Our evolving toddler TV policy

Last month, nicoleandmaggie (well, one of the two) over at Grumpy Rumblings asked their commenting community about TV policies for kids.  I wrote:

Our policy for now is no unsupervised TV. It’s either a family thing (like watching the Rose Parade), or we’re snuggled on the couch with a sick/tired Little Boy.

That has since changed.  Why?  Sesame Street.

The kid lo-o-o-o-oves Sesame Street.

I have a feeling that I did too, back when I was small.  I have no specific memories of watching it (just what my mom has told me), but I know we wore out the cassette with “The Rubber Ducky Song” because we played it so much, and I know that to this day I occasionally blurt out, “Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics, of course, recommends no screen time of any kind before age two.  I can think of only one person I know in real life who actually followed that.  It was certainly never going to be an option in our house.  Mommy and Daddy sometimes watch TV, and sometimes we watch TV when Little Boy is awake.  I’m also a big believer in the power of vegging out when you’re sick or tired.  Little Boy works hard all day learning how to be a human; he deserves some time when he doesn’t have to think very hard, too.

Our goal was always that TV not be used as a babysitter, hence the “no unsupervised TV” mentioned above.  I’ve also tried to keep TV time to limited chunks—we don’t leave it on all day.  And it’s only for days when Little Boy doesn’t attend daycare.  (By the way, the reason I’m only talking about TV and not any other screens is that we keep the laptops and iPads away from Little Boy.  We’d rather they stay in one piece!)

Up until very recently, Little Boy didn’t show any particular interest in anything specific that came on the screen.  Home renovation shows, superhero movies, Reading Rainbow—it was all pretty much the same to him.  And then one day he recognized Cookie Monster and suddenly he was following us around the living room absolutely begging us to put on more Sesame Street clips.  I’m 99% sure he thinks the word “please” means “that big blue monster who stuffs his face with cookies.”  Not joking.

I know the experts say kids don’t get much out of TV at this age, but Little Boy heads over to his toy box and grabs his stuffed Big Bird when that character appears on-screen.  He knows, at least a little bit, what he’s seeing.  It’s not a completely passive experience any more.  Given that, the rules have changed.  Little Boy is now allowed to watch an episode as “babysitting,” i.e., while his parents keep an eye on him but do something else.

This new policy has brought its own challenges; namely, that Little Boy does not believe one episode of Cookie Monster per day is nearly enough and can become quite perturbed when we tell him it’s time to play blocks instead.  Oh, well.  I guess saying no is what parenting is all about.

Bye-bye, breast pump

Going back to school/work after Christmas is always hard, but there was one definite positive this week: I’m not pumping milk anymore!  We dropped the last middle-of-the-day nursing session over the holidays, when the excitement of travel and new toys made it relatively easy to coax Little Boy into changing his routine.  He’s still nursing, but only once a day, when he first wakes up in the morning.

It’s so nice to be done.  I didn’t particularly dislike pumping—it wasn’t terribly difficult for me, and my office on campus turned out to be nearly ideal as a lactation space.  But it was always a thing to do, a thing that I had to remember to do, a thing that took time to set up and put away.  It meant hauling another hefty bag to school every. single. day. and washing a bunch of tiny fiddly pieces every. single. day.  It came with a bunch of extra little tasks, like remembering to grab the milk from the mini-fridge at the end of the day, that made my mental load just a little bit larger.  Being done means that mental weight has lifted, along with the physical weight of that big ol’ bag.  It feels good.

Post-Halloween wrap-up

I was very pleased with how Little Boy’s pumpkin costume turned out.  And I finished it whole hours before it was needed, which is practically a sewing record for me.  For the curious, here’s what it looked like:

Toddler pumpkin costume and hat.

Now imagine this on an excited one-year-old.  It was adorable, if I do say so myself.  He even tolerated the hat for short periods of time.

This Halloween turned was a fun holiday for us.  We’d been apprised by the homeowners that this neighborhood is a prime trick-or-treat destination, and we were not disappointed.  I honestly don’t know the last time I did Halloween in the classic way, with the big bowls of candy and the doorbell constantly ringing.  I feel like it has to have been more recently than high school, and yet I can’t remember any year between now and then when it happened.

