Oh do I really want to open this can of worms? Well yes. I think. At least I want to share with you my personal experience over the past few months and especially just this last week. It might. It just might change your mind.
Being introduced into Steiner education and the accompany ideals when my eldest was only young has meant she never watched television. Would I have limited television had I not had this exposure? I'm not really sure. Growing up, we were only allowed to watch selected programs and never cartoons. Now, I watch nothing - I get plenty of screen time reading blogs/blogging and relaxation from sewing, a bath or sleep!
During the first few months of my pregnancy with Millie, every evening I had rather awful 'morning sickness' and in order for me to "cope" during the happy hour after arriving home from work, I allowed Abbie one episode of a (pre-recorded) playschool. Abbie would have been about 20 months at this time. Once I was over the morning sickness, the television was covered and its fascination disappeared after I told her playschool were on holidays.
Recently while Olly was offshore for business, I allowed playschool to return on the computer. This time to offer some 'distraction' while I would feed Millie to sleep throughout the day. I set the limit of a maximum of two episodes per day and we were rotating about 5 episodes, so the content was familiar. Despite this I noticed rather quickly she became unbelievably moody and irritable. Asking first thing in the morning to watch it and at any point in the day when there was suddenly no planned activity. Sound familiar? That's normal for a 2 year old you may say. perhaps. However it was so out of character for her kind, enthusiastic disposition that in the back of my mind I felt rather guilty.
Last week at playgroup, one of the wonderful Steiner teachers who takes the discussion group for the mums spoke on the topic of television. (I wrote about a talk I went to on television back here). The reasons made so much sense, just as they had the first time I had heard them. I also read this article - seriously worth the read.
For a week, there has been no television/ no playschool for Abbie. She has only asked three times in the last week (the few days initially following) if she may watch it. Two of those times resulted in a mass tantrum. I told her that television wasn't good for her eyes (not untrue) and that there are simply too many other lovely things to do in our home to have time to watch it (also very plausible).
I overheard her telling Olly when they were reading on the lounge the other night, that she doesn't watch playschool. "It's not good for her" she stated. And that's it. No asking. Nothing.
The difference is seriously incredible. Hence the blogpost. The most noteworthy perhaps is her ability to be happy with there being nothing to do sometimes/ with being bored/ and no whinging. It is good for children to be bored I think. They will quickly learn to busy themselves using their imagination and mind or simply fall into rhythm with your chores/ activities. (Of course the older they get the more they can do - read, craft, build, make, ride a bike, play outside etc.)
Here are some of the things Abbie has been doing instead of watching playschool:
:: helping in the kitchen: peeling/ chopping apples (as you saw here)
:: cracking macadamia nuts (image above)
:: playing in the sandpit
:: helping me hang out the washing (we have those small open out clothes horses)
:: sitting at the table with a little tea pot of peppermint tea (not too hot), a few cups and a tea towel (for the spills) and lots of pouring.
:: playdough (at her little table in the kitchen, usually while I am cooking), a sprinkling of real flour and a little pot of currents.
::"glitter" which involves some glue in a milk carton lid, an old paintbrush, water and little jars of glitter
:: watercolour painting (we do this once a week as a special morning activity)
:: lego - oh the girl l o v e s lego.
:: reading her books
:: dancing. She asks for Michael Buble "Mis Deseos/ Feliz Navidad" everytime (her big sister's Christmas dancing concert!)
:: "sewing" - I have given her a basket with some scissors and wool felt scraps. We have sat together about four times this week and she has cut things out and asked me to sew together while she watched. I have found her a few times after I have been feeding Millie sitting there cutting and "making things".
:: Mothering Molly. A never ending task. Don't we know it!
I have made a conscience effort this week to be more present with my girls. I have wanted to make another batch of ice cream and do a little more recipe testing for my cookbook however I have let it go and just enjoyed their company.
Please, flood me with your thoughts and comments. I'd love to know your experiences and perhaps if you give it a go - report back so others can read about your experiences.
A quote from this link, I particularly find relevant. Especially given my interest in nutrition. I do everything possible to ensure adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones) are not running around my body!
"The lower brain can't discern between images that are real or created on TV, because discernment is the function of the neocortex. Therefore, when the TV presents sudden close-ups, flashing lights, etc. as stimuli, the core-limbic brain immediately goes into a "fight or flight" response with the release of hormones and chemicals throughout the body. Heart rate and blood pressure are increased and blood flow to limb muscles is increased to prepare for this apparent emergency. Because this all happens in our body without the corresponding movement of our limbs, certain TV programs actually put us in a state of chronic stress or anxiety..." Susan R. Johnson, M.D., 1999 (emphasis my own)