We were in Dubai when I realized that the ONLY way I could get my kids to behave when out in public like the train or bus was to hand them my phone for cartoon. Gosh, it was painful when that realization hit me. They were always grabbing my phone and going straight to YouTube.
I made up my mind that once we returned home to Nigeria, I would COMPLETELY eliminate cartoon both from the TV and from any phone at home.
Now, the first hurdle I had to cross was hubby because we all know how easy it is to just out cartoon for them while you do other adult stuff. I had gotten the memo but hubby was yet to, so when I would tell him not to, and not give him an alternative to keep the kids engaged, he would not listen. So to stop that, I would then have to take the kids off him even if it meant more work for me. But I was DETERMINED.
Next, I started to research and the findings were humbling. I didn’t want my precious babies a part of the gadget craze. In fact, I was so scared of gadget addiction that I further made up my mind that I would NOT mess with it.
I prayed ooo cos me I needed hubby on board and it was not gragra or by vexing, and trust me, I wanted so bad to shout and vex sometimes with him cos I would just come in and see them watching cartoon with him. Jeeeeeeez, but I bit my tongue.
Then next thing, Dr N had been tweeting a lot about gadget addictions and so I started to tag my husband in those tweets and I guess the Lord started to also touch him cos he now started to listen to me.
With both of us on board, it got easier. He really was not doing much actively but the passivity of JUST DO NOT SPOIL WHAT I AM DOING was all the help I needed.
Now the work was on me…
And this is where the story really starts.
The first thing to do is CLOSE YOUR EYES AND SAY NO!!!
Just determine that no matter how painful it gets, and tempting it gets you will NOT give your kids a gadget.
This is the biggest hurdle to cross. And it is HARD!!!
Just keep the phones away and the TV off.
Then the next thing is to FILL IN THE GAPS WITH THE RIGHT ALTERNATIVES
This is where a lot of parents miss it because we just take away the screen, give no alternative and expect that our kids will suddenly find a way to cope with something they were once used to. That’s at best unfair, and at worst, maybe a little stupid.
This is where sacrifice as a mom comes in.
I had to somehow make more time for the kids.
Oh I must add that when the holiday rolled around, it must have been day 1 when KingDaveed ran in the room and said Daddy put cartoon for them and I flew like a private jet and was like babe why na and he said shebi it is because of school they were not watching cartoon and that now they are on holiday, won’t they watch.
That may have seemed OK but it is like someone addicted to cocaine and then you now introduce it again when they have not completely lost the taste for it. I knew my kids had yet to lose the cartoon taste. Yes it had reduced significantly but reintroducing it then would mean in a matter of days, they would be back to square one. I had made up my mind that until they learn to walk away even when presented with the choice of it, I was never going to reintroduce it.
That was how I broke my noodles addiction. I completely stayed away, not even tasting it, even if I had to prep for hubby, until when I realized I had absolutely no taste for it anymore then I started to taste it again, and even then, I really am not interested in it again.
That is the intensity needed to break an addiction. It cannot be you watch cartoon weekend. If you start that way, the child is already programmed to cartoon for weekend only and is possibly not even addicted, but where I was coming from, I had to completely eliminate.
So I told hubby the plan and thankfully, he decided to respect my choice even though he didn’t completely agree with it. He was like won’t they ever watch cartoon again?
Me I had made my mind up.
Even the JESUS cartoons ooo. I mean they do not know the difference yet so introducing some and refusing some will be confusing. I can’t say no Paw patrol but you can watch David and Goliath. For a 4year and 1year old, cartoon is cartoon and they will keep grabbing my phone for it.
No ABC rhymes, no nothing.
In school they did that and that is fine because the school environment has a level of discipline that is way higher than home so he is conditioned to know that this cartoon is not play ooo. At home, he will interpret it all as PLAY!!!
Even when they went for one week summer school, I had to ask the school if they left cartoon on all day or they actually taught them. Cos me I wasn’t ready for nonsense.
So even during the holidays, there were places I could not take my kids to because the TV is permanently on and I didn’t wanna undo all my hard work in a couple days. Their will is not that strong yet so I declined many invites for holiday.
And I paid for it ooo. I really wish for example that I could send my kids off to a family member’s house but when I think of my No TV and No gadget rules, me and my kids sit down at home. In fact, it stretched me this holiday ooo cos I had to really shield them from the crazy cartoon in every home we spent some time in.
Now what do we do? What are the alternatives I spoke about above?
We play outside
We roll tyres
We play ball
We buy cardboard and poster color and make messes in the name of coloring
We play with playdoh
We bring out the white board and marker and write/draw
We ride bikes.
We build bricks and scatter them
We read books aloud and the Bible too (we have colorful bibles and I animate and act out the stories for them so it is like cartoon lol. My husband can’t deal with me lol)
We write on plain A4 sheets and make a mess, squeeze them and get new ones
We go to play places, zoos and beaches.
Basically, I engage their hands and mind not just dull their brains with endless cartoons so I can have time to do XYZ.
Frankly it cost me ooo, but I would carve out this time for play with them and then enjoy it. Afterwards set them up to play alone.
And then send them to sleep.
Please recall that I am writing to God’s Domestic Queens aka Stay at home moms, so we have a bit more time but I think even a mom who works outside the home can find the wisdom to navigate it with the domestic help you have at home. When I had to go out, I would mandate my help to read to them and she would.
I actually have a mindset that allows me see part of my day’s work as play with my kids. They get a place of pride on my daily schedule like work and stuff.
Like, it is super important.
So my people that is it ooo. Now I can leave my phone lying around and my kids don’t touch it anymore and go to YouTube
They watch TV but the discovery channel and I love how it peaks their interest. And they are certainly not obsessed by it.
So that is how me I broke it oooo. I would say my kids are about 60% free in their minds. I still hear them refer to Paw patrol sometimes and all so I still will not introduce the Jesus cartoon small small.
My friend and big sis, Dr N has a phone free course that I am sure will help you in even more practical ways
Send her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me know if you have any more tips for this with your kids and how this has helped you.
Remember the first thing I said was that I prayed so make sure you are praying ooo
Babes, you are not just a DQ, you are God’s Domestic Queen. Please make Him PROUD