Before we had Bandar, the husband and I watched a fair amount of TV, both together and alone in the evenings after work. We switched on the TV as we prepped and ate dinner and watched a few shows each day. I ,then went to the bedroom and proceeded to watch more TV ( reality shows when I am alone always!) while I drifted off to sleep. And the husband worked late into the night, sometimes with a show playing on the side.
When we had Bandar, we simply stopped having time for that much weekday evening TV as before . The first year is definitely a blur but we had some family help and still found it hard to give up on all our pre-baby TV viewing. So we did watch a few of our favorite DVR’d shows that year. But then family left, we became just a family of three for the first time and we buckled up and got responsible. Our evenings were filled with getting Bandar fed, ourselves fed, Bandar bathed and finally put to bed. Exhausted ourselves we then sat down to work most nights and only occasionally the TV went on. We both managed to keep up with our favorite shows on our own time, mostly on tablets and laptops , but not really sitting together to watch as many shows as before .
With Bandar now four years old and quite independent and also the fact that we no longer cook everyday, we recently found ourselves reaching out for the remote on some weekdays around 7 pm. Bandar is usually fed by then and playing around before bed. We usually went to our favorite cooking competitions and started watching , with Bandar showing some interest too. While this was a fun activity to do as a family, I have over the last week put an end to it due to a few reasons.
Firstly, even a one hour show results in a much later bed time for bandar . She is not as fresh as a daisy in the mornings after watching TV till around 8 pm. There is a stark difference in her morning behavior when she is well rested.
Then on top of this, we are not huge fans of screen time for children to begin with ( maybe with conditioning through my childhood and the husband’s ) Bandar watches 20 minutes of TV on Friday, Saturday and Sunday which add up to one hour a week. This is a specific show that she likes.Sometimes we will let her watch the only Disney movie she cares about – Frozen in a weekend in exchange for two of these days. And with her watching MasterChef with us on weekdays, even just partially watching , it all added up to way more TV than I was comfortable with in a week for a four year old.
Then finally this evening TV watching put a lot of stress in getting the remaining bed time activities done faster . This made me miss the quality time I actually enjoyed with Bandar in the evenings prior to restarting this habit. It usually takes us 45 minutes from the point we go up the stairs to actually switching off the light. So taking Bandar upto bed at 8:15 pm instead of 7:30 pm definitely added stress to the routine .It meant I couldn’t find time to be silly with her as we brushed our teeth and often wanted to cut the conversation short in bed to have lights out by atleast 9 pm. With no TV in the picture, lights out usually happened by 8 or 8:15 and Bandar and I were both more relaxed as we cuddled in bed.Goijg to bed later also obviously meant she slept later and just even took longer to actually fall asleep, maybe the extra stimulation TV viewing before bed provides. This also stressed me out as I had a dirty kitchen below to clean and office work to get to and I couldn’t get to any of these till she actually fell asleep . I ended up falling asleep before her and woke up to piles of work and a dirty kitchen at 5 am.
So with all the above reasoning , I cut out our evening TV viewing this week. Bandar asked me after her dinner if we were going to watch big people cooking and my “No, not today” answer didn’t upset her. She proceeded to play an imaginary game with her dolls and I joined in with a side role. ( Always the assistant teacher, never the main one )
So this week she has been sleeping earlier and better. I can truly say I feel a sense of peace cuddling her in bed . Our mornings are rushed anyway and I always want to feel the three hours we spend each evening together are relaxed. We might still watch a cooking competition together occasionally, but it won’t be on weekday evenings.