The winter is a very difficult time with a baby on the verge of toddlerhood. She has more energy than we have space in our 1,000 square-foot apartment and there are only so many toys a small family can amass (and believe me, we are trying. Our house looks like a small daycare). Lately I have been in such a funk about motherhood. Yesterday, I finally figured out why: the television.
Many of the stay at home parents I know use the television to make their days less boring. I am not in any way suggesting that they ALL do or that people let their kids sit idly for hours, while they eat bonbons. I am just saying that in many of the homes I visit and have visited, the television is centrally located and is often on. I am sure that if that were the case for us, we would be far less bored.
When R and I first got pregnant, we made the decision to not expose Sam to media. This means no television, no movies, no nada. At least until she is 2. This is not to say that in the first couple months, I did not breastfeed in front of the TV (maybe I am in denial, but I did not count this because she faced away) or that I have not slightly loosened up in regards to my original plan to have her never even see a tv set on. This was an impossible standard given that it is very difficult to control what others do in their own home when one is a guest.
I do not judge people who do let their kids watch TV at all. Some of the smartest kids I know watch Sesame Street and Elmo and Baby Einstein and other things. It is just that, for me, I made this commitment and it is very important to me to stick with it. I just did not know how hard it would be. I would say that the first year has been ok, but it is this next year that will be the real challenge.
This is not an easy thing to talk to fellow moms about because there is so much judgment just beneath the surface. But I tend to think that every parent should make their own decisions about all these things. I do not make all organic baby food for my daughter and certainly not from scratch (ha!) so I do not appreciate being judged by moms who do. As such, I am sure that mothers/fathers who let their kids watch TV would not appreciate my judgment. So I do not judge. It is my decision, my choice and my philosophy. But it is hard to draw a hard line without putting some people off.
The reality is that I do not feel that my children need any media exposure when they are under six or seven. This means no movies, no ipods, no computers, no computer/video games and no television. Our media is so saturated with advertising and adult images that (my) children have no business being exposed to. It is hard because, while my mother never allowed me to see R-rated movies as a kid or to have cable television, my neighbors had all these things and my childhood was full of MTV and Madonna, both of which I loved. Things have changed now, though and so much advertising is directed at children and their young minds. I get sick when I see product placement in cartoons and characters for kids endorsing products. It just seems so wrong. I want my children to at least have some small sense of themselves before they are exposed to a deluge of images trying to control their thoughts and encourage them to beg for certain products.
Because of this, I am currently looking into Waldorf schools for them right now, which would mean an even bigger comittment in terms of no media, but from what I have seen, their education is right for us at least through the third grade. So far I have ben gathering literature and talking to parents. The next step is a series of open houses. Then we go on the waiting list if we want to do it. I went to a Montessori school for elementary (up until fifth grade) and I think it contributed a lot to who I am.
So, I will continue to keep TV from Sam, although I will admit in my moments of weakness (because I do like movies and TV myself), it is so tempting. But I am trying to keep my eye on the prize, even through the winter. Believe me, I would toss our TV just to remove the temptation. But then I lose my tv--and my husband who luckily is on board with the whole no media thing. But he would not take kindly to no longer being able to watch the Simpsons. So the TV stays, along with its temptation.