A couple of weeks ago I read somewhere that this week is "Turn off the TV Week" and families across the (I don't know the breadth of it...state? Country? Planet?) are supposed to turn off their televisions for a week. Instead, everyone is supposed to focus on spending time together doing more interactive things like exploring nature, playing board games, etc... When I read this, I was immediately filled with panic. I WANT to be the kind of person who embraces something like this. I want to be the kind of person who says that, not only can my family do this for a week, no problem, but we can keep it up for a month, six months, a year.
But I'm not that person. I was filled with panic because this week is my spring break from school. I'm home with my girls and, without any TV and gloomy, rainy weather, WHAT would we do all day? Don't get me wrong, my girls don't sit on the couch for hours on end watching whatever dreck our cable company decides to broadcast. That being said, I AM guilty of relying on DVDS to occupy them when I have something that I really want or need to accomplish. They love "The Wizard of OZ" and, when they wake up at 6AM demanding to be entertained, it is so easy to put it on and let them watch, mesmerized, while I try to wake up, drink coffee and prepare for the day.
It is especially easy to fall into this trap, for longer than what is appropriate, with The Milk Belly Princess. She LOVES her DVDS and, when denied, can become inconsolable. She doesn't really want to play with me or by herself while her sister is at preschool. She would rather spend the morning like this: Recently, The Mister and I have both noticed that, when she spends more time watching DVDs, The Milk Belly Princess has more problems with her behavior. We screen what she watches pretty carefully for language, yet she seems to latch on to the 1 or 2 negative phrases that are in her shows and use them against her family. I've been called "a beast" and "nothing but a mean old witch." Everyone in the house has been referred to by The Milk Belly Princess as "stupid" or, oh yes, "bird brain."
On top of this new vocabulary, she also seems much more grouchy and restless. Since Monday, any time she goes down for a nap or to sleep at night she needs to be rocked to sleep. When she wakes up in the middle of the night, she screams for me instead of rolling over and going back to sleep. She seems to have lost the ability to soothe herself.
Part of this could be attributed to the alleged "Terrible Threes" that I've heard parents speak of. However, I can't help thinking that part of this is linked to her TV watching. Last night, The Mister and I decided that she is taking a long hiatus from television of any kind. Although it is convenient to let her watch her favorites while I tidy up, I can't sacrifice her well-being in the process. Little Tiger will still be allowed to watch some shows when she stays up later than her little sister. She and The Mister have a lot of fun snuggling and watching programs like "How It's Made" and I don't want to take that away from them.
Our hope is that a break from television will improve The Milk Belly Princess' mood and help her regain the ability to relax herself when it is time to sleep. Time that was formerly spent in front of the TV can be devoted to more creative, positive endeavors...like reading to her canary.