PARENTING TIPS

My thoughts on TV and other electronics

Kids building towers

kids drawing in front of fire

I’ve had lots of questions recently about my parenting ideas, especially when it comes to electronics, so I thought I’d answer the most common questions in one post. I want to emphasise that this is what works in our family and for our children. I know it won’t work for every family… and it may not work forever for us. As our children grow, so will our parenting style. Below are some answers, and as always I welcome your thoughts and comments.

1.) Do your kids ever watch TV?

Almost never, except for the World Cup and the Olympics. But let me explain a bit… Both my husband and I grew up in big families and in homes without cable TV. Growing up, my family had a really old television that on good days, broadcast three channels. As a young child, I watched the occasional Sesame Street show, and sometimes, if the antenna had blown in the right direction, we could watch cartoons on Saturday morning with clear reception. Watching TV was not something we did as a family. Instead, we played a lot outside (I grew up on a farm), and we played a lot with each other (a benefit of having loads of siblings). Apart from the odd conversation where I couldn’t contribute my views on Doogie Howser or the Wonder Years, I don’t think I missed anything. I am really thankful for a childhood filled with imagination and adventure and I hope to create the same sort of upbringing for my own kids.

We don’t have some absolute no-television-whatsoever rule. We have a TV. We just aren’t really interested in TV. And we keep it in a cupboard—out of sight, out of mind. I also encourage my kids to play and find creative ways to entertain themselves without a screen. There was a short period when we allowed the boys to watch Scoobie Doo on Saturday mornings. After a few months I started noticing that, instead of crawling into our bed and enjoying a slow-paced morning, they would wake up and run straight downstairs to sit in front of the television. They stopped helping to make pancakes, couldn’t be bothered to set the table, and were cranky at breakfast time. It was then I decided that I prefer Saturday mornings without Scoobie! It really only took a couple weeks to break their interest and they went back to helping with the pancakes.

We DO let the kids watch the occasional movie, usually an old Disney classic (Robin Hood, The Rescuers, Peter Pan!) or one of the pretty films by Hayao Miyazaki, etc. In my dreams we would live in Australia or somewhere sunny and my kids would play outside and would never sit in front of a screen. But… a good family film on a cold, dark winter’s day is a nice treat every once in a while. Now that my kids are on school holidays I’m looking forward to the next rainy day so we can all sit down and watch ‘The Sound of Music’. My favourite!

2.) How do you keep your kids from the commercialisation of Disney? Do they ever ask you to buy them t-shirts with Disney princesses or super heroes on them?

I think I’m lucky with this one in that my kids never ask me for Disney t-shirts or Disney toys. Living in Europe I think we have less exposure to these things (and they don’t see them on TV). We also try to keep our kids out of shops. Most of our groceries are bought online, clothing is bought when the kids aren’t around and we avoid malls at all cost (which is easier to do when you live in a big city).

Even if they were to ask, I’d be unlikely to buy these things (mean mama, I know). Perhaps they don’t ask because they know they won’t get, but I like to think they are generally not interested. Here again, our policy is not absolute. I once bought Ivy some Hello Kitty underpants and this year I bought some miniature ‘Frozen’ figurines for the Advent Calendar. But… I rarely buy the kids anything pink or plastic, branded or battery operated, and I hate the idea of kids being sold to everywhere they look or feeling like they must have the latest branded toy.

It’s not always easy (given my business), but we try not to make a big deal about ‘new’ things—especially clothes or toys. We hardly ever give them a new toy unless it’s a special occasion, like a birthday or Christmas, and even then we only give them a few things, placing emphasis on quality over quantity.

My kids are young and so I’ve been able to influence their wants for now. I know that may change someday and so will my strategies, but I hope the values will stick with them.

3.)Do you let your kids play electronics? Do you bend the rules for educational games on the iPad?

Not really. We believe electronics are addictive. No matter if it’s a Nintendo game or an educational one on an iPad, once picked up they are hard to put down. And you rarely walk away from a long session on a device feeling wonderful—mostly the opposite. I notice this firsthand — I have to give myself breaks from my iPhone and remind myself to be more present. Like other addictive things in our lives, limiting our children’s exposure to electronics just makes sense to us.

We also believe they get only one childhood and the rest of their lives to be tethered to a device if they choose. Their education, their careers and their social lives may demand it some day, but for now we would love for them to find joy in the ‘real’ world. And most importantly — play together! Every once in a while, they will ask to play a game on the iPad or watch a movie because they are bored. When I tell them to go play, they might moan for five minutes, but then ten minutes later I’ll find them building towers or playing games together. If we gave our kids an iPad every time they told us they were bored, there would be far less imaginative play in this house!

As above, we know this all will change someday. Already Easton has math homework on the computer three times a week and I’ve noticed how it has changed the play in our house on those afternoons. As our kids grow our parenting style will grow with them, but we will always maintain our focus on family, friends, nature and activities.

4.) Do your kids fight? Do they moan? Do they throw fits? Do they nag, make messes, and sometimes torment each other?

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. Do I feel compelled to reach for my camera in these moments? No. Does anyone? My photos are about celebrating the joys of bringing up kids — the simple and the beautiful things in life. I would never pretend parenting isn’t hard work. It is. It is the most difficult and the most important work in our lives. I choose to focus on the positive side of family life and I hope it comes across as honest and loving (and hopefully inspiring too).

Courtney xx

p.s. I’ve written before about electronics here, a post which stirred up quite a healthy debate!


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Comments (134)

December 12, 2014

you are such an inspiration,x


Federica
December 12, 2014

Hi Courtney, great point of view. But, what about if your husband is always with his iPad and the kids want to emulate him? I try very hard to make him put it down, but sometimes is impossible! Any advise?
Thank you very much for your always interesting post.
xxx Federica


December 13, 2014

I was wondering the same thing – if the adults often have ‘screen time’ how can you apply different standards to children?


Poppy
December 14, 2014

My husband and I drink alcohol. And we curse. We also watch rated R movies. We don’t let our children do those things. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having double standards for parents and children. There are some things that just aren’t good or appropriate for children. Having said that, I think a lot of parents could also take a break from technology and spend more time and attention with their children, myself included.


Esther in Amsterdam
December 12, 2014

Our parenting views are very similar — love your post!! xxx


December 13, 2014

I want to second that! Great post and reflect a lot of my ideas! xx


December 14, 2014

Same here! I wish we didn’t have a TV at all, but it is fun to watch movies on every now and then. I think I would go crazy if I had to listen to kid’s television every day! Haha! xx


jessica
December 12, 2014

Hi Courtney, thank you for writing this very interesting post! I agree with you but have problems with other members of the family who buy the children hundreds of pink plastic toys every Christmas. My mother understands, as I was brought up in a similar way to you, but my husband’s family really don’t understand and think I am being horrible to the children! I have spoken to them about it discretely, but I don’t want to make it into a huge family debate/drama and upset my mother-in-law by telling her I think her way is wrong… I have already upset her about the way I chose to feed my babies (limiting processed food… nothing too extreme, I just don’t hand my 2 year old a big bag of sugary sweets!). How do you/would you deal with this?


