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I'd Rather Have A Messy House Than Let My Toddler Watch 2 Hours Of T.V. Per Day

By Naomi Odes |

old school television

I love to use old television photos in my posts about T.V.

Okay, nothing against Bethanne.  In fact, I’m a little (okay, a lot) jealous that she gets so much done.

I’m clearly NOT Type A.


Before I get started on this topic, I want to be clear. My kids do watch DVD’s occasionally. Lately, the older one watches about 20-30 minutes of Winnie The Pooh every night while I put the younger one to bed. So, I’ve experienced the blissful solitude that happens when my kids are engrossed in a television show. It really is magical. They sit there and they don’t move. They’re entranced. You actually feel like you can do stuff, like you have your own life for however long that program lasts.

But even though I know what that’s like, I can’t fathom allowing the T.V to be on every single day for two or more hours just so I can do the breakfast dishes and work. I know I’d probably be a better blogger and have more readers if I sat them in front of the T.V. and worked, but it’s a sacrifice I just won’t make.

This means my house can be very messy…dirty, even.

Laundry often doesn’t get folded for two or three days.

I step on a lot of Cheerios. Some of them are stuck to the floor.

My personal blog is often neglected. What’s that? You noticed the last entry was on 1/27?

This means except on days I’m lucky enough to have a babysitter (like today, yippee), I use my time after they go to bed or while they nap to work, write, and clean-up the kitchen. That stinks sometimes. It really does.

But the truth is, I really think too much television is not good for kids. That look they get when they’re watching is kind of disturbing, actually.

Yes, the AAP’s recommendation of “No Screen Time Before Two” plays a role in my lack of daily tube indulgence, but also, I feel my own personal experience plays a part as well. Here are some things I’ve noticed about T.V:

1. I was watching an Elmo DVD with them the other day. It wasn’t flashy or crazy or inappropriate, but I was counting the seconds between cuts. There was a maximum of eight but more often about three seconds before they moved the camera to another position or scene. It was starting to bother my eyes, actually.

2. When they watch T.V, they aren’t doing anything else, and children learn by doing.

3. If they are doing something else, like playing with a puzzle or trains, then they’re distracted by the T.V every few seconds as they look up at the big blue box on the wall.

4. I watched tons of T.V. As a kid. I mean tons (I was a latch-key kid). My mom says I learned to read from Sesame Street and Electric Company. Okay, yes, it’s good I learned to read, but hopefully, I would’ve learned to read another way, if not from T.V. I’m glad I remember Grover’s “Around, Over, Under, Through” song with such fondness, but I could’ve been playing outside a lot more, that’s for sure.

5. My husband watched very limited amounts of T.V when he was a child. Suffice it to say that he gets more done than the President on a daily basis. Me? I’ve got major ADD (self-diagnosed). Can I connect the dots from television or lack-there-of? Not in any official way, but I know I wish I watched less and did more as a kid. I don’t want to feel that guilt about my kids in the future.

As a couple we do watch some shows (right now we’re obsessed with Downton Abbey) but we don’t have cable and the television is rarely on, except for sports, sometimes. I have opinions about that, but that’s for another post.

So, while I will continue to use the television in small amounts, and in emergency situations (i.e. when I have had it up to my hairline), I hope that television can remain a “sometimes” activity (as Elmo might put it) in our household.
Meanwhile, it might be a few more years before I have any sort of life again. See ya then, okay?

Read more of my posts on Toddler Times.
Check out my personal blog. I Am Still Awake.
Follow me on Twitter.
Follow me on Pinterest.

More by Naomi
14 Books That Say I Love You This Valentine’s Day
20 Color Activities To Do With Your Toddler
10 Toddler Pet Peeves

Photo via Flickr

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About Naomi Odes


Naomi Odes

Naomi Odes Aytur is a blogger who's contributed on the parenting channel of Babble. She chronicles her experiences of being a new mom on her personal website, I Am Still Awake. Read bio and latest posts → Read Naomi's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “I'd Rather Have A Messy House Than Let My Toddler Watch 2 Hours Of T.V. Per Day

  1. Danielle says:

    My kids do watch DVD’s at some point every day. I feel better about this than TV/commercials. We also don’t have cable, and literally get no channels at all without it in Napa. I think it’s great to not have them watch TV…in the meantime, maybe you can hire more childcare to get more done?

  2. Becka says:

    I think it is great that you are willing to sacrifice “productivity” for your kids. I know parents have to do what they have to do – but I think TV is overused in general and it is hurting our kids. If you have found a balance that works for your family and it uses limited amounts of TV then more power to you.
    Thanks for reminding us all the reasons our kids need to be “doing” not watching.

  3. Arthur Fonzarelli says:

    I, like you, was a huge TV watcher as a kid. Hours and hours were spent in front of the each week, but my parents made sure to not let that get in the way of playing around or homework. I found a good balance now with my children I think. My youngest (2) watches maybe 20 minutes a day, and that’s only when she’s laying down for her nap. My older two (11 and 6) are allowed an hour after school to watch TV while having a snack before homework. I will admit, one guilty please I have that usually allows them to watch TV longer is while I’m driving, I’ll put the iPad stand on the center console and let them watch all of their shows to keep quiet while I’m driving. Since it’s free with the DISH Remote Access app and I can access all of the channels I subscribe to, it comes in handy. It’s also free, which I think is a huge bonus considering that as an employee I know DISH has some of the best prices too.

