It’s been an exceptionally gray week in February. Nasal secretions are especially green and slime-like and those of us who aren’t coughing are seriously tired of listening to those who are.
We’ve been cooped up, worn down and suffice it to say, tensions are running high.
And by tensions, I mean fights over who watches what on Netflix have been more contentious and frequent than usual. It has gotten to the point where, if I have to referee one more argument that includes the words “Beat Bugs” and “Veggie Tales”, I am going to rip the U-Verse cable out of the wall and hang myself with it.
So we devised a plan (I say we, but what I really mean is, in a fit of rage I came up with this solution and my husband was kind enough to indulge me). A plan to ween our children off television – even if it was only for a week. Here’s what happened:
We Got Creative
No, I don’t mean I went on Pinterest and dredged up a thousand DIYs to fill up our time. I do that sometimes, but not this time. What I mean is, we figured out ways to make our boring, routine weeknights less boring and less routine. We ate take-out food for dinner on the floor of our sun room. We played board games as a family before bedtime. We drew comic books on the coffee table and finished Oliver’s class Valentines. We also did chores, rented a jackhammer and painted with toilet paper rolls. In short, we came up with ways to fill our time that involved the whole family stretching themselves a little bit. And it felt kind of good.
It became clear pretty quickly that despite the fact that TV never really took up an inordinate amount if our day, there were going to be some blocks of time we needed to fill during its absence. Enter The Kitchen Dance Party. I am not what you’d call a strong dancer, but desperate times call for desperate measures. So my kids put on socks so I could spin them around really fast, and we danced our faces off.
A few notes about dance parties (get it???)…
We took turns picking songs, because there are only so many times I can shake my tail feather to Black Dog. I’m sure you have your own kid song kryptonite.
I’ve found that these dance parties are roughly 6,000 times more fun, if you take out your mom bun and swing your hair around like Taylor Swift.
We Established a Mantra
It drives me crazy when my kids tattle on each other. If I’m being completely honest, I’d rather listen to bickering in another room than someone ratting out their brother for purposely stepping on their LEGO plane. But when no amount of covering my ears seemed to deter the onslaught of narc-ing during prolonged periods of playtime, we reestablished a mantra that my children finally seem old enough to understand.
“Work it out.”
Things started out rocky, but I’ll be darned if after a few days of hearing it, my 5-year-old didn’t charge into my bedroom yesterday morning, with his mouth full of a big, juicy tattle and turn right on his heels as soon as he heard those three little words. Work it out.
Even if they don’t work it out exactly the way I would have, I’m just happy they’re finding solutions to their problems that involve compromise and not my bleeding eardrums.
This parenting strategy is loosely based off an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, so we’re fairly confident of its efficacy.
We I Stopped Missing it
Before this week began, I used to watch the clock compulsively, awaiting the arrival of 7pm. That was magic moment when we could all plop down on the couch together to turn on Netflix and zone out until bedtime. I can honestly tell you 7pm has come and gone this week, often times without me noticing. My kids have started playing together for longer stretches, with toys they haven’t touched in eons. There are longer bubble baths and book reading sessions. We have found ways to make it through the day.
By my count, it’s been nine days on this island* I’m not going to lie to you and tell you my kids aren’t asking to watch TV anymore. Because they are. And I’m also not gong to lie to you and say this is a permanent change for our family. But it’s a change for now, because, hell – it’s working.
*If I’m being completely transparent, we took in a family screening of The Batman Lego Movie earlier this week. And if I’m also being completely transparent, I will share that a massive hissy fit was thrown by our toddler immediately following the film? Coincidence? Maybe? Sugar crash? Oh yeah, that was totally it.