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how to keep toddler occupied without using tv

(46 Posts)
5secondstilltakeoff Mon 27-Apr-15 14:01:22

Since I have had my ds2 i find I am more reliant on TV to keep my ds1 occupied when I have things to do e.g. housework, cooking, putting baby to sleep, showering or even just having a moment to myself to relax. I am finding that I am starting to use it as a crutch but it is having negative consequences on ds1 behaviour. He doesnt want to go out anymore (i know this as he tells me this and throws tantrums if I start trying to get him ready to leave the house) and would prefer to sit in watching cartoons. Another source of conflict is how long he gets to watch tv and what he can watch on it (prior to baby 2 he would watch only 30mins a day and only a set number of cartoons but now he is quite demanding about what he wants to watch). He also plays with his toys leas and reads less then before. I kind of want to just get ris of it completely but am really at a loss yo how I will keep him occupied without it. Any ideas or insights on how you manage to find time for yourself to do what you need to do.

JugglingLife Mon 27-Apr-15 14:06:55

How old are they OP?

5secondstilltakeoff Mon 27-Apr-15 14:26:39

Ds1 is 2.5 and Ds2 is 5 months.

5secondstilltakeoff Mon 27-Apr-15 14:37:38

Sorry for all the typos. I was typing on my phone whilst bf. I mean for those of you who limit or dont have tv how do you keep them occupied so you can get things done.

drspouse Mon 27-Apr-15 14:46:06

I didn't find TV much use for doing stuff when DS was younger (pre-2 or 2 1/2) because he could only sit still for maybe one 10 minute programme, but then I found that things like Room on the Broom or Gruffalo that are about half an hour were OK, which is actually a useful length of time. So generally I'll say "we're going to watch X and then we're going to turn the telly off" and then remind him near the end of the programme. He won't always manage to watch for longer than that even now (he's 3 and 3 months), and will (sorry!) sometimes tell me he's finished watching and wants to do something else.

One day a week we are mainly home and I am trying to get stuff done and I also have a DD 11 months so this is what we do that day, more or less.
We usually manage to have a bit of a lazy start and we sit and read some books together while DD has her breakfast bottle but he and I have finished breakfast. Then I say I'm going to tidy up breakfast and if he hasn't already grabbed some cars to play with I suggest either Lego or his tractor/barn (Little People). I just give him a choice of two. I'd probably take DD into the kitchen at that point though now she can crawl she usually goes and tries to nick his toys.

She goes down for a nap and we either do a quick puzzle or maybe another book while she settles but then I show him how to do a game on the "Ah-pad" and I can get on with something then for maybe 20-30 mins.

We have a swimming lesson late morning and he still naps after that so then he'd wake up early afternoon and if DD is still asleep I do either playdough or painting or maybe some baking with him, it's hard when she's up to do those, but it never takes that long to do those.

I try and leave watching TV till I REALLY need to get on with tea or something so then I'd say we'll go and play Lego together, but usually he is fine with me watching and commenting and him playing which means I can then gradually retreat and again see to DD/get on with other stuff.

I almost always say "we'll watch telly after X" rather than "no telly now" and that trick seems to work with him.

He also knows the routine on that day so will ask for books after breakfast, and Ipad later that morning, for example.

5secondstilltakeoff Mon 27-Apr-15 15:37:22

Thanks drspouse. Lots of really great ideas. My issue with ds is that he follows me around and tries to help if I am cleaning or cooking which normally doesnt help at all. I try to get out everyday. My issue is mornings I want him quiet whilst ds2 is sleeping because if ds2 is awake then I really cant do anything so I just plop him in front of the tv for 1 1/2 - 2 hours till ds 2 wakes up then we all go out. I know this is awful. But I find I have no energy and when baby is asleep I just want to use the time to do things I need to do or rest not entertain my toddler. Is it too much to expect that they can play relatively independently and quietly at this age?

Lorelei353 Mon 27-Apr-15 15:41:42

stickers? My DS loves all those magazines you can get for kids (Thomas, Peppa, In the Night Garden etc) that come with stickers. He'll sit and pick up the stickers and find places to stick them for ages.

IShallCallYouSquishy Mon 27-Apr-15 15:48:42

DD (2.11) would occasionally play with trains while I took DS (14mths) for his morning nap, but 90% of the time it was CBeebies. He doesn't nap in the morning now so I usually just let them both play while I do stuff.

