Too Much TV

Updated on September 20, 2008
L.C. asks from Virginia Beach, VA
56 answers

This is going to sound bad, and that's because I know it is. But my 3 year old daughter watches entirely too much TV. Between 8-12 hours a day. I know that sounds horrible, but here's the situation. My husband works full time. I work part time, but I also go to school full time. We absolutly can not afford day care of any kind, so I go to school online from home so that I can be here with my daughter. But my school work takes up easily 8-9 hours a day (like I said, full time) for class work and homework. It is very hard for me to manage my time to even deal with my daughters basic needs like meals when I am trying to do school work. I don't have the time to sit and play tea party or to get out of the house and go to the park. We try to be much more involved on the weekends, but honestly after my husband has worked all week, all he wants to do is sit in front of his computer on the weekends, which I understand because sometimes I need to unwind from my week too. But because of all of this, my daughter watches TV just about all day while I am working. I do the best I can, and restrict her to educational shows, which she loves, and has really learned a lot from. But my question is, are there any activities I can use to entertain/stimulate my daughter during the day that require little supervision, so that I can still get my 8-9 hours of school work done every day? I want to get her out from in front of the TV, but I don't know what else to do to keep her occupied so I can work. I don't have time to chase her around the house or let her do messy crafts since I can't watch her every second when I'm working. You all have been a great help in the past, so I'm hoping someone has some ideas that will work for me. Thanks Moms!
P.S. I want to make a side note here, because a lot of people have said that I should put my school work on hold, or back off, but this is not an option for me. Because I was in the Navy, my GI Bill pays for me to go to school, and actually pays me more than working full time. Because of our financial situation, if I quit going to school, or back off, I don't get paid. Then I have to go to work full time, for less money, and still can't afford to put her in day care. So while I agree that school shouldn't be the priority, it really isn't. But getting paid for it is. My husband doesn't make enough to support me not working, so I have to make money some how. That means either working full time and paying for day care (which we tried and almost lost our house), or going to school full time, and getting paid for that.

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L.B.

answers from Washington DC on

I know how you feel!! I used to swear I wouldn't let my kids watch a lot of TV, but yikes! They took in a lot! Have you thought about getting some special coloring books/activity books, or even downloading printouts from the internet? You could set up a little desk or table next to the computer desk and she could have "school" when you do!

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A.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L.,

I just want to start by saying I sympathize with your situation. I hope that among the criticism and hopefully helpful suggestions that you find what you are looking for. Sometimes "you gotta do what you gotta do."

I am married and have a two year old daughter. I have been home with her this entire time, but will be putting her into full-time childcare/school at the end of the month. I have re-started my doctorate work recently with two courses one day a week and will be working full-time outside the home in addition to that.

I understand that childcare is not an option for you, but there are definitely several non-television options that I would suggest. At three years old I would think that your daughter can entertain herself for longer periods of time. My daughter is 2-years old and does a pretty good job of it. I would just make sure that you are stocked with different interactive options. My daughter's toy collections include lots of coloring books/crayons, building materials, pretend play options (i.e. tea sets, kitchen, costumes), stuffed animals/dolls, paints, kid-friendly music cds,books (including audio, interactive books). My daughter has a castle/tunnel system in her room that gives her physical exercise going through and around it. It also serves as a sort of clubhouse she retreats to with her favorite toys.

I would try to introduce new books and/or a toy regularly to keep her collection fresh and interesting. It doesn't have to be expensive. My daughter loves stickers, so I always keep a constant stash of stickers that are associated with books and learning skills much of the time. If you can arrange your schedule maybe you can dedicate some time at least once a week where you are taking your daughter to a kid friendly event like storytime at the library,bookstores, some coffee shops or even your local Whole Foods offer these events for free, museums (sometimes free), the park, or a class of some sort if you can afford it (i.e. gymnastics, gymboree, swimming, etc.). A website you can check for free activities happening in your area is gocitykids.com.

I would dedicate a short amount of time to her favorite television shows, maybe an hour to an hour and a half, which is about 3 shows or so, or maybe one movie. Aside from that I think spousal support is ESSENTIAL.

I am balancing my situation by dedicating evenings after my daughter is asleep and weekends to focus on my school work. I understand that I have to schedule time for my entire family together so I make sure that I am carving out time on the weekends where we are all doing something together. It's usually a few hours on either Saturday or Sunday, but not both days and dinnertime of course. I know that my husband is tired at the end of the day and I am as well having spent the entire day with my daughter and working on school work, but your husband is an essential part of making your current situation work.

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A.B.

answers from Washington DC on

This is a very difficult situation, one that many parents are facing daily, unfortunately. The irony is you chose online courses full-time so you could be with your wonderful daughter, but, you're not with her. You wrote that going to school part-time is not an option as it effects your pay, right? Do you have access to relatives or affordable daycare providers who can watch your daughter during the daytime? No? Then, you might have to sacrifice the cleanliness of the home if you really want to cut down the television time. You can do crafts at home by getting an old sheet or blanket that you can place on the floor before she starts working. Finger paints, Wonderpaint and Wonder markers by Crayola (no-mess) are great!! You must use the special paper for the Wonderpaint and Wonder markers, though. Drawing? No mess. If she's been watching educational shows, maybe you can have her write her letters, make up her own stories, and/or practice spelling three- or four-letter words she heard on a program. Playdough is also not too messy. Use cookie cutters to make shapes from playdough. Teach her to clean up after herself. Another suggestion, Legos. Believe it or not, some girls enjoy Lego sets. Visit the store in Tysons Corner or Potomac Mills for girl sets. Coloring books, sticker books, scissor projects online, and easy-reader books should take care of your morning time. Plan to take breaks (not just for her, but also for yourself) to go on a walk with her, pointing out various leaves, rocks, and insects along the way. Spend maybe 30 minutes having a tea party and then cuddle with her and a good book. That's 2 hours. Show her how to set the table for the tea, and then let her practice it. Use pots and pans to let her pretend to cook while she's sitting beside you. Add to this music on the radio, books on tape, and possibly dress up outfits, and that might help some. But, if there's not even 1-2 hours in the day, you really should re-evaluate the plan. Yes, you get more pay, but you might be sacrificing the relationship and educational needs of your daughter in the process. Fathers tend to make that choice, but it's so much harder for Mom to do that. If it's really that hard to focus and make time for her during school hours, you might have to shop around more and see if there are any pre-school programs, like HeadStart or daycare options if you fit the financial profile. She might fare better at daycare until you are finished with school or can at least get through this semester.

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S.R.

answers from Richmond on

L.,

I am a mother and grandmother and I must admit that I was saddened to think of your daughter sitting in front of the TV all day alone. I know you are in the same house, and you say you want to spend time with your daughter, but it sounds like she is alone. I understand the fear of financial loss, I understand how important it is to get an education and to provide a good home for your daughter. Do you understand that she is only going to be a child for such a short time. Now is when she needs you most. She needs you to spend time with her. Children learn so much at this age, you want her to learn from you, not a TV program. Educational programs are great, but they do not replace Mom. I assume there is no family that can help provide day care. What about a friend or someone from your church. If you cannot spend time with your daughter,then she deserves to at least have some other caring adult providing care.
I can tell that you care about this and that it is weighing heavy on your mind or you would not have bothered to ask for help. I do not know anything about your financial situation. Sometimes we feel that we must provide a certain standard of living, (nice house, nice car, nice clothes etc). Perhaps you and your husband have set your expectations too high for right now. You say that even the weekends are time for you and your husband to unwind, so when does your daughter get the love and attention that she deserves?
We all make choices in our lives, every day, some of them can be life changing. The decision you make will impact your daughter for the rest of her life. Make sure you choose wisely.

