“Strict” parental control really is (for me) sweet success

Recently, I have slipped a bit in the “controlling screen time department.” Generally speaking, my children get 1.5 hours of TV per day (At home, that is. What they do outside our home is basically out of my control.)

It breaks down something like this:

  • 1/2 hour in the morning (to give mommy time to get ready for work)
  • 1/2 hour as soon as we get home from work/school/daycare (to give mommy time to cook dinner and to give them some down-time from their busy days)
  • 15 minutes to 1/2 hour before bed (to give mommy time to do the dishes, prepare their bed time snack)

Ok, when I break it down like that, it looks like I use the TV as a babysitter whenever I have to get a chore done. (I challenge you to show me a work-outside-the-home parent who doesn’t. I’m not gonna feel guilty about it. I have enough to feel guilty about. 😉 )

Lately, however, my kids have been asking for TV more often. And I am, more often than not, giving in to their demands requests.

I think I’ve been busier. It’s hard to tell. I’m always busy.

But when they ask for TV, it always seems to be at the right time for me to get something done, so I allow it and I get something done. (Which basically leads to me having less to do when my husband gets home so that I can spend more time with him. Not a bad thing really.)

BUT

(and that’s a big BUT)

I am losing control of my kids.

Where they used to readily and sweetly accept my instructions to turn off the TV and join me at the table for breakfast/dinner/snack, they now protest and fling accusations at me for being the “horrible” mother that I am because I won’t let them watch TV.

And it’s showing up in other areas of their behaviour as well.

Not too very long ago, my daughter, when offered the opportunity to watch TV, could take it or leave. And she very often would leave it in favour of playing with her toys or her brother.

In the last week or so (after about a week of my more permissive attitude toward the tube), she has become a staunch pro-TV kid. She barely touches her toys. She argues constantly about turning off the TV. And she knows exactly what shows come on at what times even though she can’t yet tell time.

I’m feeling a little bit like a failure.

My initial thought process a week ago was, “The kids have been so good lately. And so busy. They deserve a little break. I’ll let them watch a bit more TV (educational-type shows, of course). It will give me a bit of extra time to write prepare a healthy dinner.”

The 1.5 hour daily limit was stretched to about 2 hours.

Their attitudes and good behaviour declined in what I believe to be direct relation to the amount of extra time they spent watching TV.

So I guess what I’m faced with is the dreaded “cutting back” phase where I gradually cut their TV time back down to between an hour and an hour and a half.

And all I have to do to keep my sanity in all this is keep in mind that the long-term benefits are worth the short-term suffering.

Perhaps the suffering on my part will remind me in future to keep control of the remote. 😉

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2 thoughts on ““Strict” parental control really is (for me) sweet success

  1. chebandbecky

    Kids don’t come with an instruction booklet…it’s mostly trial and error. The good news is, they will probably turn out just fine. You are likely giving them a great role model, and time spent with hubby shows them that relationships need work, but are rewarding. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You may not realize what gifts and lessons you are giving them every day.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Staying on track « Life Takes Over

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