TITLE: TV: friend or foe to the parent?
By Helen Curtis
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According to many children’s psychologists and counsellors and even a (childless!) daytime television host, parents should not be using the television as a ‘babysitter’. So if the giggle-box is now off the daily schedule, I wonder how my day might go...
The madness in our home sometimes begins as early as 5.30am. We do the usual morning routine of “go to the toilet, wash your hands, eat your Weet-Bix/toast/fruit/other choice of breakfast that really shouldn’t be considered until at least 11am, do your teeth” with the same amount of fussing and discourse as any other modern-day family. Time check: 6.30am. Hmmm, what now?
The boys are able to play together reasonably well (translation: the older brother doesn’t completely squash the younger as he tries to make him a horsey), perhaps some ‘free playtime’ whilst I feed and change Joshie (who has now filled the silence with increasingly urgent cries not unlike a siren) and then start the housework. Great idea in theory; in practice, I’m lucky if I get half of the dishwasher unloaded before “MUUUUUM, I NEEEEED YOUUUUU” emanates from the lounge room.
Time check: 7.10am. Oh, I know! Let’s read a book together (I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself at this excellent example of parenting). That’s it, one on each side of me and Joshie can help me hold the book and we’ll read together…”no, don’t tear the pages Joshie”…”Joel, let go of Daniel’s hair please”...”MUUUUUM, JOSHIE’S EATING THE BOOOOOOOOK!!!” Deep breaths, Helen, in...hold...out.
Time check: 7.34am. Think, Helen, think. I suppose we could go and play outside? (Yes, great idea! Keep this up and you’ll be crowned “mother-of-the-year”!) Then begins the mammoth task of actually making it out of the door: “Joel, where are your shoes?” “Daniel, come here!” (take 10 minutes here for second toilet run of the day), “Joel, why did you take your shoes off”…”Daniel, take the book away from Joshie, and Joshie stop eating the books”…”Joel, where did you put the sunscreen/hats/water bottles, and I told you to leave your shoes ON!”(8.03am – still haven’t made it out the door). “Have we got everything? OK, out we go!” “Joel, you carry the bag of ‘stuff’ out, Daniel can you please take the picnic blanket... no, not your Wiggles quilt, please put that back on your bed. Thank you...it is here, it’s right in front of you. Yes, the one you’re standing on! I’ll just grab the rocker and baby Josh and out we go!
Time check: 8.17am. Ah, now isn’t this nice. We can do this, we don't need the TV. We've got fresh air, butterflies gently alighting on the flowers, the peaceful sound of the...”MUM, COME AND PUSH US! WE WANT TO GO TO MARS!” Now, for anyone who has ever had to push their child on a Hills Swing Set, you will believe me when I say it has magical powers that make time stand still. Seriously! I was certain we’d been playing spaceships for at least half an hour (you can’t get to Mars in less time than that), when I realized it was actually just 9 tiny little minutes! “It’s not even 8.30am!” I thought to myself. “This is going to be a loooooong day. I’m not sure I can take much more... ” and then “more” happens ...”MUUUUUM, I NEED THE TOILET...oh oh, too late”.
The space mission is immediately aborted. I scoop up Josh (also rather whiffy at this point) and leave him on a blanket in the lounge room to scream the house down whilst I rush Daniel to the toilet and reassure him that "No, mummy isn't cross that the poo came out too soon.” It’s ok, Helen, it’s not as bad as it feels...riiiiight. (Start humming “Thiiings, can only get bettaaaaah…).
Time check: 8.53am! Are you SERIOUS?! With a very heavy sigh I realise that a re-evaluation of the situation is definitely required. I calmly make a coffee and stare blankly into space. And then I see it. The “remote”. It’s just sitting there on the shelf, mocking me, daring me to give in. I pick it up, my finger hovers above the “on” button.
Noooo. I must..be..strong...
Oh well, who wants to be “Mother-of-the-Year” anyway?!
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