TV Is Always ON!!

Updated on September 11, 2010
L.C. asks from Pearland, TX
18 answers

I have a 4 yr old, a 2 yr old and an 8 month old. They watch a LOT of TV. I know it is not good for them, but I don't know how to keep them entertained. I don't want to ban TV altogether, but I need ideas on what else they can do. The problem lies in their ages. My 4 yr old can only do crafts in my bedroom with the door closed. If my 2 yr old is left alone with a crayon even for a second, he will color all over the house. Only the baby naps. Also, my 4 yr old can't have anything on the 1st floor of the house that is a choking hazard for the 8 month old who is crawling. I don't want them playing rough (which they do often) when I'm busy feeding the baby, so I turn on the TV. They also watch TV while I cook. So, basically, I'm having trouble juggling everything so I rely on the TV. They are in Pre-K twice a week, which helps. They also enjoy play doh and pop-beads at the kitchen table. (I still have to supervise the 2 yr old with small objects.) I don't take them places by myself much because they are very difficult to manage by myself.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you to EVERYONE who took the time to respond to my question. It never hurts to have some extra tricks up your sleeve and I appreciate all of the suggestions! Taking from your ideas I would like to implement a baby "corral", quiet time, a sort of kindergarten centers approach, more puzzles (my son love them), and really try to venture out more. I don't wear my baby, but I would like to get a carrier just for short trips maybe to the library. I've tried different carriers and wraps, but I have large babies, back problems, and am hot-natured. They just never worked for me, but I know lots of moms that love them. I watched Super Nanny for a while to get some ideas and she's really big on schedules. I've also tried to follow a schedule (I actually like schedules and organization usually), but it was very difficult to stick to because our activities vary each day, and naps and feedings for my baby are not set in stone. I do follow a loose schedule, though. Bedtime and meals are regular.
For those reading this entry looking for ideas, here are things we already do: attend a playgroup once a week, change the "input" or "source" before turning off the tv so the kids can't just turn it back on, yoga on fit tv (the kids do it with me, so funny!), dodgeball with rolled-up socks, earn marbles that are stored up high for chores and homework which cash in for special trips and rewards. For meals, I pre-chop onions and red and green bell-peppers and freeze them for recipes. This saves so much time in meal preparation. I try to find the easiest healthy-ish meals I can find and when I find a keeper I add it to my list of favorites.
I'm pretty sure I didn't cover everything. You guys are great for all the encouragement. I know this time when the kids are all so young won't last much longer and things will get easier.
We just started time out with our 2 yr old. He responds well to it, but we tend to save it for more serious infractions. I do think we should be putting him in time out more often now for making messes. I'm not talking about toys scattered around, this kid looks around for things to mess up, food to smear on something, etc. He knows not to by now.
These last few days I've really tried to keep the tv off for large portions of the day and it has been better.

Featured Answers



answers from Washington DC on

You're not a bad mom. IFor years we didn't even have cable but we had videos. So I popped one in when I needed the electronic babysitter. It works.
Can you make crockpot dinners? Spaghetti is real easy and real good. Or can you make a lot of food say on Sunday then freeze it?
But as I give this advice I say to myself, who am I kidding? I couldnt' get organzed enough to make 5 dinners on sunday.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on


My kids love puzzles...and I loved them when I was a kid too! When they get older they can have "puzzle races"...which are soo fun! You take all the puzzles you have in the house and dump them all in a pile...stack the boards and then the kids race to see who can finish the most puzzles! We used to do this at my Grandma's house with all my cousins...ahhh, good times!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on

It can definitely be tough to come up with activities that kids of various ages can all do. While TV is acceptable in small doses for your two oldest children, an 8-month-old really shouldn't be exposed to TV at all. Check out my recent blog post on excursion ideas ( One of the best things may be to get the kids out of the house (whether to a park, the mall, etc.) on a regular basis. It's good for them and for you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Maybe you could get one of those baby "corrals" for the 4 year old... put a table and her craft things in there so the 2 year old can't get to them. Then you can let the 2 year old play with toys that are safe if the baby gets a hold of them?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Turn off the TV. You will be surprised at how your kids will adapt. The four year old will become an extra set of eyes to watch out for the other two. I lived in a house for a year with a 4 year old, a toddler and 2 infants, and we did not have a TV, and I supervised them alone quite often. It was really neat to see the older kids watch out for the littler ones.

When you cook and clean, give little tasks to the two and four year old to do. I would let the four year old stand on a stool and pre-wash dishes(nothing sharp of course) while I was cooking, and usually the two year old's job was to "organize" the cans in the lower cupboards:) We would sing songs for the babies. A four year old can help at feeding time too. Involve them more in all your tasks and it will be much easier on you and more fun for everyone.

I do not even own a TV, and am so glad I don't.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I understand your dilemma. Maybe you can try educational programs or buy educational DVD's to substitute meaningless TV if that's what they are watching now. While some say too much TV can be harmful, some also say it can be used as an educational tool. Good Luck to you.



answers from Kansas City on

our tv is always on too, but we're not always watching it. A lot of times we turn on something we've seen a million times just for the background noise (star wars, star trek, lord of the rings, etc) our dd doesnt pay that much attention unless her Darth Vader is on the tv or we've turned on one of her shows.

Another thing we do is turn on the music stations. Do you have cable with music channels? Or our DVD player plays CDs.