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K.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Since I had my son 2 years ago, I have worked from home. At first, it was hard to get him to play independently, but once he knew the routine, it was much easier. Here's what I would advise...only let her watch her very favorite shows. My son watches TV from 11-12. The rest of the time he plays. I have crayons and blank paper. He also has all of his toys in his bedroom. I find that when he comes into the office looking for attention, I do give it to him. It's usually just to talk for a few mins, or help him with a toy, but once he receives my attention, he's good to go and continues playing. Now, the house does get messier this way, but when I am finished working, we clean everything up together, then go outside and play until dinner. The hardest thing is going to be to get your daughter use to playing independently. Try it out on the weekends first. Start out by playing together, then tell her to keep playing while you go the bathroom (or make lunch..whatever it is, just get up and leave her to play alone). Slowly decrease the amount of time you play with her, and make sure you praise her for playing well by herself. Also, I give my son tasks, like can you put all of the marbles into the basket? He loves showing me he can, and usually does it over and over. Your daughter won't need big, extravagant activies, just guidance on how to play by herself. I also find it helps to rotate his toys. I have one toy box in his closet and one out in his room. I swithc them up every few weeks so he doesn't get bored with is toys. I also explain to him, no Mommy is working right now, when I'm finished I can play with you, in a calm voice, so he knows why I can't play with him. Let me know how it goes or if you want more suggestions.

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A.K.

answers from Norfolk on

I think you've gotten some good advice. I also think you need to change your priorities. No child should be left to fend for themselves 8-12 hours a day, especially at 3. Excessive television has been linked to obesity. The longer she spends watching television this way the harder it will be to break her of the habit later. You need to think about what you are working so hard for. If it is to give your daughter a better life, than I think it should start now. She will care more about the time you spend with her than any material things you will be able to purchase if you finish school & get a high paying job. Excessive television also promotes materialism. Your daughter is being bombarded all day by commercials for toys & crappy food.

I don't think that you should quit school & start again later. Right now you are in the swing of things & it is hard to start back up after you stop completely. I do think that you need to cut back to part-time & then do your school work early in the morning or after your daughter is in bed. You need to look forward and see what you project your life to be in a couple of years. Will you be working full time & your daughter in school/daycare all day? Will you finish school & then spend time with her? When will she be the priority? It sounds like you have the financial means to make her the priority now. I don't know how much you pay for your classes each semester, but could it be enough to put her in preschool for the mornings while you work on your school work (part time classes) and then you would have the afternoon free to focus on her?

I don't think taking another child in would be a good idea. I would never want my daycare provider to put my child in front of the tv all day. It sounds like your daughter is well behaved & doesn't tear up the house. There is no guarantee that another 3 year old would have the same temperament. I think you'd be doing someone a disservice.

I know that this is probably not what you want to hear. I looked at your previous posts & you mentioned that you are a Buddhist. I have been interested in buddhism for awhile and one of the principles that speaks to me is mindfulness--living consciously in the moment, bringing awareness to all aspects of your life. You don't seem to be applying mindfulness to your daughter. Are you making her life better by mindful living? You need to accept the reality of what is in front of you. It is obvious that you are uncomfortable with the current situation.

ETA: I just saw your update that you are getting paid for your schooling (so basically it is your job). Have you thought about moving somewhere where it is cheaper to live? Or maybe moving in with a relative while you finish school so that you can afford to put your daughter in daycare. How big is your house? Maybe you could trade free housing to a single mama who works weekends in return for her watching/entertaining your daughter during the day. You don't say what your husband does. Is it easily transferable to another area? Are there any teenagers in the neighborhood that you could hire to come over after school to play with your daughter?

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W.S.

answers from Norfolk on

Since we don't have all your details, we have to guess about some things. Do you work every night at your part time job? Perhaps you can cut back on those hours, do your schoolwork on those nights when your daughter is asleep, and free up some daytime hours for one-on-one with her. Also, what does your husband do when he gets home at night? He should be spending lots of time with her, not on the computer all the time. There will be time for him to do that in 2 or 3 years when she is in kindergarten and you are done with school. If he is as wonderful as you say, you shouldn't have to do much to convince him. I remember from my college days that a full time student was at least 4 classes, so if you are taking more than that, then perhaps you could drop one and still meet the GI Bill criteria? Have you contacted the Navy to see if there is any assistance for you? I know that Navy childcare is based on what you make, so maybe a day or two a week would be feasible. I live not too far from you, and I know that good daycare is not always easy to find, but there are some church-based preschools that allow you to bring your child 3 days a week for half a day, I know because I did that. What about hiring a baby sitter to come to your home a few hours a day, one or two days a week? Maybe there is something you could cut out of your budget (cell phone, reduced cable bill, etc.) that could allow you to send her to a half-day preschool for about the price of tank of gas. I know it must be hard, but she will be past those oh-so-impressionable and moldable years, and you may have missed some golden opportunities to steer her in the right direction, and give her the best earliest memories of the fun you and she had togther. Good luck!

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J.O.

answers from Washington DC on

I wrote before, but I was thinking about your situation more. I completely forgot the obvious. Tell your husband to get the part time job and quit yours. You've already got 2 full time jobs (school and child rearing). He's not going to want to hear that but, to quote a very bright 7 year old I know, "too bad, so sad." It's time to step up to the plate.

I think it might be our generation to assume that if we're working full time, that's enough. Well, obviously it isn't. My parents weren't educated and were raising 4 kids in the midst of the late 70's early 80's "economic down turn." My Dad was laid off of his living-wage factory job and had to get work which paid significantly less. He could have said, "I've done my 40 (or 50) hrs this week, I should get some me time." But, he didn't he got a full time and a part time job to make up for the lost wages. I realize this may be old fashion thinking, but I think it's the husband's job to step up when needed. It's not like you're sitting around watching soap opras and eating bon bons. You seriously have 2 full time jobs right now and they are both (you didn't say this, but my guess is you aren't doing as well in school as you could be) suffering right now.

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J.F.

answers from Richmond on

Wow, do you have your hands full. I've been the sahm. I've been the single mom working full time AND studying. It's all tough no matter what you do. First off, dad needs to spend less time vegging on the weekends. Period. Not to say he shouldn't get his down time, but there are things he can do during the weekend that can make things easier for you during the week, like cooking in large batches for your daughter's meals during the week and freezing it so all you have to do is nuke it for a couple of minutes. The time saved preparing meals can be time you spend with her. Also, taking care of other children in your home is a great alternative to working that part time job. Taking care of just 2 other children can earn you enough money to possibly replace the part time job, they will occupy each other for socialization (and no tv) and that time can be spent with your daughter instead of away from home (it's how I managed to quit my part time job to be a full time sahm with my son). Though cutting back on your course work would be your best bet, if that's not an option (it wasn't for me), studying or doing homework at night after your daughter is in bed gives you more time to spend with her and really allows you to concentrate better. As for activities, give her the toys, the coloring and activity books, dress up clothes, whatever, but just simply turn off the tv. She needs to get used to using her imagination, whether she's alone or not. And now is the time to get her to do it. Since she's accustomed to the tv being on all the time, she's going to get bored and probably cranky at first. She'll get over it. Once she realizes she has no choice in the matter, she'll learn to entertain herself more creatively. It'll build character.

Even if you had all the time in the world to spend with her, as a mom, it's not your job to keep her busy and entertained every waking moment, so don't feel bad when you're doing everything you can. And for the love of God, take some time for you, even if it's only an extra five minutes in the shower to meditate. Taking care of you is the best thing you can do for your whole family.

