Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm Raising My Kids Amish

Pin It For the most part, I'm not a strict mom. I tend to be pretty lackadaisical about discipline. I'll send them to their rooms for a punishment sometimes, but then I forget I've done it. They usually come out after a few minutes and tell me "I'm ready to be good now," and I nod and smile and try to remember what on earth they are talking about. (I tried using a timer, so that when it rang I would have to remember - oh yes, Abby is sitting on her bed. But mostly it would just ring and then I'd stare at it for a while, completely flummoxed about why I'd set it in the first place.)

Luckily they're pretty well behaved kids, other than being somewhat slow to listen and a little distractable. (My husband is very quick to point out that I don't get to complain about that, because it's totally genetic). Sarah's last report card said she was "a joy to teach," but needed to stop humming during class. That pretty much says it all.

Despite my somewhat absent-minded parenting, we've managed to mostly dodge the naughty children bullet. I mean, they're normal kids - they fight and get irritable and have periodic meltdowns - but it's mostly just normal stuff. (Although when my kids are tired - hooooo boy. The tears! The drama! The inexplicable rage!)

(Man. I wonder where they get it from! Ha. Ha ha ha!)

(Awkward silence.)

There ARE some things I'm completely a mean mom about though.

I only let them watch a half-hour of TV a day, and only on the channels I pick. My husband and I only watch TV after they're in bed, so for a long time they had no idea what commercials were. When my husband finally convinced me to unclench a little and let them watch something on Nickelodeon (Commercials! SpongeBob! The path to irreversible brain meltage!), Abby would cry whenever there was a commercial break. "They're stopping the show AGAIN mom! I don't like this show about Moon Sand."

Of course, this means they're complete suckers - they believe everything they hear on commercials. Abby and Sarah are constantly copying down toll free numbers for toys they see on TV, and then reminding me to hurry so we can qualify for free shipping. "We're not buying that." "But it's just three easy payments Mom!"

It also means that they have no idea how to use the remote. To them it's a magical stick that unleashes the power of the TV, but ONLY FOR MOM. Sarah's tried to figure it out a few times on the sly, but she never gets anywhere because she doesn't know the secret - you have to press the satellite button first or you're totally hosed.

In the car we mostly listen to the IPOD. When I lost it for a few weeks we had to listen to the radio. They had no idea what was going on. They'd hear a song and ask me to play it again.

Me: "I can't, it's the radio."
Abby: "Put on Nobody's Perfect!"
Me: "I can't. We just have to listen to whatever is on."
Them: (generally perplexed expressions)

I gave them a rambling and perhaps somewhat technically inaccurate explanation about the concept of radio - there's a guy sitting in a room somewhere who chooses what we get to listen to, then sends magic space waves out through the air until the song eventually arrives in our car - but all that did was freak them out a little.

We don't have video games either - I'm not morally opposed or anything, I just figure we have enough ways to waste time already. When Sarah went over to a friend's house a few months ago, the friend didn't understand how this could possibly be true. You would've thought she'd said she was an orphan. The friend bought her a Webkinz for her birthday with a note that said, "I hope your parents will let you use this. Tell them to call my mom and she will talk to them." (Because those Amish, they don't like Webkinz.)

I'm never going to win any awards for parenting - I'm a terrible cook, a very marginal housekeeper, and I get entirely too distracted.

Sarah: "Mom. Listen to me."
Me, staring off into space thinking about ponies: "Yeah."
Sarah: "Do I have to practice the piano? Or can I go play?"
Me: "Sure honey."
Me (two minutes later, noticing she's outside): "Hey - what are you doing? Get in here and practice the piano."
Sarah: "ARRRRRGHHHH!!!!"

So it's nice to feel like there is SOMETHING I'm doing rightish, even though I fully recognize there is nothing particularly magical about the half-hour limit we've set. Back when I had a 3 year old, 2 year old and an infant, PBS Kids was on constantly, and nobody was scarred for life, not even a little bit.

Anyway, I'm curious about what your TV/video game rules are? Where do you draw your lines?


  1. I am raising my kids Amish too I guess. Wow I was so distracted, I didn't notice. Hmm, were you a twin? Possibly separated at birth?
    Oh, where was I? LOL

    So, strict TV rules here as well as Computer, video games and yes the radio too.

  2. No video games at my house!!! I didn't have one and I am relatively normal. The key word being, relatively.
    My children are older and tend to turn it on with out permission and have figured out that mythical object, the remote.
    I am at times tempted to do what my SIL dad did and just cut off the plug!!
    I hate the TV and try to limit the watching of it. I am like you and forget who I said what to, so I have to pretend I changed my mind.
    "MOM, why does he get to watch when you said no?" " Ummm, Uhhh, because I said and I am the boss." Is usually my response.

  3. We're totally "Amish" here, not even hooked up to the TV. We do videos though. (Dang that Disney crap, but love Signing Time and Baby Einstein), but I limit that to two or three a week. My girls are still little (18 months and 3 years old), so we haven't really thought about it a lot. The computer will probably be our problem. I need to restrict myself from that.

  4. Funny, I just commented on this same thing on another blog. Also funny (if awkward is funny) that I've never commented on your blog before. Anyway, for now my philosophy about tv is the more the merrier. I don't have any rules other than, "If you cry or fight, you're done with tv." I wasn't always that way, but it's how I survive RIGHT NOW. I'm positive it is only a phase, and that someday I'll get motivated to be a good mom again. I've decided not to worry about it and feel horrible like I would have five years ago, mostly because my husband says that's what I should do (he's a therapist, so I listen). Judge me if you will, but I'm okay with it.

  5. I'm so curious how you can work part time and not turn on the TV very much. My kids are 5,3, and 1, and seems like I need the TV to take a shower, make dinner, and maybe get another few minutes of sanity during the day. How do you do all those things and fit in working?

  6. No TV - occasional videos (mom-picked) - no video games whatsoever. It's not what they watch, it's the fact that while they are watching, they are not doing anything else - creating, interacting, running around.

