I'm constantly changing the rules as I parent. I don't know about you, but what works for me one day, doesn't always seem to work the next. When Sam was a newborn, I vowed he would not watch television. Nope, not my boy. That lasted until he was around twenty months old and I gave birth to his lovely but very needy baby sister. Why, hello tv!
But, he was only going to watch educational PBS or children's music videos. Shows such as Blue's Clues, Little Bear, The Wiggles and Thomas the Tank Engine. HA! Even I got sick of Blue's Clue's and The Wiggles. One little switch to the Cartoon Network and enter Scooby Doo stage right. Let me tell you, once on that slippery slope Cartoon Network, it's next to impossible to jump off.
He figured out the remote control and very often I would come home from a night out to find him clicker in hand, flicking through the channels at midnight. "Hi Mumma. I just seeing what on." Dear God in Heaven, what have I done?
So, I decided, fine, he watches tv, and not educational tv, but stupid tv, but he won't watch more than an hour a day. And that's final. I'm not budging on this one. The problem with that however, is the enforcement. I get busy with life and next thing I know I forgot all about policing Sam's viewing and he's been sitting there for three hours.
So, he watches tv. They all watch tv. It could be worse, right? I still draw random lines in the sand over what shows are appropriate and which ones aren't. This summer I lifted the ban on Phinneas and Ferb but I refuse to allow Sponge Bob. His voice drives me absolutely insane.
Even though I've changed the rules many times concerning tv viewing in our household, it doesn't necessarily mean I'm happy about it. I routinely rant and rave over the "STUPID TV!!!" I threaten to never turn it on again. I curse it and rage at it. It causes Sam to miss the bus on a regular basis because he gets sucked in and loses all track of time. It takes him thirty minutes to get dressed if the tv is on and a fraction of that if it's off. He's been reduced to tears on outings when he realizes he is missing his favorite show. He seems to have forgotten how to play when I make him shut it off.
I usually let him watch a show or two while getting ready in the morning. He asked and I saw no good reason to say no at the time. But it has been a huge problem this fall. The black hole that is our tv became a blight upon my very existence. The other day, during one of my rants, I told him no more tv in the morning until he'd finished all his jobs. By jobs, I am referring to all that he needs to do to get ready for school in the morning; things like getting dressed, brushing teeth, putting his pj's in the hamper. I expected protests and sobs. I expected him to ignore me and pick up the clicker immediately upon waking like he always does. However, he nodded his head and said not a word. The next morning he got up and ticked off every one of his jobs and was ready for school nearly 40 minutes early. Then, instead of flicking on the boob tube (why is the tv called a boob tube?), as I fully expected him to do, he ran outside with the dogs. Knock me over with a feather here.
It worked. One of those chance grasping at straws ideas worked. I usually put all kinds of thought and heartache into figuring out a solution to these kinds of problems and consult all the experts. But this I just threw out there as I hollered. And it worked. Okay, I know this solution seems pretty obvious, but it just never occurred to me that it would actually for real work.
p.s. We are half-way through week one with this new regime and still going strong!