As a final note, I'm rather saddened to see all the moms who sound so critical. We all have our sacrifices to make and no one has the right to judge when they haven't walked in your shoes. Keep your head up, you'll get through this!

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K.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Have you tried Play-Doh, coloring, building with blocks or Tinker toys? Does she like to play with dolls? If so, you could invest in a dollhouse for her. Even if it provides only a little bit of imaginative play, that has to be better than watching tv constantly. Is it possible for you to go to school part time? Or take one less class? Do you have a support group nearby, family, friends, that could watch her every so often?

I don't want to seem at all harsh, but I think letting your child watch that much tv is a disservice to her. I want to be supportive and understanding, but there has to be some way to get her away from the tv. I also think your husband needs to step it up a notch, for his daughters sake, and yours. I am sort of dealing with this lately with my husband. We have two kids and I give my all to them, the house, and the hubby. So sometimes when he 'plops' I get pretty upset. He is starting to see this, and making a bit more of an effort. Also, have you looked into a head start program in your area. Or tuition scholarships at a preschool? She could really thrive in a school environment. Even for 2 or 3 days a week, then you would have 3 hours a day to totally devote to schoolwork. I really hope that you both can find a way to spend more time with your daughter.

GOOD LUCK!

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A.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Can you re-arrange your schedule a little so that there can be a little time between both of you like a break, and take her to the park while you read(even though that's kinda hard). Or try to find tasks that you can do at the same time? Crafts don't have to be messy. You can have her draw right next to you for atleast 30 minutes or so. Also, see if there are other mothers around thatyou can do a playdate with which might give you 2 hrs. Are there any other kids in the neighborhood that you can invite over so that she can have a playmate and play in a room and you don't have to be engaged.

Frankly, can you study at night when she's asleep so she can have more or your attention during the day? IF you can put your lesser concentrated activities at some times so she can play, or color, or have her own(barbie or leapfrog or other pretend) laptop while you do your thing, that might get her away from the tv so much. Also, involve her as much as you can in the things you do when ou're not studying like food shopping or cooking and cleaning so she's not just sitting during that time. I think if you think a little outside your box, you may be able to have only 4 - 6 hours of tv for her a day. Try to eliminate 1hour or even 30 minutes at a time. Do some of your work at night and know that school won't last forever, but habits created at this time canbe a little hard to break. Good Luck!
A.

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A.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I know not everyone can do it but I squeeze in reading while taking the kids for a walk. If there are some materials you can print and read while taking a stroll it may get her outdoors. You can also set up activity stations in the home - like a sand table in the yard or a place to build with blocks or color. If it is possible - take a laptop outdoors - you can do your courses and enjoy the fresh air and she can have some variety.

Whatever you do - don't be too hard on yourself. We all do what we can to get through and I am sure you will not be in school forever. It does not sound like she is suffering if she enjoys what she is doing.

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J.T.

answers from Washington DC on

8-12 hours of TV a day is A LOT for a 3 yr old! My best suggestion is to put her in a daycare, or pre-school, and work around the schedule with classes and work. Its great that you are going back to school, many kudo's for that, but your daughter needs a little more attention. Another possibility, do you have any family in the area that can play with her, or babysit while you do your classes? My heart goes out to you, as I know this is a hard situation...

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K.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi. I have several suggestions. One. Can you afford to put her in daycare part-time? That would give you time completely to yourself, plus allow her to play with her peers and develop social skills. You can put her in there 2-3 days a week. Two. If that may not work try a co-op daycare. It's cheaper b/c you have to volunteer to help out. it varies from place to place but it could possibly be only one day every other week. it's worth looking into. Three. I don't know the details of your finances but you may want to look into vouchers. Now if none of the above is really an option, pick crafts that aren't messy. Coloring instead of painting for instance. Craft stores sell all kind of craft kids, they require glue but you could always use glue dots and strips instead and it won't be messy. Let her help make lunch and that will be an activity. If you have a yard, get a little slide or something and let her play on that while you work outside. You will be right there and can look up at her as often as you feel is necessary. Oh another option is trying to find another mom in the area, possibly in the same situation and you can rotate helping each other out. Like one week she can take your daughter a couple of hours and the next week you take her child. There is no cost b/c both of you benefit from the situation. I feel I have to say this, although he may be tired, your husband has to help on the weekends and evenings. That's the balanced thing to do. I work full-time teaching and have two children so I know he is tired, but as parents our kids must come first. Not computers or personal time. Yes we all need it but if it's making things harder for you he may have to cut out some of his R&R time.

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S.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi,
I read what you had to say and you may not totally like what I have to say but I am not saying it to hurt you.
You are way over doing it. This is a critical growing up age for your child and she needs you more now than you know.I just want to add that I have two small children. My son is 5 and he just started kindergarten and my little girl is still at home with me. She is 2, I also work part time in the evenings because we can't afford daycare either. I love being home with her and I loved it when my son was here with me too. Time is very important and they do come first in your life not the other way around. I agree with a lot of the other moms who responded simular to my message. We all feel the same about this issue. I understand if your husband wants to be on the computer but your daughter needs a lot of attention not just watching tv or doing things to keep her out of your way while you do school work. I think you should only be doing part time school for her sake not yours. If something doesn't change you may regret it later. She may resent you for it or withdraw from you. Do you really want that? Time with a parent is very important for a child. You being mom, she needs you more than dad. It looks to me you are to busy for a child and maybe you weren't ready but now have to be and you really need to make more time for her. She's precious and I am sure you know that. Think of her feelings and make a decision for whats important for her. I hope I haven't upset you and I do understand you want to get an education but try not to do so much as once. You are going to wear yourself down and you could take it out on her when it's not her fault. I really hope the best for you and mostly for your little girl. Oh, I don't know if your husband is helping much with her or not but you two just need to come together on the weekends and take time with her. If you can't then maybe a grandparent can give her the attention she needs. Good Luck and I hope I haven't upset u.
S.H.

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K.W.

answers from Washington DC on

L.,

Bravo to you! It is really hard to manage your life and give your children the best. I understand needing to finish school. It will ultimately be the best thing for your daughter in the long run. I have one idea for you. Look into some preschools some are very affordable. I don't know where you are located but there are several in the area. My children attend Mothers Day Out of Westchester. It is located in Oella. An example of cost is a child that goes 2 mornings a week from 9:00-12:00 would cost about $110.00 a month. Think about your options I am sure there is something you can get involved in twice a week that has your daughter as involved as you in school.

S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

hi L., your schedule sounds brutal (and you're lucky to have such an accomodating three year old that she DOES watch tv instead of taking the house apart!) i do think you have to prioritize here. far be it from me to encourage someone to forego higher education, but you have to look seriously and honestly at the stark fact that while this may be a great thing for you and your family ultimately, your little girl will never be three again. are you willing to have it go by so utterly unappreciated? i'm not saying that in a mean way, i know you love and appreciate her but if you're too busy to do more than provide basic meals, you're not spending it with her, and her entire life is spent enriched by a medium other than her mom.
also, i get vegging in front of the computer, but dad has got to step up to the plate too. if weekends are all your daughter really has to do something fun and actually interact with her parents, then vegging is not an option.
networking sounds to be your best bet. find some moms who are willing to share something (which means you have to throw something into the kitty......take their kids to the park or have weekend sleepovers) and try to get your daughter into some sort of atmosphere that has her interacting with people. this age is so precious. i hope you consider cutting back to part-time at school, for your sake as well as hers, so you can enjoy her.
khairete
S.