    I have a 17-year-old son and, contrary to popular opinion, he has not been permanently warped by the total lack of video games. I have friends who warn, "He'll discover them in college and get addicted!" Well, I knew kids who always had them and still managed to flunk out of college because they were addicted.

    Childhood is for playing - real, tactile play, not Webkinz. Yeah, my kids get bored; but so do the kids with all the bells and whistles technology.

    No zippers, either (ha, ha, just kidding)...

  7. Oh, and the other good thing about limited video is that I always know what the heck my kids are talking about. They're not jammering on and on about some dumb show they watch.

    Or is that yammering? I can't remember.

    Veggie Tales, though - they rock. I love Larry and Bob.

  8. Andrea - I would never judge. Like I said, we had a couple of years where it was on constantly, and we were none the worse for wear.

    Stacy - it helps that my youngest is four. It makes a huge difference. Re: working - I have a part-time babysitter. She comes for four hours a day while I work. I also work every night for four to six hours.

  9. You have more followers than I do. Are you bribing people again?

  10. I am with Andrea, the TV is on a lot at our house. A real lot. I am not proud of it, but I have come to terms with it -- right now (my kids are 11 & 14) I am giving myself permission to give them permission. But not when they are doing homework, or eating breakfast (somehow they cannot master both eating and watching when we are on a tight schedule like having to get to scchool.) Or whenever I seeminlgy randomly, but actually for really-good-mom reasons say "NO TV." (and I always say it, never scream it.) The rule I stick to hard and fast is no eating in the living room. That's the one that I pride myself on. Has nothing to do with raising good kids but it's what I have.

  11. WHATEVER SB - my fictional alter ego has almost twice as many followers as I do. I'm trying not to let that hurt my feelings.

    I agree about childhood being for playing.

    Yikes, I hope people aren't feeling judged for doing what they feel they need to do. That wasn't my point at all.

  12. Anonymous12:02 PM

    We don't have satellite or cable at all -- I know we're Luddites -- so we watch DVDs only. (SO MUCH EASIER to watch "House" all at once and not have to deal with re-runs.)

    Anyway, the girls don't get TV/DVDs on school nights at all. On Friday and Saturday, they can watch a movie or a few episodes of one of their favorite shoes ("Bewitched" and "Gilligan's Island" are two faves.)

    During school breaks, we relax the rules a bit, but it's not all TV all the time during summer vacation. Pretty much, the same rules apply.

  13. We don't have a TV or video games. Our computer doesn't have any speakers right now, so the most my kids get is watching an occasional movie with the subtitles turned on. I try to limit screen time to 15 minutes/day each, but that doesn't always happen.

    If I really want to get something done and I need the kids to be quiet, I try to plan a trip to the library beforehand. That will sometimes get me 2 hours of uninterrupted work time. However, it does require my husband to be around to take them OR for me to chase my 3 year old through the stacks.

  14. No video games (no objections we're just cheap). Computer games only on non-school days and not on Sunday. 1 hour of tv during the week (so I can make dinner) and as much as they want Saturday mornings (and, honestly, Sunday as well but it has to be appropriate. I figure I'm somewhere in between the completely rule-less and the Amish.

  15. No TV here. DVDs on weekends only. My main reason is because I hate, hate, hate commercials.
    No video games, same reason as you.
    We listen to audio books on my iPod in the car. My kids are mesmerized. Works way better than an in-car DVD player for us.
    We do the whole Webkinz thing, though. Yes, it's a time-waster, but it's fun and harmless.

  16. Oh, and I DO let them use the computer. Fifteen minutes a day. My daughter uses it for, yes, Webkinz.

  17. I was super strict about my son not watching tv for the first 22 months of his life. Somehow playing vids on the computer wasn't the same.

    BUT. Then I got pregnant. Now I am 7 plus mos. preggo and have no energy.

    So, he watches nearly as much Max and Ruby and Little Bear as he wants.


  18. We don't even have TV--we disconnected our service, and now watch only DVDs on our very old machine. J didn't know what commercials were, either, and had the same reaction your kids did when he watched TV at grandma's. He called them "commercinals" for the longest time, and I thought that was hilarious.

    Unfortunately, he's mainlined the no TV deficiency in his life into the computer, and spends large amounts of time on the internet, which is almost scarier. We've put in strict rules about Google, and he's addicted to the games on Facebook (yeah, if you notice, it looks like I'm constantly playing games on my profile. It's my kid, I promise!) I worried about it, until he started doing some algebra, and I asked him where he learned how to write parenthesis around the numbers and stuff. "Who has the Biggest Brain" he answered, and suddenly, Facebook seemed like an awfully fun place for a 6 year old.

    We do not have any video games. None. We might get a Wii, but that is definitely where DH draws the line. He flatly says, "No, I don't want your brain to melt" when J asks for a gameboy. J gets all irritated and says, "It's just a video game, it's not a brain melter!!"

    (I love my son.)

  19. I don't have any set rules because then I'd have to follow them....and I'm not very good at that.


    The little girls 2,4 watch Dora faithfully and on days we actually stay home, probably a few more shows then that.

    The big kids 10,8 watch next to none during the week mostly...probably slightly more then none when the weather is frigid and seriously go weeks in the summer with out it. But not because I have a rule about it. when they rule it must be mom approved. and its nothing on any major channel

    I on the other hand have a full Tivo at all times. And nope, not giving it up even though I do have a problem....probably

  20. Oh, this is a hard one for me. I grew up watching way too much t.v.

    So, I struggle really hard not to say - okay, everyone downstairs, it's mandatory t.v. time. Don't come up until all of the shows are over.

    But we're Amishy too. No cable, no video games, on dish, no cell phones, no ipods..... (only I wish I had those last 2).

    PBS & DVD's are our poison of choice. Although I have no idea what we're going to do when Feb. rolls around & our t.v. doesn't work anymore.