Good luck, it's tough entertaining so many!


answers from Los Angeles on

Do what works! And dont feel guilty if it is.



answers from Asheville on

I'm not a big fan of tv but it does become a convenient entertainment for us parents to put our kids in front of. There are tons of things kids can do and they can learn to entertain themselves. I have NEVER regretted that tv was not the focus for our kids. They spent countless HOURS with creative play with legos, blocks, puzzles, hand puppets .......That play is what helped bring out their creativity and they even remark about it now. Yes, there are good things on tv, but all too often kids ( and adults) get so hooked on it that it becomes a way to numb out. Encouraging them to use their imaginations will help them develop many skills. Perhaps getting down on the floor with them to help them to show them how they can build/create things. Let them him your excitement for whatever they create. Just need to find some age-appropriate things to do that are safe and not too messy. - If you don't like the tv on so much, just turn it off. Got to do this with consistency.



answers from Harrisburg on

The trick I am learning is to keep them secured and distracted while I am doing something and let them loose when I am not. I get my 4yr old to help me with things I am doing sometimes. That keeps him busy, then I let the toddler watch his favorite DVD. I will switch where the preschooler watches TV and my toddler helps. When I am done, I run around with both of them, play peekaboo, hide/seek, pillow throws, jumping jacks, exercise, pretend games, tickle, paint, draw, write, read, cut paper into shapes, dance to music, let them help with chores, go to the park, ride bike, play with toys, whatever I am feeling up to at the moment, until they get tired and ready for bed. Then I get some peace!

In your case I suppose you could hold your 8mo old and let him/her in on the fun too, pretend you are chasing the other two with her or she/he is trying to catch them. I know it is tiring and takes quite a bit of joggling, but once they are feeling a part of the activities then it gets a bit easier. If you ignore one or the other I think is when tantrums start and it gets overwhelming. Try to keep them all involved.



answers from McAllen on

I sent you a message



answers from San Francisco on


Why not put the 2 yr old in the highchair and let them have a snack while the 4 year old colors at the table. You could also do the pre-k activity books, coloring, projects etc. Puzzles are also a really fun thing for kids to do and you can buy the really big pieces so its not a choking hazzard for your 8 month old. Designate times when tv is on for special shows-but all other times turn it off. Also, have the kids dance to music, make forts in the living room, make-believe etc. The possibilities are endless. Can you get the kids outside? do you have a back yard? Hope this helps--but I would turn the tv off asap!

Take care,




answers from Madison on

Get some toys that are safe for both your older kids, and even your littlest one to be around. Puzzles with larger pieces, larger building blocks, like Duplo, a train set meant for younger kids, a play kitchen. If you have some toys that are safe for everyone you won't have to worry so much. They can be doing these activities while you are cooking or with the baby.



answers from San Antonio on

You could set up a routine for certain times or days for each kid activity. Instead of having the 4 yo in your room doing crafts, put the 8 mo in the playpen for an hour and you sit with the 2 yr old and color while the 4 yo does crafts. The next day, you can reverse it or if an hour is too long, do 30 minutes or daily or once a week. This would prepare them for a school environment also where they do centers. Just set rules for the 2 yr old on how to treat crayons. One big rule is when all is done, put it all away so little one can't get it!! DO NOT worry about watching TV while doing supper-sometimes you just need that!!



answers from Boise on

Playgroups or taking them out to the park. You can do it. Meet up with other moms. Then they play with other kids and you can talk to moms and they can't mess up your house because they are outside. Also, read to them. My tv is on too much too, but if the neighbor kids want to play, they prefer that to tv always, so your 4 year old probably needs other kids, your two year old maybe a little push car to ride or a toy wheel barrow and toy shovel that he can dump out all over the floor, then shovel back in the wheelbarrow. A playyard outside in back?



answers from Little Rock on

We don't have a TV at all, but I made a rule that my 9 year (then 7) could not bring certain toys out of his room because they were choking hazards. My youngest 2 were 22 months apart and my 22 month old put things in his mouth that did not belong quite often until well after he turned 3. I put a gate up between my sons room and the living room to keep the younger 2 out and a gate between the kitchen and the living room to keep the same 2 out of the kitchen. I generally put the baby in a playpen or the swing while I was doing a chore to keep her safe from the 2 year old. As she grew older, I would put her in the high chair with cheerios or a teething cookie and toys to keep her occupied while cooking and serving dinner. Later the gate was used primarily to keep her out of the kitchen and my then 3 year old figured out how to open a close the gate himself. The toys and books in the living room were all baby safe and nothing was allowed into the living room that wasn't. Now that my daughter is nearly 3( in Nov), the living room as turned into a free for all. My now 4 year old (5 in Jan) is Little Mr. Destructo and make more of a mess than either of the other 2. My 9 year old (10 in 2 weeks) usually puts his things away. My 2 year old generally plays with whatever is available on the floor. My 4 year old can completely destroy a room in less that 5 minutes.



answers from Philadelphia on

if the 2 year old colors all over the house, I'd put him in time out. Can you put up baby gates, so the older 2 can play within sight, without having to worry about choking hazards for the baby? Also, a 4 year old a 2 year old would still enjoy toys that aren't choking hazards... like big dinosaurs, or barbies.

Have a playdate with a mom with kids similiar ages. then maybe 1 of you can supervise the younger ones, and the other can keep an eye on the older ones?

Do you have any fenced in playgrounds in the area? that would be best! or any indoor kids playcenters, where the older two can run around and you can keep your eye on them while you supervise the baby?

Good luck!



answers from Houston on

Others have given great ideas already. In the mornings and evenings they can color with sidewalk chalk. You can get a chalkboard for inside too!

When I had only three kiddos they were 2, 1, and a baby. Then I had a 4 year old, 3, 2, and a baby. So I understand well the difficulty with having a lot of little ones, especially in going places alone. But by the time they were your kids ages, I took them to Mcds and the park and SHORT shopping trips.

Wish you the best,

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions