When I was in my first and second trimesters, I spent a lot of time trying not to throw up. That means I was basically on the couch while Aspen watched a lot of TV. When I was doing the kid-swap with Amanda after working at the mall, at least Aspen spent a few hours, three days a week in November/December playing playing playing. I know she got a lot of love and stimulation during that time and it mayyybe evens out the disgusting amount of TV she consumed.
It was really hard to wean off the TV. Aspen was so used to just being able to turn it on and watch for hours that when I started cutting it back to just 30-minute-increments (like during my shower or while making meals) she would constantly ask when she could watch another show. I felt so terrible about the whole situation.
Things have gotten a lot better over the months and I'm really proud of the progress we've made back to normalcy. But I wanted to establish a real system for TV time in our house so we wouldn't fall back into old habits this summer, especially after the baby is born.
I like the idea of Aspen earning her TV time since I figured it'd help her gain some ownership over it. I started brainstorming ways she could be involved in the entire process so she would see that she was actively making choices about how her time was spent.
After talking over things out loud to Kev I decided I'd make some TV tickets and Aspen would use them to pay for her shows. Initially, I figured one ticket would be earned per 30-minute, non-TV activity. But after thinking about it, I wanted it to be more organic; I didn't want her asking if it had been 30 minutes yet so can she please have a ticket and cash it in NOW?!
So it's kind of loose. If we end up spending two hours at the library, she only earns one 30-minute TV ticket. If she spends some quiet time in her room (something we really struggle with) and it's only 20 minutes, she earns one 30-minute TV ticket. Last week we spent a few hours in the backyard playing with the hose/pool/dog/trike/etc... and she suddenly stopped to ask if she'd earned a TV ticket. I told her she definitely had and she decided right then and there to cash one in.
I set a limit of two hours a day (four tickets), which I feel is very generous. When she pays me one, I just put a tick mark on the kitchen calendar so we can both see how many she's used. So far, though, Aspen hasn't yet redeemed a days' worth of tickets and I'm psyched about that. It seems like now that there's some serious structure regarding how much the TV is on, she's less obsessed with it.
We still have the occasional argument about the TV, and it's a little tricky when she wants to redeem a ticket after a show has already started, but we're just kind of going with the flow. The goal is just to remind Aspen that there is a lot of life to live, instead of just watching cartoons living their lives. And I also want to hold myself accountable throughout the summer so I don't let the TV babysit Aspen when I'm exhausted/overwhelmed. We will find better coping methods than the TV! And I'm hopeful we can eventually have at least one TV-free day per week. That feels a little too ambitious right now, but once Aspen's in school I think it'll be super-doable.
Wish us luck and we strive to make the most of our summer without being glued to the boob tube!
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