They'll both "help" with putting washing in/tidying up/hoovering etc

Though now DD has stopped napping, she does watch TV while I take DS for his after lunch. We will then go into kitchen and I'll get dinner prepped while she draws or colours or sometimes help me. We then sometimes practice letters and numbers, or play in the playroom. Or just keep watching TV!

I'm a bad parent though wink

5secondstilltakeoff Mon 27-Apr-15 16:01:13

Haha. My son loves stickers so that might work. IShall you dont sound a bad parent at all. Its not necessarily the tv alone I have a problem with but the impact on his behaviour. He seems to be becoming dependent on it for entertainment which is my fault. I had a cs with my second child and I used to let him watch tv for hours (all day sometimes) at the beginning as I desperately needed rest to recover. Its really quite dramatic the change in his behaviour from hardly paying attention to it to demanding it in the morning etc. I dont know whether that is because of his age and being more demanding as a toddler or because I created this rod for my back with my over reliance on tv? I kind of feel like just going zero tv but Im terrified of how I will cope I might try drspouse's approach of saying tv then this other activity.

drspouse Mon 27-Apr-15 16:23:01

Stickers last about five fifteen minutes if I'm lucky here.

If you institute a timetable that's books (you get to sit down) followed by trains followed by TV so he gets TV later while you are actually doing something then he will probably get used to the idea that A happens first then B then TV? You can sit down for trains too as you can just comment/push/sneak a look at MN on your phone!

33goingon64 Mon 27-Apr-15 16:36:08

Read The Playful Parent by Julia Deering - great ideas for play at home, whether you want to get stuff done or have time to play with them. It's stopped me using tv as much with DS.

drspouse Mon 27-Apr-15 17:06:59

I've just had a look at her blog and it is absolutely lovely but most of the ideas are really for older preschoolers. Playdough on his own, for example, is another five minutes only activity with DS.

Stubbed Mon 27-Apr-15 17:13:43

I didn't use TV with my ds when dd was a baby. It's hard. We still don't watch TV now, they love books and are also happy to sit and look at pictures on their own. I think it's a long term thing.

poocatcherchampion Mon 27-Apr-15 17:21:59

We don't really use TV. I just get things done with their help. I always get things done including gardening and some diy.they just potter around mostly.

They normally find things to do themselves as well and we have lots of toys around - little people, toy kitchen, some gardening kit for them, jigsaws colouring etc.

Today's main failure was dd1 pegging her finger while we were hanging out washing - ouch and main success was all 3 of us making daddy's birthday cake chocolate faces

They are 17 months apart - 1.5 and 3 now.

5secondstilltakeoff Mon 27-Apr-15 18:01:57

Thanks for the replies.

33 I will add that to my long list of parenting books I need to read. I do interact with ds quite a bit but I havent really found a way to integrate playing with him and getting my stuff done.

Drspouse Im implementing your suggestion of mnsnetting as ds plays at the moment. Feel a bit bad though to ignore him.

Stubbed can I ask you whether you or your partner watch tv. One of the things that is beginning to dawn on me is that if I want ds to watch tv less I should probably reduce the time I spend watching it too. Sort of lead by example. Do you limit your own screen time (internet as well) or just your childrens?

Poocatcher did you use that approach when dc2 was a baby? I like the sound of that and I can manage that for short bursts of time e.g. 20-30 mins before 5 month old kicks off. I really struggle doing stuff like cooking or cleaning with ds1 around as he is very active so as i clean will follow me around either making a mess trying to help e.g rewashing dishes as I finish and put them to dry. Or when i cook he will climb up on a chair and try to touch the pan. Or will empty the cupboards if im doing something in the kitchen. Maybe i just haven't cracked it how to get them to help without being too involved on what im doing.

drspouse Mon 27-Apr-15 21:41:18

My DS has "his" cupboard which only has Tupperware in it and a bit of repetition means he now knows that very definitely. He's very good at getting the washing out of the machine and handing it to me. He's allowed to get on his Ikea step and watch if I'm using the food processor but not the hob. So he's ok with some tasks but others not so much.

It's not so much ignoring, more multitasking. "Lovely tower sweetheart" (Facebook) "Ooh it's got the car on top no way!"

poocatcherchampion Mon 27-Apr-15 23:25:15

Yes from the outset I can't commit to too much just baby play

I used to carry them around from room to room and do whatever jobs in there, and as they got older give them something to play with - like dhs socks, peg bag, something from kitchen cupboards etc.

