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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This parenting journey...

It's time I step up and admit something. Hi, my name is Mommy Daisy, and I've been a really lazy parent lately.

I've been letting Zachariah watch way too much TV. I'll talk more about this later.

I've been too easy on making him clean up his messes during the day. He does it at night, but I just ignore the toys scattered around when we leave the house or before nap time.

This is not something I didn't know. I could see the laziness sneaking in on me. I knew I was to blame, but I didn't feel like fighting so many battles. I decided to just let some things slide by. But one thing slid by then another then another.

The first problem is my son has way too many toys. I've always had a hard time weeding through them. I don't want to get rid of things that we might be able to use in the future for other kids. And I'd hate to get rid of something that Zachariah would still play with or someone gave him as a gift or whatever. We don't have a lot of storage space in our house, so this is becoming a problem.

And I know with Christmas quickly approaching there will be lots of new toys that we'll need to find a place for. And just over 2 months after Christmas, Zachariah has a birthday and gets even more toys. It's been 2 years of this now, and I am on to the pattern.

I suppose it's easy for our family to buy him lots of things because he is the only "baby". There are still no other grandchildren on either side of the family. So if you want to hear about spoiled...let me tell you. Honestly Matt and I don't often buy him toys. And at holidays and birthdays we hold back, because we know that he'll be getting lots of other things.

The second issue I already mentioned is the television. 6 months ago Zachariah hardly watched TV. And 3 months before that he didn't even really notice if the TV was on. I blame my dad for my son's TV addiction. My parents started him on the Disney movies at their house. Then they bought some Bob the Builder DVDs. He's been hooked ever since. Now he's discovered a love for Dora, Diego, Curious George, Elmo, Barney, Thomas, and others. He goes in spurts as to what he likes to watch. And some of his favorite (and only watched) movies are Cars, Toy Story I & II, Lady & the Tramp (which he refers to as "Doggies"), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Since I recently started reviewing children's DVDs, I've been letting Zachariah watch quite a bit of TV. He wakes up in the morning with a demand of what video he'd like to watch right now. And I've had to set a rule in place that once a movie is started, I'm not exchanging it for another. He doesn't always watch the whole thing, so sometimes its just parts and pieces.

In the last week or so (especially the last 2 days) I've been allowing the TV on all morning. And it's not on for my benefit, oh no, it's on for his. So he's watching television or movies off and on all morning. Now he doesn't sit there like a zombie the whole time, he does play while a movie is on too. But the fact that the television is on for his benefit so much is really starting to get to me.

So in the next few days we're going to instigate "Turn Off the TV Day". I'm playing this by ear. I think we might go cold turkey and say no TV during the day at all. Or I might allow one show in the AM while I'm getting a shower or something. We shall see. But I hope that helps.

I still don't know what to do about all of the toys. We had a nice chat this afternoon about how other kids didn't have as many nice things as he does, so he better start taking care of picking up his own toys. (He does pick up his toys, but he complains the whole time. Or he says "Mommy will do it". Oh no, Mommy won't.) But I think he's a bit too young to understand all of that.

Any ideas about toys? TV? What are your policies? I'd love to hear from you about these issues.

And in the meantime, I'm going to try to be a less lazy parent. I think I'll get plenty of work on that while Matt's away (2 more days) since I want to make sure we have things to keep our mind off missing Matt.


bluedaisy said...

My 2 yr old is like a zombie if the TV is I have been limiting him to a total of about 2 hours throughout the day. I used to keep it on for background noise but when I saw how even non-cartoon TV was limiting his play, I started reducing it. I would like to cut it further but there are some shows/characters that they (I have a one year old also) really like so this is where we are. And we too have lazy's a work in progress. This probably doesn't help much except for comparison purposes!

Nowheymama said...

You are not a bad parent.

When K. was an only child (0-4), I would go through her toys right before her birthday and Christmas and pack away the ones she'd outgrown. Since she was still little, I did this without her help. If she noticed something was missing, I got it out again, but usually she didn't. Later on, I'd separate the ones I wanted to keep for future babies from the junk.

Now it's kind of a free-for-all around here, toy-wise, but E. and H. don't have NEARLY as many toys as K. did when she was the only "baby," so it's not as much of an issue.

Emily said...

This is a tough one, and everyone has their stance on it. I started out limiting Katy to one video per day, and we stick to that for the most part - what helps her is that she knows she is allowed to watch it when David goes down for morning nap, so that cuts down on the constant requests (she was driving me CRAZY for a while there). HOWEVER, we've slacked in a couple of other places. Like if she's up in the attic (master br) with me we turn the TV on for a little bit. Or if we go to the grocery store and use the cart with the Tv. Or if we go on a long car trip she watches lots of videos. So there are loopholes and it's easy to give a little on the rules.

BTW, she's watching the Barney DVD you sent as I type, she LOVES it and has been watching it almost every day for a week. So thanks again for that. :)

2Forgetful said...

TV - Now that the girls don't nap they get to watch TV for an hour or two in the afternoon. I've started them on Muzzy (which is a foreign language video program for kids) or we watch something else that's a little educational. If I really feel like they need to zone out and not do all the interaction that Dora requires, I turn on a Disney movie. I need the break and they need the chance to just sit.

Toys - A good friend of mine has Quadruplets and I use her toy method. As much as possible goes in those big 20 gallon bins with lids. (I also use smaller ones from IKEA.) Before a new bin can come out the old bin has to be put away. This also helps focus our playtime so we might do puzzles for a while then clean those up and do dress up or play with the kitchen.

