Kirby and I went on a shopping trip a couple weeks ago.
I love spending time with her, learning her mad shopping skills and just hanging out with my sweet friend who I've watched go from single college girl, to married mommy of two.
In the car, one of the things that came up was the topic of TV.
I've been mentoring Kirby for years, and so it's easy for me to be completely honest with her about the areas in my life that I wish I could "do over."
I've shared this on this blog before, but one of those things I wish I could go back and change is the way I allowed my oldest child to watch TV when he was little.
It was easy to do.
Anson would sit in front of the television for hours and hours without moving.
He loved TV.
I loved TV too, because it was sort of like I had a baby, but could still do everything I used to do before I was a mother.
I was able to work 20 hours a week from home. I did publications for our church and wrote weekly scripts.
My house was spotless.
Dinner was always on the table on time.
I could work on projects.
I could have my friends over.
See why Anson and I loved the TV?
I felt like TV was a win-win situation in my home.
Later, I realized how deceived I was!
My son grew up, and the poor guy...had only been trained, during those early years, to be happy when the TV was going and blowing.
He did not know how to entertain himself apart from a television, or video games.
He did not have any hobbies.
Plain and simple...
If the TV wasn't on, or he wasn't playing a video game on the TV or computer, he was miserable.
I'm not exaggerating.
Fast forward a few years. Hayden and Ashton come along.
They are NOT allowed to watch TV hardly at all.
To this day, those two kids are the most content, easily entertained, creative kids I've ever met in my life.
They play all day long, making up the most amazing games.
They do not need anything to be happy.
They are never bored.
To this day, my heart breaks for Anson. We love our son so much, and constantly apologize for training him, as parents, to love tv and video games too much. That was our fault. We tell him we're sorry for not teaching him, during those early years, about so many other fun, creative, exciting things to enjoy in life.
Slowly, we're helping Anson learn to love things like reading and drawing. BUT...it's a battle...a constant battle.
I've cried many tears over how robbed Anson has been of so many other amazing, purposeful, life giving, life bringing things he could have learned to enjoy as a small kid.
The other day, Aaron mentioned to me that the real problem behind what we allowed in Anson's life early on is that we weren't training him to be a grown up.
I know it's hard to think right now that we're raising grown ups in our home, but we are!
One day, our children will leave our home, and they will take with them all the things we trained them to do.
The way we trained Anson early on was to think that sitting down and watching TV, or playing video games all day was an okay thing to do with his time.
We've had to work over time to remind him that the reason why he can't sit and watch TV or play video games with all his spare time is that there are SO MANY other things...so many other life giving, life bringing, important things to do every day.
We want to teach our kids that it's okay to enjoy down time every once in a while. Our bodies need that, but unless we're intentional about how we spend our time, we'll most likely waste it.
Instead of TV, how about writing an encouraging note to one of their teachers?
How about drawing a picture for a neighbor?
How about playing with a younger sibling, and building that relationship?
How about serving your family by doing some chores around the house?
How about emailing a grandparent and telling them what's going on in your life?
How about practicing (fill in the blank) because that's obviously a talent that's growing in your life.
So much good!
Kirby told me on our trip how much TV Asher watches. First, let me say it wasn't nearly as much as I let Anson watch as a young child...like nowhere NEAR the amount.
But, as her mentor, I told her..."I wouldn't let him do that if I were you."
I honestly wouldn't.
After Anson, our younger children's TV life looks NOTHING like Anson's did.
So, Kirby asked me...
"What are some things you would have them do INSTEAD of watch television?"
I gave her some ideas, and then she said, "You should have this topic be the next What Do you Do Wednesday" post.
So here you go.
The main idea is this...
We want to train our kids as if we're raising children who will leave this house one day.
The training they get from us, should be things they leave here thankful having learned.
Our goal is to teach them how to use their time during the day in productive ways. We don't want them wasting their lives.
Letting Anson be a TV fiend and zombie was NOT teaching him to embrace life and truly live it.
Besides...experts are saying that kids under TWO should NEVER watch TV. Really! Go read this article.
Let me warn you...
When you cut out TV or reduce it drastically, kids get pretty ticked. It's like weening off a druggie. Seriously...it is. TV is a real addiction, like anything else. We won't let kids drink coffee or take drugs, but little ones can be as addicted to tv as any of those other things! Believe me! When we saw how much rehab Anson needed after the TV was taken away, we knew the true extent to which we had harmed our son. He was a junkie in the truest definition of the word. Tears!
Aaron and I had to be prepared to wage war in our home against our son's attitude about the televison. It took a great deal of patience and strength.
We also had to sit him down and explain to him, in detail, how we, as parents were failing him and had failed him when we were letting him watch too much tv.
We had to ask him to forgive us.
With the younger kids, holy cow, I had to learn how to actually parent without the television.
It's a lot more work!
I had to figure out how to make dinner without the tv babysitting my kids.
I had to figure out how to entertain them.
I had to go buy some stuff.
My house immediately got a lot more messy.
That was frustrating.
But...we've seen good results from this change.
So here's what Kirby wants to know...
What things do you do with your kids IN PLACE of television?
What are easy, fun activities for preschoolers?
What do you do with your kids instead of TV if you need to cook dinner, take a shower, or accomplish a task?
What about for older kids?
I'll offer some ideas in the comment section.
Join us there, and please share your answers as well!
Got a What Do You Do topic?
We'll see if we can get other wives/moms/parents/people to put their heads together and share what they've learned.