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Bye-bye Babysitter!
I did it. I fired my much-loved, inexpensive, and always available babysitter. Why, you ask, would a mother of two (ages six and four) ever consider parting ways with good help? In case you haven’t figured it out, this childcare extraordinaire measures 42”, hangs out in our living room 24/7, and flashes into action at the press of a button.

Up until recent months, I permitted my kids to watch television regularly. They were each allowed one 30-minute program per day, but sometimes if I was really busy that time limit ballooned. I felt guilty but pacified my parental conscience with the knowledge these entertaining programs also provided exposure to letters, numbers, Spanish, classical music, art, and a wide variety of childhood social situations. Of course, I would never allow them to watch “junk” cartoons! 

While I did enjoy the uninterrupted chunks of peace and quiet time that television afforded me, I admitted to a few downsides. First of all, I had to monitor who watched what when and for how long. I also had to settle frequent disputes over who got to pick first and what was chosen. Then I had to cope with the incessant begging for “just one more show”. This led me to my second and most important beef with my electronic babysitter. I finally realized that my children lacked the ability to creatively play and entertain themselves because they were used to depending on the TV for amusement. Those “harmless” little shows were adversely affecting their attitudes and their ability to use the brains God gave them.

Shut Off the TV

We needed a change—a big change. I could either limit television time further (which would require even more discipline and monitoring), or we could “fire the babysitter” altogether. With more than a little fear and trepidation, I opted to shut off the TV.

Rather than creating more work for me, giving up the television crutch has actually lightened my load. Within a matter of days, the kids quit pestering me to watch TV. I observed them inventing new ways to play, pretending with their toys, and finding things to do rather than saying, “I’m bored!” They now entertain themselves peacefully for extended periods of time, and their behavior has improved significantly. I find that without the steady stream of stimulating shows, they are interested in reading books and watching the educational programs (history, nature, science, etc.) that we may occasionally enjoy as a family. Best of all, Bible stories now keep their attention, and that in itself is reason enough for me to keep the TV off.

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By Hannah Henry. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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