I thought I would give you some history as why I decided to radically reduce TV four years ago. It is actually intertwined into how Waldorf theories came into practice in our family life.
It happened one Spring time when I realised that Miss K, at almost three years old, was unable to play independently. She needed me to direct her day, in slots of time filled with activities with me playing right along side her. At that point in time, I had never heard of the concept of children being TV free, natural play, waldorf education etc, etc. I wasn't reading parenting blogs, I enjoyed reading crafting blogs which is quite odd as I am not a natural crafter. I'm not even sure I was aware that the genre of parenting blogs even existed.
Our days pre-radically reduced screen time used to go something like this: Wake up, have breakfast with Miss K, let her watch some children's TV from about 7.30 am until about 9.00 am, turn off the TV and then if we weren't going to a local morning play group, I would fill the time with half an hour blocks of play-doh, jig saws, reading stories and drawing. She would have lunch time naps from about 12.00 until 2.00 pm and then after she woke I would do activities with her until about 4.00 pm when the children's TV would go back on again until dinner time. If I needed to go and do some housework she would flounder at what to do. I was pregnant with Little L as this point and feeling exhausted. I was using TV simply as a babysitter and as a tool purely for entertaining her, so I didn't have to constantly entertain her.
The change happened when one morning, once the TV had been turned off, she was lying down on the sofa when I walked into the room. She said, 'What can we do now?' in a sort if sing- songy voice. At that moment I panicked, even though she had some regular kids toys, art materials etc, she didn't know what to 'do' once the TV was shut down. Once she was fast asleep having her lunch time nap, I put into Google search engine, 'Creative Play' which, among other things, bought up links to Mothering.Com with a thread entitled, 'We aren't our children's playmate and entertainment' and the blog 'Soulemama'. I can pretty much say that from that day forward, family life here changed. I ordered Soulemama's first book 'The Creative Family' from our local library where I read the words 'Waldorf doll'. I had never heard of the term 'Waldorf' before, so again, I googled it where lots of information came up about creative and natural play with natural toys. I had felt uneasy when I had bought plastic toys in the past and actually resisting buying them to a certain extent. They seemed to break so easily and seemed so unappealing asthetcially to me that I knew there had to be another alternative. I just didn't know where to look. I didn't know toys made from natural materials even existed. I didn't know there was another way, that as a parent I had choices with what I could surround my child with and mould their home enviroment to best suit their needs.
Everything changed from that moment on, I sat down and talked to Miss K and told her that the 'Toy Fairy' would be visiting to swap her current toys for new toys (which were made from natural materials). It was shortly after that, and with lots more research, that I realised that while having drastically changed her play environment and having a good range of open ended toys made a beautiful play environment for her, it didn't solve the basic problem that she didn't know how to play independently. She didn't know how to entertain herself. So after having searched the archives on Mothering.Com Waldorf forum hungry for information, I wondered if radically reducing TV would help her to access her imagination and learn to play.
Next week I will be writing a post on how I went about reducing screen time for Miss K.