Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Need help turning off the TV?

What? Your kids' dolls don't like to kick back and watch the zebra & Thomas show every now and then? Even dolls need a break sometimes. (Please note Emma's genius use of the cell phone as remote control.)
I have been trying to limit Emma's TV-watching lately and so the above scenario was one of those necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention situations. Emma loves TV. She talks eagerly back to the characters when they ask her questions. "The rote! The rote!" She'll scream when Dora is wondering which item in her backpack would come in handy for climbing a rock to rescue baby jaguar. When Super Why asks her what her name is before they go on a reading adventure, she confidently says, "I'm Emma, and this is my brother, Charlie" as though she just met Super Why at a corporate happy hour.
I admit, I am just as much of a TV junkie as Emma. Sometimes a little Super Why in the afternoon is what gets me through my post-lunch malaise. It's really hard keeping a non-napping 4-year-old busy all day long. Especially when your other kid who still needs a solid two-hour nap in the afternoon keeps you chained to the house from lunch until at least 3:30. And now it's starting to get dark at 4:45, so going to the playground after nap time is really difficult. Waaa waaa waaa...
In an effort to remind myself that there are other fun things to do when you're stuck at home (besides flip on Noggin) I have devised a list:
Things to do with your kids when it is raining/someone is napping/someone is sick and you are a prisoner in your own home:
1) Have them cut stuff out. There's something about those chubby little fingers working those round scissors that makes my heart happy. And kids love to cut just about anything, anytime, anywhere. But they forget this. So, you have to give them some paper and some round scissors and remind them how much they like it. Today I had Emma cut out pictures of foods from the coupon pages in the newspaper. It was a nice opportunity to talk about the foods she likes and whether or not they are "grow" foods. FYI, marshmallows are not grow foods.
2) Play grocery store. You know the drill. Put out pretend foods. One person is the shopper, another is the cashier. Use your imagination--if you don't have a toy cash register and shopping cart, use grocery bags and a calculator or adding machine. You can be a slacker cashier like me and read a newspaper while you check customers out.
3) Make an exciting snack. Popcorn is always a big hit at my house. Hot chocolate is also a major treat. Emma likes to drink it very slowly with a spoon. It buys me like 20 minutes of free time (almost as long as Dora).
4) Have a lively debate. The other day Charlie and Emma were having a very spirited conversation about whether or not it was "hum-back whale" or "come-back whale." I was able to carry on as though kid-free for a good ten minutes while this was going on. Here's a list of questions that might spark some good-natured discussion:
  • What was your favorite day?
  • What are you most afraid of?
  • Which is your favorite stuffed animal?
  • If you could only have two foods for every meal for forever, what two foods would they be?
  • Which is better: your birthday or Halloween?
  • What would you like to be when you grow up?
  • If you had a baby what would you name him or her?
  • Who is your best friend? What is it about him or her that you like?

5) Have a clothing-optional tea party. (Clothing is not optional for the grown-up). The other day Emma wanted to have a "real" tea party where she poured real water from her teapot into the cups. That was fun for about two minutes before she couldn't help herself and had to see what would happen if she poured the entire contents of the teapot into one little teacup. So we decided to move the party upstairs into the bathtub. She got to pour tea to her heart's content and I got to read a magazine. Everybody's happy.

6) Think of your child's play area as a display window at a department store. The display window only features a few outfits that are in season and in style. They don't put the whole contents of the store out there just so that passersby won't miss anything. Kids can't see what there is to play with if all their toys are out at the same time, screaming for their attention. I've learned this from seeing how my kids' preschool teachers "market" certain activities to the children. When you enter a preschool classroom there will be one table with painting supplies, another table with a few balls of play dough, and then another area with blocks and that's it. The kids walk into the classroom and know just what they want to play with and then they go to town. If only it were so easy in a department store...

So, those are my ideas, folks. I am going to tape this list to my TV and try to remember to do these things when I'm tired and just want Dora to come on over and do my job for me. It's going to be a long road though...Emma and I both love a little Dora in the afternoon.

****Please add your ideas in the comments section of this post! I know I'm not the only one with ideas out there...


Phillips Family said...

Great Ideas! I especially liked the thought of "displaying" certain toys to peak your child's interest.

By the way, I am a friend of Robin K.'s who sent me this link!

Anonymous said...

Great pic. Emma is a genius...and so stinkin' cute! Had fun at the zoo with y'all today. PULEEEEZ move to TX. :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth!!

As one of your sister's oldest college friends, she sent me a link to your blog - and I LOVE it!! :) You are so funny and descriptive. Very 'real mommy world' stuff going on at your house. :) I look forward to more installments. hee hee

Keep up the good work!
kerry :)