    BTW- I don't watch t.v. anymore. Except for the Office, but that's it. I'm feeling pretty good about my 1/2 hour a week.

    My kids are restricted on computer time also. I give them 20-30 mins a day on the computer - which ends up being like 2 hours because they combine their time & all stick around while it's the other ones turn.

    As long as they're working together, right?

  21. My kid's only four, so no video games doesn't mean a whole lot, but neither the husband nor I approve of wasting your brains on gaming, so that's pretty much out.

    TV, meh. It's on a lot, but PW hardly ever even watches it. She likes to look up occasionally and see what Spongebob is up to, but otherwise she and her brother just play nicely together with their toys. So I figure, how bad can it be, right? We'll find out in 20 years when the therapy bills start rolling in I suppose.

  22. "...which ends up being like 2 hours because they combine their time & all stick around while it's the other ones turn." Yeah - us too. Fifteen minutes ends up being 45, because they all feel compelled to watch each other play.

  23. I thought I was the only Amish one... I can't stand video games. I do let mine play computer games (when I'm not on the computer or my hubby's not it), which only happend in a BLUE moon. TV, if they beat me to the TV in the morning, they can watch PBS, and that is it. TV is off all day (unless its a school video), until the kids go to bed. I REALLY AMISH (not!)... I teach in a 1 room school house... (homeschooling)

  24. We don't have tv either, but my kids get to watch things on dvd players and computer. They didn't understand commercials either. Now they repeat "These people are just trying to get us to buy things."

  25. I am trying not to be too crazy controlling over what my kids do.. so they don't freak out one day. I do supervise what they watch- and we held out for a long time on the video games- but we broke down and got a WII and they like to be home more and I can monitor what they play. I came from a home where my parents were very relaxed- we understood what our values were but they were not super controlling- and we turned out great! (I think??)

  26. No video games. No real ones at least. There are a few "games" online, like at or stuff with Fancy Nancy (it's a book, so it's ok), and we do webkins, but no real video games we'd have to buy at the store. They don't play the games often at all though. Not even once a week. As for TV, my kids don't know what a commercial is either. I've checked out videos from the library, that way I know what they are watching and don't have to worry about it. Or the typical Disney stuff. Funny post.

  27. We have Dvd's, but no TV service. We bought a Wii earlier this year, only because I like to have my boys friends where I can see them, and that is the popular thing. I don't want my kids wanting to play video games badly so they go to a friends house (and that friend's parent lets them play Teen or Mature games.) They are only allowed to play games that require them to move. So no Mario bros. etc.

    The kids honestly like computer games much better than the wii. They are allowed 1/2 hour per day. Sometimes I'll let them watch a movie after school, since I can totally relate to the wanting to veg out after a long day.

  28. We have a Playstation and it has come in quite handy because we can take it away until the kids clean their rooms/get their homework done/do the dishes/stop fighting. It's stashed in the closet most of the time.
    I can't tell you how many times one of the kids will ask me "Mom, am I still grounded?" and I can't remember why they were being punished in the first place so I just say yes.
    We don't have cable. My kids have way too much homework to waste time watching TV.

  29. I've hardly watched any TV since I discovered blogging.

  30. We have a no TV during the school week rule. I sometimes cave, after all homework is done, when I can't stand the noise of 4 boys any longer. Since we don't watch TV on Sundays they get a few hours on Saturday if they aren't playing outside which is usually the case.
    The first year we did this the kids didn't know what to ask Santa for because they weren't bombarded with commercials. It was great. Video games? We have a Wii, but it was taken away until Christmas break due to school and the contention it causes.

  31. We only have PBS kids at my house. If we're ever traveling or something and Henry sees a commecial, he's the same way. "WHERE DID MY SHOW GO???" It's sad, but kinda funny.

  32. I dont like the moon sand show! I love it!

  33. No tv or computer time until homework is finished.

    I finally relented on the video game end of things and bought them a Wii earlier this year. However, ALL games have to be okayed by me before purchase. I got the Wii because they can't sit on their little bums while doing it, and I want to make sure the games picked do a good job of making them *move*.

  34. Oh, and if anyone wants to limit tv time, check out BOB. It works quite well.

  35. TV watching has gone up and down in our house--now that my dd is in half-day kindergarten it's starting to go back down. I look forward to when she's in full-day school because I think it will be easier to limit the time. We also live in an apartment without a yard, so I can't send my kids outside to play. They don't ever watch commercial tv, usually just DVDs and PBS kids. My two-year-old usually watches a few episodes of Dora every morning. With my daughter we've had a rule of 2 hours a day max, with both TV and computer, and it's been easier to follow that since school started and since she's gotten bigger and better at entertaining herself.

  36. My 5 year old son is allowed to watch PBS after he comes home from school while I'm making dinner. He watches 2 or 3 times a week. We're usually too busy on weekends to turn it on.

    He went to a birthday party this weekend and didn't know what most of the toys were that the host received because he doesn't watch commercials. My sister asked what he'd like for Hanukah this year and he said he wanted a Beanie Baby for his collection. I was amazed. When I was his age I used to look at the BEST and Sears catalogs and make long detailed lists of what I wanted. Now that he's in school I think he'll catch up on everything he's missed pretty fast though.

  37. Oh, and we also have two remotes that you need to use to get to the PBS station. It's totally mystifying to my 5 year old.

  38. Anonymous2:03 PM

    Um, my three year old totally knows how to skip the commercials when she's watching a DVR'd episode of Tom & Jerry. So, uh, yeah.

  39. I don't have kids yet, so nothing to say about the actual topic (except that I hate video games, will do everything in my power to keep them out of my home)....
    ...but, you DO have over 700 subscribers on Google Reader. That's more than Cordy has.

    I love the 'Trends' section.

  40. We didn't own a TV until we had been married for like 10 years. We did have a TV for a while with a vcr so the kids could watch some movies, but it left after about a year. We also did not own a computer, because there weren't ANY! We now have a TV in two bedrooms. Oh how we have fallen...