Since we don't have a seperate playroom it's really helpful for toys to NOT take over our entire first floor. That said, you can tell when I'm having a bad day because then toys are EVERYWHERE. And that's okay. :-)

I sell a lot of their toys and use the $$ to buy different toys. I figure if I really do have more children there'll probably be new/different toys out by then. I also keep a few bins in the basement and rotate every few months or so.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Oh girl, I am SO THERE with you. I like to blame it all on my pregnancy but it's also just some easy bad habits.

First, on TV. Zoe still doesn't watch TV mostly b/c I have had issues with TV addiction in the past myself and I feel like it's a slippery slope that I don't want to start down. That said, we are probably weeks away from starting her on some educational TV programs. I think we may start with Blue Planet (nature DVDs) and limit it to 1/2 an hour a day or something like that. I think limiting it makes sense. Let us know how it goes!

On the toys front, we also do the "one or two buckets at time" rule. Most of her toys are in a "toy bench" from Ikea with buckets that slide in and out. She can pull out two buckets at a time and then when she's ready to move on, she has to put one back. It helps. Also, I try to clean up before moving on to an activity that she really wants to do so that I can say "we can't have snack until we clean up" and it will actually motivate her. We sing a "clean up" song that she uses at school and I exclaim things like "Zoe's cleaning up! She's putting things back where they belong so we can find them again next time!". If she's fussy or over tired, I don't battle with her. At this point, I don't want cleaning up to be a battle.

But lately Zoe's been whining "Mommy do it" a little too much when it comes to cleaning up! I'll be interested in read other comments for ideas!

CAQuincy said...

I stopped feeling guilty about weeding through the multitude of toys after the second one was born. Like you, we just didn't have the space. Like you, we got TONS of gifts during birthdays/holidays that just made far too many.

I started "purging" with gusto. I do this when they are NOT around, so there is no whining--and they usually do NOT notice what is missing. And I will tell you the same thing I told another friend of mine--don't feel like you shouldn't get rid of something "just in case another baby may want to play with it." Chances are, you will get many, many newer toys when that 2nd baby is born--and then for x-mas, and then for THEIR b-day. Whatever you get rid of--oh, you're going to get another thing in return!

I've never mastered the art of toy rotation. But the couple of times I DID attempt it, it DID work. The toys that got pulled out of storage got played with as if they were NEW. It does work, if you take the time to do it.

As for the picking UP of the toys--it's hard, but I try to remind myself that a two-year old will take 10 times longer than myself to pick things up. So I try to be "specific" in what I ask them to pick up, then *I* pick up the rest. I will tell Izzy to pick up the blocks, Keith needs to get the cars, and Mary needs to pick up the stuffed animals. When I break it down like that, it doesn't seem so insurmountable to them--and they're a bit more willing to do it (and it's less for me to clean up later). I used to be very good about enforcing the "all toys picked up before bed" policy, but I have gotten a bit lazy with that lately. But if you make it a habit, it DOES work. I don't worry about the toys at the middle of the day--the kids're just going to trash the house again after nap/school, so it's really a waste of energy. I only worry about mid-day pick-ups if I know I've got company coming.

Whew....we also try to enforce WHERE the kids are allowed to have toys. Right now the kids have the WHOLE DEN as a play area, and we try to make sure that all toys are contained in that area (or in their rooms) and that they don't accumulate in the living room, where the adults like to relax. I do have a toy basket stashed out-of-site for any last-second pick-ups up there to make things a bit easier.

OK. TV. I'm kind of a nut about it and have friends who make fun of me about it, but I don't allow a lot of TV viewing. When I was home, I limited the kids to ONE SHOW a day. Izzy usually got to pick--either Sesame Street OR Super Why. In the summer, the TV does not go on at all--and the kids do not seem to miss it. But I DO reserve the right to pop in a video when *I* need quiet time or need to do a project without the kids' "help." Frankly, this does not happen too often. Whether through my diligence or through their own personalities, my kids do seem to be able to entertain themselves quite well and don't really ask for the TV. Oh--and we do watch a movie every Friday night. We all five take turns picking.

Don't beat yourself up too much. We're all in the same place! I feel as if I WASTED that year I had home and should have read fewer books and spent more time with my kids.... It's just never perfect, is it? I'm trying very hard not to get down about it.

Kelsey said...

I don't stress too much about the television. Some days we don't watch at all and some days we probably do watch too much. My main guide is that if Harper starts whining about wanting to watch more, arguing when we turn it off, or wanting all her meals in front of the tv then I know we've been watching too much and need to consciously scale back.

As for the toys - I have a hard time getting rid of things, though I think it will be a little easier because we know we aren't having any more children. Good luck!

Cindi said...

I would love to fill you in on what I did with my sons when they were younger...but honestly? I can't remember!! My sons are 17 and 21, so it was many years ago.

I do recall that we did NOT have the TV on continually. I also remember that watching a video was a privilege to be earned. We also tried to put some toys away and bring them out after several months of rest. When they came back out, others got put away for their rest.

Wish I could be more help, but like I said, it's been too long for this brain!

Heidi said...

Ok, if you were my girlfriend and we were sitting over coffee, this is what I would say. "Stop it! Stop stressing. We all go through ups and downs in our drive for 'perfection.' You are an awesome mom and these things just happen, you know soon you will jump right back into it and do something totally spectacular with him and feel like a non-lazy mom. So just stop it & drink your coffee, it's getting cold.