  4. Justrelax7 says:

    My daughter watches TV all the time and it’s not just so I can get things accomplished in the house. If it’s turned off she would very likely play as normal. Simply put, we just like it. On Saturday it’s never turned off. Mostly, it’s just back ground noise and we are always careful that it’s not violent or Kardashian. I do not think it’s doing any harm to her. She learns a lot from it! She got a recorder the other day as one of her sticker rewards and was playing it loudly around the house. After a few minutes I realized she needed to play it a little softer or else it would have to mysteriously disappear. While I was explaining it to her she said, “I need to play it adagio!” and proceeded to play it very softly. I don’t think that watching TV limits my kids from playing outside, or learning from other sources. We have a ton of books, I’m up to my eye brows in random craft supplies and we play outside almost every day. If you’re not that into TV then by all means live how you’d like, but if you’re avoiding it because you think it would hurt your kids, I’d have to disagree.

  5. Tracy says:

    Thanks for this! I also do not, and would not, allow my child to watch 2 hours of tv. We will sometimes watch on 20-30 minute kids show in the morning, especially on those days when she’s up very early and I need to get ready for work. We never watch tv in the afternoons or evenings, as I read somewhere it makes kids hyper or not sleep properly (or something, lol, I can’t remember exactly). As for productivity, we only have one kid so it’s not AS hard as having 2 or more, and I expect her to help out. She is 27 months now, fully potty trained, cleans up her toys, dresses herself (for the most part), etc. I give her lots of praise for doing so, and while she is really proud of her independence I am just happy she helps out! I don’t think she would be as willing to help if she was just plunked in front of the tv :)

  6. Maria says:

    Amen! Well said! My 2 year old didn’t watch her first show until she was two and even then, I couldn’t bear to allow an entire episode of Sesame Street, it was too much! I got a lot of grief from others but I stuck to my guns! I use nap time to work (I am a children’ s author) and if I can’t squeeze everything else in during a 24 minute episode of Little Einstein’s, then it doesn’t get done.

  7. Kande says:

    This was actually the best most non-judgemental yet clear about your own family rules post I have read. Kudos! I use TV too much, such as when tired from night time awakenings. I also use it when they wake up early in the morning as I need coffee to supervise play (and they don’t wakeup just to watch, or I would kibosh that of course, it is unexpected and rare that thy don’t sleep in) and after work to get dinner made in peace ( because cranky, tired, hungry kids are not prone to be the best at independent play, nor are they welcome to be held over a hot oven or boiling water). But I also try to include them in what I do – toddler enjoys “helping” with chores and both have fun helping me cook and bake ( when in good moods and I can keep them away from the stove!). I encourage the TV off after one show each, enforce it when I can tell has been on too long, and on the couple occassions my older one was nagging for more I cut most of it off and we had discussions around the TV habit. But with that being said – I have no issues with TV when used responsibly just as any other parenting technique. I feel our lives are quite well balanced and so long as I keep monitoring to keep it that way I am not at all concerned about having TV in their lives, after all – I certainly enjoy it in mine, so can’t be a hypocrit ;)

  8. Elissa says:

    My house too! It’s all about priorities and, as you say, everyone has different ones. Mine are definitely more in line with yours.

    My kid has watched one episode of The Wombles, and one of Animalia (in two parts via youtube), but he’s only 15 months so he’s way too young for TV really. Both times he watched when I was unwell, exhausted, and my husband was away. Desperate, in other words. I do look forward to him being old enough to watch a little bit. Especially shows like Playschool, which we can borrow craft and play ideas from.

    I like what Kande said about the toddlers helping with chores. Mine is especially fascinated with the washing machine right now, which is cute. I do feel bad sometimes that I don’t get heaps done, but I can live with it.

  9. Twyla says:

    We watch a 5 min short called Miniscule a couple of times a week, which is about insects. Normally it’s when I need a breather. But 15 mins total per week is very acceptable to me. Music, however, is always on in our house and my daughters playlist is huge. Anything from Feist to Bobs and Lolo. She now sings with me while going to sleep, at just 16 months. I attribute her very large vocabulary to music. She’s been speaking in 3-4 word sentences for a couple of months now. I don’t know if more TV would help or hinder her progress, but I dont’t want to chance it.

  10. P says:

    Kuddos! Our weekdays r absolutely no tv. Weekends we keep busy w family fun. We could go weeks w/o tv on and kids never ask. To them, it’s far more fun hang out w mommy n daddy, wether its going to places or simply at home helping in the kitchen(or clean up house these toddlers LOVE to do!). I love one blogger mom’s article was instead of argue over what tv does to our little ones, let’s talk about the great things that can happen if tv is not on. I certainly found the kids r more tune in with us, they r interested in what parents do and want to participate. My 5yrs old appreciate classic children literature instead of picking up SpongeBob/Dora/ScoobyDo books in the library, she would ask me to watch the sunset and amazed at how the colors changed in the sky, she knows how to pick produce in grocery,etc… all is because w/o tv time, she has more quiet background to listen and to learn what her surroundings has to offer.
    Weekdays after school and homework, the kids naturally park themselves at their kids table do crafts or draw; read and hv fun with their own quiet play; and they share more time to play together—the kids enjoy each other company and interact instead of both stareing at the screen. Does it require far more work and energy from me? Absolutely. Do I get less done in the house? Oh come see my never ending pile of laundry. But all house chores can wait until after the kids go to bed. Or in my case, I actually wait for the kids to do it with me—-take advantage of toddler-can-i-help-years. Do we ever turn on tv? Oh yes occasional Friday night or quiet weekend afternoon we’d watch a kid’s classic movies, Disney movies or any dvr KLCS programs together as a family. I found when u sit and watch w/ kids, they enjoy that tv is a family event, and I get to learn about the storyline I get to “reference” later. Our kids and their friends eyes lit up when I recite a line or two of a Disney movie! :) ha try it.

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