Okay, I’m going to have to admit it. Sometimes, when I’m quite desperate, I’ll flick the telly on in the vain hope that Arddun will
- stop crying
- stop chasing me around the house
- stop climbing my leg as soon as I stand still for 2.4 seconds
- all of the above.
I thought I’d be one of those disciplined mothers I keep hearing about, the ones that refuse to turn the telly into their child’s electronic nanny. The ones that have the creativity, patience, willpower, and time to keep their child suitably occupied with age-appropriate, brain-growing, eye-hand coordination-enhancing crafts and toys. Handmade, of course. Out of recycled materials. With a carbon footprint any card-carrying hippie would be proud of. With some extras for the babies at mother’s group.
Sadly, that is not to be in the house of Tony & Velle.
Now that Arddun is crawling and climbing everywhere and everything – a happy coincidence with the fresh round of teething – I’m finding it even tougher to get things done. Today, it took me two hours to get breakfast down my throat. And another 45 minutes to try and wash the dishes. Every time I look at the clock, I am stupefied by how quick time has flown and how very little I’ve actually achieved.
It’s like one of those nightmare days at work where you’ve half-answered 20 emails, opened about 28 tabs on your browser, run off to 7 impromptu meetings… and achieved nothing on your list.
Except lately, it feels like this every day.
I’m wondering if I’m just trying to pack too much in, you know? I keep looking back on my day and thinking, “Surely it’s not that complicated. Surely, after multitasking a stupid number of projects in my corporate life, I’d be able to handle One (active, crawling, shouting, laughing, curious, demanding, affectionate, attention-seeking) Baby. I mean, isn’t she essentially One Project?”
Yes, technically. Except this stakeholder likes to climb swivel chairs and chew on cables. This stakeholder has the crazy ability to find paper and mistake it for Weetbix. (Don’t blame her. Weetbix looks and tastes like cardboard anyway. Same difference.)
Also, this stakeholder follows me to the loo, and weeps piteously while pressing her face through the bars of her playpen like a midget convict when I step out the room. Corporate stakeholders also do not, for instance, crawl after you to climb up your PJ pants and then attempt to swing from them like some character from The Jungle Book. At least I hope not, for everyone’s sake.
She didn’t used to be like that, but I think we’ve entered the Sticky Stage. Where Mommy is her favourite person in the whole wide world, and can we please be surgically fixed at the hips, pretty-please? *blink* *blink*
So sometimes – and especially when we have an appointment in the morning and I cannot afford to take 2 hours to do One Thing – I put Arddun in the playpen and turn ABC Kids on.
After all, the ABC is pretty kid-safe, right? RIGHT?
Last week, I happened to catch snippets of some pre-adolescent daytime comedy, with child actors and slapstick humour and parents who speak in complete sentences and say “cool” a lot. And basically, the protagonist had committed a huge prank at school, and his parents had to break the news that he’d been given a month’s detention.
Except his dad barely hid his pride that his son had set “some kind of record” for the longest detention ever dished out in the school. And then the prankster’s friends went on to tell him that by the time his grounding finishes, it’ll be three months and he might as well give away his Wii, because everyone else will be on the next new thing. Har Har Har.
And I’m thinking, hang on. This is the KID’S channel. And thank goodness Arddun can’t understand any of it, because WHAT ON EARTH KINDA VALUES DID THEY JUST TRY TO TEACH MY KID!
She’s not going to understand irony – not for a long time yet. And true, she’s only little right now – I have enough trouble getting her to respond to her name and the word “no”. But the time slot of that show was just weird – too early in the day for school children, which leaves the home schooled crowd (who probably don’t watch daytime telly anyway), and real youngies who aren’t in full-time school yet. Children old enough to understand what’s going on, but too young to understand ironic humour.
So as much as it’s tempting and convenient to let Arddun watch a little TV while I run out and hang the clothes, I don’t think it’s going to be the long-term solution. I anticipate having to sit and watch with her, which will be great mommy-daughter time but which defeats the original purpose of keeping her occupied while I get something else done.
Although I could just be getting into a flap about nothing. She gives a passing glance to the Wiggles, but what she REALLY gets hooked on is Letters and Numbers at 6pm. Which is a game show for adult nerds.
Oh yes. And washing machines. Who needs a telly, when you’ve got dirty laundry.
7 February 2012 at 11:25 pm
hey hon – too funny!!! looks like the washing machine is a hit :) maybe you could have dvds of a ‘safe’ show like Playschool (or DVR them which is what i do, always have them on tap!) . also just read this – great research http://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Babies-and-Toddlers-Should-Learn-from-Play-Not-Screens.aspx but that also leaves the question of independent play (bc mama needs time!!) – check out here – http://www.babywisemom.com/2009/03/benefits-of-independent-play.html This has been a lifesaver in our household… will def take pics/post on it soon! just some other ideas as your looking for them… though I should add that knowing the parents, i think Arddun is going to pick up ironic humour earlier than most!! xx
7 February 2012 at 11:34 pm
Hey Kate! Thanks for the links. She used to play more independently, but lately she’s been quite the souk when in her playpen as her idea of play is crawling around the house and climbing everything. She’s still playing by herself… just that I can’t watch out for her safety while doing housework etc. That’s essentially the problem.
8 February 2012 at 9:01 am
hey velle, i found the key to independent playtime (there are more articles on that website) is for them not to be able to see you – so when young my kids would have IP in their cots or portacot in their rooms (eli still does) – out of sight out of mind (for them that is) – if they cant see you they play more happily, if they can see me, they scream and want out! anyway, whatever works for you best but YES i find this age is the toughest cos they just are so clingy and want to be on you all the time and its hard cos they are so limited in what they can do – and what you can do!. seriously – IP was a lifesaver! you can start at 10mins or whatever – eli now does 45mins very happily! anyway just another option :) xx
8 February 2012 at 6:14 pm
Yeah, I think part of my problem is that I’m trying to pack too much into my day and I’m probably leaving her to play by herself for a little too long. She does a half hour but then starts to crack it. And sometimes she’s happy to play by herself when she can’t see me, and other times she just needs to have me within her sights to feel secure. Don’t know that IP is a one-size-fits-all at all times.
But I’ve always been a believer of having children entertain themselves. After all – you’re looking at an only child of a single parent here, lol!
8 February 2012 at 1:41 am
She has investigated the ‘world’ and would rather stay out of the pen than in. So there are times, whether she likes it or not, she has to stay in the pen while you get your work done. She will likely exercise her lungs and her right to be with you but in time she will learn the world doesn’t revolve around her.
8 February 2012 at 8:42 am
Yeah, she does have her designated time in the playpen, during which she plays for the half of it and then yells for the other half. I guess I always feel guilty when I leave her in the playpen, as if quality time only counts if I’m there playing and reading with her.
But Kate’s right. Independent play isn’t just convenient, it’s important and I guess I should feel less guilty about leaving her in the pen and getting my things done. Best for her safety, too.