So I have this babysitter that my kids LOVE! She comes whenever I need her to and will stay as long or as short as needed. She is even willing to travel with us. The best part, she’s practically free. She is the TV! We don’t have cable/satellite at home so we stick to PBS Kids. My kids love Super Why, Curious George, and Word World. My son’s current cartoon addiction is Jake and the Neverland Pirates; it was Yo Gabba Gabba until they took it off of Netflix.
I am not bragging by any means! This is something I’m quite ashamed of. They don’t watch all day, but as I watch my plate grow fuller I am noticing myself putting them in front of the TV to be able to check off a few tasks. In a 20-30 minute show I can take a shower BY MYSELF, or I can work on a blog post. I can cook dinner, or pick up the kitchen and the living room. I can plan a LLL meeting, lesson plan, or catch up on emails. I can take a much needed break and sneak in donuts and milk and maybe even a few pages of a book.
When we are out grocery shopping, or in the car for awhile I will put a movie on my phone to keep the kids happy. It is so easy and my go-to quick escape from the screeching and “I’m bored”. I do have a few tricks that help occupy the kids without the tv. They take a bit more effort to prepare, but they are worth it for us all. Here are a few ideas for entertaining the kids while you get a few things done other than plopping them down in front of the evil genius know as cartoons.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING THE TV BABYSITTER…OR AT LEAST LIMITING IT.
-Get outside and get some Vitamin D!! We participate in 365 days of fresh air, which means rain or shine, hot or cold we spend at least 15 minutes outside everyday (side-walk chalk, hose play, nature scavenger hunt, or just wild and free play are our favorites).
-Give the kids a bath or shower. Today, when I noticed the TV had been on too long I put the kids in the bath tub. Its a sure fire way to keep them occupied for a little while, calm the grumpies, and it tuckered the little one out enough to go down for a nap afterwards. Of course, it got them clean too.
-Let them help with chores. As hard as it sometimes, I always try to include my little ones with chores. I would prefer to get the dishes done quickly, but letting them rinse or play in the bubbles before I begin washing usually means I can have a bit of free time afterwards because they felt like they were given attention.
-Sensory Boxes. I LOVE sensory boxes and we use them a lot! Even the big kids like scooping up sand or noodles and can usually occupy them both for happy playing for 15-30 minutes, if not longer.
-Hide toys. What?! Yes, hide some toys and bring them out only for those times when you really need to occupy the little ones for a while.
-Play-doh. We make our own play-doh which is fun for the preschooler and then we break it out during those “I’m bored” moments. I usually lay a sheet down on the floor and they go to town. When were all done the sheet can easily be shaken out.
-Water color painting. Water color painting is fun for all ages and easy to clean up.
-Lastly, when you notice grumpy kids hanging off of your legs and whining to “carry you” and you notice that you’re gritting your teeth to not scream. Stop! Get down on the floor and play with your kids. Most likely it’s what everyone is needing; oxytocin comes in more ways than you realize. Afterwards, you’ll notice happy kids, and a happy parent!