  41. ARe you kidding SUE...ya know you don't care what we do...but just cause you asked, I'm going to tell you.

    They get to watch whatever if it's Disney or Nickelodeon and as long as they have their homework done.

    We have video oldest can play them for an hour with his youngest isn't really interested yet.

    I don't long as they are good kids...I'm okay with whatever. I'm more like you, I'm not very good at punishing because I forget after a minute what the big deal was!

  42. I love that you only let them watch a little TV. I hope someday to be more like that, but for now it is pretty much my sanity.:) It is good to know that there wasn't any harm done when they were watching PBS constantly. It makes me feel a little better.
    Your explanation of the radio reminds me of the way Kevin likes to answer some of Luke's questions. Are you guys related? :)

  43. Phew, it's nice to see such a different range of parenting styles. I always kick myself for having the tv on so much. TV broadcasting is a little different in Australia, but still basically the same. We have the kids channel without advertisements on when the tv is on. Bel (18 months) usually busies herself with playing while it is on.

    I guess my guilt comes from my upbringing which was TOTALLY Amish. we didn't have a tv until I was 14! I am trying to get past the parenting guilt thing, though.

  44. Anonymous2:55 PM

    I just sold our video game systems, actually. My brother doesn't ever leave his room (after he gets home from school) because he is on his xBox all the time. He also has a PS3, a GameCube, and a Wii. It's ridiculous.

    We don't have TV, but that's because if we did have it it would be on ALL THE TIME. I like the background noise, but I didn't think it would be good for a baby, so we don't have TV. But when the time is right for baby to watch TV (like at age 2) then we'll do videos probably.

    I have all these high minded ideals about not letting my kids watch more than a half hour a day but you know what? I am a bad mom, and I think the idea of plugging a kid into TV so I can get a break is genius. Genius.

    Let the flames begin!

  45. It sounds like we do things a lot the same. We watch very little TV and only on channels that I pick and shows that I approve of. No electronic games of any sort. I guess we are Amish too. At least you have an ipod. I have a stack of CD's that we listen too. I only watch TV after they have gone to be also.

    I was just feeling like it was having way too much of an influence on my kids, so we really have cut back a lot.

    And what is wrong with humming in class? From everything I have read, kids who hum, are happy and well adjusted.

  46. I had no t.v. or video games-although I did have a clock radio. I only discovered one could listen to stations that one's parents didn't listen to after I'd had it for several years. We did get videos when I was in middle school, by highschool my mom just broke down and got a tv. I still don't watch much-although when I went to college and discovered The Simpsons I was transfixed. Suddenly so much more of what my peers talked about made sense! The only draw back now is that I'm a PhD student and I examine politics in pop-culture. Except pop-culture for me is fairy tales. I just don't get that new-fangled stuff.

  47. This conversation is so interesting. My one (and only) child is 7 months old, so kind of non-applicable at this point, but my husband and I have talked a lot about this issue.

    He grew up on a farm, in a house with one tv that maybe got reception on one channel and no internet (they still don't have internet. I have no idea how they function.) and they just went out and... poked cows for fun?

    I, on the other hand, grew up (in a city) with a movie buff for a dad whose DVD collection is the pride of his life. He had my siblings and I addicted to classic daffy duck as well as Carey Grant by the age of like 5. So tv was a kind of hobby for me growing up and I want my kids to have some of that. We didn't watch tv all the time, but there weren't really any rules and to this day some of the old classics I grew up watching are like old friends to me that I just never grow out of.

    So, hubby says "they don't need tv, just get them some sticks and send them outside" and I say "Melody time! Come on, you don't want your kids to be well versed in Donald Duck? That stuff builds CHARACTER!" So we will have to see... I definitely like the idea of not on weekdays when they are old enough for school. Forms good study habits, I bet.

  48. Yeah, if I restricted my kids to 30 mins a day I think I would go cuckoo nuts! My kids watch while they are playing in the morning, and sometimes at night for 30 min if Daddy isn't home yet and I'm clawing the walls. My oldest (4) plays very well and quietly in the internet in our main loft. He only plays Noggin, Starfall (awesome) and sometimes Disney. Starfall has basically taught him how to read... so... I guess it's ok? As for video games, it's sorta hard to keep out of the house when my hub loves it and doesn't play it too much. Am I allowed to tell my hub no video games? How does that work?

    In summary there is probably always a screen on in our house. Do I feel guilty yes.. but not as guilty as I feel if I went cuckoo nuts.

  49. Oy. Allow me to step up on my soapbox.

    First - I'm all about other MOTHERS not judging ANOTHER MOTHER on what she does or does not do ... which, unfortunately is what tends to happen a lot. (like several of the comments I read here) Maybe it's because my kids aren't old enough to be sucked into Spongebob (which I can't stand) or talk about something they want or watch...
    My kids are 3 and 1. They watch tv or movies ALL.THE.TIME. It's all age appropriate - Charlie and Lola, Backyardigans, WordWorld, Elmo, Barney, etc. My 3 year old knows how to spell pie. And knows what it means. Knows the alphabet. Can count to 15. She sings songs and knows all the words.

    So no... I don't feel like those things are exposing my kids to filth. The way I see it is it's teaching them to do the things I don't know how to, and it's showing them how to use their imagination. We have a Wii, my kids are too young to play with it, but even my husband and I don't find much time to play with it. Anyways, my point is.. I think there are many more things to be worried about. I wouldn't get ANYTHING done if it weren't for the tv.

  50. Oh, and my kids have Webkinz. But they don't even know you can play online. My son has an elephant that he likes to watch me play. I'm the one playing the games. But only once a day.