I find if I bake a cake while "teaching" them then they don't do risky things because they have my full attention. Dd1 is now good at stirring scrambled egg until completely cooked while I make toast - she understands its an "important job"

Also to answer your other question I rarely watch telly and basically never in the day. So its not a household habit really which I guess makes it easier. Radio 2 or 4 is normally on

drspouse Tue 28-Apr-15 16:58:41

I rarely watch telly and basically never in the day

This is more or less true of us though while off work with DD I have got into the habit of watching Doctors at nap time; and DH watches sport at weekends. Other than that, watching TV in the daytime is a Christmas/sick on the sofa activity.

Tournesol Tue 28-Apr-15 17:09:34

I have 3 DC and have always had a strict time of day that is TV time and we stick to that. They are a bit older now (7, 5 and 3) but we have had the same TV rule since they were young.

That way if they ask for TV at another time I can say 'no, it is not TV time yet'. Our TV time is while I cook their dinner for 30-40 mins.

When they were younger and I wanted to get stuff done I would set up a sort of nursery type environment, in that I would put a couple of activities out (puzzles, duplo, train set) around the room and just let them get on and play. I am always nearby to admire creations or answer questions but I tend to just leave them to it and this has meant all three are really good at entertaining themselves.

MiaowTheCat Tue 28-Apr-15 18:14:52

I usually have the TV on but both of mine don't tend to be glued to it (unless it's bing). What I found helpful with a very narrow age gap was getting the garden well set up with stuff for the older one to do and I could just sit on a blanket with the smaller one (I have 11 months between mine). Both of them are suckers for the "painting" with a clean paintbrush, bucket of water and pavement trick!

drspouse Tue 28-Apr-15 19:57:08

When they were younger and I wanted to get stuff done I would set up a sort of nursery type environment, in that I would put a couple of activities out (puzzles, duplo, train set) around the room and just let them get on and play.

That's a really good idea, though we do put toys away they tend to be just lumped together and they can get everything out (so they do).

plipplops Wed 29-Apr-15 09:27:37

Are you sure his behaviour hasn't just changed as he's growing up (in a normal developmental, terrible twos kind of way)? He's just become a big brother too so his life has had all sorts of upheaval, there's a bigger picture than just tv... It's not easy though, agreed you need to try and find a way to limit it but I'd have been lost without tv as a babysitter when DD2 was born (when DD1 was 16 months)

5secondstilltakeoff Wed 29-Apr-15 18:27:55

Thanks for the replies.

I have been implementing my new restricted tv routine and it hasnt been that bad. I have been using a combination of most of the things mentioned. So sticker books have been coming out. Carting them around with me getting toddler involved with chores. Spending more time in toddler's room with his toys and books etc. For the baby i have been setting him up in the room with me by surrounding him with toys to distract him with if he gets bored of waiting for me to pick him up. However what has really helped me and i dont know whether this is just a new problem in the making - is that talking tom cat app. Its basically a cat that repeats whatever you say in a squeaky voice. My ds1 loves it! But now he keeps asking me for his MY phone so he can talk to cat confused. I think he likes hearing his words repeated so might get him a tape recorder/dictophone type toy or something like that to avoid possible future conflicts when i need my phone to mumsnet. So far he hasnt asked for tv but that might be because of the cat and also because we have been out most of today and yesterday but tomorrow will be the real test as Thursday we dont have anywhere to go. Any more ideas would be well received.

vdbfamily Wed 29-Apr-15 18:40:06

I also had a cupboard in the kitchen with unbreakable stuff in. Add a couple of pans and a wooden spoon or two for drumsticks and mine would play happily on the kitchen floor whilst I tidied up.

chocolatemartini Wed 29-Apr-15 18:48:19

I also used a lot of tv when dc2 was a baby. In the end I went cold turkey on it, as limiting it caused all sorts of difficulties. I just said the laptop was broken (we don't have an actual tv) and after a few days he found other ways to entertain himself. Interestingly now he is 3 he is much better at watching for just 1/2 an hour and I can turn it off with no problems. I'll try and think of suggestions for other things we've done but the big ones are reading or telling stories while bf, Lego, water play (him in bath with toys, me on chair bf baby in the bathroom) it's hard isn't it!

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