+I watched this talk about how tv affects our brains and the development of children's brains. Millie wasn't watching a lot of TV by herself or anything but I always had something on in the background. This really made me think about what it could be doing to her development and how I have the power to spend more quality time with her.
+I read this and this about turning off all the noise and distractions and finding time for the things we love. This was difficult. Being a stay at home mom with a child who can't really talk to me gets a little lonely. I constantly had the radio/Pandora on or something on Netflix playing in the background just to make me feel a little less isolated. When I tried to turn off the noise for at least a few hours during the day my head started to clear up and I found that Millie was talking to me. I can't understand a word of her baby jibberish but that jibberish has meaning to her. So now, without all the distractions of TV, music, phones, we have our own little conversations.
Those things really laid the ground work for me. Then it was time to take action.
+I decided that I would not turn on the computer until Millie went down for her first nap, usually around noon. That can be a long time to entertain a child so I put more of an effort in going to our neighborhood work out (I have lost weight because of it too, another plus) or to take Millie on a walk. She is very observant so the walks are fun for her and me, along with the sunshine and fresh air that we are both in need of.
+When I was little and I would be scared of something or have bad thoughts, my mom taught me to push those bad thoughts out by replacing it with something happy. So... instead of just not watching anything and being drowned by the quite while I was doing the dishes or cleaning, I turned music on. Now, I know that I said before that I tried to turn all the distractions off. What I meant was that instead of always having some sort of noise in the house, to let there be some time of just our noise (talking, laughing, singing, reading). But during those times when I am most tired and worn out, I tried to fill it with something fun, like good music to dance to or that uplifts. (My favorite radio stations on Pandora are Rachel Portman Radio, Disney Radio, St. Vincent Radio, Ingrid Michaelson Radio, and Beirut Radio.) This made it so that I didn't have to feel so lonely and tired at the hardest time of day (the hour before Billy gets home and I am working on dinner and Millie just wants me to hold her and I just really want to sit on the couch and eat ice cream).
+With the same idea, I tried to not just veg out in front of the TV. I tried to make sure that, at least a couple of nights a week I veg out with a good book. Much more pleasant.
+Interesting enough, when I started to be more aware of what I was doing throughout the day, it has made the night time easier. I have not stayed up for hours by myself watching silly TV shows like I was. I feel more satisfied throughout the day, having spent quality time making Millie laugh and playing in the dirt with her, and more time talking and just being with Billy. I have not been overwhelmed with the need to veg out for hours upon hours while the world peacefully slept.. (Maybe a couple hours but not until 2am like it was before.)
I don't want you to think that I think I have it all figured out and that you should do exactly what I do. Different things work for different people. Millie still watches Dora when I just can't take the whining anymore and I have to get something done. I stayed up until midnight last night watching Pollyanna (I love that movie). But the point in all of this is that I believe we can change. It has hard and takes time (sometimes our whole lives) but we can take those bad habits and turn them into good ones. Now I am a much happier mother, a more attentive wife, and more satisified in this great life that I have been given.
What things work for you?