  51. We are totally NOT Amish. My husband is a techno freak as well as a sports fanatic and so he adores his HDTV, along with the DVR (which I happen to love too), and the PS3 that we have to play blue-ray discs and not for gaming. My husband and I admittedly watch way too much TV (after the kids have gone to bed). My kids however only watch maybe 30 minutes of TV or so a day (PBS and Disney mostly) during the week and then a couple of hours on Saturday. While my 5 year old is at kindergarten I do let my 3 year old pick out a Disney movie to watch so that I can work (I am a SAHM and do part-time engineering work on the side). While we do have a PS3, we don't actually have any video games. I let my 5 year play games at, usually for about 30 to 45 minutes a day.

  52. Oh my gosh, this is so funny. There are tears in my eyes - you are hilarious!!!

    Uh, my only rules are for the hubs, who breaks them all the time (re: TV). He actually laughed when I tried to impose a limit on football. Shame on me.

    The only one he pays attention to is the no video games. And I guess he only follows them b/c we don't have any kind of gaming system. THAT I put my foot down on. :)

  53. I used to have rules about that stuff, too.
    Ahhh, I remember those days fondly.

    Now that each of them has their own cell and ipod it's a little more difficult to limit the screen time.

  54. We let the kids watch cartoons occasionally. They are usually too busy with homework, piano, sports, etc. to have much time to watch. A few months ago my husband off-handedly told the kids that we could get a WII if they paid half. They all dug into their piggy banks and birthday money and darn it if they didn't come up with $125 between the three of them to pay for half. It has actually been a really fun purchase. The whole family gets involved and we have bowling tournaments or doubles tennis matches. It is actually a very fun family activity. We usually reserve it for a Friday or Saturday night. The computer use comes and goes. They haven't been very interested lately. My daughter(age 13) has an email account which she checks every couple of days but I know her password and I get on there and check through her emails. I do it with her knowledge and for her protection. That was our stipulation before setting up the account for her. She usually tells me all about emails she gets anyhow. I also send her fun emails and jokes, etc. Just one more way to communicate on her level.
    One funny thing about modern technology is that our kids are aware that we can pause live tv with our dvr. It makes it a little tricky when we stay at a hotel and our six year old gets upset when we can't pause a cartoon while he goes and brushes his teeth. I must say that I do love my dvr, it's great to fast forward through the commercials.

  55. Oh, are we supposed to draw lines when it comes to the TV? I have no idea where those lines are in my house, since I enjoy Disney Channel shows as much as my kids!

    And for the record, we could totally be friends. I'm an okay mom, a veerry marginal housekeeper, and I get distracted by the slightest...

    Oooh, something shiny......

  56. Krissy, I don't think anyone is judging anyone else. We're just talking.

    "So no... I don't feel like those things are exposing my kids to filth"

    Um, I think I must've missed where someone said that. Nobody's judging you.

  57. I used to watch a lot lot lot of TV, back when I had a laptop and could get my work done in front of the TV at night. Now I have to sit in my office (no TV - sob) and work. BUMMER.


  58. HOME office, that is.

  59. my apologies to all the other commenters because I skipped them. I'm in a hurry, so sorry if I repeat someone else's wit.

    That sounded OH so much like my house... the TV limits (except mine is 1 hour-- the kids have TV tickets they can use for a half-hour show)... We watch everything on DV-R, so they are the same way about commercials and they believe that they can walk away from any show in the universe and come back later to pick up where they left off. I'll do everything in my power to avoid video games as long as I possibly can... my husband will eventually be the sucker, and I do let them share a Leapster I got off of ebay that they can use their tickets toward if they want. But I say, you go girl--- better Amish than garish.

  60. Anonymous4:35 PM

    We have regular cable upstairs and the DVR downstairs. Whenever we are watching something upstairs and my three-year-old has to go to the bathroom he asks me to pause the tv. I tell him I can't and, of course, he asks why, to which I answer, because it doesn't work that way.
    We usually watch shows that are on Noggin or PBS kids or on demand, so I have the same problem with commericals and the confusion that the kids get when I tell them that we can't turn on a certain show because it's not time for it. As far as they are concerned it should all be on whenever they want.
    We have also discovered computer games on nickjr. and I try to limit him to 1/2 an hour, but I find that it is really nice not to have to entertain him either.
    We are cancelling our cable at the end of the month, so life will be pretty different for us, but I think it will be good and they will be forced to play with their toys.

  61. Our kids have to choose between half an hour of computer time or tv (DVDs only). And now we don't have satellite tv or any reception on the antique airwaves.

    They go to grandma's and FREAK OUT, man.

  62. There will be a limit... at some point. Currently, we only have a 9 month old, but I'm trying to kick my TV watching habit. I'm a total addict. Lately, we watch/listen to the music channels a lot. She likes that.

    We do have video games, though, since I married a computer geek who loves his video games. I enjoy playing them sometimes. But, like I said, there WILL be a limit... but I'm sure it'll be more of a "Yeah, only half an hour." then three hours later, "hey, i thought I said only 30 minutes! Get off that thing!" I am my mother's daughter.

  63. Oh, you're funny. Heh.

    James gets an hour of TV/video games a day and usually he's got too much homework to do to take advantage of that so I guess I take my good parenting by default. Although he does spend too much time watching cartoon network, so maybe I'll revoke my own gold star.

  64. Oh, do you really have to bring this up today? My friend came to pick up her 3 month old who was lying on a blanket, watchin my 4 yo play a star wars video game. And she's pretty sure watching TV leads to autism...........yeah. Not good. I'm contemplating destroying our Xbox, but it also serves as our DVD player, so not really an option. But I've GOT to get that kid off video games. Husband complains about it, and it's hard for me not to remind him that HE'S THE ONE who wanted an Xbox. And he's not home all day. I can't stay sane, get things done, and occupy the children myself for 10 hours a day.

    Obviously a sore spot for me..

  65. Ha Ha! I hear ya!!
    My kids have done the exact same thing in the car when I've forgotten to bring the Ipod.
    They are also way addicted to DVR, and ask for shows we haven't recorded and FREAK OUT when I tell them that shows not on right now.
    My kids watch way too much TV. But how else would I get to blog all day long and neglect them?

