Posted in Activities & Enrichment, Milestones & Development, TV, Movies, & Video Games, Toddlers

reverse the effects of too much screen time

Anonymous

Ok so since November I have been pretty depressed and I'll be honest, I didn't really know it til now. But I've been on serious auto pilot concerning everything, even my 18 month old. We wake up and I have basically stuck her in front of the tv till it's time for sleep again. Something clicked into place and I realized this. I'm taking the tablet away except for an hour a day. She was talking a bunch a few months ago but not as much now and she has a hard time sleeping at night and everything is a melt down and a fight. I hope it's not too late to fix but I'm willing to try. I'm ashamed but I'm asking for suggestions on what to do to entertain her or if anyone has been through this or knows how I can reverse what I have done.

  • Anonymous
    Mar 10

    It’s just going to take some time just like any detox... you just have to find events or things to do that show her that there are exciting things to interact with in the world. Take her to the park, plan a play date (Facebook groups, meetup, Peanut), children’s museum, library events, library to go check out some books, the zoo, aquarium, walk around the mall (usually there’s s playground), take her to a toy store and maybe have her pick something out, find a mommy and me class to take together, take a walk around the neighborhood... bottom line, get her out of the house. Set up a routine and stick to it. I get those string of days where I do the same where I set him up in front of a screen. The next few days that I take him away from it he is a mess. He has his meltdowns and depending on what they’re about, I just let him have them and ignore it. He will get over it. We also started timeouts (which are like a timeout for him and me). I take a minute or so to gather myself and then I give him a hug and just talk to him about what’s going on. Have you talked to anyone about your depression? Are you getting help or is it under control now? Remember, you can’t be a good parent until you take care of yourself first. Good luck!!

  • MamaNukesYopolo
    Mar 10

    First of all, go easy on yourself. You have plenty of time to do things differently, are you are allowed to have these bumps in the road. Definitely seek help and a support system. If I were you (I’ve been depressed), I would set small goals for yourself and your child. Maybe each week or every three or four days bump it up. Maybe week 1, set a goal to spend at least 2 hours off the screen at home. Then week 2, two hours off the screen at home and one hour outside the house (park, walk, storytime), then week 3, add 1 hour where you sit and interact with him (play blocks, color pictures, practice words, read books). Or some version of that. Pick what’s easiest for you and set that as the goal for week 1. I hope this helps. Please don’t be so hard on yourself. He will be fine as long as you keep doing what you’ve done so far - recognize the issue and start seeking help! :)

  • Anonymous
    Mar 10

    Hopefully with the time change and season change you both can get out of the funk. I'm definitely guilty of using screens more in the winter but now we are trying to get outside more. Pinterest is full of at-home arts, crafts and activities by age, but I get the most sanity from letting kids run free at the park. Mommy and me class and a schedule will be so good for both of you. 18 months is a sleep regression time too.

  • Anonymous
    Mar 10

    Thank you ladies. Maybe I am being too hard on myself.

  • Lynn
    Mar 10

    You’re being to hard on yourself.

  • K
    Mar 10

    You are totally being too hard on yourself! My son got pretty much addicted to YouTube kids around 2. We quit it cold turkey after months of trying to give him limited time, which just seemed to awaken the beast. He is now 4 and a movie expert 😒😁. We have a balance that works for us. Never feel guilty, Kids are super resilient and adaptable. I have twin girls (16 mths) and we do at least 3 library visits per week before their afternoon nap. After my son goes to pre-k, we pack some snacks and have fun at programs like Movers and Shakers. Most libraries have free toddler time morning programs. Check out the surrounding towns as well as your own. Spring is coming....playgrounds!!! Take care of you!❤️

  • Jennifer
    Mar 11

    No judgement here we all do our best. Glad you noticed you needed a change and got what you needed. My son loves toys that let him do what mom is such as laundry and cooking. He also loves the duplo blocks and finger painting. He’s also super into books so I let him “read” them to me

