Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Confessions of a Cartoon Addict

Okay, so I've been dreading posting this. Mostly because I'm afraid you'll judge me. I really like people to like me... and I'm pretty sure that, well, you'll think I'm less cool after reading this. I keep reminding myself that the reason I started this blog is to help me grow. Step one of resolving an issue is admitting there's a problem. So, let me introduce myself. Hello. My name is Desiré and I'm a cartoon addict. I am not personally addicted to the cartoons, but I am addicted to using them to make my day easier. I've struggled off and on with using it too much since Isaac was born. It seemed to peak when he was sick and I was gigantically pregnant. Then came Silas, and well, let's just say, I am able to "justify" lots of TV time now. My list of excuses goes soemthing like this: "I need to get a load of laundry in and the dishes done." "I need to feed Silas." "He needs to wind down before his nap/bedtime." "I need to get dinner going." "I need 5 minutes to myself (well, I may as well let him finish this show)." "It's too hot/cold/rainy outside and we've played with every toy he has."
I've always hated the TV. The main reason: it's almost always a waste of time! I don't think in and of itself the television is evil (though there is a LOT of sin portrayed on almost all adult shows and I'm finding more and more on kids' shows as well.) But let's say I have the self-control to only watch stuff that is not full of filth. Fine. But is it really a good usage of my time? Sure, it's fun to watch a movie every once in a while or catch a funny sitcom or game show here and there, but at the end of the day, I'm no better off for it. Even with the amount of TV I've watched to this point in my life, I'm embarrassed to be held accountable for it. What a shame to stand before the Lord someday and say, "Well, I watched 36,298 hours of television (almost 2 hrs. a day for 50 years) in my life, but I tried to do volunteer work once or twice a year." How many times have I used the excuse that I don't have time to do things, but sat on my butt and watched TV? What could I do for the Lord in my lifetime with 36,000 extra hours?!?

So, how did I get to this point with Isaac? When Matt and I first got married we owned a television, but had it in the closet and only got it out and plugged it in when there was severe weather. When we moved to Springfield, we set it up, but in our spare bedroom and tried to limit it to watching movies and 2 or 3 shows during the week that we enjoyed. When we found out we were pregnant with Isaac, much to my dismay, it moved into the living room. (Don't be impressed, it was mostly because I thought it looked tacky.) We invested in a nice flatscreen so that it wasn't such an eye sore, but I was none too excited about it. We watched it a little more then, but then Isaac was born and shortly thereafter we discovered his love for animation. Those of you who know much about my beloved son know that he was less than pleasant on many occasion when he was a wee one. We fell in love with the fact that a bright screen could save our ears and our sanity. He became hooked and so did we. Since then it's been a struggle to keep the amount of TV we watch in check. Matt and I watch NONE. (Well, sometimes he manages to squeeze a ball game in on the weekend during their naps, but that's about it.) Isaac on the other hand, is pulled by the magnetic forces that our TV apparantly has every time he walks by it. Seriously, the kid can't get near it without pointing to it and saying in his super cute toddler voice, "Pea, Mommy." (His way of saying please.) I've created an adorable monster! I've "weaned" him down to one show in the morning and one show in the afternoon on several occasions, but since Silas' birth, we've come undone.

Okay, so I'm not wasting my life away sitting in front of the tube, but my child is. (This gives me a lump in my throat and brings tears to my eyes as I type it.) I'm develping a horrible habit in him that will be very hard to break unless I help him get it under control. I was going to post this with my hands thrown in the air and desperately ask for your advice on what I should do. I thought, "I can't make it through a day right now without him watching TV." Then I was convicted. Can't or won't? Ouch. "Okay, Holy Spirit, I'll admit it, won't. I like how the TV makes my day easier, so right now I won't make it through a day without it, but I suppose there's a small possibility that I could. " Thus began Operation TV Detox. The television has not been on in our home since Thursday, July 15 at 9:30am other than to watch the Cardinals play on Sunday afternoon (through which we slept most of). And to my amazement, we're surviving!