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T.H.

answers from Norfolk on

my daughter is 3 and i have an 8 year old too. we also have the tv on all ay it seems to sprout, pbs or noggin. i think they learn so much wit them as my girls dont learn from me telling themthe abc's they would rather dora teach them. mine also dont sit in front of the tv like a zombie either. they play with their toys while the tv is one. does she lik to color with crayons or maybe if she had her own game that she could play like the wii where they have to move. the ion is a bit cheesy but you have to move around to play that. once the weather is nice if you have a fenced in backyard you coul let her play outide while you read one of your assignments. you could also try to get her into early discoveri or head start as they are free tht way she would have at least a part of her day someplace doing activities.

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T.C.

answers from Washington DC on

i completely feel your "pain" here. I am lucky as my parents are very nearby but as a single mom who works all day tv as a babysitter is soooo nice sometimes. i try and assuage my guilt on the weekends same as you but at some point i need to clean the house and do some gardening, mow etc. my son is 4 and i started finding things he could do that were "like tv" when he was about 2.5. The computer worked pretty well honestly, the playhouse Disney websites were good cause it felt like TV to him and i knew he was at least learning something. i also found Putt putt games and they were awesome once he could use the mouse. i also got him on audio books (figured someone was reading to him even if it wasn't me and i could do my chores or relax for 5 minutes) by encouraging him to act out the events he got some exercise too. the last piece of advice I'd have is you are not alone, find some other moms in the same boat and maybe kid share - we all need a hand somedays, and two kids play longer than one :)

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L.Z.

answers from Tampa on

Hi L.,

I would have my kids do playdoh. If it is done on the carpet and gets into the carpet once it dries it flakes off and you can vacuum it up. Playdoh aslo has different things like a dr. dog and other items she could play and create different things. I would also recommend a magazine from highlights that is a hidden pictures book. It comes with stickers and they have to locate the items within the picture. Once she learns what to look for it is great for occupying their time even if you are doing your work by her. You could make that be her school work too. Hope this helps to keep her occupied.

L.

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Sorry I did not read the responses so forgive me if I repeat....you can get a mother's helper to play with your daughter(look on Craigslist) They charge $2-4 hour
PS I do not work/go to school and my kids still watch too much TV :(

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T.C.

answers from Washington DC on

You absolutely have to figure out a childcare arrangement for your daughter - either a nanny share or home based daycare or even a supply of high school babysitters to come by several hours a day. A 3 year old child should watch no more than at most 1 hour of TV a day and should not be expected to entertain herself. She might qualify for a head start program or another preschool - there may even be scholarships available. You should talk to preschools or daycare in your area to see if you can set something up that is financial feasible for you. 3 year olds need stimulation and guidance from adults - arts and crafts, cooking time, outdoor playtime, educational projects, music time, etc... These are formative years and TV should not be a babysitter. I am so sympathetic to your financial situation and support higher education but your daughter must be as important. Your husband also needs to be involved in figuring out a solution. Your daughter is becoming a passive learner in a sedenatary and very unhealthy way...she is at risk for learning difficulties, poor habits, obesity, attention deficits, social delay, etc... you are welcome to email me privately if I can be of assistance in helping you find a solution.
Good luck

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J.K.

answers from Washington DC on

I have to say that I honestly agree with Stacey W.
I tried looking at this from both sides and the only side i see is your daughter's. You write in your "about me" that you are a sahm who attends classes to be home with your daughter but you aren't with her.
You are in the same house as her but that is the same as being a room mate.
School for YOU can wait. These are her formative years. You can not redo these years and these are the most important.
I hate to say that it sounds like you are being selfish but when it is a detriment to your daughter, you are.
I know you want to goto school to better yourself but your daughter is suffering for it.
she should be at the park, the zoo, go for nature walks, splash in puddles.
I am no queen- our daughter has seen tv before the age of 2 - but compared to how she spends her day- it is minimal.
I know your husband wants to veg- but it sounds like he is selfish. You do not earn the right to veg in front of a computer or tv all day while your daughter is living her childhood! This is going to profoundly affect her later in life. She only has 2 or so more years before she goes to school and then you can worry about your own school. Or switch your hours. or go part time.
Your daughter SHOULD be your number one priority. This should be the time of her life and the time of yours, enjoying it!
The tv should be off, even if you are working. She can color, play with playdoh. You should make sure u are in her play area with her. Your school should not take precedence over her.

She should be climbing trees, learning skills appropriate to her age, tending a garden, going to a museum.

If you cannot afford preschool, then you might cut back to part time school and use the leftover money for her schooling. or do night school- because YOU should be the one accommodating HER schedule- not the other way around. She must be so bored and lonely!

If you love your daughter, you and your husband need to rethink your priorities. She is apparently not one of them.

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K.J.

answers from Dover on

Maybe if you slowly weaned her off the tv by giving her non messy things to do near you, but by herself, like playdough, pattern blocks, coloring...Maybe have different baskets of stuff for each day of the week and that way it will stay new and exciting for her. It might not keep her busy all day but maybe it would help a little. Tv does slowly creep in, and the more my kids watch I find the harder it is to get them to entertain themselves. I know three is young and she cant be expected to entertain herself all day. Hope that helped a little and good luck and good for you for figuring out what works for your family right now.

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A.N.

answers from Norfolk on

I feel your pain. Both my husband and I work from home. He has more time than I do, but sometimes we are both really busy. I know mine watches a lot of tv as well. But I also try to get her to sit and draw with markers or finger paints(the Crayola kind that only mark on certain paper) or her magna doodle. I am lucky that she plays pretty well by herself and will easily have a tea party with her dolls or whatever. Then every about 1/2-1 hour I take about 5 minutes (everyone needs a break) and during that time maybe read a small book with her or get her a snack and chat with her a bit.

Since your daughter is 3 (mine is only just over 2) maybe you could find a preschool (I think you might be able to find something within the school system, don't quote me on that, though) that she could go to a couple of days a week and hang out with other kids and do things besides watch tv.

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K.H.

answers from Dover on

Wow..not too make your feel bad, because I can completely understand how school is so time consuming and a lot of hard work...but you are basically asking for advice on activities for your child that will take care of/supervise her instead of yourself. I am sure that school is extremely important to you, but what about your daughters childhood? As someone else suggested, maybe putting it on hold for a couple of years would improve the situation. If you are having trouble even tearing yourself from your work to feed your child, she has got to be living a pretty lonely life right now. If you did put school off for a couple of years until your daughter is in school full time, you would not be the only mother to put her aspirations/goals on hold to tend/raise her children. There is nothing wrong with that.
K.

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M.B.

answers from Washington DC on

I found this on line:
"There is a Mom's Day Out program at Thalia Lynn Baptist Church on Virginia Beach Blvd. You can look at their website, just go to: Thalia Lynn Baptist Church -Home Page"

I have no idea what your religious affiliation is. However, this may be an opportunity for your child to socialize with other kids while giving you some free time to work on your studies.

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T.Y.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L., I think it's great that you are reaching out to get new ideas for what to do with your daughter. Getting a babysitter or putting her in part-time preschool both sound like good ideas. While you're home with her, some suggestions: musical instruments -- we have a keyboard that has gotten *hundreds* of hours of use, library books, coloring books (if you are worried about her writing on the walls while you aren't looking, try erasable colored pencils instead of crayons), a play kitchen and food (or a "picnic blanket" and play food). Also you can get books on tape from the library for her to listen to while she is playing. Can you do homework outside? Someone has probably suggested that already! If you can move around while you're doing homework, you could also let her play in the bathtub while you're there. If she has some bubbles or baking soda to play with, she can keep herself entertained for a long time.
Good luck!

