I was commenting on another blogger’s post about teaching children a craft, and was inspired to write my next post! My oldest son is a born crafter, and has a sculptor’s sense of form- always creating new things from paper, fabric, or recycling. He even invents his own origami animals! My youngest has gotten the crafting bug lately, too, I think because he wants to be like his brother (he would absolutely deny this…)
This Christmas I was at a complete loss as to what to give them (other than more craft supplies, of course) because they simply don’t play with toys. The boys are 5 and 8, and for some years now the toy cars, trucks, and action figures have been collecting dust. My friend asked me what they do all day then, and I had to really think about it! Other than making things, chasing the dogs, and reading (the oldest), it struck me that more than anything they use their imaginations. They make forts, pretend to be whatever their imaginations can create, and host parties for their stuffed animals (the only exception to the toy aversion).
The one thing they don’t do? Watch TV. Yes, we did the TV purge last summer and it has been the single greatest gift we could have given our family.
How did we wean ourselves from the TV? Based on my experience with child development and commitment to… Just kidding. The TV broke, and in the time it took to get our act together to fix it, I realized that the kids had stopped asking for it. So it stayed broken, and left it’s home in our family room for a space in the corner of my art studio. I also realized just how much of their time had been eaten up by the TV- not just the few hours they spent watching it, but the immeasurable amount of time they spent begging to watch it, whining about it, getting upset when we were done watching it, coming out of the TV-induced slump, and remembering how to play again.
In the interest of honesty, I will say that we do still watch a movie every once in a while, and turn on the TV in the car to survive long car trips, but it is no longer a staple of my children’s lives. TV watching eats up so much more of your kid’s childhood than just the actual viewing time! This was the real epiphany for me, because I felt that I was limiting their viewing time, so that was fine right? I think differently now, and I am so grateful for happy accidents!