I do have one public service announcement for parents: please teach your wee ones a modicum of patience.  Sometimes it takes me a few seconds to get to the door.  Kids, you don’t need to (a) ring the doorbell repeatedly, or (b) turn away to leave if the door doesn’t open instantaneously.  I know that Halloween is thrilling, but if it can be a good learning opportunity for saying “thank you” (and I saw lots of parents helping their kids practice that, which was great), it can also be a good learning opportunity for door etiquette.

I’ll hopefully be getting back to blogging semi-regularly again here soon.  Focusing on a different hobby for a bit was beneficial in some ways, but I’m ready to switch back.

Costume update & a cute story

The making of Little Boy’s Halloween costume continues.  This weekend’s step was the cutting out and marking of all the pattern pieces, a.k.a. the most tedious step of any sewing project.

Pinned pattern pieces ready to be cut.

The pumpkin is lined, which means twice the pieces to cut out.

I can’t help but think back to this time last year, when I cut the pieces of an infant tiger costume with said infant strapped to my chest.  It was exhausting.  But that was back in the days of wildly unpredictable naps, so the fact that he stayed asleep for hours in the baby carrier was a blessing.  That was also back in the days of working on the kitchen table in a poorly lit apartment; today, as the above picture illustrates, we have a lovely glass desk in a bright office.

We’ve been taking regular family walks lately, in the space of time between Little Boy’s dinner and his bath, but this evening the adults were rather tired.

Husband: “Are we going for a walk tonight?”

Me: “It’s kinda dark… What do you think?”

Husband: “There are a lot of mosquitoes…”

Me: “We’re on the same page then.”

Little Boy: Crawls into hallway, where he picks up his shoes and sticks them in his dad’s face.

We went for a walk.

Halloween is the season for costume-sewing

If you don’t hear much from me this month, it’s because I’m using my spare time to make Little Boy’s Halloween costume.  I’ve never been very good at just throwing costumes together from stuff on hand, but I am decently good at using a sewing machine to follow a pattern.  This year, that pattern is Simplicity #2788.

Simplicity 2788: toddler in a pumpkin costume.

There’s no way my kid is going to pose this perfectly.

That’s right, if all goes well, Little Boy will be an adorably round pumpkin for Halloween.  Apparently our new neighborhood is full of trick-or-treaters, so we’ll be able to get into the spirit of things a bit more than we have in the past.

Orange and green fabric.

Current status of costume.

Don’t ask me what my costume is going to be, because I haven’t decided.  Zero-effort (i.e., costume already exists in my closet) options include cavewoman, Master’s degree graduate, calico cat, and Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek.

What are your plans for Halloween, readers? 

Newborn vs. one-year-old: a comparison

Lately, I’ve found myself reminiscing about what it was like taking care of Little Boy a year ago, when he was first born, and comparing that to what it’s like today. I present to you the result of that comparison, in handy chart form.

Newborn One-Year-Old
Nighttime What is this thing you call “night,” Mom and Dad? Sleeps 11+ hours straight when not sick.
Advantage: One-Year-Old
Nap Time Keep your fingers crossed that he’ll fall asleep nursing, and pray that he stays asleep for longer than 45 minutes. Lay him in crib with a kiss and an Elmo, turn off light, and close door.
Advantage: One-Year-Old
Breastfeeding: Latching On Carefully hold his head in exactly the right position with one hand while awkwardly squashing the breast away from his nose. Vaguely aim the Boob Piranha in the right direction.
Advantage: One-Year-Old
Breastfeeding: While You Wait Catch up on all your favorite TV shows and Netflix. Ban all sources of distraction including other people, the cat, and the sound of the washing machine.
Advantage: Newborn
Diaper Changes Squirmy with a chance of pee. Kid is bound and determined to grab himself.
Bath Time Balance baby carefully on a sling above the water. SPLASH PARTY!
Advantage: One-Year-Old
Evening Strolls Please stop screaming and go to sleep please go to sleep… Everyone relaxes and enjoys checking out their surroundings.
Advantage: One-Year-Old
Playtime Playtime? Requires frequent parental intervention to avoid destroying the house.
Advantage: One-Year-Old
Snuggles Almost constant. Infrequent, but the ones you get are real honest-to-goodness hugs.

And the winner is… the one-year-old!