Please don't think I am some holier-than-thou super woman. I don't judge you if you watch TV. I assure you that at some point (probably in the very near future) it will be watched again in our home. In moderation, I think the television can be relaxing, entertaining, and educational. We have gone to the extreme in order to reprioritze in our house. I'm pretty sure I can't do a great job of parenting biblically if Isaac is glued to Elmo, Superwhy!, and Curious George all day. I'm not going to lie, there have been a lot of meltdowns over the last week. I've been very tempted on several occasions to just give in and let him watch a show. We've read lots and lots and lots of books and played until my imagination has run dry. I've worked a lot harder than normal, but when I fall into bed at night exhausted I have a sense of joy and peace and accomplishment with how I spent my day with the boys. I'm not sure where this will all go and I think I need to decide before the TV comes back. For my sake, I need clear guidelines in place before I turn it back on. Does anyone have some standards in place that work well for your family? I would love to hear your input as our family continues on this journey of making wise usage of our time.


  1. Its so tempting to take the easy way out with our kids and let them do something we may not necessarily want them to do, just to get a break. I'm totally with you on this one. I usually let my boys watch two shows on PBS each morning (Word World & Super Why, although lately I've also been letting them watch Dinosaur Train afterwards). Those are the educational ones and Samuel has been watching Word World since he was not quite two. But he has reaped the value in it. Anyway, I usually put a video in for them to watch while I fix dinner (3-4 times per week). I do that because I won't get dinner done due to all of the refereeing I would have to do. The video is usually a fun one for them and ranges from a half hour to an hour long. I've been doing that since Samuel was small. I know its probably not the best thing, but I keep my sanity and we get to eat supper. So I don't know if this helps or not, but that is what I do and it seems to work okay for us. Blessings!

  2. Thanks for the input, Jenny. Yeah, Matt and I have talked about the educational value of some of the shows. Isaac already knows all of his letters and their phonetic sounds and I know that some of those shows have helped him learn/reinforce what he's learning. I also enjoy Word World and Super Why for that reason. Sesame Street is another one I don't mind him watching. I'm thinking I may choose which shows I feel are most beneficial to him and set a scheduled TV time instead of just when I/he feels like it. I'm going to talk to Matt some more about it this weekend, but I definitely think a dinner time show would be helpful. That's what I've missed the most over the past week. Thanks again for your empathy and input!

  3. Definitely let me know what you guys think together on this! We struggle here too. When Logan was born we watched no tv. When Anna came along, not much. But with the addition of Lilly, I admit I have used it as a way to keep the older children entertained more often. I cringed the other day when my little Lilly dropped a toy and watched the tv too. Deep inside I really want to throw it away, but know that may not work so well for us.

  4. Oh, I feel your pain! My parents used to put our tv out in the garage on occasion to help us "relearn" how to play and read, etc. when they felt we were getting too addicted to tv. I've thought about doing the same, but I'm trying to learn self-control. They also had a system in place where we each got to choose one 30 min. show a day. There were 3 of us and we were welcome to watch our siblings' show of choice, but it maxed out at an hour and a half. We usually watched less because in middle school I wasn't too interested in watching Barney with my little sister. :) I think that's a good system, but not where we're at yet age-wise.
    The straw that broke the camel's back with all of this for me was a couple of weeks ago when Silas was taking a nap and Isaac didn't want to play with me because he wanted to watch tv. It broke my heart! Anyway, Matt and I decided on one show in the morning and one in the afternoon, but only if he asks for it (or I legitimately need a distraction for a bit - which I haven't yet). On the weekend, we agreed to a "movie night" where either Friday or Saturday night we can choose a video to all watch together. We won't tolerate it as background noise, so if he stops watching, it goes off. We have done pretty well with these standards so far. He hasn't asked for it except for a couple of times. Completely doing away with it for a couple of weeks really helped jump start it. Now it feels like a treat for both of us. I think he was picking up on the fact that I was using it as a way to justify ignoring him before. Anyway, so far I've had the self-control to use it in moderation and not even near as much as we had agreed would be acceptable. I'm praying that we can keep this up because it's been wonderful for all of us!