It’s a question we all ask ourselves, we’re told the average child watches 3 hours of television a day but are you keeping up? Is your child getting their 3 a day?
It’s difficult to fit it in around all their social engagements, homework, sports clubs and imaginative play, not to mention the reading. We can very easily feel inadequate as parents so here’s some tips to help you feel you’re doing enough to keep up.
Get up before them and make sure the TV is on before they wake up, this time doesn’t count but it gives you the opportunity for an extra few minutes. If your children are under 6-years-old you can treat them with the delights of Cbeebies but remember Cbeebies is quite tame, if you want to expose them to some more hardcore TV go for Nick Jr or even Milkshake. Fireman Sam is particularly brilliant for teaching them that it’s perfectly acceptable to start massive, life-threatening fires without any repercussions apart from your mother saying; “Oh dear.”
If your children are over 6-years-old go for Cartoon Network, The Regular Show is wonderful for teaching them that life is just one big psychedelic trip. Make sure you have a TV in every room. This is ideal as you can still eat at the table like a real, proper family but with the TV on. You will have to tolerate arguments, especially if you have mixed ages but you can squeeze in at least half an hour of mind numbing. For bedroom TVs we recommend the cool ones that pop up from the end of the bed. Make sure every bed has a tray so you can balance milk and cookies on it, it will never get knocked over.
School age children need immediate TV when they get home. This will allow you to completely ignore them whilst drinking wine and cruising social media. This is the bulk of TV viewing for most kids, you can get at least 1 of their 3 a day in between school and dinner. If you’re rude enough to have a job that means you don’t get home in time for the school pick-up, ensure that your childminder is aware of the importance of the potential for TV watching at this time.
Preschool children can often attain extra hours of TV just by you forgetting that they exist for an hour. Make sure you are easily distracted and furnish them with drinks and snacks as soon as you turn the TV on. This is an effortless way to get the hours up, especially if you work from home.
Make the bedtime hour revolve around TV. We all know washing children daily is an outdated notion so skip the bath, whip up a hot chocolate and settle them down for that last precious hour. There is enough banal material out there that you don’t have to worry about them being too excited to sleep.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that tablets and games are TV, screen time is a different beast, they interact with them whereas TV is utterly faceless. Instead of a bedtime story give them an Ipad so that they can keep their screen time up, we don’t want to sacrifice other important tasks for the sake of TV.
Follow these tips and your darlings will be getting their 3 a day in no time, you’ll see the difference in them almost instantly.
Shona Moss for PF Magazine