Bridget
December 13, 2014

I agree. I also really struggle with my in laws however and trying to explain without coming across as ‘controlling or obsessive’ I also struggle with the weather here. I grew up in upstate NY, had a huge backyard, in a very safe secure neighbourhood with plenty of neighbours to play with. We had snow to play with in the winter and sunshine in the summer, pretty guaranteed. We have a tiny garden here and a small four bedroom house. My husband and family live here locally so they help with kids , have huge screen tv’s in every room and EVERY time they take have them for a few hours or take them somewhere they buy them something EVERY time! It makes it impossible for me to take them out to do a quick food top up without ‘I want…’


Courtney in London
December 15, 2014

Hi Jessica,
I find the best way to approach this is to suggest some other ideas instead of specifically telling them what not to buy. For the past few years we’ve asked Michael’s grandparents to buy the kids a zoo membership instead of presents. It’s so nice because we really talk about Michael’s grandparents each time we visit the zoo and send over photos of them looking at animals, etc. This year I asked my mom to buy Ivy tap-dancing lessons instead of a present, and suggested some other activity-based ideas for the boys. And if people insist on giving presents, we often ask for books.


jessica
December 15, 2014

Thanks for taking the time to reply Courtney, that was very helpful!


Catherine
December 12, 2014

Hi, so interesting to hear how you manage multimedia. I always wondered though, do your children always like the clothes you buy them? I mean their clothes are beautiful from my point of view but my girls (6&4) already have strong opinions on what they wear. I would be hard pressed to get them into muted or sweet vintage style clothing as much as I love it! They rarely come shopping with me but adore the mini boden catalogue!


Courtney in London
December 15, 2014

Hi Catherine,
So far I’ve been pretty lucky with this. My boys care more about whether something is comfortable than what it looks like, and are pretty relaxed about what they wear. (I think they would go to school in their pyjamas if I didn’t stop them!)
The girls have more of an opinion, but generally are happy to wear what I set out for them, and we try not to make it too big of a topic when getting them dressed.
While I obviously have a strong opinion about what they wear, I try not to put too much emphasis on it in front of them, only because I don’t want them to draw value to what they look like or think that a certain outfit might make them look better.
I’m sure this will all become more challenging as they get older, but up until now it’s not been too big of an issue for us. x


Catherine
December 15, 2014

Thank you for sharing! I have a five month old baby boy too so hope he won’t be fussed with his outfits later on. We live in Switzerland and have to be practically (and, for Mama…cutely!) dressed for Kindergarten, so until now I have managed to avoid too much pink frilliness and branding. Wishing you a happy Christmastime, Catherine


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Kate
December 12, 2014

Such a great and timely post Courtney. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Take care. Thanks for reinstating me to put the electronics down and be present and enjoy our holidays connecting together as a family. xx


Kate
December 12, 2014

*reinspiring


Clara
December 12, 2014

Agree completely!!


Helen (Jersey)
December 12, 2014

I think your views are wonderful. Fantastic post too. I have 2 little ones and i get so much joy looking at your photographs, your children are beautiful! I love the philosophy of being ‘present’ and always strive for this. Yes my children watch TV at times and have a little game time too in the agreed times, although i must say following yours and Esther’s posts have made me focus so much more on the simple pleasures of nature and i am so much more crafty with Kids now, thanks to both of your ideas!! Your babies are going to be so grateful for the values you have instilled. Keep up your fab work, big love xx


December 12, 2014

I love your views on this subject Courtney and I’ve noticed at home here so much is down to habits. I really relate to the Saturday morning tale you recount and have noticed the same, it makes me so sad when my daughter wakes and first thing she asks for is tv or iPad!!! I also notice how much happier we all are when I make a concerted effort to have no screens, take more effort and while the first few days are harder, then it’s lovely. A lot of her family, including her dad, work in film and tv (granny just produced Katie Morag for cbeebies) so we are def not anti kids tv or even anti tablets/apps. It’s just when the behaviors are addictive that I worry. And wheras my partner thinks 20 mins of tv a day is ok, I prefer a good number of days in the week with no screens. I really struggle to find the right balance and echoing a comment above parents need to be in sync on this (I’m lucky that we mostly are in our case). I wonder if it’s easier with more siblings so they can entertain each other more – I often crack when my girl wants me to play with her all the time. Also the bath before dinner is an amazing way of beating that tricky time often filled by TV!! Thanks for this post – really interesting and again I love your approach and explanation.


Courtney in London
December 15, 2014

Thanks for your sweet comment. We also do baths before dinner and I agree it is a good way of keeping kids entertained in that time between school and dinner, especially on these dark wintery evenings. x


Dorrit
December 12, 2014

Hi 🙂
Fist of all I would like to say that I really enjoy your blog.
We live in Denmark and don’t have a tv. We watch some quality childrens programs with our daughter once in a while on the labtop. I like that we avoid watching tv by accident, and only watch by request as a conscious decision Se are also able to watch HBO series on the labtop after my daughter is put to bed. I like your thought about hiding the tv so it is out of sight. I will consider doing the same with the labtop. Also one adault always watch programs with our daughter, so she almost never watches alone. We do this partly became she is only 2 years old, but also because we use the program somewhat like a book and talk about what we see. If she has questions we are there to answer them 🙂
Greetings from Denmark


dottoressa und die drei jungs
December 12, 2014

I completly agree with you. But as our son is an only child (and unfortunately this is not going to change) it is sometimes difficult for him to ‘not get bored’ when there are no friends around. But you are right after a few minutes of moaning he finds something else to do that is much more creative than playing on the ipad. He almost never watchesTV (except Olympics, soccer) but is allowed to watch ‘Pettersson and Findus’ or ‘curious george’ during long rides (>3h) in the car. But I must admit that it mostly makes it easier for me to keep him entertained than that is really a benefit for him – though he enjoys it a lot.
And as we have chosen a ‘Waldorf-School’ for him, fortunately media and talking about the ‘latest cool TV series’ does not take up any room. But I realise that this topic will always stay with us and will have to be constantly adapted.


Dorrit
December 12, 2014

But please also post about the diffucult tings about being a parent! I would love both side of the Colin 🙂


December 12, 2014

Dear Courtney,
I so agree with you. It is for me one of our big challenges nowadays. Coming back to real connection between human beings. As you said (and I am in the same situation), our kids are still small and the test will be later on. Our challenge is how to deal ourselves (as parents) with new technologies and help them know how to handle it properly! And let’s be careful not to convert Ipads/Iphones into the modern “chloroform” for children! Have a great day!
Isa


Sofia
December 12, 2014

Courtney,
If I may, please do read this article:
http://project-based-homeschooling.com/camp-creek-blog/sliver-or-how-stop-fighting-about-screen-time
It is enlightening, and it was very helpful to me with my boy, who’s now almost 12 and is a friendly and sensitive kid, even if he adores his screen time.
Thank you! Sofia


Courtney in London
December 15, 2014

Sofia,
What an interesting article! And so true. Thanks for sharing. x


nian
December 12, 2014

Thanks for sharing and I agree with u! I feel really bad now for letting my kids whatch so much tv and being on the ipad! We have also rules and they are not allowed when ever they want but still I know they watch too much, so thank you for bringing this up so we all can be reminded! When it comes to clothes I also agree with you and wish I could stick to that as I tried my hardest in the beginning! But where we live School doesn’t have uniforms and in daycare and school they see what other kids wear etc so I have kind of given up the fight of not buying pink clothes etc. but still the worse is to let the kids in a shop, thats the biggest mistake hehe;)


December 12, 2014

It’s always interesting to hear how other parents handle this.
TV falls under ‘necessary evils’ for me – I have a long commute with Orla and sometimes have to work at home, and a few carefully chosen cbeebies episodes make these times a lot less painful for us both.

