Thursday, March 15, 2012

TV Time

Every once and awhile, I'll stumble across a blog post or an article or some real-life mom that champions the benefits of a television-free lifestyle. Don't let the kids watch TV, engage their minds instead! Create craft projects! Read stories! Sing songs! Go outside!

These encounters result in bouts of mom-guilt. I experience a gnawing fear somewhere in my intestines that my children are going to grow up deficient. While kids with good moms are putting on puppet shows and going on nature walks, my wee ones' brains are going to atrophy into some horrible grey sludge and they will never have any friends and they won't go to college and they will probably never get a job. And it will all be because I let them watch TV.

I then vow that there will be No More TV In Our House. We will have one TV-free day, my conscience is soothed, and the next day life returns to normal.

I made it from Monday night all the way to 6:00 this evening with no TV for the kids. In the past three days, we have been to the park, to playgroup, and to the public library. We have read 38 picture books. We sat and watched some construction workers tear up a strip of parking lot with their bulldozer. We have done art projects and educational activities. Quite frankly, I am exhausted. The Buster may feel enriched, but I didn't do the laundry and our dinners have been pretty lack-luster (another PB&J sandwich, anyone?). The living room floor needs to be vacuumed.

The past three days have reminded me that I have no desire to be a fully TV-free home. I need some time to do the laundry and unload the dishwasher in peace. For me, television is a necessary evil. I'm not even sure that I can call it evil. We LOVE Sesame Street and Dinosaur Train at our house. Even so, turning off the TV has prompted me to reevaluate our TV habits. The important thing (for me at least) is to think before I switch on the TV, to ask myself why I am turning it on. Is there a specific program we want to watch? Do I have a specific task to complete that I need the Buster to be entertained during? Or am I just turning it on because I haven't thought of anything else to do? I'm hoping that asking myself these questions will help me find the right balance of what is the "right" amount of TV for us.

What do you think? What are your policies/ideas about TV time?


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Going to the Zoo (and an adventure in breastfeeding!)

I read a magazine article yesterday that pointed out the average child only has 940 Saturdays between the time they are born and the time they leave for college. Special moments and activities with children are important, they won't stay little forever, etc. The author went so far as to suggest that every time you find yourself getting frustrated by your children, you should picture your house as completely clean and quiet and remember that someday it will be that way, and then you will learn to more fully appreciate each minute with your kids. In my case, rather than sending me into a quiet "I love my children" state-of-mind, this technique would probably result in a hyperventilating, sobbing fit during which I would hug the kids strangle-tight and the Buster would start screaming that he was trapped and he would probably think his mama had gone crazy.

Right this minute, Miss Meatball is happily tearing said magazine to shreds.

Normally, I wait to go to the zoo until Mr. O can come too. It's just easier. But as Mr. O had other obligations, and because there are only 940 Saturdays, I decided to take the Buster and Miss Meatball to the zoo all by myself. It was so much fun! Miss Meatball happily rode in the baby-sling, cooing from her perch on my hip. The Buster willingly sat in his stroller, getting in and out without fuss even when it meant leaving the tiger exhibit. During the three hours we were at the zoo, the only time the Buster cried was when we rode the little zoo train. It turns out that while the Buster loves the idea of trains and tunnels, he is terrified of tunnels. He literally SOBBED the entire 7 minutes we were on the ride and then promptly asked to go again. Go figure.

I left the zoo feeling empowered. We did the zoo without Mr. O, and it was fine. It was more than fine- it was great.

Here is where things got dodgy (or at least felt dodgy). I should have just found a bench at the zoo and sat down there to feed Miss Meatball. But, as she is highly distractable, I thought that it would be easier to find an out-of-the-way park bench or picnic table to feed her, so I did just that. I was less than five-minutes away from finishing feeding Miss Meatball when this Rastafarian-looking man started towards my table. As he came closer, it became obvious that he was stoned out of his mind. He picked up an old bottle of Poweraid that he found on the ground and started drinking it (major eww). He was walking all around the picnic table, piking up half-smoked cigarettes and checking the trash can for any left-over goodies. I seriously thought he was going to get down on his hands and knees and start collecting the cheerios the Buster had thrown on the ground for the "quirrels."

So, there I was, trying to get Miss Meatball to finish eating as fast as possible so we can leave. Here I should probably mention that I breastfeed. While I use a nursing cover for modesty's sake, I am not particularly prudish about the whole process. Someone catches a glimpse of my chest while my babe's latched on? No big deal. With one exception. This man. If this crazy-stoned/potentially homeless guy catches a glimpse of my naked breast, I think I might die. It is at this moment that the Buster reaches out and grabs my nursing cover. I am trying to keep myself covered, trying to keep Miss Meatball from falling off of my lap, and trying to yank the nursing cover out of the Buster's fist. The man is about five feet away from us, staring blankly at me. Societal norms do not apply when you are that drugged, so the man sat down at the picnic table. I detached Miss Meatball, straightened my shirt, and threw our stuff into the bottom of the stroller in record time. Which is a good thing, because the man was getting ready to smoke another joint.

Just in case you are worried that I was actually in any danger (Mom, I know you're reading this), my "out-of-the-way" table was only twenty feet away from the walking path where twenty or thirty people were going to and from the zoo at any given time. And the man was most likely harmless, albeit not the kind of person with whom I wanted to hang out with while breastfeeding.

We made it back to the car, and I loaded the kids in, (a painstakingly slow process made to feel even slower because some lady was waiting for my parking spot and glaring at me because I wasn't leaving fast enough). The kids fell asleep the minute we pulled out of the parking lot and slept the whole drive home. And even if the Buster and Miss Meatball don't remember this Saturday, it's okay. I'll remember for them.