January 08, 2011


I'd love to be one of those families that doesn't have a television. I'd also like to be one of those families that grows their own veggies and has a chicken coup, but that's really not what we're talking about today is it? Ahem...

The truth is, we have a television, but we don't have cable and my kids watch little to no television daily. On average, I'd say they get about two hours of screen time per week. They typically watch a PBS Kids show on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings after they are up and dressed. I use their screen time to frantically finish dressing while throwing snacks in the car, putting in one more load of laundry and packing bags. In full disclosure, I'd probably allow them to watch more television on a lazy Saturday morning, but alas, PBS doesn't run children's programming during that time slot.

Television can really throw my kids for a loop, they zone out for a bit, but they walk away wound up. The dilemma with that is one that every mom faces daily... If I need to get something done (and who doesn't?) with the kids out of the way (always a better option when cleaning with chemicals, cooking on a hot stove, etc.) and I'm not going to let the kids chill in front of the television, how do I keep them from tearing the house apart?

Of course, I try to get as much done while the kids are sleeping, but it doesn't always work out as well as I'd like. There are always times (sometimes multiple times in one day) that I have to work (preferably without the kids underfoot), so I have some tried-and-trues that I pull out.

Since a lot of my work happens in the kitchen, letting them play in the sink, right next to me but not under foot, keeps them safe and entertained for quite a while-typically 30-45 minutes.

I just fill the sink up with soapy water, add a few dirty dishes, and the boys go to town. Yes, there is water on the floor when they are done (wiping it up counts as mopping) and I typically have to change the boys shirts because their sleeves and bellies are soaked from playing, but that only takes 5-10 minutes. Giving in 5-10 minutes to gain 30-45 is a trade I will happily make!

Painting keeps my kids busy for quite a while too. Again, there's some clean-up, but it's worth it. I do have to warn you that painting can't be totally "hands off" from a parenting stand point. If you set up a painting station for your kids, I urge you to stay close. Otherwise, you might wind up with a problem like this:

Totally cute, yes, but painting your face with poster paint isn't the easiest thing for a mommy to clean up.

Of course, if your brother paints his face too you can always take it as an opportunity to pretend to be a kitty cat and spend close to an hour chasing each other around and purring!

I try my hardest to get dressed and ready for the day before the boys are up or while Heath is still home, but sometimes it doesn't work. On those days, I throw the boys in a bubble bath and let them splash and play. I can even take a shower while they are in there... My shower is right next to the tub and has a glass door. I can see and hear them the whole time. Perfect!

Of course, even your best laid plans as a mom can go astray in a second. Remember this? I had set the kids up with bristle blocks while I did some much-needed vacuuming, but I missed something. Did you happen to catch it?

Yep folks, that's bright red grease-based face paint. THAT would have ruined my day quick!

With all these tricks for getting chores done, you'd think I'd have time for gardens and chickens, but that's still going to have to wait. One thing at a time...


Anna said...

Great tips! Looks like the boys don't mind their "busy time" either. :) If Adam isn't underfoot he's probably into something he shouldn't be... like the dog water bowls, entertainment center, and lately, any cabinet he can find.

jen said...

you know I am not one of "those" mommies, but I try my best to have sara help me with the cleaning (LOVE Mrs. Myers cleaners) and cooking...of course it is easier at her age and with just one kid than 3. I also have clean up toys/stuff for the day built into her bedtime routine (we made a very broad chart and I am amazed how much I really like it! Still though, I understand your "pain." the tv is a perceived mommy break, but they just come away from it wanting some more time with you.

Allison said...

I didn't do TV with my last kids. Too much for my visually stimulated kid- OT advised "no screen time". Our TV is pretty ghetto anyways and only gets watched about an hour or two a week by me. Great sink playing idea. I just include "my helpers" whenever I can. Or get them started on a special project before I attempt to do something. I love the painting pictures!

Living with Three Boys of Our Own said...

Anna - I so remember the water bowl! Once he gets to walking it will become less of a factor... mostly because it's not right in his eye level any more!

Jen - totally with you... the down time involved in getting them back from craving mommy mode just isn't worth it to me! I clean a lot with vinegar and water, but sometimes (especially with boys and bathrooms) you've got to pull in the big guns!

Allison - Those are my favorite pictures too! They were being so creative! I didn't give them the idea of cats at all... I love that they came up with it themselves (even if it resulted in a pretty big mess!)