|Catching up on the Playschool news, with baby, tiara and fairy skirt accompaniment!|
TV Time in our home is kept pretty simple... it basically just consists of Playschool! Yup, we are big fans of the show in this house. Thankfully I TiVo all the episodes so I always have a little collection to choose from at whatever time suits us. Lily normally has TV time after breakfast and getting dressed, and before we move into the day's activities. This is my time to eat breakfast, check email and get organised for the day ahead! Our general rule is 30 minutes of TV a day (one episode) although I can make exceptions for sickness, emergencies when I have to take care of something urgent (I have no problem letting TV babysit when things get dire!) and of course the occasional 2nd episode in the late afternoon if it has been one of 'those' days!! But for the most part - 30 minutes a day in the morning is the rule and thanks to a semi-structured home-day routine and the blessing of Independent Playtime, I generally don't feel the need to rely on TV too much to keep kids 'entertained'. Ideally, yes, the screen time would be zero but I kinda feel comfortable with what we have going on for now as a reasonable amount.
I let Lily start watching TV when she was potty training around 19 months old. It was a good way to keep her sitting in one place (on the potty) for a while! Of course with Lily I knew about the recommendation to preferably not watch any TV before two... I held off as long as I could and we didn't quite get there, but close! Since that time though I've done a lot more reading and research into the effects of TV on littlies (what it does and more importantly, what it doesn't do), so decided to hold off a bit longer with Eli. I've only just in the last month or so (at around 21months) started letting him watch Playschool sometimes with Lily.... though to be honest he is so busy he will rarely sit for an entire episode anyway! (Unlike Lily, who would sit entranced for as long as I let her from her first glimpse of the TV!) Previously Lily would watch her episode while Eli napped or had Independent Playtime - now that Eli has (at last!) dropped his morning nap, I think it will work well for them to watch it together from here on in.
The content - pretty much always Playschool! As I said, I'm a big fan of it's simple low-key vibe (well, it looks that way but really, every drop of it is researched to the hilt!). I could wax lyrical for quite some time about this show... I just think it is wonderful, not least because I also grew up watching it and I kinda love that it has not really changed a scrap in all that time...except I think they got rid of the Rocket Clock - what's up with that?! Anyway, I appreciate for my kids how it is not too crazy/colourful/manic like so many children's shows. Just two engaging and calm presenters, singing songs and making craft from toilet rolls and paddlepop sticks! Love that it's so non-commercial, love that I can trust the content, love the way it reflects so much of the simple and wonderously mundane things in a child's world. Occasionally the kids watch an episode of the always hilarious Veggie Tales or a Bible Stories DVD we have. Movies we save for 'Family Movie Nights' to watch in portions together. For the adults in the family, we don't watch any while the kids are awake as I don't want them distracted, getting used to having TV on as background noise (which personally drives me bonkers anyway) or viewing content not appropriate for their tender ears and years!
I think TV in any family needs to strike that balance between the parents (let's be honest) needs for a break, combined with trying to fill the child's day with much more enriching, non-screen, real-life activities. This is our current groove that is working for us but I'm sure it will change and adjust over the years. Sadly they probably won't want to be watching Playschool in highschool!? It is kinda overwhelming to think how technology-filled my children's future is going to be compared to my own childhood and even adulthood - I only got an iPod last year! I know the technology is inevitable and basically essential to their adult world, but I figure while they are kids I want to delay that onslaught and protect them as much as I can... I want their childhood to be filled with block-tower-building, trampoline-jumping, book-reading, and as little Screentime as I can get away with. Like it or not, there will be plenty of time for that, huh!