  66. Heh, Dadguy is a gamer and a software designer so we game around here, no problem. I think the Wii is a hoot.

    As far as TV goes... we only get the local channels, so it's PBSkids or bust, and like you we only ever watch tv after the kids have gone to bed. Only we don't ever actually watch TV, but we watch downloaded, commercial free TV.

    BUT. I am old and sick and pregs with a six, four and three year old so we watch ALOT of videos right now. A HELLISH amount.

    Some day I want to get back to the 1/2 hour thing like you... some day.

  67. I used to have rules.
    Now I am pregnant with #4 and thanks to some awesome 24/7 nausea, they have all gone out the window. We went from 1/2 hour a day to "is the tv still on?" and "what? you don't want to watch tv? why don't you go play video games!"

    We'll get back to structure someday. But for now I'm just choosing to not worry that my
    TWO YEAR OLD has developed a new obsession for Return of the Jedi.

  68. We didn't have TV (or commercials) for a long time which was great because the kids stopped asking for stuff 24/7. Then it got to the point that Christmas would come around and Granny wanted to know what the kids wanted for Christmas and they just didn't. Want anything, that is. (There must be a moral in there somewhere. Or, I should say, there OUGHT to be one.) My family is so atypical with my kids being so spread out (19, 13, 7) and with the oldest being so tragically, er, delightfully abnormal that it completely blew all of my carefully crafted/planned parenting out the window so my two cents are worth even less BUT I really think it is a personal thing, tailored to the needs of your kid's personalities. And Mom's, too. I admire you for limiting it to 1/2 hour a day. Hysterical post, BTW!

  69. Uh, did I write that post in my sleep and then you somehow magically published it on your blog? We are the same parent - almost. :) My kids watch one show a day - like Little Bear or sometimes . . . sometimes Phineus and Pherb (sp), but that's because my husband thinks it's funny (and no he's not one of those 30-something Simpson's fans). NO Hannah Montana, NO HSM, NO Spongebob. I have 4 kids 8 and under. It helps that the oldest is a boy and the rest are girls. The boy weeds out the Hannah Montana stuff, etc. And by the way re: HSM -it's about High School kids! It's not called "Grade School Musical" for lots of reasons. Wow. I've actually been kinda focused here - but I see some bright shiny things - or a squirrel. I LVOE your blog. You are hilarious!

  70. Oh, oops I guess I wasn't that focused. I forgot the video game part. We bought a Wii last Christmas (the first video thing we've ever bought) and we haven't bought any games for it. It comes with a sports package and they've been playing it for a year. They barely know that there is an entire section at Target of Wii games. Maybe this Christmas we'll get one and it can last a whole year too.

  71. First things first: I always enjoy your writing style! And that's not sucking up.
    Okay, maybe it is-but not in a get-brownie-points kind of way. Just I like kind of way.
    Anyway-I love that your kids don't have video games. When we moved, (back in the days of PaperBoy, Excite Bike and Contra) our nintendo magically disappeared (meaning my mom threw it away) and I can honestly say it was one of the BEST things she ever did. I never have any desire to play video games, but I can see how they'd become addicting fast. I hope I can keep my kids from playing them as well.

  72. I was a "I will never allow a video game in my house. Never, no, never, not even upon my deathbed mom," but I found that my kids wanted go to other houses to I caved and we bought a Wii. I am secretly glad now, because it is a gathering place for friends (all good kids) but I can keep a close eye and ear on everything that goes on. I am now at the point of "whatever it takes to keep my kids home (and their friends)" works for me.

  73. We have "no screen" days. Tues and Thurs. They can't use anything with a screen. (tv, computer, gameboy) The other days it's 1/2 hour at the comp. and then if their homework and piano are done - whatever. It's easy to lump it together and say - "all screens off - go play" they do. usually legos.

  74. When I was single and working full time at home with a preschooler, then kindergartner, the TV was on a LOT. Mostly Disney and PBS kids. No commercials. Hate Nickelodeon. We did watch a lot of movies, too (still do).

    Now that I'm married and work part time at home after the kids go to bed ... the TV is almost *never* on. And the 4th grader is behind on homework, so she's grounded from TV, videos, and videogames.

    I am not a gamer but my husband is. If I could limit *his* gaming ... oy. Anyway. Kiddo is limited to an hour or so, only on the weekends, and only after her homework and chores are done. Unless I'm asleep when she asks because I give permission in my sleep without meaning to and she KNOWS it. lol

  75. might have hit a sore spot...I draw the line wherever it needs to be drawn whenever I need it. If I need a few minutes of peace, tv is great. Games on the computer? Oh sure if I need to clean up the kitchen or maybe....look around blogland. As I type this comment, my 6 and 4 year old are watching "Caillou" and my 6 year old is waiting for my help on her homework....yikes...gotta go...

  76. My oldest watches a lot of videos. We have the same problem with tv as you do with the radio . . . "More! Play Backyardigans again!" Uh, sorry kid, I can`t. (cue major tantrum) Yeah, so we stick to DVDs. But my kids are also outside most of the time.

    The trick is to bore the heck out of them with the DVDs you have . . . "NOOOOOO! Please don`t make me watch 8 Below AGAIN, Mom! I don`t even know what all that white stuff IS!"

    Interesting tidbit, I was raised without even a television set, no computer games, no nothing, except books. And I was homeschooled in the middle of the booneys with no friends. And I turned out fine! (twitch, twitch)

  77. The Good Mom leaves my house at 8pm. Then the crazy EVil DemON mom takes over. I don't listen, care or even realize what is happening until it directly affects me.

    Maybe they can learn to quilt and sell them at freeway exits.

