it, we usually end up getting busy and run out of time in the mornings!  He doesn’t watch tv every day by any means.  

We let him have some tablet time on our two trips this year - a little more on the 17 hour Amtrak ride to/from NYC than on our two hour flight to/from Boston.  But I’m pretty sure we drove all the way to Gulf Shores (~17 hours) last year without him having any screen time (maybe because we didn't own a tablet or a laptop at the time...).  I can’t think of any car trips where he has watched the tablet.  I keep telling Matt we drove all the way to the Grand Canyon over 3 days when my youngest sister wasn’t even 2 (the rest of us were 15, 13, 11, 9, and 6) and we didn’t have any screen time at all, because it didn’t exist, so Luke can make a two hour drive to Indy just fine.

I don't have any games on my phone but we will play the Wii with him, especially in the winter.  Wii Sports Resort is his favorite because he can (virtually) knock us in the water.

If baby #2 shows up before Luke is in school (or babies #2 and #3, if we're lucky), then there's a pretty good chance Luke's screen time will increase but since that hasn't happened yet and he can entertain himself pretty well, I'm in no hurry to stick him in front of a tv even more.

As for Matt and I, we certainly watch more tv than Luke.  The DVR is a lifesaver and being able to time shift almost everything we watch has really changed our tv viewing habits; I cannot recommend one highly enough (especially if your husband is techy enough to build it himself for a few hundred dollars).   It's wonderful to be able to watch shows when they fit into your schedule and not have to park yourself in front of the tv at a set time every week.  I'm not even sure what time most of our shows air because we watch everything later anyways.

Our current DVR list:
This is Us (just me)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Big Bang Theory (wouldn't be sad if they ended after this season)
Agents of Shield (same)
Grey's Anatomy (just me ALTHOUGH Matt is the one who got me to start watching it almost 12 years ago)
Last Man on Earth
American Ninja Warrior (in the summer, although NBC has been airing repeats of old seasons which have been recording and we've been occasionally watching, it was almost crazy easy a few years ago).

I've been watching The Crown on Netflix and Hart of Dixie while I sew.  We started The Grand Tour (I call it "not Top Gear, Top Gear) on AmazonPrime.  Matt watched Game of Thrones but despite multiple attempts, has not gotten me on board (his first attempt ended with his nephew getting hooked while I fell asleep.  But I was 2 days post surgery and on a lot of meds.  But also haven't really tried again since.)

So that's it, the tv we watch, or try to limit it to.  I know, this may come off as pretentious, I get that.  My kid also kicked me today and head butted me more than once, if it makes you feel better about our parenting.  Not perfect but this is one small aspect I feel pretty good about.  Now, any hints on how to get a 3 year old to eat all his supper (especially when it's food he scarfed down the day before) or how to handle anger in a 3 year old...I'm all ears....  Unless you don't have kids.  You'll understand someday.  

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