I work with preschoolers with language difficulties and there has always been a small percentage of children whose language is delayed as they do nothing but watch TV, and get no real human interaction. What is worrying is that there are now *far more* children who are only learning language from iPad games, which is affecting their entire social and play development in much bigger terms than the TV-only kids of old. I think it’s all made worse by the way so many games are sold as ‘educational’ – a lot of parents really think they’re giving their kids a quality learning experience, when it’s really the opposite.

With all that in mind, I’m interested in what you said about devices being addictive. Though I haven’t really thought in those words before, I have to agree – I’m truly hooked on my smartphone, and agree that it rarely leaves me feeling good.
Food for thought, thank you.


Jess
December 12, 2014

Hi Courtney, thanks for a great and insightful article, I do follow you on Instagram and did wonder about some of these questions myself when seeing such blissful photos of your lovely family. I agree that we as parents need to try and be more present with our kids ourselves, which can be tricky given the day to day chores/activities. Admittedly my eldest son does enjoy watching films and playing games on the iPad but I notice how different his behaviour can be after a short stint in front of a screen compared to a fresh woodland walk or some home crafts etc it goes to show that children don’t need synthetic devices to keep them happy! Our culture today is dominated by technology and society is becoming a throw away one, how best can we protect our children from the negative impact? The answer is above, by shutting down the screens, letting them get messy/creative, teaching them about quality and longevity in toys, creating family time these will help our children to grow and become more rounded individuals, they will question the world around them and explore the here and now….


December 12, 2014

I think it is slightly mean that you only occasionally allow your little ones to watch films, as you want them to be more creative and imaginative. Film is one of the most creative, inspiring things that exists, and we are so incredibly lucky to have such easy access to it today.

Some of my most nostalgic and heart warming moments today are looking back at old films, or even programmes that I used to love to watch as I was growing up. Re-watching these now, or discussing them with friends fills me with such joy and provides me with such warm, funny, and happy memories of my childhood.

And there is nothing sweeter than seeing a tiny little kid running down Hampstead High St dressed as superman!!! And most probably feeling like superman. Dressing up is such a fun thing to do as a kid and It totally let’s their imaginations run wild, and let’s them escape into an exciting fantasy world of their own.


December 13, 2014

Courtney has posted lots of pics of her kids ‘dressing up’! Perhaps not as superheroes but certainly looks like they have a dress up box and her kids look v happy!


December 13, 2014

Tess, creative are the ones who make the movies, who probably were exposed to creative play as kids and to no TV. I agree, those makers are tremendously creative. What’s creative about watching a 2D image in a screen and passively taking in everything that’s been created by others ? How are kids to develop motor skills or imagination if they cannot practise ?
I cannot agree more with Courtney and I wished the majority of parents thought and practised like her. I find nothing cuter than a child copying adults or expressing their imagination without ready made costumes, but imaginative play.
What’s slightly mean is telling Courtney that she’s mean ! She’s not at all. She is a Mum every child would want as she does it right !


Courtney in London
December 15, 2014

Hi Tess,
Thanks for leaving a comment. I would just like to defend myself a little, if I may? We do let the kids watch the occasional film and enjoy watching them as a family. It often inspires loud sing-along sessions in our kitchen, dress-up sessions where the kids re-enact the story, and other imaginative play.
And I completely agree about dressing up. My kids are constantly in dress-up mode: superheroes with homemade capes and masks, flying fairies with tutus and wings, cowboys, crazy monsters, etc. etc. And if they wanted to wear these outfits on Hampstead High Street, I would absolutely let them! x


Poppy
December 12, 2014

I read this and your other article on electronics. You are absolutely preaching to the choir here. I agree. We make our kids sit and talk to us for long dinners, and our oldest at almost 4 does just that and does it well. When he was younger, we would bring a truck or train for him to play with if need be, but most of the time it wasn’t needed. He rarely asks to watch anything.
I am absolutely anti-computers for kids, and while that is extreme, I think studies are demonstrating more and more that computers are not the way kids learn (handwriting and manipulating objects clearly are) and that their overuse can cause aggression and shortened attention spans. I’ll just ask everyone commenting here to think about when you read an article online, do you read it deeply and thoroughly, like you once might have with a magazine or a book? Or do you start to read, then skim? There are studies showing why that happens to.


Poppy
December 12, 2014

*too, not to


Victoria
December 12, 2014

A very inspiring post Courtney!

I too have problems with family members who believe in television, computers and branded plastic toys!!! It is very difficult to decline gifts and suggestions without causing offence. Sigh.

Victoria x


Liz
December 12, 2014

Lovely post, and like others above I also agree. My son is only 7 months old but this is the lifestyle we would like to raise him with.
My only concern is, do you think limiting technology so much (because it is a lot in your case), will delay them when their education or careers do demand it? After all, technology today is very different from when you were growing up, and is such an important base for a lot of careers (including yours, actually!). Would love to hear your thoughts on my question.


Nicola
December 12, 2014

I fully agree with you and admire your resolve not to bow down to pressure and sit the kids in front of the tv when you want (need!) 5 Minutes peace to yourself (hands up, I’m guilty of this). From a different angle though, My eldest also has online maths, which he adores doing on my iPad….I think it would be much more of a struggle to get him to do the amount of maths homework he does online, if he had to do it sat at a desk with pencil & paper. Doing it on the iPad or laptop definitely motivates him! But overall I agree with you, my heart sinks when we eat out as a family and everyone on the table next to us is plugged into phones / tablets with no conversation taking place whatsoever.


Nicola
December 12, 2014

Although I would just add…..my husband had very limited tv time as a child whilst I was unrestricted and could watch when I wanted. As adults, I’m so not interested in TV, whilst my husband is the biggest tv addict ever!!