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S.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi, seems like you got a lot of good advice, I agree with the one lady, that it seems that you had this baby a t a time you can't really afford to have one.Your girl needs to socialize and get outside! I know the urge to do other things and that DAD wants to be on the computer, but you have a child and it is your job to prepare her for life and give her attention. If you are so busy, that you can barely attend to her meals, something is really wrong !put yourself in her situation and look at it from the child's eyes.Kids learn from their parents, they mirror you in 98% of situations, I know my daughter does(good and bad).This sounds really harsh, but you can't do this, school,work and child,at least one loses ,and it looks like this time it's the child. I know it is hard to cut back in our high consuming time, I stopped working(part time) after my first child was 2, because we just had not enough time with her or family life, but we cut where we could, and live a normal life, just without many extras, but our kids are happy and love to play outside and we have a strong bond.I wouldn't miss that for the world. I hope you can find a better solution for all of you, you don't seem to be happy either, just exhausted !Good luck !

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E.V.

answers from Roanoke on

Sounds like you have too much on your plate right now! What is more important to you is what you need to ask yourself, but since that is none of my business...does she like to color, look at books? Most of the time when my boys (5 and 2) watch tv, they are running back and forth to play in their room and bring toys out to the living room too! If she is not staring at the tv and not moving at all, then she will probably be ok. but, the more you can do w/her the better! The Story readers are good too, both my kids like them, so they will last a bit age wise. I know they can be found at Michaels.

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C.B.

answers from Washington DC on

I also work from home and got my master degree while home so I understand how difficult it is to find time but you just have to do it. I have my oldest son in preschool in the am which gives me time to work. We don't really have the extra money but preschool is a lot cheaper then daycare. When he comes home in the afternoon that's our time together. When my husband comes home, we eat together as a family and then I go back to work while he takes over kid duties. Sometimes I stay up until midnight if I have to but it's worth it to me to have the afternoon with my children. You really have to turn off the tv. I suggest preschool. Many churches offer preschools that are inexpensive. At 3, she is old enough to do play doh and color by herself. Also, pretend play. Does she have a play kitchen or dress up clothes? I also think though you need to cut some time during the day to spend with her and then she may be more willing to play by herself at other times.

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M.S.

answers from Richmond on

Hi L.,

I'm also a mother a of an eight year old daughter and three year old son. I went to school full time and just graduated last May. I did alot of my school work after they went to bed but I know sometimes that is hard. My son still takes a hour nap each day. I don't know if your daughter does or not but that could be time for you to do some work. Also puzzles and books are good. My son loves them and will look through books for a good while. Also allow her time just to play with her toys, dolls, kitchen. Most children have great imaginations. I also would take my children outside and let them play while I worked on a paper or read. This way they are outside and not in front of the t.v. Another idea is to get up before your daughter does. I know this is hard for me but it could work for you and then leave some time in your day to play tea party or crafts, etc. I just turn the t.v. and tell them to find something to do. I hope my ideas will help but I know its hard to balance between mom, student, and wife good luck.

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S.H.

answers from Washington DC on

I teach three year olds, and there is a lot you can do with minimal supervision. She currently needs to develop how things work (cognitive functioning) as well as fine motor skills in preparation for writing. Get her puzzles of all sorts, the kinds with pegs in the pieces as well as jigsaw puzzles (they make wooden ones that are more durable). Look at oriental trading, they have a teachers catalog you can order from and find the "dressing frames" that teach how to button, tie, snap, etc. Bead stringing with a "needle" and without on various sized beads is also good. (the needle is the wooden stick attached to the s.tring, without is just a string, and much more challenging). Nesting boxes (that you turn upside down and build a tower) are good for size differentiation. Games that are more educational that she can play alone are also good (such as Polar Bear ABC or Memory). Hope this helps!

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L.G.

answers from Washington DC on

I totally understand. I sah, but with a large house, I'm always cleaning, cooking, etc. My 18 month old doesn't have to watch too much TV, maybe 2 hours at most on busy days. I have a room that is almost dedicated to toys and I also have toys in front of the TV, so she mostly would rather play with those than watch TV. She also knows how to turn on the TV by herself, so she can do what she likes when she likes to. Also, I know you can't afford daycare, but how about pre-school? She is old enough and the church based one's in my area are only $120 a month for 3 half days. That also helps with socialization. Maybe you could get involved in a local SAHM group and find other mom's to watch her from time to time so she can have someone to play with. Another thing is get hubby more involved. As women, we tend to be very compassionate towards others feelings, and although your husband works all day, you are doing more than he is. It's time for him to be compassionate toward you. My husband (god bless him) gets up at 4:30 am, comes home at 8pm, works on Saturday, watches 1/2 hour of tv when he gets home and then he's ours. This happened after I told him I needed help to get things clean around the house (very important to him). In return I give him Sunday as a day he can do whatever he wants. Don't stress out too much, if you need to, cut back school time to part time, get hubby to work a part time job so you can take care of your child the way you want, or if nothing is works for you, it's no so bad. I used to watch that amount of TV when I was little, just like most kids at that time. Remember back in the day it was the mom's job to clean, not the kids. They would just be plopped in the playpen the whole day and that's it! I'm sure you'll finish school at some point, so it won't last forever.

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A.J.

answers from Washington DC on

I agree with the other posts about taking a step back to examine your priorities. Our children are home for such a short time - I hope you can adjust your life to enjoy this precious time with your little girl.

Have you tried waking up early and staying up late? For example, if you wake up at 4:30 or 5 and do school work for at least 2 hours until your daughter wakes up and then do another 2 or more hours once she is in bed for the night that adds up to at least 4-5 hours a day that you can fully concentrate on your school work and not have to worry about your daughter's needs. If she takes a nap, then you can do more work then. I would definitely recommend cutting your class load to fit into your life right now - education is important, but so is your lasting relationship with your child which is something you obviously care about.

I know getting up early and staying up late is difficult, but I speak from experience. My husband is military and was deployed for 5 months while I was living at our base in Turkey with our two children - 7 months and 2 years. I had absolutely no options for child care and had to take care of my nursing baby and rambunctious toddler all while picking up the slack left by my husband's absence. Also during this time I was opening up an online buisness. Neither I nor our families could afford to fly to or from the US at $2,000 a ticket so I was literally all alone except for some friends but all of them were going through the same thing. The only way I could manage our lives during that time was to get up early and stay up a little later and to do my work during their nap time. I was tired and took my rest when I needed it and, sure, I wore out our Baby Einstein dvds but I still made a point to sit and have good quality time with them. Just make sure the TV is OFF and you hold her and tell her how much you love her. While you do mundane tasks like laundry, light cleaning and cooking you can involve your daughter. This will help her feel included and you will get things done as well. Your actions will speak volumes to her.

Motherhood (and fatherhood!) is not an easy job and there are times in life that we just have to "mama-up" and do what we have to do to care for our family. Please don't make your daughter the one to sacrifice for your desires. As a child of parents who put our standard of living above their relationships with me and my brother - I beg you to reconsider your lifestyle. The early years (until age 5) are some of the most formative in a child's life and the lessons learned at this time are not easily forgotten.

Good luck.

*****UPDATE******
I am not sure how this will post as an 'edit' but I thought it was worth a shot....

I just talked with my husband about your situation and he mentioned a few things that might be helpful to you:

First is the type of school/courses you are taking. Are the syncronous or non-syncronous (I have NO idea how to spell that!)? If you have to be online at certain times of the day versus a self-paced program, perhaps you could reconsider your school or degree program. I am not sure of your entire situation in that area, but checking it out if you haven't already might be a good place to ease the demands on your time so YOU decide when it's time for school work. Second is, depending on your situation, have you checked into the Navy Marine Corp Relief and Aid Society? I am sure you know all about it being retired Navy, but don't be afraid to ask for help from them - that's what they're there for!

