Read Aloud Tea Time : What a Great Idea!

It's only the second week of summer and I'm kind of disgusted at how much TV we've watched during the day.  I've never been a "no screen time" mom, but I am somewhat picky about what my children are allowed to watch.  The biggest criteria is that the show be in some way educational, either a nature documentary, a science show like Bill Nye the Science Guy, or something to practice letters and early reading concepts like Super Why or Word World.  Pretty much anything on PBS is fine with me, some on Sprout, and nearly nothing on Disney Jr. (I guess the exception is Phineas and Ferb, which, while not strictly educational, does promote imaginative play and experimentation). 

But "educational" or not, we're getting to the point of watching too much.  And I'm going to be perfectly honest, I tend to use TV as a crutch.  I'm not much of a morning person, so it takes me a good hour or two to really get going in the morning, especially since I've drastically cut back on coffee.  So it's convenient to just turn it on so the kids have something to keep them occupied while I arrange for breakfast, clean up the kitchen and try to get myself ready.  And when Luca and I are trying to work on his "summer school work" (totally his idea, and I'll share all about our "program" in another post), Isla has a tendency to climb up on the table and try to steal his pencil, so it's again convenient to have a distraction for her.

But I know we can do better.  So without warning one morning last week, I unplugged the TV completely.  I didn't announce it, didn't make a big deal out of it, but I knew it would take work and a very conscious choice to crawl behind the TV and plug it back in.

We started out the morning with a very quiet breakfast, which ended up mostly all over the floor.  While I cleaned up, they played with toys for a bit, then I asked the kiddos to help me make some special tea scones for our new Read Along time.  We whipped up my favorite super easy scones recipe and I had just enough time to wash the dishes and dig The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe audio CDs out before they were ready.

I made a chocolate milk, a hot chocolate and a coffee and we sat down to enjoy our treat and listen to a book being read aloud, an idea I've completely stolen from one of my favorite bloggers, Gretchen.  After cleaning the floor up (again) Luca retired to the Lego room (what was once our formal dining room) and Isla and I went upstairs so she could play up there and I could get some sewing done.  Soon it was naptime for her and lunchtime for Luca :)  We survived the morning, TV free.  And it was lovely!

My plan is to keep this up, but allow an episode or two of Bill Nye the Science guy in the evenings and have a special movie night on Fridays.  I have to admit...the atmosphere is so much nicer without Caillou adding to the whining in the background ;)

What are/were your "screen time" policies?  Tell me how your family handles this in the comments below :)  I look forward to hearing from you!

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