Friday, May 6, 2011

Less Equals More

Before we went to Texas, I was really struggling with my parenting. I was tired, frustrated, and becoming less and less patient as time wore on.

My kids were grating on my last nerve and I was about ready to explode. I was tired of the every day mundane tasks of life and all that it brings when I became the main caretaker of my kids and the house.

I have always been a "working mom." I have never once, in my 5+ years of being a mom, been a Stay At Home Mom and I enjoyed life how it was. I enjoyed the adult interaction that work brought.

But now I'm home and as time was wearing on, I was liking being a Stay At Home Mom less and less.

When my friend asked me to go take a trip to Texas with her and her children, I was nervous. That meant spending 7 entire days with my kids with no help from Shane (over 34 hours in the car with them). I felt like I might explode. But after thinking about it, I was up to the challenge so I said yes, packed our bags and off we went.

We spent the next 7 days in our van, in an RV, outside, and in hotel rooms. No TV (expect for the DVD player in the van). Just long hours with nothing to do but use our imaginations and play.  Something that, sadly, my children are not used to doing.

Those 7 days that we spent in Texas have changed the way I parent and the way I look at my children.

To be completely honest with you, before that trip, our TV was on CONSTANTLY at our house. I justified it by saying that I liked the noise that it brought to our house, but I think in reality, it kept the kids "entertained" so I didn't have to. Same thing with the computer. Caleb played on the computer or on the Wii constantly. He constantly was asking if he could play, and when I said no, he would fight me- full blown tears, tantrums, and meltdowns.

My kids probably watched on average about 5-6 hours of TV a day. Wowzers....Did I really just admit that to you? Caleb played computer games/video games on average of 1-2 hours a day...Once again...did I really just admit that laziness to you!? Please be kind in your judgment of me!

Since that trip though, I've changed the way we do things around here. Starting with the TV. The TV stays off unless I'm cooking dinner. There are no video games, and there is no computer time. I want the kids to play.

So, I've been attempting something that used to scare me to death. Letting the kids be kids without the added noise and distraction of TV or computers. And I'll tell you what. It has completely changed my children (and the way I look at them).

My kids are completely different kids. They don't fight each other like they used to. They don't melt down with every "no." They play together, they play alone, they play outside without me having to force them out! They (voluntarily) play out in the cold, in the rain, and they build forts. They get out their dress up costumes that I was contemplating getting rid of when we move- (they NEVER played with them before!) They paint, color, read books, play with playdough, and use their imaginations!

All without me telling them to do so, AND without asking to watch TV or movies. Seriously, they don't even ask for movies or TV time!!

The tantrums, melt downs, and crankiness have gone away (on both of our parts.) I've actually enjoyed just watching my kids be kids- playing and imagining things together. I've enjoyed watching them work out their own problems without me having to be the referee that is constantly breaking up battles between them.

I've also noticed that I am more motivated to get up off my hiney and actually take care of them and my house. Sure, my house is much messier because of all the toys that are played with throughout the day, but I don't mind. The kids are happy, which means I have to devote less of my time being the mean monster mom and can just simply enjoy watching them be children.

I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that I would ever be able to just turn the TV off and let them be kids. I thought the transition from TV to no TV was going to be awful- a constant battle for power. I never imagined my kids without melt downs, tears, and screaming. I never imagined myself actually truly enjoying my children and joining in on their little games. But as I've quickly learned, the less TV time we have, the more I enjoy being a Stay At Home Mom (and the more my kids enjoy themselves and their childhood!)


BlessedMommy said...

I've recently done the same thing! I started realizing that Carter's behavior was the worst on days when I had the TV on all the time. It stays off now except for in the mornings (while I'm fixing myself and bottles) and when I cook dinner.

There has been nothing sweeter than watching Carter "read" books to his toys, drive his cars around the floor, and clap at himself putting together a puzzle. Truly amazing!!!

Nicole said...

I think it's excellent! I didn't let Alex even see the television until he was 1. I would purposely keep his back to it if it was on. Now he only watches an hour a day, and he doesn't really need it. It's hard at first, but the relationship that it builds with your kids is amazing! I really attribute his intelligence with him not watching TV as well. You are a great mom, and your kids are very lucky to have you!

baby foot fluff said...

did they have a hard time with it at first? my son screams like a junkie every time i turn it off. I really want to enforce a 2 hour tv rule in my house. unfortunately we got him hooked when he was young. it really seems like an addiction.

Hope's Blog said...

I love your idea. We have the TV on all the time...have since they were babies. They don't actually watch it at all (probably don't like CNN). I have always sort of envied moms that could put their kids in front of the TV and get stuff done. My kids still won't sit down and watch TV.

Nikki said...

I really needed this post, Jill. With so many things going on in our life right now, being a parent has honestly been at the bottom of my list. I yell. I scream. I'm mean. I slam doors. I hurt feelings. I do all of these things because it's the only outlet I have.

Some days my kids do nothing but watch TV. It wasn't always this way, I was never much of a TV watcher when I was younger, and even up to a few months ago. But now it's easy to turn on Disney and let the kids watch while I have some down time, or do the laundry, or clean the house.

I know things need to change, and up until now, I've always made excuses to justify my actions. Thanks to your very honest post, I know I need to make the changes, for the sake of my children and our family. Thank you, Jill

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