Well, I hope that provides a little more 'concrete' help. Hang in there!

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K.S.

answers from Washington DC on

L.,

You have received some great advice. I agree with the mom who said to start your day earlier (4-5am). Perhaps you could wake your daughter up early and let her have morning with mom and dad. Then she would either nap for you or go to bed earlier. Dad could have his unwind time in the evening and not on the weekends.

Another thought is for her to go to school with you. Can you set up another area near you where she can listen to books on tape/cd (borrowed from the library, no cost to you), color, play with Legos or paints. She seems like a very well behaved child and you are very fortunate. Include her in what you and Dad do. There is no reason she can't sit with Dad while he is on the computer. Also if you are working but not on the computer, take her to the park or outside to play. She may not get your undivided attention but she is getting physical activity.

Yours might not be the ideal situation but it most definitely is not a bad one. Look into Mother's Day programs and preschools, again. Ask about reduced rates. It may seem like a long time until she is school but it happens much faster than you think.

Good Luck to you and your family.
K.

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S.M.

answers from Washington DC on

L., The choices that you are faced with when you become a Mom are so hard sometimes. You've gotten some great suggestions for getting your daughter to occupy herself so I won't make any more. But I just want to gently talk to you about the practical side of this schedule. When it's all said and done what is the most important thing? Sometimes when we accept the changes that have naturally come into our lives because we have become a Mom, doors open that weren't there for us before. I had always been a career girl. I was pursuing music and acting and put my real life off for those pursuits. When I met my husband in my 40's and had our only child @ 43 - my pursuits took a back seat. I knew it wasn't about me anymore but about our son. I quit work - sold my house so I could financially stay home. And now I have the space and freedom to enjoy every moment with my son. There is so much I don't want to miss. What has that time with him created? A peaceful mind. And because of that I am creating a couple children's books. To make money I have a couple candy products at the Farmer's Market. We slashed our budget so we can do this and we seek out free family fun a lot. But my son isn't going to remember what job I did or how much money we had. He's gonna remember that Mom put a pirate costume together and took him to Pirates and Princess story time. And I function as a whole woman for my family without a bunch of stress.(I'm not pulled in multiple directions as I was before) I have no guilt I have no regrets. My little dude is very well behaved and exceptionally smart and I think it has everything to do with my husband and I being physically and emotionally available to him. This time won't last forever - and there will be time for my pursuits again. Right now - I choose to do it this way. This is just 1 story to illustrate 1 Mom's choice. Blessings, S.

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S.K.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L., the key word here is sacrifice. I agree with the other moms that you you should stop or at least cut back on the amount of classes you're taking, just for a couple of years. Those couple of years will fly, believe me!

I got out of the Air Force reserves with 18 1/2 years service because things were heating up in the deployment arena and I did not want to leave my then 2 year old for a year if I could help it. I finished that enlistment and then got out for three years; I'm working on getting back in as we speak. I could be retired by now, but I sacrificed the time to Erin. Now I'll probably have to do another four years instead of a year and a half, but if I have to disappear for a year, she'll be able to handle it better (neither of us will like it at all, but we can handle it better). Meanwhile, I haven't missed out on the formative years.

It would be painful to quit school when you're on a roll like this - it was painful to get out a year and a half before being eligible to retire! - but you have to think of your girl.

And tell the husband he has a daughter and needs to cut down on vegging in front of the computer. This doesn't go entirely on your shoulders. He doesn't have to give up his leisure activities totally, but you should all have family time on the weekends. Your daughter will really appreciate it. So will you and your husband! Go to museums and zoos and have fun together. Even letting her run around a mall with you helps.

-S.

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R.H.

answers from Norfolk on

You daughter never gets to play. Me i know exactly how it is having a daughter and trying to do things to support while they are at home alone. My suggestions would be few, one you will think I've lost my mind. I would suggest watching another child her age. They would be old enough to take care of general things, they would basically what you daughter does. Two of the same age isn't much more than one. But the extra child would give your daughter company and something to do besides watch tv. Next i would get art crafts. I understand how it would be hard to handle with what you are already doing. But if you have a table or clear area near you you can handle it. She can set near you doing the craft while you work. AT 3yrs old she can take care of most of it herself with out your help since she should be trying to do most of it herself. If you prepare a head of time (the evening before you only have what you need and if she's setting right near you the mess will be less.) Also i suggest going to the library for one day a week for about an hour. Have you considered doing schooling at night or part time. I understand how important schooling is for you and your family but this is the years that are soooo important in her development and she shouldn't spend so much time not only in front of the TV but alone with no direct interaction or other children. If you meet other children in you area you might even be able to allow her to spend time at their house playing (it's free and kind of like childcare...lol) they also might be part of a local playgroup she could go with them too.
Good luck if you need any clean craft idea's don't hesitate to email me. thanks R.
[email protected]____.com

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C.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Best advice I can give you is to wait on your schoolwork until your husband gets home, this way you can play with her. I know it’s hard! I was a single parent for 8 years, juggling being Active Duty Military, Full time school and my daughter. I’ve had many of sleepless days (I worked night shift) entertaining my daughter because I couldn’t afford daycare and relied on friends to help with babysitting.
If you can’t do your work at night then try and get with other parents in your area and see if you can trade watching each others kids a couple times a week so you can dedicate that time to your work.
Also you can set up an area in your house that she can “play in” without the television. Kids have wonderful imaginations if you take away the TV

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D.M.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi L.,
You're going to have to take a deep breath and step out of the box. Less school...your little human life is more important than anything. You have one shot at her childhood development. Hugs, interaction, looking at her at her level all go a very long way. You'll pay later if you don't. You are her inspiration, her world, not the tv. Children don't really want to watch tv, say no. Provide little toys she can't choke on, like littlest pet shop, little dishes, legos, blocks, it takes just a minute to work a puzzle with her. It's amazing how creative they'll become on their own. It's not about you anymore. After school, what? A job that takes too much time? It took a lot for you to write what you did, but your daughter is so important. Teach her to use blunt scissors, just have a cuddle for a few minutes on the couch with a book, or plant some seeds in a pot. You can put up a swing and push her and sing to her. Show her she is most important or she won't believe it later. Tell your husband to get off his duff, in a womanly wise way, of course.

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M.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Are there any teenagers in your neighborhood who might be willing to come in for an hour or two a day as a mother's helper? They could come after school and play with your daughter and take her outside or do the messy stuff that kids like to do, and since you will still be home you can usually pay them less than a regular sitter.

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E.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Children are so important. She will be 5 in no time and she will be in school 6 hours a day and then you can have someone else taking care of her while you work and go to school. Then she will be getting an education while you are free to do what you need. Problem is, it sounds like you had a child when you weren't ready to care for her. She is 3. She can be in preschool, but that costs money. Perhaps it would be beneficial to wait on school (or at least cut back) for 2 years. You say you are working part time and going to school, but you say school takes 8-9 hours a day. I'm not sure how many hours of "Work" you are doing on top of that, but if you cut back on school you would have a few extra hours for work and you could afford preschool. Ours is $150/month for 2 days a week from 9-11:45. Once you cut the school work down from 40 hours a week to say 20, that would give you 5 hours a week to work with your child in a nurturing environment and 20 extra hours back in your week to live/work to make the $38 a week that it takes to put her in school.

I can't even imagine how stressed you must be and how hard this schedule must be for you. I think you just have to stop and think about your priorities. These are the most formative years of your child's life and you are missing them. Plus, she's missing you in them. Plus, she's learning almost everything from TV instead of from real relationships, trials, troubles and interactions. When we have children, we have to sacrifice some things. It all comes down to, how important is she?

