Dispatch from Home: Not the lazy days of summer

When I think of the perfect summer day, I usually picture a cool drink and lots of books to go with it. Ah, the lazy days of summer, right?

Well, not quite, at least not when you have two little ones running around and temperatures outside at higher than three figures. Around here, our days look more like this one, aptly captured in Bill Keane's Family Circus cartoon:

Eeek! Though not as chaotic as having four children, summer days with two kids can still be quite challenging, especially because I recently vowed to cut down on my son's TV time. Yes, despite all our avowed book reading, there has been too much TV watching going on around here the past couple of years.

Before I had kids, I was one of those people who swore that my kids wouldn't be TV zombies. I did pretty well with my son the first couple of years. Then, I had a new baby to nurse and a toddler who felt left out and acted out as a result. After trying other tactics to try to quiet him down, I finally settled for Elmo, Word World and Yo Gabba Gabba! to pacify him, telling myself it was only temporary.

Alas, two years later, we've gone through several videos of Bob the Builder, Thomas the Train and a host of other PBS children's shows. Again, I told myself this was fine since I was watching with my son much of the time and commenting on what we were watching, but even after I finished nursing, my son continued to watch kids' shows while I made dinner and did other chores. I did limit his time in front of the TV to two hours daily and mostly adhered to my own rule of not watching any TV myself until the kids were asleep.

Then, the TV began reeling in my daughter with cute images of Caillou and his little sister Rosie. I suddenly realized just a few days ago that my daughter is now around the same age my son was when he first started watching television regularly.

I was horrified. OK, maybe that's overdramatizing it, but I was so jolted out of my complacency that I made a decision at that point to try to reverse the situation. And so, our days this week looked like this:

We listened, played and made music with our collection of toy and tiny instruments. My son loves to pretend he's playing the guitar with this little ukelele I found one day at the thrift store for less than five dollars.

I figured it was the perfect time to pull out a finger puppet theatre I recently bought on sale at World Imports, complete with a set of four finger puppet kids from four different countries. First, they laughed at my performance, or rather re-enactment, with the finger puppets of our crazy morning running around comically trying to get out the door by 8 a.m. with extra changes of clothes, lunch and half our breakfast.

Then, they were eager to create their own mini-plays. Surprisingly, my two-year-old daughter seemed to enjoy the most putting on her own performances for her dad and brother. "Sit," she would tell them, pointing to the chair in front of the theatre.

We also continued work on a crafts project we've been doing the past few weeks.

When temperatures began to dip, we took our own dip in a tot pool that's part of our community swim club, which we are fortunate to have just a few blocks away from our home.

At the end of each day, my kids fell exhausted into bed. I wanted to do the same. Instead, I sat at my desk, trying to put together an intelligent blog post, but found myself too tired even to think coherently. Packing more activities into our already busy days had depleted my energy.

My reward is knowing that we didn't turn on the television even once this week.



For Your Inspiration said...

Sounds like a fun week! I've been contemplating TV watching lately as my daughter recently discovered Barney, which comes on before Sesame Street leading to 1 1/2 hours of TV all before 10 a.m.!

CACHANILLA73 said...

Those games and puzzles are great! I'm going to be looking for some in my next thrift-hunting adventure.
Maybe You can find a way to store them as display and be ready to play at the same time. Good luck!!

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