Monday, November 7, 2016

Nature Walk and Screen Time

The director of the girls' preschool sent us a link to this article on children and screen time. We all know that too much screen time isn't good for kids, but one thing that resonated with me is the claim that even having the TV on in the background can have an effect on kids.

I hadn't exactly made the connection, but now that I think about it, I realize that on the recent evenings when David has been watching baseball (which doesn't interest the girls (yet?)), they are harder to transition and settle down into bed. On Monday nights, when David has class, I never have time to sit down and watch TV while I'm by myself with the girls, and I'm just not in the habit of turning the TV on in background (mostly because the shows I'm interested in watching are usually not kid-appropriate and it's a treat so I want to sit down and actually watch). And Monday night bedtime is almost always easier than any other night of the week.

David and I still watch Survivor and occasionally we've watched it with the girls in the evening before bed. They usually don't pay attention to the show for long, but they do get pretty wound up while they play and mess around (enough that we will close-caption the dialogue because someone here is almost always shrieking). And those are the evenings when they argue and resist going upstairs, instead of being excited to cuddle and read books (which they are most of the time).

I'm not suggesting that we can't turn on the TV after work or watch TV as a family ever, but we are really doing to start paying attention to the differences in behavior, and definitely keep it at a minimum on weeknights. I'm not preaching here--I'm just strategizing how to make my life easier!

I also think some of this also depends on the temperaments of kids. I have a friend whose kids are in the habit of watching a show each night just before they go to bed. They expect it and look forward it to as part of their routine, and it seems to help settle them down. Evidently, they don't have trouble falling asleep afterward. So this works well for them, but in my experience, Zuzu settles in for bed SO much easier if the screen stays off.

When the preschool director sent out the link to the article, she also suggested that we make it a point to read to our kids this weekend or take them out to enjoy nature. Because I am forever a student who wants the teacher's approval, obviously I made it a point to take the girls on a little walk Saturday morning! We went to Forest Park and paid a drive-by visit to Eliza's tree, then went on our favorite little walk across the pedestrian bridges near the ice skating rink. It's so beautiful back in there, and we even spotted some wildlife (mostly ducks and minnows).

This was the first time we've done this walk without a stroller, and it's hard to believe that they're both so big! I walked this same path a lot when I was pregnant with Zuzu. So amazing to see her here now, looking tall with such long hair. And wearing a self-selected ensemble, of course.

Fearless little mountain goat. Still loving her cowboy boots today.

It was kind of hard being Coco today. Especially when Cooper was not interested in going where she wanted him to go. Imagine her screaming at the top of her lungs in this photo.

Zuzu walked up on the wall just like Madeline ("No one knew quite so well / how to frighten Miss Clavel") and then Coco had to do the same. You can see by her double-grip on David's hand that she's a little more cautious than her sister, though.

We spotted this bird and Zuzu said that it was a swan that used to be an ugly duckling. I had them point at it for the picture, but Coco may be pointing at an actual duck somewhere else.

Gathering dead leaves and stuffing them into her pockets.

"Mommy, is this the jungle?"

"Oh, I heard a sound from nature!"
We meandered through the paths and let the girls pick up leaves and rocks and run on and off the path and greet people walking their dogs. We stayed over an hour, and the girls were tired and getting hangry by the time we loaded up in the car. It was a good morning.

I've been having a lot of mixed feelings about leaving the baby stage behind... I'm actually really happy to pass along our baby things to friends and family, but I think there is a part of me that will always, always ache for one more baby. I am absolutely certain that if Eliza were here, I would feel differently, and that's part of what makes everything complicated. Still, days like today make me excited about entering a new stage of parenting and having the opportunity to do things like this with the girls, without strollers and diapers.

Of course, I'm also excited to watch big-kid movies with them, so we're going to have to schedule in some screen time, too...

1 comment:

  1. I had to laugh at the part about how you're forever student seeking the teacher's approval. I did well in school, and the teachers liked me because I was smart, did my work and not an inherent trouble maker. HOWEVER, I have this weird personality quirk that would result in my specifically and deliberately NOT going out on a nature walk if I received a letter like that. ;) I get huffy (like when my kid's teacher assigned 'exercise' for homework). I'm not exactly proud of it, but I'm not ashamed either. I've accepted myself, haha. My daughter also has this personality quirk (I call it delightfully oppositional). I have WAY more frustration with her iteration than with mine. ;)