Good luck making these hard decisions.
Liz

I think you have to lay out your situtation and think about your priorities. Staying at home saves on daycare, but are you really taking care of your child when you barely have enough band width to make her meals? The tv is a cheap babysitter, but at what cost to your child? Forget what the TV is teaching her, what are you teaching her by showing her your school work is so important to you that you can barely make her food?

----
New thought... can your husband rearrange his time so he can be home to care for your daughter an extra 2 hours in the day while you are working on school? Can he afford a slight pay cut and take some leave without pay days? His boss may not go for it at all, but could he try to arrange taking the equivalent of a day off every other week? Then maybe he could cut his day short by 2 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and spend some quality time with your daughter while you work.

Maybe you could start your work day early (while hubby is home to care for your daughter) then let her have an hour of play by your self time, then take an hour for yourself and play/lunch/teaparty. Then you could let her watch an hour of tv and then have quiet time/nap time for an hour (2 more hours of work for you). Then you could read her a story and get her started on another activity (tea parties for dolls/animals is always a great imagination activity). Another hour of tv and you've gotten another 3 hours of work in. I realize some kids don't nap at 3, but instilling a "quiet time" in your room to rest/read/nap is a good thing. They have it in Kindergarten too, so it is a worth while thing to start. Spend another hour taking her to a park or running around the house/yard and get her some exercise. Then maybe your husband can cook dinner (or bring in takeout) a couple of times a week and you can study while he's getting dinner ready. Another hour after she goes to bed and you may get it all in.

Working (or going to school) 48 hours a week is a lot. It is a full time job, but most people with a full time job have daycare. I understand you don't have that option, so that puts you in a horrible and stressful situation. I think it is really important that you look for a good mom-share type situation. Mother's helpers are great too... a middle school child who doesn't get paid much but enough to make it fun... comes to your house to play with your daughter. You can probably get away with $2-3 an hour if the child is young enough and you can define the options of where they can play or what they can do.

I can't imagine trying to take care of a little one and concentrate on my school work. But you do need to find a workable solution that doesn't make your daughter always loose. Your husband is going to have to work out a good solution with you. Perhaps he can take your daughter to "Daddy and me" breakfasts on Saturday mornings while you get some extra reading/work done. That is a great activity that she will look back on with warm thoughts and it gives them some much needed one-on-one time. Bonus, you get some personal time.

I think it is important that your husband understand the importance of this time with your daughter and how hard it is for you to handle both jobs. Perhaps he is well aware, perhaps he thinks this is working out fine as is. I don't know. But for sure, it seems if you don't actually try on the shoes... you don't know how they fit.

Good luck. I hope you are able to work something out.
This time with your daughter is so special and so important.
Liz

p.s. I am realistic. I realize planning your day like this doesn't work every day and some days you'll be more tempted to stick her in front of the tv... just try to find alternatives so it isn't the only solution. The baskets with different activities for each day is brilliant. You can switch it up each day and she'll enjoy the new activities. You can replace some things periodically so it is new and different. Puppets and felt boards are great imagination activities too. Problem is, they like to show you everything they do so it is still disrupting. Consider listing where you live so people can determine if they can help you personally. Either with their time or their suggestions for others to help or even with their old used toys that would be a good diversion. Good luck.

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M.L.

answers from Chicago on

wow, sounds challenging... is there maybe some neighbor with whom you can organize play dates twice a week in alternating houses? You may have to give up an afternoon of your school work (you can maybe catch up at night once your kid is in bed??) when the play date is at your place, but then your child will get 2 afternoons a week of "play time"! good luck!

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S.S.

answers from Washington DC on

i think you may know the answer allready. maybe you need to cut some of your classees. you say you are a stay at home mom but you arent there anyway because she is in front of the tv. yes that is way to much. at least even if she was a nursery something she would be playing and learning. as it is now nothing. your husband is being very selfish and you are to a bit that poor little girl is starving for affection

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Y.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L.,
I agree with some of the other moms that the ideal solution would be to put your schooling on hold for 2 years until your daughter is in kindergarten. You don't want to miss out on these precious years. I know schooling is important, but this would be such a special time for you and your daughter if you could spend time together.

As for a few suggestions on activities for your daughter, there are the trace and erase books to practice letters and numbers, play doh, legos, reading books while listening to the story told on tape, puzzles. My kids sometimes like just sitting and looking through books, even though they can't read yet (especially books that have been read to them, so they're familiar with the story).
Good luck to you!

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Z.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Dear L.,
I can appreciate not being able to afford child care. I can also understand having to work to earn a living. I guess what I am struggling with is that she is watching TV so you can earn an education. Don't get me wrong, I am all for learning, but at what price? Is it possible to postpone school until your daughter is old enough to attend school full time? Or at least cut back on your course work so you can spend less time on the computer and more time with your child? I am sorry if I sound preachy, but while you are earning your education, your daughter is really missing out on life. Also, there are a lot of preschools that offer financial aid or grants for tuition for people who cannot afford to send their child. That would give you both the opportunity to learn at the same time.

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A.L.

answers from Washington DC on

I took my daughter to work with me until she was 2 - there wasn't a TV and she had to entertain herself much of the day. Turn off the TV, in fact cut off the cable. Mark down her absolute favorites and cut out all the rest. I'm sure she has alot of toys so take away 2/3rds and rotate them when she gets board. Try using story read alongs she can listen to. Give her crafty things, play-doh and such and just be prepared for her to get dirty and clean her up - the secret to this is timing. Pull out the messy stuff at the end of the day. That way you'll be finished and clean up can go into together time. It helps if there's an area she can play in that you can work next to and talk to her while you work.
Use lunch time as outdoor time and do your reading then.

Can you swing part time daycare? 2Days a week might be affordable, or half days. Sit down to discuss a schedule that works for you both that benefits your daughters time with you both.

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A.P.

answers from Washington DC on

I think that is a long time to be watching tv but I can't talk really because my tv is on all day long. The kids don't watch it all day but they like to have it on in the background while they play or whatever. You are doing a great thing for your family by going to school. It sounds like your husband needs to help out and do more with your daughter after work and on the weekends. Maybe you all can do something special every weekend and make a little time every evening, say a half an hour, to take your daughter to play at a park or something. I don't think you should cut back on school, but you do need to find some more time for your daughter. I assume school is only four years and in the scheme of things that is peanuts. We all have to make sacrifices for our families wether its going to school or joining the military and being away from home. Growing up my mother was never home because she had to work 2 sometimes 3 jobs and we were still dirt poor. So even though I don't know you I support your decision to go to school so you all have a better future. Now to your question, I would set up an area near your work space so your daughter can sit with you and color, paint (the color wonder and paint with water books are great), do puzzles, and easy crafts. At Michaels they have a great section of kid stuff that she can do herself. I wish you and your family the best and don't be too hard on yourself.

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C.D.

answers from Washington DC on

my husband worked from home and I worked outside fulltime so we had the same dilemma and daycare was way out of the budget. We found that my son loved to explore so we had the whole house totally baby proofed. He loved our closet in our bedroom so we put stuff of ours in there that he could explore and go thru and not get hurt and he would spend hours just going thru the stuff trying on old clothes that to him were totally interesting, santa hats (all choking hazards removed)anything that he didn't get to play with when we were around and he loved it. Also, I left one cabinet in the kitchen unlocked that had only safe things in it and he would go exploring in there. And yes he had TV and a VCR in his bedroom along with his toys. He had lots of educational videos and also learned a lot from them too. Since my husband uses his computer for work we gave Shaun an extra keyboard and let him pretend he was working with Daddy and he also loved that and he had his own desk to work at and he would write and type like Daddy did. There are pros and cons to everything you do. You just have to pick the choice that is right for your family now and what will help in the future too. Going to school will definitely help you get a better job and maybe all of you in the future will be able to spend more time together. You love your daughter and take good care of her. I highly doubt she will need therapy because you had to take classes when she was a child:-) She knows you love her. Good luck.