December 12, 2014

I started a company recently here in Sydney and with that a blog. I’ve been collecting ideas of what to write and one of the topics was TV. It sickens me how so many parents use the TV as babysitters, rather than exposing their children to imaginative and creative play. When I was pregnant I was adamant not to get a TV (we had been living without a TV for four years then). Out of the sudden my husband’s family and he himself were “attacking” me for being mean as I wanted to turn my child into an outsider on the playground. The anger towards them just made my will to not have a TV even stronger. Three years later I am still winning and I am so glad I succeeded. My husband has the tendency to glue on the couch in front of every random show. That drives me insane and I would not want my children to see either any of those programmes or my husband being fixated to the TV. And seeing my children grow up playing every day, sitting on the couch reading / looking at books just reassures this was the right way to go. Not having a TV does not mean movies cannot be watched. There is youtube and DVDs that we do watch, but we are selective and only watch on occassion. We find time for other, real things and I love that.
I am so glad to see, I am not the only one who thinks like you, Courtney and I am grateful for your post and being so honest open about such a topic that can be so controversial.
I think I will work on my post as well, now that I know it is ok to speak up. Thank you ! Andrea


December 12, 2014

I agree with so much of what you say Courtney, it’s quite a complex debate. I try and keep weekdays TV/ Computer free, that is not the case at the weekends, but I try and keep it constructive. My football obsessed son, who plays in rain, wind and snow also enjoys a few games on the computer with his friends – in fact it’s furthered his understanding of a few rules and tactics! I am not sure there are any hard and fast rules on this debate, only what works for you and your family. I have kids that watch TV and play on the iPad but I also have kids that play instruments, make dens and make drums from cardboard boxes. I don’t think it has to be an either or situation. I work for myself, I am an illustrator, digital media and the internet have made my career possible in so many ways – as it has yours. You are giving your children a lovely childhood that is not in doubt, this may or may not make any difference to how they turn out as adults. My brother watched TV as kid (a lot), last year he won a prestigious literary award and had three books published, he’s only 31. More than anything my kids will prefer to play cards with Mummy and Daddy over TV, so I can’t be doing too bad.


Anna
December 12, 2014

Courtney that is a fantastic post, thank you. I love your photos, and yes, it is inspiring. As above, how do you deal with other family member or friends buying you or the children plastic or clothes you don’t like, or other undesirable presents?
Finally I would love to see more videos of your family 🙂 would you consider doing the ‘Seven days with…’ programme? (I know that seems ironic seeing you don’t watch tv, or do you?). Merry Christmas to you all x


Tasha
December 12, 2014

Great post! Our views are totally in sync. We don’t have cable and really try to limit the time our girls spend in front of the TV/iPad. Although, I think we need to scale back even more (my husband and I spoke about it this morning at breakfast so I greatly appreciate the timeliness of this post). We definitely find that our girls are more focused and engaged when the TV is off. Last night our 4 year old started hand sewing her first project and would NOT have been able to stay committed to finishing had the TV been on. I’m also with you on the Disney princess mania – we don’t completely ban it, but we do try to balance it with other interests/activities (that aren’t necessarily marketed to girls) so they are well rounded and inspired by other things/people with solid values. I’m pretty sure our family members think we are mean and paranoid, we’ve debated at times – oh well, I’ll take it 🙂


Instagram,com/totpawleys
December 12, 2014

Oh! One more thing (a bit off topic, ok a lot off topic), but since we are discussing parenting philosophies, something you said in an interview with a Cup of Jo last year really resonated with me and that is how you don’t spend a lot of time prepping in front of the mirror (especially in front of your children) It stuck with me. I’ve never really been one to spend a lot of time getting ready, but I am ever more conscious of spending time in front of the mirror when my girls are with me. I constantly remind them that intelligence and kindness are the recipe for true beauty. They model my behavior so I have to live up to my words and set the example. I’m not saying I don’t like to get dolled up every once in awhile, but on the regular I try to keep it simple. Thanks for your inspiration!


Courtney in London
December 15, 2014

Thanks so much for your sweet comment. I too am really conscious of the girls watching me in the bathroom putting on make-up. I think it’s fine for little girls to see their mamas getting dolled up every once in a while, and even for them to see that you’re taking care of yourself (washing your face, putting on your lotion, etc.). I just think it’s important to raise children who don’t value what they look like, or think that their appearances matter more than their heart and mind and skill sets, etc.
Our society puts so much pressure on girls (and women), often judging them on their physical appearance over their other attributes, and it’s important for us as mothers to raise little girls who are confident, happy, and empowered without their appearance being a factor. Anyway, you sound like such a good mama being so aware of all of that, and I wouldn’t worry too much if they see you putting on make-up every once in a while. xx


December 12, 2014

Thank you for your honest and open post. It’s comforting to know there are other parents wanting to raise their children with similar values and “fighting” the mainstream ideals.
My daughters previous daycare showed movies during the after school program and my daughter would cry when I came to pick her up during movie time. During that time she asked a lot for movies at home (we don’t get tv channels on our tv, but can watch movies). Now she is at a school which encourages more free and imaginative play (no movies). I had a proud parenting moment this week when she asked to watch a tv program…I told her she could watch something or draw on the new drawing paper I bought that day -she chose the paper. So, I believe that children ARE influenced by their environment and what goes on around them, especially TV. Thanks again for your post- your positive energy is very inspiring.


Kristy
December 12, 2014

I agree with you on your stance on this topic, yet at the same time you use technology and social media to push the clothes your children wear. I don’t feel this is much different than what Disney or other big company try to do.
You are exposing the world to your children’s childhood through social media, but keep them sheltered from what they are being exposed to.
I really love your style and views on life, so I am not saying at all I disagree with this post, just curious how you justify it?


Courtney in London
December 15, 2014

Hi Kristy,
Thanks for leaving a comment.
The brands we promote here on the blog and on our social media are almost always an independent brand, often designed and made locally if not by hand. These brands are often started and run by fellow mothers who believe in quality over quantity and who believe in creating products that will last for generations. I am more than happy to support these types of businesses because I share their philosophy and believe, if we’re going to invest in toys or clothes for our children, they should be products that will last the test of time, being handed down from one sibling to the next. This is often not the case with mainstream, commercial toys, whether it’s Disney or another big brand. Often those products have a short lifespan, breaking quickly and ending up in landfill somewhere on our planet. Those are the products I aim to avoid when buying for my children.


anji
December 12, 2014

My husband and I had the no (or perhaps very little) electronics rule for a while. Then my mother got our toddler son an ipad for christmas.
(yeah….trying not to let the vein standing on the back of my neck pop)
I explained this to my mom. She doesnt get it! And doesnt want to….”its my job to spoil my grandchildren” she says.

So we are reserving it for flu/rainy days.


Mel
December 12, 2014

In an ideal world we would all like to bring our children up like this. Too many mothers reading Courtney’s blog and IG are beating themselves up trying to emulate this. This is not criticism Courtney as I feel you are doing what is right for your family and I agree with every word of it. However, so many of your followers need to just believe in themselves and not beat themselves up for letting their own kids watch tv or playing video games. The kids will still grow up to be doctors, lawyers, artists and most importantly happy. Some mothers don’t have outside help or they work long hours and tv can at times provide a helpful break.

