It's the little things.

Kids & Screens: The Magic of Toothpicks

I rarely watched TV as a child.  We watched things like the Marx Brothers or Alfred Hitchcock films on “Friday Movie Night”.  We almost never watched anything current.  In fact, my childhood wasn’t too far from this Onion article.  Even now, I don’t watch TV much.  We have Netflix & Hulu, or if we want to watch something current (like Downton Abbey or Walking Dead), we have an antenna & an Apple TV.

But you should also know that my son LOVES Winnie the Pooh (he calls the TV “Pooh-Pooh”).  He also loves dancing to the “Creature Report!” segment of the Octonauts.  I usually let him watch Sesame Street while I get him ready for school, and Octonauts or Baby Genius while I make dinner.  We also use iPhones as Emergency Entertainment during flights or grocery store meltdowns.  I feel okay about the fairly limited amount of screen time he gets.

Unfortunately, screen time has become my cure-all for the insane (and sometimes public) meltdowns we’ve been experiencing as my little dude enters toddler-hood.  Anything to prevent the top-volume “no-No-NO-NOO!!!!” and the dirty looks from other moms with well-behaved children.  This NEVER happens to them.  Doesn’t it feel that way?

But the temporary reprieve comes with a price: MORE meltdowns!  When the TV turns off?  Meltdown.  When he spots an iPhone or iPad and hears the word “No”?  Meltdown.  I’m at the point where I’m shoving all screen-like devices under pillows and contemplating mounting my TV on the wall and hiding it behind a canvas.  TV?  We don’t have a TV, son.  What is this “TV” you speak of?

Over the holidays, he was cutting 2 teeth, surrounded by 5 other boisterous children, and spending lots of time in the car as we shuttled from one activity to the next.  After a few days of this chaotic holiday schedule he was OVER IT.  Loudly.  And in public places.  He was a little ticking freak-out bomb every time we sat down in a restaurant.  He was spending a LOT more time with our iPhones, as my husband and I ate and socialized in shifts.

At our last dinner away before heading home, I took our little Grumpus outside while we waited for a table.  I was about to whip out my phone, but at a nearby table I spotted a shaker full of toothpicks.  Ding!  Those pointless hours perusing “DIY montessori activities” on Pinterest paid off!  For the next 15 minutes my son was completely absorbed by putting toothpicks into the shaker, one by one.  Phone?  What phone?

This was such a great reminder for me to be creative in the ways I keep him busy, especially in public.  I just ordered these: SO Awesome portable wallet & cards.  And instead of resorting to the phone, I now keep a shaker of toothpicks in my purse.  While I know we’ll still watch a little bit of TV, I’m trying to be better at enduring those tantrums.  Because guess what happens after 5 minutes of screaming?  He moves on.  And finds something else to do.  Meanwhile, if you have a bit of something in your teeth, I can totally help you with that.

What about you?  How do you manage screen time with your kiddos?  Tell us in the comments!


    • Lisa says:

      Hi Marie-Claire, thanks for your comment! He LOVES the wallet and the cards. I was so happy to find you, because he’s constantly trying to play with our own wallets 🙂 He’s really into crunching up the play money. The app is great too–the bubbles and music are particular favorites!

      Thanks again!

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