We watch television

My kids enjoy watching television. So do my husband and I. And we have finally reached a comfortable level of television time for our family.

But it would be fair to say that until this year, managing and minimising screen time was a challenge for me. Somehow my husband and I had reached a point {before children} that the tv was often on… whether or not we were watching it.

When Dino Boy arrived, I started consciously turning the tv off more and more. But totally restricting it was not something I had even contemplated.

Then we discovered Waldorf. Waldorf education discourages the use of screens for younger children as they inhibit imagination and impact children’s development.

My husband and I have now consciously decided that being totally screen free isn’t right for us {although who knows what the future might hold} We have decided however to allow our children to watch limited, carefully chosen tv shows and to enjoy a family movie night once a week. We usually make homemade pizza on movie night too!

We want to teach our kids to make good choices about screens, but also be able to understand and identify with other kids… given tv is part of our society.

So it is about balance… and trying to get it right

But it has still taken quite some time for us to reach our comfortable level. We tried screen free periods but it didn’t feel sustainable or right for us. And we tried different levels of television watching before finally reaching the level that works for us.

So I guess you might like to know what our ‘comfortable level’ is right? Well it is around 45 minutes a day. And although this works for us, we understand other families will find different levels they are comfortable with.

I let the children choose two shows they would like to watch for the day. They choose from a selection I have recorded. At the moment my daughter loves Stella and Sam (it is very sweet), while my son loves Dinosaur Train or Peter Rabbit. The kids also choose when they watch their shows (within reason). This helps us manage television watching, and they accept that once they have watched their shows that is it.

Since finding our happy level:

  • the less they watch, the less they want to watch
  • their play has deepened
  • their behaviour has improved

And I am a happier mum!

How do you manage screens in your home?
Here is an article from the Golden Gleam that helped me
Warmly, Kelly
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  • Reply Jayne Marti November 17, 2014 at 6:20 am

    Ah, television – always a controversial subject in Waldorf circles! I think you have found the perfect balance, and it sure must make it easy when you and your hubby agree. Who chooses movies for your movie night? So far, I have just been borrowing a selection from the library and letting them choose one. That way, I have already chosen ones I find suitable, but they still get a choice to make for themselves.

  • Reply Kim November 17, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Love this post. We all have to find our balance with screens, even us adults 🙂 I am not a TV watcher, but my hubby is, although there are many nights he likes to sit back with a book and not even turn it on. Because of our lack of desire in watching TV it has been easy to keep our little man mostly screen free. He has seen the movie Cars, and when we do the long 19 hour drive south in the spring we take a portable DVD player with us and the Cars movie, but usually he isn’t interested in watching it. I have suggested many times having a family movie night, but he isn’t interested in that either. So for now our TV is hidden away in a old pantry cabinet during the day, and in the evening once the little man is tucked in hubby might put it on, or he might not.

  • Reply Jo (down to earth mother) November 17, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Oh TV is the bane of my existence! Ok, not really. I was very strict on my kids until age two and then I let them watch TV starting with 30 mins and now Mr Almost Five is allowed to watch a feature length film maybe three times a week. He is an absolute addict, tho, and sneaks in every opportunity to watch TV, especially when grandma visits or a neighbour invites him over. Did I create this obsession by restricting him when he was young? I don’t know. I still agonise over it! TV is a part of our culture and kids love to bond over TMNT or Ben10. As you say, it’s all about the balance and it’s hard work getting it right, so well done to your family!