For my own children I find moderation is key. We do not have live tv, but select which shows to watch through broadband. This solves the problem of the tv being on for the sake of it. I do allow my children to play electronic games but I am very strict at limiting their time on it. I think electronics are important for kids. This isn’t the 70’s or 80’s, this is the digital age and whether we like it or not our children are part of it. I’m sure in the 1950’s parents moaned that children were too modern then too, remember rock ‘n’roll ? Every generation wants to hark back to the good old days, which obviously never existed, but I think we need to move with the times. Of course electronics for very young children is unnecessary, the BBC themselves have said that cbeebies is not good for the development of those under two. Moderation is key, I would not want my 8 year old only drawing and I wouldn’t want him on electonics all the time either, but I think a balance is good so that he fits in with his peer group.
Teens communicate by social media, I have learned to accept this. It doesn’t matter if they have never seen a computer or tv in their younger years. They chat in forums, on online games, text, IG etc… But again as a parent you have to try to limit the amount of time they spend using it, which is far more difficult because they are too old to ‘play’ or do crafts. That is where the real problem is!


Federica
December 12, 2014

I appreciate what you said, I think that “the right is in the middle”.
But, most important, I think that everyone must be free to raise their children how they want, without been criticized by other parents!


Federica
December 12, 2014

Sorry, I’m not english (and my english is not very good)…the comment that every parent must be free is not referred of what you write but of the critics that Courtney received.


Kim
December 14, 2014

Hi Courtney, I love this topic and I know it is really close to your heart.
I do let my boys go on electronics and let them watch TV (actually mainly dvd’s), but limit it to weekends only and even then it is with very limited time restrictions. I do think, for me, mel has a point with that we have to embrace, but try to find the educational side of our technology orientated world. times have changed (I grew up without TV, totally! – and was always told go to the library and get a book!) and if you dose it well and guide your children, which requires more patience and parenting skills than excluding it completely from family life (believe me I have contemplated this several times) it will give a balanced 21st century childhood, without Depriving my children from playing together, being creative, or choosing computers/TV time over a traditional family board game (their still preferred option ever!) or playing outside. It does take more patience and hard work out of Alex and me as parents to guide them and teach them there is a time a place for all.
I do think mel has a valid point also pointing out that your fabulous business would not be able to exist without extensive use of multimedia, nor our husbands companies. But I do admire your conviction of giving your children the childhood that you loved so much yourself! It clearly works for you as your children are absolutely fabulous and as you say you might have to adjust this when they grow older, so cherish it while you can!


Courtney in London
December 15, 2014

Hi Mel,
I completely agree with you, and I really didn’t mean to make other mothers feel bad for the choices they’ve made for their families, or to criticise anyone’s parenting. Not at all! I just wanted to share what works for our family because a lot of people have asked.
Also, I think it’s really interesting to hear two sides to the coin, and to have a healthy parenting debate. It’s how we grow as mothers (and human beings), and I always welcome the opportunity to stop and evaluate how I do things, even if it’s just to be a bit more conscious of the decisions I make.
Anyway, thank you for your comment. x


Merle
December 12, 2014

I am not a mother (yet), but still I think that this is a really important topic! I totally agree with everything you say! I don’t know if I will be able to handle it as well as you are considering that electronic devices are more and more in our lives, but I hope that I will be able to manage it at least a bit like you are. Thank you for saying your opinion and inspiring others!


Mel
December 12, 2014

I wanted to add, a couple years back, for my child’s 12th birthday, about 15 vouchers were received as gifts from his friends. With the exception of a few book vouchers, the rest were iTune vouchers. He made a small fortune which was actually quite depressing. If anyone has any tips for this age group I’d be very grateful!


Lauren
December 12, 2014

Wonderful post! I agree & can relate 100% children adjust and forget about the electronics easily.


December 12, 2014

Thank you for sharing your view on screens and parenting.
The only thing is that my husband is a big nerd of computers and he really looks forward to teach them some old style programming and spending time playing with them on computers. I think one of his motivation for having kids was to share with them his passion of computers the way I want to share with them my passion for creation and sewing. Thanks to him I see the computer time that they will be spending together as a intergenerational education, the way a father would teach a kid to milk a cow. Anyway, thanks for this blog and have a lovely XMas.
PS all the plasticy noisy toys and princess stuff end in the bins, my family knows it by now. Although I’m planning to make a Princess Anna Miss Lemon for my daughter, because despite everything she loves her.


Nikki
December 12, 2014

Hello. Great read. I believe its all about balance. I am one of 6 siblings. Things were limited growing up. Yet we were and are today a very tight knit family. My husband cant get his head around the fact that I want christmas day packed out with toys. Plastic toys. All strategic buys/toys/gadgets not all rubbish. As I want to give my children the things I never had. We spoil our children, yet they aren’t spoilt as I deliver all the qualities I received as a child growing up in a large family. We have tv. Music. Dancing. Singing. Puzzles. Crafts.Nature walks. In the summer our fri nights are geared up around pic nics. Days out. Quality family time. Does the kids so much good not putting them in front of tv. Pc all the time. Children need to play. Need to be imaginative. In order to grow and establish their own creativity.


December 12, 2014

Hi Courtney,

Before l go on to write l would just like to say that l find yourself not only as a mother but as a business woman an utter inspiration. I have followed your account since November 2013 and l love how you embrace the old fashioned values of life the way l do. It saddens me so as sometimes it seems many of them are disappearing in todays modern society. Like the basic ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, have my child ask to leave the dinner table etc, sometimes though l look around and think l am to hard on him and that the wider world in some ways seems so harsh and that l should be less demanding of my moral code with him, however in order for me to feel that l am doing the best l can, it would be a disservice to him to pretend l think it should be any other way.
I completely agree about TV and other electronics. We spend our walks from school collecting leaves etc and l am very into him paying attention to the change in seasons and what they mean in the cycle of life. By the time we have come home from school, get a snack, do homework, make dinner, read his book, it is time for a bath then a story. I do agree that as he gets older this will need to be reviewed.
I too funnily enough have never bought into this Disney clothing and it has paid of in as much as he never asks for it and l must say l thin a blue and white Breton boys tops are the cutest thing on wee people! For me it is stripes, stripes and more stripes!! Also he is just very uninterested in TV and only recently did we start to have an occasional film treat, (may l add with popcorn etc, but l think that’s more for me!). I feel children these days are under so much pressure both at school and socially, that these young years go way to fast and l want to give him an old fashioned child hood and any other child we have, for as long as possible.
We live very near Cambridge and the museums are fantastic l feel proud that he has had a huge cultural input from such an early age long may it continue.
I agree absolutely that there is more than enough time for them to pursue him own path but if l can show him a diverse world now, who knows where that journey will take him in later life. Every moment is a gift when you have a child and l would love ( and hope) that when he is older he can reflect on the values we have given him.
Please keep up the fantastic instagram and maybe your OWN blog or a book!! Would love to read that.


Shay
December 12, 2014

I agree wholeheartedly! We have a one year old daughter Rafaela and this sounds very similar to our house. I grew up in Portland, Oregon and we played outside rain or shine!

Thank you for the great post!