  78. Am I the only one smelling worms from the can you just opened? WOW! I gotta tell you and 90% of the commenters on here taht I don't know how you do it. My kids watch a lot of tv. And for the most part I'm ok with it. They don't do the computer mostly because it's my husband's work computer and we don't want 'em jackin' anything up. The x-box has been out of commish since we moved it upstairs and since it's been warm I haven't seen any urgency in wiring it correctly. It'll probably happen this winter, though.
    I have a 5 mo old baby so it's hard for me to spend quality time with my 7 & 9yo kids. That's just mostly a lame excuse, though. Oh, and speaking of that 5 mo baby...he loves to "watch" tv too. I'm sure it's just the colors and movements :) need to update your blog more often...I'm so bored when I don't have you to read! lol

  79. i say, go amish.

    this post made me laugh out loud.

  80. Again with the freakishly similar stuff. Stop copying my life.

    We didn't have cable for years and the kids grew up watching the same dvd's over and over. The concept of tv is still a tricky thing for them.

    My parents got them one of those educational v-techhy things but I never pull it out because Emma can't jump Winnie the Pooh up trees by herself and I'm far too lazy to do it for her everytime.

    Oh yeah. Mother o'the year here.

    Seriously though, I have no idea what we're going to do. I hate the 'texting' phenomenon and I don't want my kiddos to have cell phones till they can afford to buy their own and all, but I don't want them to be freaks either. Very tricky.

  81. I don't have rules at the moment. I need to get on that.

  82. I am so glad I'm not the only distracted mom and it's terrible because I have hellions. I have to write down who's being punished for what and they find my notes and eat them. As for the screens, I let them watch TV and play computer games but I rarely let them have over 2 hours on the screens in a day. I think. Maybe, but I can't tell for sure because I have no sense of time. They totally try to get away with sneaking back and turning it back on so I sabotage them and take the cable box or the modem or whatever I need to hide to disable it. Then I forget where I put it. But that's ok, cuz they usually find it within 24 hours. I never buy nintendo, gameboy, type things, I figure they get enough of that at friend's houses and I don't want to have to fight over them too. The end. Am I half Amish?

  83. Um, there's a line? I'm a total TV addict and my kids are following suit, and throwing in plenty of Guitar Hero and Gamecube--but I do cook. That's got to balance it all out right?

    I'm all for parents that have limits and such--and certainly my kids don't veg for hours (well, except on Wednesdays, oh and Saturdays . . .and sometimes on Monday) But they do well in school, they play outside and have their own interests. It works okay for us--my kids range in age from 7 to 14.

  84. My kids can watch a bit of tv every day - maybe an hour, and generally on the commercial-less channels. Of course, as they get OLDER, this becomes more of a fight.
    They can play carefully screened computer games for half an hour, but that comes out of their television time (they get a block of "media time" every day. Aren't we clever.). And we have a Wii which we pretty much never use. Poor, poor dusty Wii.

  85. I'm definitely Amish. Our TV hooks up to ONLY our DVD player. No rabbit ears, no cable, no nothing. When I want to watch a TV show I do it the day after online. I grew up without video games in my home, and that's the way it will be in mine. My husband wants me to lighten up and allow some computer games, and I just might... We'll see.

    The radio is set to the classical station or to talk radio when Dave Ramsey is on. When I get an iPod, it will be set to that.

  86. I'm a combination of the moms here. I didn't used to have many limits as long as it was Noggin or PBS. Then I realized that my kids were losing the ability to entertain themselves.

    Plus all the studies that show that TV watching alters really young kids brains. They suggest no TV until age two. Don't ask me where to find them, Google will be your friend. However, all three of my kids were completely Bob and Larryfied before they were two.

    Now that we have school every day (homeschool) the TV can only go on when it's done, and they don't watch much anyway. We have a Wii, but just a couple of games and they get to play when they have all their work done and been extra good. Meaning, once or twice a week!

  87. Well, I don't have kids yet so I can't say, but with my parents there were no video games (for basically the same reasons you said) We can play them at friends/cousins' houses, but not in our own. There are limits on computer game time for my little brothers (sometimes combined with wailing if they're in the mood...) As far as tv, there wasn't really a set limit, just not too much and sometimes none at all depending on what we were doing.

  88. My one and only (so far) is only 3 months old. I don't know at what point I need to tone down our own TV/video game addiction - right now, Aidan could care less if it's on. Unless I put in a Baby Crack/Einstein video, and then he's mesmerized. And while he's being mesmerized, I end up reading some article online about what a horrible, abusive parent I must be to let my child watch Baby Einstein and my child will have a working vocabulary of two words ("bad" "mommy") when he's 10 years old because of it and he will be forever DOOMED. And then I get paranoid, throw the BE DVD across the room, and wonder how many potential language skills I've made him lose in that 10 minute period. And then he stops looking at the TV, farts, and eats his foot.

  89. So far, my baby is allowed zero tv. I want to keep it that way as long as possible. (She's ten months)

    Amish :) I love it!

  90. We don't own a tv or video games. I really don't believe in video games. On the mish, (I went stateside) I saw people get so wrapped up in it they lost jobs houses and families. "Gamers" have a euphoric chemical response to winning just like drugs. They now have gamers anon for it.
    As for the tv, I have no discipline and I know it. I just can't afford the time I would give to it. Plus my hubby and I work opposite schedules to avoid childcare. So we got rid of it so when we are together, we really are together. I don't miss it and I get more done.
    I like the my children don't know what tv is. But when we are places that do have tv, I don't hide my child or expect them to turn it off. While I choose not to have it be a part of daily life, I don't think it is going to hurt them occasionally. Plus, my kids are totally uninterested when we are around one.

  91. We were given one of those leapfrog video game things, and it just causes fights, so if anyone wants it, email me and I'll send it to you.

    Also, we watch TV because hello, it's POURING RAIN and my kids keep TALKING TO ME. Can you believe it? Jerks.

  92. what's a video game? lol!

    30 min of tv per day. PBS or a pre-approved video. Luckily, they don't know any different (yet)

  93. You totally just described our house and our TV, video game and computer rules. The funny thing is my kids are much older and still don't get to do those things. My 13 year old asked me yesterday while driving home from school if she could get an email address when she turns 16.

