Avoid the TV Trap

by Heligirl on January 23, 2012

in Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles

Weather the last week here in Seattle included snow, sleet, freezing rain, wind, ice, rain and slush. To say the kids are climbing the walls would be an understatement. I’m a big proponent of outside time every day, but with temperatures in the 20s and blowing freezing rain, outside was not something any of us willing to embrace.

And forget driving anywhere. The community center toddler play gyms, aquarium, Museum of Flight, and other rainy day haunts were closed, as were most other things in the area. Not to mention the treacherous roads.

Our little ranch house is not very conducive to being cooped up for more than a day. We don’t have a family or play room. Their play areas are limited to their rooms, the living room and dining room. That got old fast for the kids as I struggled to get a little work done.

I confess I fell into the TV trap, then quickly learned from my mistake. I keep a fairly strict TV limit. They can watch Sesame Street in the mornings, a half an hour of cartoons or Wii after nap, and Friday nights are movie night where we get into our jammies, make a bowl of popcorn and watch a kid flick together.

The kids were climbing the walls by Thursday and I had to manage a few work items on the computer. I put on a movie. Later they played video games and I lost track of time. They were on it for an hour or so playing Wii Sports Resort. That evening we were so low energy we put on a movie.

The next morning the kids were up at 5 a.m. and more out of control than ever. And they asked to watch TV all day. Yikes.

I turned on the stereo and announced dance party. We dressed up funny (a fairy princess with wings and a dress for Sweetness, this strange native Hawaiian with a tiara for Mr. Man, and a silly hat for me) and boogied our hearts out. I have to admit, the exercise wasn’t all that bad for me either. Though there is something a little concerning about their continued requests for Lady Gaga.

Once we were danced out I pulled out the craft box and the kids kept me working out as I set up and cleaned up as they kept changing their minds between painting, drawing and cutting with scissors. Luckily for me, after about two hours of entertaining them, they ran down the hall and started playing together in one of their rooms long enough for me to check mail and have some tea.

The day went much faster than the previous day as I played with them and they played together, and wouldn’t you know, they weren’t asking for the TV anymore. Kids really do prefer to be with us than Lightening McQueen or Sponge Bob. Best of all, they slept much better that night, meaning I got to sleep in too.

My mom tip today is to avoid the temptation to put the TV to use on bad weather days and get creative to keep your kids mentally and physically motivated. And as an added bonus you build connection and give them great memories they’ll reflect back on when they remember their childhoods and those bad weather days.

What do you do to entertain your kids on bad weather days? I’d love additional ideas!


kt moxie January 23, 2012 at 7:46 am

My kids don’t watch too much TV anymore, though I do allow a movie and a few shows on the weekends. My big thing is … I’m NOT the entertainment committee. The kids NEED to be able to entertain themselves. This could be because mine are a little bit older (4 and 8), but I’ve tried to make that the standard for a while. They need to just GO PLAY. They are big on the couch forts and invented games. My older one makes up adventures around the house. We also do lots of puzzles, crafts and games.
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January 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I hear you. Being the entertainment committee is driving me ape poo, but the kids are still so young they’re only now finding ways to play together without the oldest trying to kill the youngest. I so look forward to them playing nicely together. 🙂

Mrs Loquacious January 23, 2012 at 11:06 am

I don’t have kids yet but I *am* an elementary teacher and have had my fair share of rainy day, indoor recesses.

#1 TIP:
You’d be amazed how much fun one or two inflated balloons can be. 🙂

Other favourites are: 1) mini-whiteboard + markers (or clipboard + gel pens) for kids to make lists 2) LEGO 3) Post-Its & Markers (they can decorate a whole room/house with labels and practice writing) 4) blowing bubbles 5) indoor camping or DIY “reading rooms” (a few chairs, a throw blanket or a flat sheet, some pillows and a flashlight, and voila! 6) paint/draw a book cover 7) baking/cooking projects 8) flashlights (they just like playing with them for some reason)

I’m partial to the balloons and LEGO, myself. My Gr. 1’s and Gr. 4’s both loved balloons and the LEGO bins and would beeline for them during indoor recess.
Hope that helps!
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January 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Thank you so much for these great ideas. I’m very allergic to balloons, but the other ideas are great. You’re right, the Legos are mighty nice. The kids each got more over Christmas and that has helped, when they don’t fight over them. We also got flashlights and the kids learned flashlight tag. That has worked wonders thanks to the blackout blinds in the kids’ rooms.

Thanks again for the great ideas. I love them!!

Kris January 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Agreed, it was difficult, but we did pretty well too. Aside from going out each day, I was able to come up with a planned “craft” per snow day …and then we did other less structured things (coloring, puzzles, reading etc).

The crafts we did are all on my blog…snowman painting was the best!

Twitter: Heligirl
January 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Ooooo, Kris, thanks so much for the great ideas on your blog. I love the snowman painting idea. Thanks for the reminder that you post on Facebook too!

Kris January 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Yes, only Facebook now, so much easier! 🙂

Annie January 23, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I agree with you. By constantly stimulating the kids’ minds with a lot of creative play, they will be able to develop a lot of important skills they can use later in life.

I remember my mom who limited me and my sister’s use of the TV for Friday and Saturdays nights only. For the other days, it’s either we study or do some craft and play. I find it beneficial for we grew up not dependent to TV.
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January 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I was kind of like you Annie, growing up, but rather than parents limiting TV, it was living out in the boonies. We got three channels, and only one really well. Not a lot on during the day on NBC if you’re not a teenager or grown up into the Soaps.

Susan January 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Those can be tough days when you want to get anything productive done. I am fortunate that my son is old enough to go outside by himself to play in the snow. And we have neighbors across the street who are his age. And the bonus is, their driveway is quite long and steep. Made for great sledding! I was able to get in a little bit of “me” time while he was across the street sledding.

Good for you for figuring out how to avoid the TV trap!
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