December 12, 2014

I feel a bit conflicted about this. My husband and I have frequent discussions over screen time for our two and a half year old.I favor limiting it–my son only uses the tablet when we travel and he watches around an hour of TV a day normally while dinner is being prepared so that dinner can be prepared in peace. My husband doesn’t see what the big deal is and I know he lets our son watch more TV when I’m not around. I think we are both replicating our childhoods because we think our parents’ rules about TV had some great impact on who we are today. But I don’t think it did. My parents had very strict views about TV watching. I was only allowed to watch sesame street and i was mostly gifted books or puzzles, not toys and never Barbie. My husband’s upbringing was the exact opposite. His parents were always working and he had an elderly aunt take care of him who let him watch all the TV he wanted. Even today,he talks about his many favorite cartons with fondness. But our time watching or not watching TV as kids doesn’t seem to have had any difference in our lives. Today I am a language teacher and blogger and my husband is a professor in a top European university. I wouldn’t say we’re the most imaginative or creative of people but I’m sure that has nothing to do with TV. I should add that as adults,we both love TV and we bond by watching shows together once the little one is asleep. So don’t worry parents! Whatever you do is neither going to mess your kids up for life or make them ingénues. Take it easy!


December 12, 2014

By the way, I don’t know about London,but in Spain where we live,Disney is huge. Every little girl I know is obsessed with Frozen and even a trip to the supermarket or farmacy will have a toddler reaching out for bandages or tissues with Mickey Mouse or Peppa Pig.


December 12, 2014

Love your article. I agree completely with your parenting. In our small family we do not have TV. We watch occasionally on demand from a PC which is kept in a cupboard, out of view. We never go to supermarkets nor toys shops with the child, we mostly order online. Another thing I feel quite strong about is calling an object with the brand name. I do not like to see child as young as 3 yo asking for the iPhone. In our home the iPhone is simply the phone and Cheerios (if) are cereals. I am trying really to keep my family visually free from advertising. I think it`s important the quality of what is all around us, at 360 degrees, from clothing to furniture, to food, sight and sound. It`s not so hard I believe, it`s an habit you cultivate for a better habit-at.


Nicole
December 12, 2014

Love this post, and love your Instagram feed! Question, though: What did you do with your first after your second was born? I hate my 2 1/2-year-old watching TV, but nursing is SO time-consuming! My toddler can only stay occupied for so long. Help! Going from one to two is much harder than I imagined!


Courtney in London
December 15, 2014

Hi Nicole,
I also found going from one to two babies so challenging! It was definitely the most challenging for me, in terms of all the different stages we’ve been through so far (the third and the fourth were not nearly as difficult). There is something about being needed by TWO people at the same time that is so difficult. But once you master that, you can literally do anything! 🙂
When my second baby was born, our eldest was only 22 months. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have sat in front of the TV even if we put it on for him (it’s been my experience that children don’t really engage with TV or movies until they’re at least 2 1/2 or 3, but maybe I’m wrong?). So putting the TV on wasn’t an option for us. Instead, we read a lot of books while I was nursing the baby, and I did a lot of juggling of children. I think the important thing to remember is that it’s such a short-lived period and it will get easier, especially as your youngest gets older and starts to play with the older one. It’s the ultimate reward for that incredibly challenging juggling act! xx


December 12, 2014

❤️❤️❤️


Rosie Nakhdjevani
December 12, 2014

A topic close to my heart, i am a mamma to three young girls, I don’t have any help at home and used to let my eldest watch TV( a lot) mainly so i could ‘get on’ and at the time had a another babe so nursing with a toddler in a tow was challenge. Never liked doing it but felt at the time it was necessary. But for more than three years now plus another babe, we have been totally screen free. I feel strongly that this has benefited them, they amuse themselves all day long, rarely ever have they complained about being bored, and never do they ask for the telly to be on. I never even think to put it on anymore, not even when desperate. They have totally excepted this and for now as they are still young (eldest is 5) it works. I know it is really difficult and in the beginning a hard habit to break but one that i am pleased to say we have mastered!


Maggie
December 12, 2014

Courtney, thank you for this post.

My husband and I are trying to avoid TV, computer & video games and commercial/Disney branding as well, and as our kids get older it does seem harder. We don’t have a TV but do family movie nights, rarely in summer and more frequently in winter. With my 5 yo, who just started school, we avoid TV shows altogether, but my toddler watches Sesame Street or a movie twice a week while I clean. This is a choice I made, that my husband doesn’t agree with, but supports because it’s temporary. I do notice crankiness afterwards, but that could also be due to my being busy and not giving her attention those mornings. Right now, I’m not ready to stop the TV viewing because I don’t do preschool or childcare, but I do plan to stop this daytime TV altogether viewing once she’s in school. With my 5 yo starting school, we’ve been struggling with computer time and have recently decided not to do computer at home until we have to for homework. As you said with your Scooby Doo story, I’ve noticed that bad habits aren’t very hard to break. If I notice that we’ve veered onto a path we didn’t intend or get lazy with our rules and the kids are getting exposed to too much TV or computer, or if we’re having behavior issues as a result, we stop.

About commercial toys and products, here’s an experience my husband and I had recently: We haven’t yet bought toys or clothing with TV or Disney characters on them. The kids have a few things from other family members, and to a point, I can accept that and remind my kids that mom and dad won’t get that stuff for them, and they also accept that. With Christmas coming up, my 5 yo has been asking for Star Wars Lego and Angry Bird toys. He recently spent time playing AB with his grandmother while she was visiting and we just introduced him to the Star Wars movies and books. While he “waits” for these toys, he’s been making his own Star Wars characters out of his regular old Legos and Angry Bird games out of Jenga pieces. I love that he can be inspired by things that he sees on TV or reads and create as a result, but also doesn’t need the specially branded toys that come with. He probably wouldn’t have come up with these things on his own if we ran right out and bought him a specific Star Wars set, and needless to say, we’ve decided not to give into buying any this year, without much guilt.

Thank you for the discussion and sharing your tips, which are always an inspiration. I love seeing happy children playing together, and whatever you’re doing, it seems to be working.


Josephine
December 12, 2014

I agree with a lot of your sentiments and I wish in practice I was able to implement more of them, but I don’t. My eldest child is 4 and he watches TV. He has agreed slots to watch certain things/movies and then it is switched off and he is encouraged to play, draw, craft etc. Sometimes he watches more than I should allow due to varying reasons, which can sometimes be because it is easier for me if I am trying to get something else done (I decorate cakes). He hasn’t yet played on a tablet and i have purposely not had any games on my phone as i personally hate nothing more than seeing very small children sat in restaurants or at home glued to them. He is exposed to plastic toys/Disney pharaphanalia (mainly down to my mother in law … that’s a whole separate topic which I usually vent with my girl friends over a wine 🙂 ). My son is extremely imaginative; he loves playing/building with bricks and Lego, crafts, role play etc. he adores books and we have something of a small library. At dinner we sit at the dining table together with no toys and we talk. My son’s teachers have also made comment on the extent of his vocabulary, imagination, love of books and play. For me therefore, trying to get a balance between all things is working for us. It’s not always perfect, but we do what we can.


