After 16 months of parenting, David and I can both admit that we made our biggest parenting mistake before we even had a child. To be exact, we made it even before the idea of having children entered our minds.
We bought a car without a DVD player.
Let me stop for a second....yes, I realize you can buy one to strap around the headrest, but let's be honest, one that folded down from the ceiling of the car would have matched my heated leather seats much better than the one that attaches to the headrest. Being honest.
In December of 2007, we went out in search for a new car for me to drive. Now looking back, I'm not quite sure why I needed a new car, but at the time, I did. We did think ahead enough to realize that we should get an SUV, because we would probably want to have a baby within the next few years and at that time, all we knew about babies is that they come with a lot of stuff (which is true). I remember at the time, the car sales man asked if we were interested in looking at one with a built-in DVD player. I also remember I quickly shot back that it was sad kids couldn't even ride in the car anymore without tv and no, we would not be needing to look at one, because I would not let my kid ride around all day in the car watching tv.
Oh, how naive I was then.
It's amazing how awesome a parent you are, until you actually become one.
Fast-forward three years later and for Olivia's second Christmas, what am I begging for....a DVD player for the car.
I reasoned with myself that we were about to go on a long trip and that it would without a doubt be used several times a year. Thankfully, Olivia's Nana and Grandpa scored her one on black Friday. After Christmas, we went on that long trip and I can say that the DVD player was a gift sent from God himself. She was quiet and watched movies for what turned into an 11 hour car trip. Yes, Olivia was still for that long...I told you God sent it himself.
Here's where my parenting genius kicks in...
I have successfully convinced my child that you can only watch tv when in the car.
I told you it was genius.
After the trip, it took me a few days to clean out the car. So naturally, the DVD player was left up. I originally planned on taking it out and her to only use it when we go on long trips. One afternoon, we got in the car to go to wal-mart and while I was strapping her into her car seat, she started pointing at the DVD player. We only had a ten minute drive, so I thought "what the heck..." and turned it on. Well, one month later, we're still letting her watch it while we're just driving around town. Considering she's only in the car maybe 20-30 minutes a day at most, she's still under the recommended toddler tv time.
Obviously, this only works because she doesn't watch tv at home. After reading so much about how tv for babies will stunt their speech development and set patterns for how much they read when they're older, I've gotten in the habit of not turning the tv on during the day. Sometimes I'll turn it on during nap or if something is good on Oprah, but then we turn it off till after she goes to bed. The few times lately when I have turned it on and she's around, she will go over and turn it right off. At first, we thought she was doing it to play, but nope, she'll turn it off and then walk away from it. It's like when the tv at home is on, it bugs her.
However, as soon as we get into the car though, she wants the tv on. I have gotten a few looks in the parking lot, when I strap her in and immediately turn on the tv, I'm really tempted to yell at them that she doesn't watch it at home and I'm not some mother who plants her child in front of the tv all day!!! I'm sure they wouldn't believe me though, but whatever, it works for us. I've also learned that helps with the problem of ten minute power naps. She doesn't fall asleep when she watching it. This is big for us because on the ten minute drive home from wal-mart, she usually would fall asleep and then would refuse a real nap after her ten minute power nap. She's the queen of power naps.
So, that is how I have successfully figured out how to keep my kid from watching too much tv.