the boob-tube blues

blog4-4i admit it, i let my child watch too much tv…especially when it is so often grey and rainy outside. isla has grown quite attached to zoning out in front of the screen and i have let it happen. boo-urns. i could go on a rant about how our fast-paced, expensive, over-stimulated culture is to blame or i could pull a “no screens for a year” stunt, but i think what i really need is a plan.

the fact is i’m tired, with a slow-witted memory and low fuel for creativity, so when my daughter begs to watch a show it is so easy to give in! oh and how easily a twenty minute show spills in to an hour! it’s truly sad. however, i don’t want to ban the boob-tube entirely – i’ve witnessed the screen-lust that it causes – but, instead, limiting the time of good shows and axing any show that sucks (my naughty list includes, but is not limited to, “caillou” a whiny 3 year old who hates his vegetables, “diego” a nonsensical animal meddler…etc… i’ll allow “my little pony” because i consider it bonding time *wink*). the only problem is, and this is awful to say, tv does such a dang good (terrible) job of captivating a three year olds attention… anything else is an effort, for sure, but oh so worth it. i have noticed the way isla picks up unintended tidbits from the shows she watches and i have also noticed the zombifying effect it has on her – it happens to me too, start the day with tv & i feel nothing but lethargic. in the weakness of the moment it is so easy to concede to pleading (yes, she does), but with a game plan (literally) prepared i hope to train both of us out of this destructive convenience habit. so, when we’re stuck inside and the tv beckons, i’ve collected a list of rainy-day activities i have found to work with my little hurricane-child and my just-home-from-work-sleep-deprived self:

isla on the hunt
isla on the hunt

hide the fishies (insert any other favoured treat)

this one is such a hit! i tell isla that she’s going on a hunt & she has to play in her room for five minutes while i hide fishies or other treats around the living room. she dashes in and intently searches, asks for hints, & gleefully munches!

picnic in the living room!

this replaces snack time or, sometimes, dinner. isla gets to be the mommy and together with her assistant “child” (me) we raid the kitchen and put everything in a basket. i am always surprised at isla’s food choices – i totally thought that, when given the chance, she would only want treats – but she doesn’t take the responsibility of feeding her family lightly! fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, and a marshmallow for dessert. and then she proceeds to eat it all without a fuss, unlike our traditional sit-down dinners. amazing. and she prepares the picnic blanket, divides up the rations, and tidies up after, too! it is usually a nice chill time – love it.

having some princess time

dress up!

this provides an outing too… go to the local thrift shop and have at’er. my experience is that kids love the activity so much more when they are involved in it’s creation. so, go with a wee budget and let them know in advance that they can only buy a few things that add up to your coins (oh money lesson!). it’s great to see what they pick out as fun dress up material. once the proud little person arrive home with their purchases & helps you give them a wash it’s time for everyone to get dressed up! this leads to craft time…

best pal elijah gets a mask too!
best pal elijah gets a mask too!


this can be another outing… go to the dollar store, collect rocks, feathers, pine cones, boxes, recycling, and have a good stock of stickers & pens & glue. then make pirate patches, magic wands, masks, musical instruments (drums, rubber band tissue boxes, shake-y things, etc), box trains, you name it… let whatever you have on hand inspire the craft! then combine with dress-up and, bam, insta-play : )

fun with baking

isla loves this. the key is to expect mess and salty muffins – if you’re good with that then it can be such a good learning time. kids love being real helpers and feeling like they are contributing in tangible ways & how cool is it that you end up with a goody at the end? go ahead and let them crack an egg (or, rather, explode it), taste-test every ingredient that goes in (isla oddly likes baking soda), and make irregular, monstrous cookie formations… it’s worth it to mentor the joy of creating food!

introduce board games

ok this is a toughy for a 3 year old, but i think it is really good to start early to create a fondly anticipated family tradition – my hope is that it lessens future videogame obsessions and replaces the constant draw of tv up & to teenage-hood. we’ll see : ) because it’s tricky to find games that occupy a 3 year old for more then a few crazy minutes, i made one up that makes everyone do silly things on each square of the path – isla stays engaged & patiently waits her turn because she gets to witness mom & dad act like monkeys, etc… i’ll post it soon!


man, play-dough. don’t forget it – it’s a wonderful activity. plus, like baking, you can make it together & it can be as salty as they want! isla particularly loves making pretend meals and giant lollipops : ) here is a good recipe.

dance time

isla and marley boogie down!

this is go-crazy-silly, who-cares-that-you-look-like-a-lunatic time. man, it’s the opposite of tv, but if you give your butt a kick and peel yourself off that cozy couch your mood will brighten and a smile will appear on your face. it is essential that you give’er cause the kids will laugh & join in the fun…providing a spirit-lifting show of antics for your camera : )

this is by no means exhaustive, check out my pinterest page to see some amazingly fun activities posted by amazingly fun & creative parents… it’ll keep you steeped in projects & your kids happy and engaged. i would love to hear what you do to keep your kids entertained on a rainy inside day and away from the infamous tv… please share!

~ rena

3 thoughts on “the boob-tube blues

  1. That is dedication still. We have opted for the cable to be cut and subscribe to Netflix. Not that cuts down on temptation, but at least you can set the time you watch the favorites and it is easier to cut out the ones you don’t want. Plus you sidestep that evil scheme of commercials aimed at your child.

    1. very true, netflix is the way to go when you are trying to negotiate the tv world – you have control over what they watch & forego the awful greed created with commercials… oh man, the few times that we’ve watched cable tv at a friends house i was shocked how it inspired a “need” for the featured toy… gross.

  2. Well, it’s been about 8 days where the girls only watch one show (most days) and I have to say that they are WAY more alert and present throughout the day. They go to bed better also.
    One day I slipped and let them watch a ‘short’ show in the morning- it zombified them. So weird to see them become dopey and cranky; might as well been groaning ad saying “brains, brains!”
    Lesson learned- lets hope for a trend with the trimmed tv time.
    Thanks for the ideas btw!

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