December 12, 2014

Hi Courtney, you are such an inspiration to me, or better, you confirm my thoughts and I feel like I’m not the “evil” mum or the weird mum among all the other mums I know in my small town. We live in the mountain in a small village (6.000 inhabitants) and it’s much easier for us to live in the nature and go playing outside with our kids, but during the winter it gets dark very early and it’s freezing cold, so most of the time we are at home and I founf myself in trouble when I have to work on my computer (for my webshop) and my kids ask for my presence constantly!! I have to admitt I’m really tempted to turn the tv on and let them watch cartoons instead of hearing them to call me all the time, but then I feel soooo bad and most of the time I turn off the computer and go playing with them! As you say they only have one childhood and i want to be present in their young lives…they will grow up so fast! I love your instagram pictures of your family and always go look for them! I aslo discover so many cool brands that I often try on and then like a lot too! so, thank you!
best sara


December 12, 2014

[…] Interesting read but is it realistic? […]


Julie B
December 12, 2014

First, I just wanted to say that I came across you through cup of Jo, and I’m SO glad I did!! I adore your Instagram photos and always think you and your family look so happy and lovely. I’m so glad that Instagram fiasco from the summer got cleared up! Now a question: could you share a little bit more about the activities that your children do on a daily basis? I’m a stay-at-home mom and sometimes I feel like my ideas are running stale, and that’s the easiest time to put on an episode of Sesame Street to buy a little time. Thanks Courtney!!


Kaite
December 12, 2014

This is a hard and sensitive topic to handle for many parents because without media we would need to be present/giving more attention to our children (especially for the little ones). Entertaining toys, media, and guided play (video games, apps) enable us (parents) to attend to business, social, and news outlets that often demand fast or immediate responses. I believe this is how we have justified utilizing these tools, ultimately at the cost of our children. I am a doctoral student in school psychology and study child development and learning but I am also a mom of 2 young boys. I try not to use media in my home but have had times that it was an easy quick fix when I had a deadline. Here is the problem with media and guided toys, they don’t teach anything they just keep the brain idling like a car. The toy or show does all the work for the child by organizing information so the child can just passively receive it. The child may learn or memorize facts from shows or apps but they don’t learn how to actually problem solve or discover the broad concepts. We want little minds to be making connections by discovery and active learning. Some wonderful things that free play teaches our children is self regulation (how to mange feelings), executive functioning (how to organize thoughts/problem solve), and metacognition ( how to plan, create, build upon ideas). When children play or imagine they are actually learning and developing important skills in order to do higher level thinking. Children who can develop these skills well are better equipped to problem solve, and think independently. While media in itself may not damage the brain often children have a hard time going from an idling brain (passive role) to an actively working one. Children will literally not engage with open ended toys or seem cranky post TV because they have to remember how to organize their own thoughts and go from passive to active. This may be why some parents do an all or nothing approach. That is “my kids don’t like toys so I let them do media/games” or “my kids won’t touch their toys post TV so we don’t watch TV”. We also need to consider what we are allowing our children to watch and how that is impacting their understanding of the world and behavior. We are the guides and we have the ability to choose what our children are exposed to.


Lucie
December 12, 2014

Love this! Very thought provoking xx


December 12, 2014

Hear! Hear! Well said, Courtney. x


Jess
December 12, 2014

I think moderation is healthy with electronics and watching TV. If you’re super strict with your kids they are just going to over compensate for it at some point and potentially develop an unhealthy relationship with TV/ipads/computers. Many people don’t have the means to have home help such as a cleaner or child minder so TV can sometimes enable parents to get some chores done, cook dinner or catch up on emails and parents shouldn’t feel guilty about doing this.


Rachel
December 13, 2014

I really enjoyed reading this post. I find so much inspiration from your pictures and play suggestions. With Christmas coming up, I would love to hear your shopping strategy. Do you limit gifts to a certain number of gifts per children? I have a 5 year old boy and would love to hear about some of your boy’s favorite toys. Thanks so much for this inspiring post!


Mel
December 13, 2014

I commented earlier, but wanted add something perhaps a little off topic and aimed really at the IG comments.
Whilst I agree with Courtney’s comments I am left feeling a little disappointed that so many people on IG (not here) made the assumption that a total stranger, with no real tangible evidence of success (the kids are not yet grown) had parenthood figured out. All based on photographs of smiley children. There are many IG family based feeds where the TV is not featured and I have never encountered this type of projection. Consider that these kids are happy because they have a beautiful home, travel, are exposed to music, art and sport and of course have loving parents. It’s not just a ban on electronics that make for happy, well balanced children !

Whilst Courtney has made valid points, I hope these people don’t get caught up trying to emulate someone else’s life based on what is really a (beautiful) snapshot into their life. This is not a criticism of Courtney’s photos, I simply believe many of the comments on IG about Courtney’s children\beliefs\lifestyle are based on covetousness. If you genuinely want to know how to solve this problem ask someone who has come out the other side with older children or consult articles written on this topic.


December 13, 2014

Mel you have made two of the best comments.


Nikki
December 13, 2014

Mel. The same thought had crossed my mind. We all parent differently. And shouldn’t compare to others. Most important part of this parenting game is happy/healthy/well looked after children. Sometime things can be too over thought, too preempted. Kids are a blessing and a joy and should be enjoyed as their childhood is not forever. A statement that was said to me once has stuck with me. We don’t own or kids…they are on loan to us. Eventually they grow up and find their own way. My two girls love frozen and re-inact scenes. I have made them capes from an old duvet cover. They love them. I am a mother that had given up work to bring my children up (am now going back into work, now they are a little older) Work towards very tight budgets. But have happy bright fun intelligent, creative, imaginative children. And do not regret one thing. P.s I commented earlier on 12/12/14 I have been to a well know cheap shop and picked up Anna and elsa t shirts for £4! We all parent differently and have no negativity towards Courtney’s way.


Courtney in London
December 15, 2014

Mel,
I would just like to say that I have never argued that my parenting decisions are the best decisions and nor have I implied that my children are going to turn out any better than anyone else’s children.
After receiving countless questions (and some snide remarks) about my views on TV and my false portrayal of a ‘perfect’ life, I just wanted to share honestly and openly about what works for our family.


