Craft Meaningful TV Times with Your Kids By Asking These 5 Questions

Ever feel guilty about letting your kids watch tv? You’re not alone.

Even as I write this post, I’m battling a mean case of ‘mom guilt.’ I struggle with this EVERY single day.

Compared to most moms, I let my daughter watch quite a lot of tv.

I HATE admitting this.

As a former teacher and a lover of life, I’m keenly aware of the addicting nature of tv and the damage it can do to young minds, especially when TV replaces outdoor and play time.

However, as a mom with health issues, TV is a necessary activity most days; I simply do not have the physical strength to be up and about all day long!

I’m in no way suggesting you should increase ‘screen time’ for your child. If you can keep TV the exception and still get life done, this is best! There will be plenty of time for Netflix when he or she gets older!

But during those times when tv is ‘necessary’ for your sanity and ability to function, I want to suggest an idea:

TV doesn’t have to be ‘zombie time’ for you or your child.

We, as parents, can approach tv as an engaging and meaningful activity, just like playing with a toy or interacting with another child.

How, you ask?

Consider these 5 questions before turning on the TV!

1.Am I picking the right shows?

In an upcoming post, I will share my TV favorites for toddlers and young kids, but let’s ‘bottom line’ it for now.

Ideally, shows should be:

  • Not too annoying
  • Musical in some way
  • Informative or character-building
  • Not your own shows (Generally speaking, I don’t watch any of my shows with my daughter. Best to keep these for relaxation).

2Is there something we can learn from the TV?

Rather than putting on a character-based show automatically, consider your child’s interests. For instance, my daughter likes animals, so sometimes we watch animal videos on YouTube or science documentaries on Netflix.

Think outside the box. What does my kid naturally like? Trash trucks? Flowers? Crafts?

Check YouTube with these key words and line up some videos to watch, based on their specific interests. (Keep in mind you may want to do this before your child is with you, since there’s a LOT of questionable content on YouTube). You don’t want them to get too much education, if you know what I mean!

3. Am I talking during TV time?

It’s natural to want to zone out during TV shows. After all, you have been talking ALL DAY with your child. (It’s exhausting!) But if you want TV time to be meaningful, you must engage them with guiding questions.

For instance: “Do you think Winnie the Pooh will be all right?” or “Was that a nice thing for Sarah to do?”

Think of a show as a book come to life and experience it with your child.

4. Am I enjoying my child while we watch TV?

Particularly at the end of the day or before nap, my daughter gets extra cuddly. I turn on the tv and she’s in my lap immediately. Nothing better.

5. Is this a good time to get something done? (What a concept!)

Once you’ve picked good content, engaged or cuddled with your child during the show and got them nestled in, TV can be a crucial part of your strategy for getting stuff done in your house that can’t be done at other times. Examples would be: making appointments, checking emails, cooking (when you want them away from the stove) and doing yoga. I frequently use TV as a way to enhance my own productivity and it’s awesome!

Finally, don’t forget to give guidelines and a sense of finality to shows. For instance, before turning on a show, lay out how much you are going to watch and before turning it off, say “we are all done now.” (My daughter generally says a dramatic goodbye to the TV, which can even involve waving).

Bottom line, don’t let episode after episode run together; have a plan.

(An exception to this would be if either of you are sick, in which case, I kind of let all the tv ‘rules’ go out the window!)

Have a favorite show or TV ritual with your kids? Make sure to share! Let’s find joy in EVERYTHING, even TV!