Anna has a ton of energy and no idea how to manage it. I've known for a while that she's an energetic child, but the complexities of this really hit me this past weekend. Until she was two, the rule was pretty much no TV. Then it became that screen time only happened on weekends. That's still the rule, but we'll bend the rule for mid-week sitters on if one of us is sick and just needs couch / bed time. The problem is that weekend TV was starting to mean a week's worth of TV crammed into 2 days- hours and hours of TV. By the end of the day, Anna was tired but she still had pent up energy. She'd release this energy by screaming, fighting, and being kind of awful in general.
So, this week, we changed the rule a bit. We allowed some screen time as we were running errands in the car, and we watched some TV for about an hour on Saturday morning, but otherwise we were outside doing things or inside being creative in the playroom. The change in Anna was amazing. Anna was getting the attention and the stimulation she so desperately needed, and she was really fun to be around. At the end of the day, she still protested that she wasn't tired, but she got ready for bed anyway. There weren't tears or screams or fighting.
A big change for us was church. Anna tends to not enjoy church because it means that she has to be still and quiet for an hour. That's hard for any 3 year old. This weekend, though, we cut the TV and played with her before our showers. Then we took her and all the dogs for a walk. Lastly, I told her if she was really good during church I'd let her watch her favorite show on the way to lunch and I reminded her of this a few times. She was absolutely perfect. She sat quietly and colored the whole time, she participated in the few parts of the Mass she's familiar with (Our Father and Sign of Peace), and she easily listened to directions during the Mass. At the end, she clearly remembered what we'd promised, because she said, "IT'S OVER!!! I can watch my show?"
I know it's just one weekend, and it may have just been a fluke, but the difference was amazing. Meals went smoother, she was eager to try new things, there were fewer tears over everything. Honestly, the biggest difference was that we did something other than TV time.
In the future, I need to remember this. I need to remember that TV may mean some time when I can sit. Where I can distract my child long enough for me to get a break. However, it also means that I'll want the break more because every other interaction with my daughter will be fighting against her energy and her demands. Instead of turning to TV when I'm lost as to what to do with her, maybe I'll take her for a walk. Maybe I'll take her to the pool. Maybe I'll grab the crayons and a coloring book and color with her. Whatever I do, by keeping the TV off, I'll keep my daughter and my family happier. That's definitely something worth remembering!