Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Operation No Show

I don't know how many times a day I hear the phrase "I want to watch a show, Mommy!", but it's a LOT! Since Coen was born, shows have been distraction numero uno at our house and Fintan has watched WAY too many of them. Hours a day is not an overstatement. I've been too brain-fried to think of other activities to occupy the time that I spend nursing Coen and bouncing Coen and trying to put Coen down for naps and so I've turned on shows to limit the scream fests that result from less mommy time. But not today! I'm implementing "Operation No Show" at my house.

Last night before bed I looked through two books "The Toddler Busy Book" and "Baby Play" and took notes to get ideas for easy things to distract Fintan in a good way and interact more with Coen. A lot of the ideas in the toddler book were simple things I'd always planned to do or had done before but not for a long time. It was great reminder of how easy fun can be. The baby book, I was happy to see, just reinforced a lot of the things I was already doing with Coen (singing, nursery rhymes, dancing with him, etc.) so that made me feel good, too. But I want to do more of it!

So, first thing this morning I took the two orange chairs we have in our great room and set them back to back a few feet from each other and draped a sheet over them. Fintan immediately came running to see what was up. It was so adorable. He crawled right in and started playing. Then a few minutes later he reached out and dragged one of his baskets of books under there with him and began to "read" to himself. He played there until we were all ready to head out to the park this morning and then when we got home he played in there while I made his lunch (something that lately has required a show every time). When he finished his lunch and Coen needed attention I found Fintan a few of his "tools" and told him that his secret club house looked like it needed a bit of work. That occupied him until I could put Coen down and read Fintan his naptime books.

Later we went outside to play for a few hours and when we came back in to make dinner he "worked" on his clubhouse some more! The appeal lasted all day. The few times it waned I tried another trick that was a variation on one I read in the toddler book. The author talked about having "busy boxes" with special things inside. I didn't have one of those, but I had a small, empty plastic spice container that I'd saved, thinking that Fintan might like to add it to his play kitchen items.

Well, when he started whining to me about shows I said that I had a special treat for him. I put one of his candy kisses from his Halloween bucket into the spice container and put the lid back on. Then I gave it to Fintan and told him to take it into his secret clubhouse to open it. He did that and then ate the treat while reading one of his books. It worked way better than just handing him a treat would have. I did that twice today and both times he ate the treat and then continued playing.

So a bedsheet and two pieces of Halloween candy got us through the day! Fintan watched only one 15 minute show all day. I consider that a success!

I do want to add that I don't think that letting kids watch tv is a sign of bad parenting. But I think that I was coming to rely on it too much and I wanted to nip the habit in the bud before it became too ingrained. The only reason I'm calling it "Operation No Show" is that I have a thing for rhyme and "Operation fewer shows" doesn't scan well. :) I know with the cooler weather arriving and not being able to go outside as much, we may have to pull out the "shows" more often, but I want to have a good list of fun activities on hand to try to keep it under control.

As for tomorrow, I think I'll try a new configuration of the clubhouse and see if that will renew the fun for another few hours. I also have a few other tricks up my sleeve.

I know that some of my friends who read this blog have new babies as well or second babies on the way, so maybe these ideas will help you ladies avoid the "too many shows trap", too! So I'll continue to post ideas as I try them and let you know how they go. Please share any fun, easy toddler activities that you've tried as well!


tanya or MOM said...

I see myself doing this too. Sometimes its just plain easier to let them watch tv.BUt I think it evens out in the end. Thats a great idea .

Doesn't love a wall said...

That's so great Alina! I would for Madda to watch NO television - but even not having another one, that seems impossible. She doesn't watch much, but still....gag.....

I LOVE your ideas and will try them post haste!

I have found that Madda loves little tupperware filled with things - nuts and bolts! Paper leaves.... batteries.... I got out her Easter basket not too long and she played and played and played with her eggs. Once, I put a comforter on the floor and she played with her "normal" toys but loved the BIG BLANKET!!

Hope to get lots of ideas here!!

Dawn said...

Great ideas!! I am going to have to skim my toddler book too!
Of course as I reply to this Z is watching a "show". ;)

Henry Parents said...

Henry is always up for some "circle running" which means we get tribal with our drums and noisemkers and run around the house. He loves it, might not be fun for an exhausted mom and newborn though.

Also, red-light, green-light is a favorite. Art - though this usually ends up being about put caps back on markers instead of actually drawing.

I also found this - http://www.ohdeedoh.com/ohdeedoh/toys-kids/crazy-forts-058392, which I might get for him as the weather gets colder.

Great ideas! I totally agree that the less tv the better.

Alina said...

Hi, Tanya, nice to "see" you. :)

Erin, thanks for the ideas! The eggs in the Easter basket sounds like a real winner! And the big blanket idea is just so classic! It's funny how a little change can make old things feel novel and keep these little people entertained.

Dawn, if I were sick Fintan would be watching show after show after show...after show...after show...and so on. Hope you feel better soon!

Adrea, I love that you "get tribal", lol. And red light green light! We haven't tried that! Good one. :)

Alina said...

Oh, and Adrea, those Crazy forts are COOL!