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How to break the tv watching habit

(12 Posts)
ParsleyCake Sat 31-Dec-16 09:10:48

I started off saying my son would not watch tv until he was three, and even then my smug inner monologue was saying that in fact we would probably ditch the tv altogether. My partner and I dont watch tv at all, and haven't for years, so it didn't seem like it would be an issue.

However, it all started at a few months old, when nothing soothed my son like Disney songs playing on the iPad. At this stage it was only the music, and while I did try classical music I found Disney worked best as he enjoyed me singing along. After time though, I experimented with popping cartoons on the iPad while I showered or used the toilet. I grew addicted to the few minutes of peace, and from there on it only got worse. My son was an incredibly fussy eater and it worried me terribly. Putting on cartoons distracted him so much that he would let me put almost any food in his mouth.

Now if we are home, the tv is on and cartoons are showing. Toys are always out but within about 10 minutes they are always chucked out of the room and the tv keeps him occupied when he does this. If the tv is on he has something to keep him occupied once the toys become boring.

I just feel like such an awful parent, and I know my partner feels the same.

I just don't know what to do to keep him busy during the day! He has at least two outings a day - a half hour walk outdoors in the morning and another walk to put him to sleep for his nap at about 1pm. Sometimes we exchange the walk for a visit to soft play or swimming.

As a child I had access to the outdoors as we lived on a farm, and I wish I could just let him run free in a garden, but we live in a tiny flat.

Maybe the problem is that I expect him to entertain himself mostly? It's just what I remember doing. I mean we do colouring together and play with his toys together but on the whole I have been setting out a box of toys and carrying on with my own thing. There's a different set of toys out in the afternoon.

ParsleyCake Sat 31-Dec-16 09:12:29

Ps he is one and a half and I forgot to say he actually walks on his morning walk but is pushed in his pram to be put to sleep at 1

Cranb0rne Sat 31-Dec-16 17:57:44

Have you tried any of the following:

Playdate
Toddler groups
Reading (my DS loved books at 18 months)
Outdoor play with puddles, leaves, sticks (get a waterproof all in one suit and wellies)

Cranb0rne Sat 31-Dec-16 17:59:43

Indoor DIY sensory play - Google this and there are some good websites with ideas

Petalbird Sat 31-Dec-16 18:01:14

Just try turning it off? Have it on for specific times? Our youngest dsd is use to having the tv on all the time and now at 6 is terrible at entertaining herself

Cranb0rne Sat 31-Dec-16 18:01:25

Just to add that my DS wasn't very good at entertaining himself at 18 months. He still wanted constant attention from me.

defineme Sat 31-Dec-16 18:04:51

First of all, don't panic, I did tne food with tv distractionthing with food refusing ds1 and he doesn't watch tv now. What are you doing whilst he watches tv? Kids can play alongside, near you whilst you clean up, cook or whatever. Get out to playgroups, parks, library etc. Can you sing etc whilst you feed him? Children that age won't do a great deal of playing on their own, i was generally out with them, playing with them or reading, singing etc , did the cooking laundry etc with them hanging off my leg and the rest when they napped.

isthistoonosy Sat 31-Dec-16 18:06:18

Honestly I think you need to include him in what you are doing so he can 'help' you tidy or what ever and then sometimes you sit and play with him maybe leaving him for a few min to play lone while you do thinks and gradually building this up. Also id go.to more soft play, play groups etc. Plus a little tv is fine of course you don't need a total ban.

Crumbs1 Sat 31-Dec-16 18:09:43

Turn it off.
Let him help you with household tasks like laundry and cooking.
He isn't out very much by the sound of it - do more, longer activities. Take him swimming, to toddler groups, to the park or beach.
Toddlers are not good at entertaining themselves so you will need to do things with him. Set a decent routine. Include outdoor activities, social activity, daily reading for half an hour, daily singing and activity song for half an hour, daily play like playdoh whilst you cook in kitchen. By the time you have done all that and bathed, fed and watered the child can have half an hour of tv before bed.

LuchiMangsho Sat 31-Dec-16 18:11:05

It is rare for an 18 month old to entertain themselves other than for short periods of time. We are a mostly screen free family (we watch sport and the odd programme like the Bake Off)- at 18m DS watched almost no TV. Chores would have to be done when he slept. But I am a person of routine so on my days with him I somewhat ruthlessly organised the day: wake up, breakfast, get dressed, potter around while I get dressed, 'help' me with some chores- at that age he loves loading the washing machine or standing next to me while I washed dishes. You could have music on (rather than the TV) and sing along.
Then head off for some group or the other. Come home for lunch. Then a nap. I would use nap time to finish chores but mainly to drink tea and empty my mind.
Wake up and have a snack. Time to read. I would join him to play on the floor. If the weather is decent, go out for a walk or to the park. Come back home and have dinner. Post dinner we would do something relatively calm (unless DH was home early in which case things got a bit rowdy)- reading, listening to music for about 15 mins. Then start bedtime routine. Which at 18 months involved a nice massage in a dim room (which he loved), then a bath and I would get into the bath with him, come out and both of us in PJs, come back to the room, have some milk while I read a story. Brush teeth. A couple of more stories and tucked into bed.
And that's when the truly manic part of our day would begin. DH and I would cook for the days ahead, finish up the laundry, tidying up, any cleaning or other chores to be done. Collapse at 8:30. And rinse and repeat!!!!
I THINK part of this was easier because we don't watch a lot of TV so we never had it on for background noise.

elQuintoConyo Sat 31-Dec-16 18:14:15

Ditto Cranb0rne above, my 18mo couldn't entertain himself for more than a minute. Even though he didn't have tv then. However, he has only just started to be interested in books- he is 5yo!

When having a shower, cooking, doing some sewing, I used to put him in his Antilop high chair (super light and portable) with some toys or plastic tupperware, small bit of ribbon etc to entertain him.

Now if his attention wanders off from the tv for any length of time, it goes off. He barely notices. For example, he'll be hapy Paw Patrol is on, but after the initial minute or so he'll wander off and play with something, so I'll switch it off.

When we visit his same-age cousin and they are playing nicely, for some reason my Sil will just turn on the tv to any old crap and cousin will stop playing watch while DS looks a bit wtf, then just plays on his own.

Put your LO in a bath and put in some custard- lots of lovely yellow custard to squish between fingers, squish in hair, stuff in mouth, clap between hands- my son loved that!

LuchiMangsho Sat 31-Dec-16 18:16:46

In general, I would aim to be outdoors at least twice a day, once after his mid morning snack/milk (around 10) and then again around 3. DS did sleep from 12:30-2ish on a reasonably regular basis so that helped (his night sleep went to pot at 18m and drove me to the brink of despair before improving). In the afternoon by the time we got back it would be 4:30. Dinner at 5 and then the evening routine followed. I would leave as much non-essential stuff for after he was asleep. But both DH and I were a bit anal about making sure we did chores before sitting down to dinner, no matter how exhausted we were. It felt like a pain in the butt it made sure that I wasn't for the most part being chased by a whingey child trying to finish chores.

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