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P.F.

answers from Washington DC on

I was in a similar situation so I totally sympathize with you. First and foremost, great job on working, going to school, and still finding time to care for your daughter. I had a few things I tried that really helped. I would take my laptop to a play group at the park where the other mom's helped me keep track of my daughters so I could study. I also would go to the library for story time and work on my laptop. You could also try one of those electronic learning tools like the leap frog toys so she can work with you. My youngest daughter loved that one and still does it today. I also did trades with other full-time moms/students. I also enrolled them in half-day preschool. Dale City Baptist Early Learning Program really saved me. It was three days per week from 9am-noon and only cost about $100. It was fabulous. I still talk to the head of the program. I don't have the phone number handy but you can call the church and they will transfer you. By the way, I am a different religion but it didn't cause any issues. I hope these ideas help. Good luck!

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M.F.

answers from Washington DC on

Wow! That's a lot of TV! But you have a difficult situation and the important thing is that you _care_ about your daughter and are worried she's watching too much.
This is what I have to remind myself of from time to time: what's the point of staying home to be with my children if I'm not really spending quality time with them?? The second thing is, it doesn't have to be long periods of time. Try to spend 15 mins of one-on-one time with your daughter every two hours. Read a book to her or step outside and take a short walk. Just 15 minutes--you need a break from your school work too, afterall! Maybe another 15 mins of those 2 hours she can spend playing by herself. I would try playdough--most kids love it, it's cheap, she can be creative and it's not really that messy. Or maybe coloring with crayons. I have 3 boys, so I'm not sure what little girls do! A dollhouse?
Also, since you do have to eat, try to make it quality one-on-one time by reading a book together while eating.
As for weekends, I totally understand that you and your husband are tired but it's so important to spend time as a family. I look at it this way, their childhood is really so short. Before you know it, they'll be pre-teens and teenagers and won't want to have anything to do with us (parents)! The worst thing would be to look back, have regrets, and wish you'd prioritized things differently. And once they're older it can be so much harder to connect with them. Also, look at the time you spend together as an investment in her future and your future relationship. The quality time you spend with her now will pay off when she goes to school as a well-adjusted child, for example. And vice versa, if you don't spend that time now, you may have to spend more time later helping her deal with other issues.
Good luck!!

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J.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L.,

What a hard situation! You do acknowledge that you know that TV watching isnt very good for your daughter. But do you know how problematic that amount of TV watching time really is? ADD, depression, etc... all linked to large amount of TV watching. You're gearing up for some problems later on and your daughter will pay the price.

Ok so what to do in this situation? I would say that everyone on this board had great ideas from low cost preschool to getting her involved in crafts. THere are many activities she can do alone but it will be very difficult for her to start them now because she is not used to finding that within herself. Do you have any free time on the weekends? Im asking because you will have to put in a little time upfront to get her started and used to playing on her own. Playdoe (you can make homemade), dress up (you can have your old clothes and necklaces, coloring, etc). Do you know any other stay at home moms who can perhaps help out? Children are best behaved when they have each others company so perhaps another mom could do watch her for free?

On another note, yes your husband had a long week but he is a dad and that means 24 hours 7 days a week. He absolutely needs to help out. My husband works all week (as do I) but neither of us have the luxury of plopping ourselves in front of the computer for more than 30 min a day. He needs to get with the program because you are working your butt off and your daughter is alone all day. He also needs to sacrifice.

This is a tough situation. I wish the best for all of you.

J

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S.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I'm not sure how to say this without sounding too judgmental or harsh, but you seriously need to rethink your priorities. Both you and your dh. If you can barely manage to tear yourself away from what you're doing to feed your dd and take care of basic needs, something is very wrong. There is no way a 3 yr. old should have to be occupying herself for 8-9 hours a day! She might be learning things from the TV, but she's being given no opportunity to do anything with that knowledge, is she? There is no substitute for actual interaction with other people, especially your parents.

Why isn't she in preschool? There are plenty of programs out there that will work with you financially. What about a MOPS group? I don't think that costs anything. What is so important about your schooling that you can't put it off for 2 more years until your dd is in school all day? Or at the very least cut back your class load? You would not be the first woman to put her dreams on hold or on a slower track in order to take care of her family. You say in your About Me section that you attend online classes f/t to be with your daughter but being with your daughter is more than just being in the same house and barely managing to take care of her basic needs.

Does your husband really need all weekend vegging in front of the computer to wind down from work? Why can't he interact with his dd when he gets home and on the weekends? My husband works 4 ten hour days and is off on Fri-Sun. Even on the 10 hr. days, he can't wait to get home and do stuff with our girls (ages 6 & 9). They ride bikes, go to the store, take hikes, go fishing, get treats (simple things like Slurpees or milkshakes, etc). And yes, he did that stuff with them when they were 3. That's such a cop out about needing down-time. At the expense of your child? Why can't the down-time come AFTER she's in bed? I assume she doesn't stay up until 11 or 12 at night, does she?

I know I'm sounding mean, but it seems to me that people sometimes get tunnel vision and are so focused on things down the road that they fail to see what is right in front of them now and they need a little jolt to snap them back to the reality of the here and now. Your daughter needs her parents now. These are some of the the most formative years of her life and you all are letting them pass right by with barely a glance. You're doing such a disservice to your precious child. School and work will always be there. Your daughter won't always be a child. You guys need to really prioritize and yes, make some sacrifices it sounds like, but your dd should not be the sacrifice.

Good luck and best wishes to you.

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L.D.

answers from Norfolk on

Ah...another T.V. mom like me! If she's watching the good shows, it's not too bad. This too shall pass. I think getting her outside in a protected area is a good idea, as is the mess free coloring. Is there something she likes to do that keeps her occupied...like cooking (pretend), or some building blocks of some sort? I would put that away and bring it out at a certain part of the day. My guy does not self entertain well, but if I bring out the trains, he will sit w/that for at least an hour by himself. I know you don't have a lot of time, but is there a mom & child you can swap play time with; she watches one day a week, and you watch a day on the weekend? All this will also take some time on your part...it takes time to raise your kids. Without being preachy, you could also consider cutting back a bit on the school work. I learned I had to give over to raising my child, as trying to do much of what I wanted only led to MY extreme frustration and anger, and my child does not deserve that.
I hope you can make it work, and more power to you.

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L.S.

answers from Norfolk on

Well, I don't want to come off sounding mean and not caring about your situation, but in all honesty you chose to have this child and she should come first. I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom and I make sure my child gets out every day. It is important for them to learn to socialize with other children and no amount of educational television can accomplish that. There are a lot of wonderful play groups that you could join that would allow not only give your daughter a chance to socialize but you a chance to meet a group of women to help you out when needed. You may need to take a step back from school and take less classes so you can meet all your daughter's need. As for your husband, vegging out in front of the computer is not helping the situation either. My husband works full time all week also, but nights and weekends no matter how tired he is, he spends with us. Wanting to unwind is a luxury he may have to put away and learn to unwind with his daughter. The park can be very relaxing if you plan it right.
I really don't mean for this to sound nasty, but you and your husband both are missing out on some wonderful memories that you will never get back.
I am trying to be honest, not mean when I say these things. Children are a gift that need are love and attention.
Good luck

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