Why we chose to be a "screen free" household
Zach has always been a very active child who doesn't sit still long enough to catch his breath, let alone watch a whole tv show. While there are so many positives about a toddler that doesn't like TV, it also meant that I never got 5 minutes to have a shower, or quickly clean up around the house because I had a mini cyclone chasing after me undoing all my work. The only time he was still and quiet was when he was eating in his highchair, so every morning I would set his highchair up at the door of the bathroom so I could shower in peace and still see him. I used to have ABC kids on in the background when he was playing but he rarely sat and watched a whole show. He would just tune in here and there.
When he was a bit older he was introduced to Paw Patrol and quickly became OBSESSED. I thought to myself "this is fantastic, he will actually sit still and watch an episode." I was getting so much done, to the point I actually started to miss him because he wasn't in my face every second of the day.
When Xavier came along (One month before Zach's 2nd Birthday) we were fumbling our way having two kids under two - JUST... and I’m the deep end of the sleep deprived, love bubble you are in with a newborn, so Zach got to watch a lot more TV than I care to admit. Especially when Jass went back to work, I would let Zach watch TV whenever I was feeding Xavier, or putting him to bed and let's be honest when you have a newborn that's pretty much all you do.
We started noticing a change when Zach wouldn't acknowledge when Jass got home from work, he wouldn't even listen/respond to us when we were talking to him. He went from a very active, happy child to a sooky Paw Patrol addict very quickly. It was the first thing he said to me in the morning, his new morning greeting was "I want Paw Patrol please" and to get another 30 mins of sleep, I put it on for him.
We also have had sleep issues with Zach since he was 18 months old (that’s a whole other NOVEL that I will write one day) and to try and help him wind down I decided to try a TV- free period. We went cold turkey and although I missed out on my extra 30 mins of sleep, peaceful feedings with Xavier and getting the housework done without the cyclone following me around... I saw a huge shift in Zach’s behaviour. There were a few (small) tantrums when I would say “no TV” in the morning, but I was so surprised how he adapted and how quickly his own routine changed.
I had to really quickly put on my creative hat (thank god for the #kmartplaytray), conjure up activities that would not only keep my toddler entertained but plan these activities and have them set up for the next morning so I could continue with my normal routine which used to involve a babysitter AKA the TV. Luckily one of my closest friends is an amazing teacher and started her own business called Brainy Bags. Look her up on insta, you will not be disappointed.
Surprisingly I actually love our new routine even though it takes a lot more effort and planning and I especially love seeing Zach interact with Xavier so much more. His imagination is incredible and I find myself just watching him make up little scenarios in his head, putting different voices on for all the different characters, giving certain toys to Xavier (and the dog and cat) so they can all play together. He has such a sweet, cheerful side to him and it is now shining through.
We have relaxed a little bit on being 100% screen free because sometimes he just needs to have some down time when he doesn’t have a day nap but he is only allowed to watch 1 movie at a time (no Paw Patrol.) He is such an energetic, active child that TV is really the only time he sits still! We also allow him to watch TV at friends houses but set a timer so he knows when it’s time to turn it off which is working really well!
Just recently I’d had a pretty sleepless night as both kids were unwell and Xavier was down for a nap so I asked Zach if he wanted to watch a movie because we were all a bit grumpy (moreso me #momster) which he agreed to, but 5 minutes in he asked to turn it off so we could play cars instead of watching cars.
At the time I really just wanted to lay down and rest my eyes but in hind sight, I am so incredibly lucky that my toddler wants to play with me instead of watching TV.