  • anonymous mom
    Mar 11

    Even though it’s such a judgmental thing to say, I think you’re being too hard on yourself. I hate when people say that to me though because the opposite (being too easy on myself) is so much worse. So first, 4 months of a lot of screen time isn’t so bad. It’s awesome that you recognized it and are trying to stop it. Second, I doubt there are any true effects to reverse, I bet you just need some new activities to fill up the screen time and your daughter will adjust accordingly. As for activities, my daughter is the same age and we do all sorts of things inside during the winter months that are so much fun for her and me. DIY play doh is awesome. Look up any recipe online that doesn’t require boiling and let your daughter mix it up herself. Pick up some food coloring drops at the store and let her pick her own colors. Also coloring projects, finger paints, etc are all so much fun. When my daughter is extra cranky, I announce it’s “bonus bath” time!!! I take her in and let her play in the bathtub without washing her. She loves it. Any day that’s over 35F out, we go outside for at least 10 minutes two different times that day. Even if it’s just checking the mail and playing on the porch (if the snow is crazy bad). If it’s over 40, I pack some raisins and easy finger foods and we go to the playground. At this time of year, the playground is usually empty so we have the whole place to ourselves which is a lot of fun (bring a towel to dry the slides!). Back to crafty things, all kids seem to love crafts. Even things like cutting images out of a magazine and letting them use some glue sticks and make a collage by gluing them onto a paper plate or something. It doesn’t have to be a complicated project, kids just love doing this kind of stuff. The only thing I’ve noticed is that since she was about 13 months old, my daughter likes to do everything I do so I can’t use scissors in front of her anymore (so any cutting has to happen when she’s asleep or otherwise occupied). Finally, have your daughter “help” you whenever you can. Unloading the dishwasher is one of her favorite things to do!!! She also helps me make dinner (meaning, I’ll have her help measure things out and even mix...mixing gets messy). So basically just turn the tv off and put the screens away and just focus on other things. When all else fails, read books:) Also, please seek therapy or help for your depression!! It’s so hard but also important to help ourselves when we have our babies!!!

  • Amy
    Mar 11

    I'm so proud of you for realizing depression had you stuck in autopilot. Talk to your doctor to find a support group for yourself! And It's definitely not too late for your girl. She may fight your new habits for a bit but she'll soon adapt and love interacting with you and playing without a screen too :) You can do this, Mama! Don't feel ashamed to ask for help!

  • April
    Mar 11

    Thank you for being brave enough to write this post. I too struggle with this but have not been brave enough to ask for suggestions. Your post and all the comments have helped me as well. 💗

  • Anonymous
    Mar 12

    So, I’ll be the bad guy here... I’m sorry if it sounds harsh but I don’t think you’re being too hard on yourself. You fudged. BUT that being said, you should feel proud for realizing it in a timely manner and owning up to the mistake AND actively wanting to fix it. We all know you’re a great momma who loves your daughter, and you deserve big kudos because realizing and taking steps to fix a mistake is hard. I’m no saint l, that’s for sure, just a stranger on the internet with an opinion that may or may not matter :) In any case, I’ll second everyone who says spend time outdoors and out of the house. There is nothing better for kids than being outside and exploring nature. All those ‘sensory projects’ are built in - let them get dirty, play in dirt/woodchips/sand/etc. Getting into a routine is also helpful for the littles ones. Maybe choose a day a week for story time at the library, a music class, etc. Whatever your budget and schedule allows for. Those meltdowns and fights are probably not going anywhere though! Haha that’s something that comes and goes in phases as they grow up... sigh And please, try to work in time for yourself. Do you stay at home? I drop off my daughter at the childcare center in the local gym and get a quick workout in. It’s helped me a bit with my depression. We’re all doing the best we can, and we need to allow mistakes happen, it’s how we learn. The kids will be alright :)

  • Anonymous
    Mar 12

    I really appreciate the honestly legit feedback. I needed that. I was thinking I wish someone would be honest like that.

  • A
    Mar 13

    I agree with everyone saying don’t be too hard on yourself! Although I try to limit the tv in our house but let’s face it. Sometimes you just need 30min of uninterrupted time. 😂 I also feel like it’s not necessarily that bad if your balancing it with other healthy activities. We do a lot of crafts- coloring, painting etc. Also, when the weather is nice get out for walks, parks outside adventures. It honestly helps me mentally too to get out of the house. Get away from the laundry and the messes and just play with your kids. I take them out in the rain to splash in puddles and in the snow to play.

  • Lynn
    Mar 13

    Honestly, sometimes and most days my kids get the max of 2 hours or close to it. Because you know what, I dedicate everything to them and I need a break or I will go nuts.

  • Elle
    Mar 13

    Bravo for realizing the mistake, owning up to it, and trying to make right. That honesty, self-reflection, and sense of responsibility show that you will make an amazing parent. First and foremost, I hope you get assistance, guidance, and support for what sounds like it may br PPD or other sort of depression-category issue. Studies show that screen time represents missed learning time. It has the largest effects on language development. It effects language skills the most. There's no "reversing" it, but you can do things to help her catch up. So, talk to her. Lots. Sing to her.

  • Anonymous
    Mar 14

    Any other ideas, Elle?

  • Elle
    Mar 14

    Sing to her Read her books Tell her about your day, what you're doing at the moment Story time at the library Foreign language class for 18-24mo olds (google alliancefrançaise if you might be interested in french!) No baby talk; use actual words. https://www.parents.com/baby/development/talking/signs-of-talking/

  • Anonymous
    Mar 15

    Thanks!'

  • Erica
    Mar 25

    Weather is starting to be nice. Enjoy the sun when you can and the screen time on the rainy, snowy, chilly, or " I just dont wanna days" out side time is good for both mama and baby.