  94. I also started out with the plan of no TV for my kids. And I did pretty well until she was 18 months, LOL! Then I got pregnant, was sick sick sick, and so she could watch as much as I could get her to. But only PBS or videos.

    We go in phases now--no TV for days, lots of TV, but mostly only in the afternoon--I'm just to worn out by then to find other things for them to do, or to deal with the fighting. But my 4 y.o. is the only one who watches much--2 y.o. gets bored unless its Curious George.

    And luckily they don't know about video games or computer games, although they do like to watch Veggietales clips on You Tube. And whatever song montages I find that are appropriate.

  95. Sold the 50" TV. We have no video games. Who's Amish now?!

  96. We have DVDs, but no TV channels. Not really a choice to be Amish, but a choice to never spend the money on it.

    My kids get sucked into commercials at other peoples' houses though. And all the stupid Bakugan/Pokemon crap they hear about from their friends at school.

  97. I started reading all the comments and holy cow - there are too many. But I got to the one where you said you hoped people didn't feel judged by their choices/TV viewing/whatever.

    I think that's the sad thing about being a mama. You ALWAYS feel judged and you're also always worried about making other mamas feel that way. Why is it that we can't ban together and be NICE to each other and not have to worry about someone feeling judged when we ask a simple question? It makes me sad. This is the hardest job possible and we should be in it together. (Not directed AT anyone, just a random thought that I had to get out there...) :)

    My kids watch TV. A lot. And my 3 year old plays video games with my husband and has a leapster - the keyboard one. He plays it a lot also. Some days I worry about how much. Most days, I don't. I worry about far too many other things and I have to let SOMETHING slide without beating myself up for it! I am not a model mother at all.

  98. When my kids were little, there was little tv watching. Now that they're adults it's 'No porn on the living room tv where your mother may stumble upon it and faint'

    I think that's reasonable

  99. Wow!!! Hot Topic! I'm with you-- limited TV, age-appropriate, very few commercials (if it's tivo'd, my son is to fast forward the commercials--- he's a pro with the remote). When I do let them watch, I still feel that I go through a mental checklist that they played with each other, read books, played outside, got exercise, I did SOMETHING with them, etc. to justify their watching!! Of course rainy or sick days, I can be more relaxed about it....and I will say that it helps with dinner prep sometimes... I'm fine with that.

    Handheld (or any kind) video games... aaarrgggh! No, never. I also don't let them use the word "bored". Life's too short to be bored. Read a book, kick a ball, draw a picture. So, not only am I Amish, but I guess a Pollyanna too.

    And just another note on TV. I HATE the news. It has never once been on in my house while the kids are awake or around. It is so negative and voyeuristic and exploitative. Why do we have to hear about the bad/sad/gross/scary stuff that has happened in our town/country/world? Unless it's about safety or general welfare, can we hear some positive stuff? Sorry... getting all worked up.

    Great post!

    Also agree about Veggie Tales... HILARIOUS!

  100. do you know how long I wondered what

    "no C.O.D.'s" meant after watching commercials??

    when I was like 13 I ordered a ton of cd's from BMG because it was free!! right? No, it wasn't. My dad got so pissed at me and called the company and yelled. It was really one of my brighter moments.

  101. Anonymous9:18 PM

    Well, let's see. When most of my kids were growing up, we only had a small black-and-white t.v. when they were really little, but then finally bought a color t.v. and after a few years a VCR (does that say anything about how long ago this was?) They loved watching both. Most of them are responsible adults, but one of them who shall remain nameless has a wild imagination and spends much of her time daydreaming and apparently lives to blog on her computer. : - ) One of these days she might make money doing it!
    My youngest, unfortunately, is seriously addicted to video games, and I wish I had never allowed one in the house.
    As a kindergarten teacher of a class of "underperforming" five-year-olds who have the attention spans of gnats and no ability to follow a story line, I would recommend no t.v. at all until at least three years of age, and then only in limited and closely supervised amounts. My students came in knowing almost nothing about letters and numbers, but a whole lot about Sponge Bob and Mario.

  102. Being a fellow classroom hummer, I loved this post. I can't tell you all the times I've stared at a ringing timer trying to figure out what or whom it's ringing for. So could relate to you on so many levels.

    I've actually posted a couple times about our TV dilemmas. Here's a couple links for you if you're interested:

  103. I'm glad to hear you say your kids turned out fine, because PBS an Nick Jr. babysit my 3 and 2 year old kids a lot. But honestly, I think they'd be better people with no TV. I'd want to kill myself after one day, but they would be better people.

    Ideally, and realistically, I want them to watch no more than 1 hour a day. But we'll see if I can be a good enough mom to occupy them the rest of the time.

  104. I'm even meaner than TV except on Friday and Saturday. And, actually, no TV ever. We don't have cable, so all they can do is watch DVDs.

    The 2 year old gets to watch when her sisters are at school, though. Rules don't apply to soon as we drop off the Kindergartener she says, "watch TV mom?"

    Also, thanks for the laugh...I am totally an ADD parent, too. And, I'm afraid I drive my kids nuts.

  105. No video games. Playing a game on my cell phone is a treat.

    TV is on pretty much all day long.

  106. Anonymous3:05 PM

    It is all starting to make sense! Carter asks me to replay songs on the radio sometimes... I get it now. And yes, its really hard to explain radio to 4 year olds. He also gets really excited when he hears the word "Free!" on tv. "Kara did you hear that?! Its Free!" Even if it cost a butt load of money, he thinks it the best deal. "Only 159.99? Wow." It's too cute!

    Today I asked him what I should get Todd for his birthday and he told me to get him a motorcycle. I explained that they were really expensive and I didn't have a lot of money. His response? "Well. You just go, and, you know, buy it!" Duh Kara! The rest of America has that figured out! Get with the times!

    p.s. Don't give that kid a credit card...

  107. Anonymous3:05 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  108. Anonymous3:07 PM

    p.p.s. I don't like video games either and I'm so glad you don't have them.