I have a confession to make – I have a TV addiction. I’ve lost countless hours of my life to inane reality shows, laugh-track sitcoms, and formulaic Law and Order episodes.
When I was a teenager, my excessive TV habit affected me alone – though I drove my family and my roommates a little crazy. But I’m a mother now, and like it or not, my son will emulate my habits whether they’re good or bad. I may have traded my traditional fare for PBS Kids shows, but my TV addiction is still having a negative effect on my son.
As a 20-month-old toddler, Troy gets absolutely nothing positive from watching television, and it may be contributing to a speech delay. I can’t say for sure that one is related to the other, but Troy watches about an hour of TV everyday, and he only has a handful of words he can say. At 20 months old, he should have word pairs – little toddler sentences. It’s not necessarily due to television – he could just be slow at acquiring language – but it certainly can’t be helping.
I can say for sure that he enjoys TV too much. When Sesame Street ends and I shut the TV off, he typically throws a tantrum. I can successfully distract him by offering him some fruit or one of his toys, but how long is that going to work? I need to nip this problem in the bud now, before he develops the same TV addiction I’ve got.
Of course, my TV addiction affects my general happiness too. I’m fortunate in that my son takes consistent daily naps, so I’m guaranteed at least an hour of free time during the middle of my day – usually two. So do I spend that time catching up on chores, or even doing fun things like working on my blog? Nope – as soon as he’s asleep, the TV goes on, and it stays on until I hear babbling from his room letting me know he’s awake. It all adds up to two hours wasted everyday.
I’ve been pretty hard on myself so far, so let me give myself a little break here – it’s only been this bad for the last month or so., You see, I’m in the first trimester of my pregnancy, and I’m exhausted and nauseous all day long. It’s easier for me to veg out in front of the boob-tube than try to wash dishes or write while I’m tired and I want to puke. But I would probably get more rest – and be a lot more effective during the day – if I spent Troy’s nap time resting without any electronic stimulation.
And as difficult as it seems now, I’ll consider this time a cakewalk when I’ve got a newborn AND a toddler to take care of during the day. I need to take this opportunity before my next child is born to nip this problem in the bud.
Here are the steps I plan to take:
1. Keep the TV off while the sun is up.
If the sun is out, it means my child is awake, and there are more important (and better) things to do during the day than waste time watching TV.
2. Cover the TV with a sheet during the day.
This will basically work like a steering-wheel lock – every extra step I have to take to watch television will give me time to reconsider whether I actually should.
3. Place my remote control in a drawer.
Again, it’s an extra step – an extra obstacle that will make my TV watching less automatic and give me time to think about what else I could be doing.
4. Make a list of the TV shows I want to watch in the evening, and stick to it.
Let’s be realistic here – there is a lot of good television out there, and if I can give up TV while my son is awake, I’ll deserve a show or two to enjoy with my husband once he’s asleep. So, to keep myself from surfing mindlessly through the channels, I’m making a list of shows I want to watch, and if a show isn’t on my list, I’m not watching it.
Besides, the final episode of Breaking Bad is this Sunday, and you couldn’t pay me to miss that!
5. Keep my smartphone in another room while I’m taking care of Troy.
Let’s face it – a screen is a screen, and many of us have traded TV addiction for Facebook and YouTube addiction, myself included. I’ve wasted too many hours on frustrating games like Candy Crush and stupid viral videos of goats screaming while I should have been interacting with and talking to my son. Well, that changes today. My smartphone is going in the drawer with my remote. My son deserves my undivided attention – otherwise, why am I staying home with him?
This rule may be the hardest one to follow, but I’ve got to try. Troy is worth it, and I am too.
Do you watch more television or spend more time mindlessly surfing the Internet than you’d like to? What steps have you tried in order to curb your time-wasting habits?
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