  • Reply kate @ livinglovinglaughing November 17, 2014 at 7:01 am

    Great, honest post! I do think it’s a decision you have to make for every family, as you said. I love my TV time but only ever watch it when the kids are asleep (background TV drives me batty!) so it was pretty easy to keep the TV away from the kids. It was important to me to to keep them screen free till almost 2 yrs then allow it in a moderate way, w pre-recorded shows or DVDs – I find like you, making a rule and sticking to it helps everyone. xx

  • Reply Kate Grono November 17, 2014 at 7:43 am

    We were having a few issues with the level of TV watching in our house and screen time in general. If I let it go, it gets out of control very quickly. My kids are now allowed no screen time until 5pm when they can choose to play the computer or watch TV until dinner. It’s still a substantial amount because dinner is not usually ready until 6:30pm BUT they go the whole day without sitting there like zombies, and it has given them back their play time. It puts electronic entertainment out of the equation until 5pm and they are finding so much more to do and are complaining a lot less. I’d agree that they behave MUCH better with less TV, but it is certainly easier said than done because televisions and computers are so so addictive.

  • Reply Melly November 17, 2014 at 7:50 am

    My dauhter is 5 years old and since a few months, she watches about 25 minutes per week.
    A german show for little ones, with slow pictures and not too many coloures. She can decide whether she wants to watch on saturday or on sunday. It’s totally fine with her. There are so many things she can do during the day, she never asked for more TV time so far.
    Before she was born, we used to have the TV on almost all the time. Now we usually only turn it on for good movies/shows in the evenings.

  • Reply Xan November 17, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Such an interesting topic, Kelly. My husband and I chose life without a TV after doing without one for a long time during our overseas travels. That was before our children came along who are now 4 and nearly 7. I am really sensitive to TV (it gets me irritable and triggers headaches) and my husband only likes it for the football. He goes to the local pub now and watches it on the big screen when his team is playing. We do have a desktop iMac and an iPad and the kids enjoy 2 hours of ‘screen time’ on the weekends. This has been our routine for so long now and has been really easy for us to implement but I think that is because my husband and I are not big program watches and have been strong on the routine from the early days. The kids love their ‘screen time’ and view it as a treat. They discuss the options and negotiate between themselves how to use it. They choose from 1 movie, or divvy it up between streaming some mindfully selected stuff from You Tube and/or playing a game on the iPad. Sometimes if they watch a little with their grandparents during the week then they tell us how long they spent watching it and we take that off the time on the weekend. That sounds really full on but it’s not as they don’t argue over it, they just seem to get that this is what works for us. We talk with them a lot about how different things work for different families especially since their cousins are being raised in a more conventional home environment.

    It’s great to read here how other families who are influenced by the Waldorf ways are managing this because I’m sure we will have to adjust things as our kids get older.

  • Reply Sara @ Happiness is here November 17, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Lovely honest post. It’s different for every family xx

  • Reply Chelsea November 17, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Totally agree that it’s different for every family! We went through screen free periods and found the same. A happy balance is a wonderful thing. My boys usually watch one or two shows a few times a week – and we have Thursday movie day (because it’s $1 rental at Blockbuster LOL). Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply Kate November 18, 2014 at 6:03 am

    We cut the TV right back for the kids after it got to the point they were asking for it all day long! Now they enjoy a family movie night with pizza and popcorn (a lot like your family) once a week. We have found we don’t even miss it and now all the children ask is “Is it movie night tonight?” lol! All in moderation and whatever works for your kids and family I say!

  • Reply Penny @Mother Natured November 20, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    We are totally with you there. My girls love TV but don’t crave it. They don’t generally ask for it either unless we are watching more than normal and then they get silly about it ( which is so rare).That’s when I cull it again!

  • Reply Danya Banya November 21, 2014 at 7:41 am

    We limit TV too – the kids can watch it twice a day, for about 20 minutes each time (enough for one small show) or they can combine if they want to watch something longer. And they choose from shows we have prerecorded, which means I know they are suitable and the finish time is easier to manage. If they start to complain, I find that I just say no TV for a few days and they stop missing it!

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  • Reply Erin August 17, 2016 at 9:01 am

    We let our girls each pick 2 shows, so usually winds up being 40 minutes each. They usually watch them while they eat breakfast so I can remain comatose for a bit longer. They also LOVE Stella and Sam, unfortunately there aren’t many episode so we’ve seen them all so so many times. We’re new to Waldorf, so I’m glad to see that others don’t follow the whole no screen time thing.

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