Irene Kemp
December 17, 2014

l have already commented on this post and have been rereading and following it with interest.
It amazes me that Courtney (who as far as l can see and read) is putting as much effort into her role with a passion, is that not what we should ALL be doing?
Parenting (motherhood and fatherhood) are one of THEE most privileged roles anyone of us will ever have. Our children do not ask to be here, we decide to make them.
I cannot for the life of me see why emulating or even trying to take some of the ideas for parenting that Coutrney has, talks about as a negative. In this world where such emphasis is given to role models that value materialism, drugs, affairs (l could go on) over anything, surely a down to earth woman and mother who happens to want to do the best by her children cannot be wrong. We SHOULD all be trying to emulate it and yes it is part of the package to do and be better and no less is expected of you when you bring another human onto this planet.
All these comments about , how are we all supposed to cope with 2,3,7 etc children and entertain them without mass media, let me tell you, my mother came from a family of 13!! They had no TV, no iPad, no iPhone, no Wii, no Xbox as l am sure we all know those things were not invented then and my mother comes from a family where l can tell a lot of love was shared and a lot of good times were had, they are all still close and tell many a funny story about their childhood. And yes before anyone jumps to it, her family did go outside to play, they lived on a farm, but we do have parks, forest, seaside’s, National Trust properties and Museums etc even Museums are free. So l am sure, are your children’s back gardens, we all need a hand with leaf raking at this time of year!!
Your job as a parent is to entertain and educate your child, parenting is called a JOB because it is just that. It is not a new hand bag or new phone you just got, it is a person who one day will grow up to hopefully be an addition to this human race.
Surely we should be praising Courtney for raising her children in such an environment that is not easy with todays mass media. I do not let my child drink caffeine in the form of fizzy drinks and we do not have an iPad, iPhone, Wii or Xbox, we have a TV which my son I can say with my hand on my heart never asks to have on. I am often at loggerheads with other mothers about the caffeine issue and l find it completely insulting. What l want to say to my mum friends but don’t is the effect it has on our body and are they actually happy to do that to their own child? I do drink caffeine but l have explained to my son when he is old enough to understand what it does too his body he can drink it if he wants. The same goes for electronics, we may use it for work etc bit we can educate our child that it is for WORK and not a TOY! I have told my son why l think electronics are not good for him. I have printed of studies for him to read about what it does to a child’s developing brain and the neuron pathways with regards to concentration etc and he has been told that he may have to use it for maths for school, this is something that l have already spoke to his teacher about as l do not believe personally that you can take away from physical learning.
Instead of trying to make ourselves feel better about our own failures and guise them with an excuse, be accepting that Courtney has allowed us into her world and thoughts and as she says if you don’t like it, why are you here?


Meg
December 13, 2014

Hi there,
I never comment on blogs (this is actually my first time!) but find this topic very interesting and really enjoy your IG and this blog. My husband and I are newish parents–we have a 10 month old son–and have thus far avoided screens with a desire to continue to do so for as long as possible. It is very helpful to learn/see/read about other families with similar goals/beliefs. A few questions I would love your thoughts on, Courtney:
*Similar to you, my family lives far away, do you allow your kids to FaceTime/skype with long distance family/friends?
*What do you do when your children receive toys/clothes that you don’t agree with as presents?
*When your children are on play dates and the tv is on or you know they’ll be on the computer, do you talk to the parents or just let it be?
Many thanks for sharing/inspiring!
Peace + Love to you + yours this holiday season!


Courtney in London
December 17, 2014

Hi Meg,
Thanks for your comment and questions.
Yes, we use Skype to talk to our families in America. Usually, we’re all grouped around my computer, all of us trying to squeeze into one frame so our family can see us all. I’m definitely not against the computer when it comes to Skype, but happily close the computer and put it away once the conversation is over.
With regards to play dates, I’m slightly old-fashioned about this. I really think play dates should not involve a video game or TV – it should be an opportunity for kids to play together and get to know each other beyond the relationship they have at school or elsewhere. I would be so disappointed if my children went over to a friend’s house only to sit in front of a television playing video games. When my oldest son first started having play dates, I was actually asked a few times by different mothers if I was okay with video games. I always said that I would prefer if they didn’t play video games, and the parents always respected that. So I’ve been quite lucky in that my children haven’t really been exposed to video games on play dates. But of course they know about them and have heard the other kids talk about them at school. Still, my kids don’t seem interested in them and have never asked me to buy them a video game or asked to play Minecraft or any of the other games their friends are in to.


Courtney in London
December 17, 2014

Also, with toys and clothes that the kids receive as gifts… we generally give those to charity shops or friends who want them. But we’ve gotten pretty good at explaining our preferences to our friends and family, and usually make suggestions for gifts the kids could use. I mentioned in an earlier answer that we started asking Michael’s grandparents for a zoo membership for the kids every chirstmas, which has become one of our favourite presents! We’ve also asked for theatre tickets, ballet classes, and other activity-based gifts to other family members, and this has been a really good way of reducing the amount of stuff they’re given at birthdays and Christmas. x


Mammy of 2
December 13, 2014

Wow, lots of comments. Courtney you’re rare I have to say. Us too, we don’t have any electronics such as a fancy phone. My phone is still dumb! and it works fine. My kids are the only ones in their class who do not own an ipad, iphone, wii xbox etc! lol I don’t even know what half those things do and are. TV like pop/soft drinks (another story) is an unnecessary evil in our house! We don’t even own a TV and if we are around somewhere with one we won’t put it on till the kids are asleep. We may watch something on the computer after the kids are in bed.


December 13, 2014

Wonderful blog post. Love all that you wrote. Thanks for sharing – now to keep going with giving our children a childhood worth remembering.


December 13, 2014

This might be the best thing I read in a long while… (and you have a great style of writing as well (just saying)). I wish now that one day I can sit down with you and talk about anything and everything instead of telling you that I follow you on instagram and that it is funny to see you in real life 😉 … x Nina


G Selmes
December 13, 2014

I have read points on here that really strike a chord with me.
My kids do sit in front of the TV in the mornings before school and I have noticed the effect certain channels have on my son particularly (we don’t have sky so it’s just with cbebbeies or citv). One morning I decided to unplug the TV and tell them it was broken. One of them said can we get a new one to which I said maybe daddy can fix it later. That morning they found some other entertainment. However much as my oh can see the negative effect it can have he is a TV watcher but he will also sit and play for hours with them encouraging them to play with figures and set up little stories. My daughter is never out of reach of a pencil.and paper. I can see that a happy balance is the right thing.
As for phones/pads. My friends look at me with horror when I say no to them playing on my phone. My sister will sometimes get to her I pad out after a meal.to entertain their cousin and they look at me begging for my phone but after a firm “no” they give up.
The final thing you said that struck a chord is posting the positive. Both on my IG and FB I am.always positive and have received indirect criticism from friends/family that it’s unrealistic and makes those some people feel “inadequate” but why? I know that kids cry fight argue mess about. …..i can.empathise with other parents I just don’t need to celebrate it or seek sympathy for it.
The older my children get i have learnt that less is definitely more and this Christmas I am fighting the urge to spend spend spend and instead they have a simple gift each and a stocking. Nothing big or fancy. Nothing electronic and when everyone keeps asking my daughter what she has asked santa.for she responds “I haven’t I am waiting to see what surprise I get” no trawling through the argos book here!

Keep doing what you’re doing! Everyone is different. parenting isn’t a competition!

Happy Christmas!


Steph
December 13, 2014

You’re awesome. I am on board 100% with this philosophy. My kids are 3.5 and 16 months. I am at home with them full time so it’s a very conscious decision ALL THE TIME to say no to the electronic/tv lifestyle, but I am happy and convicted and my older kid hardly ever asks since we are setting this precedent.

Thanks for the reality check there at the end. I wish I could talk to you about what your life was like when you had two this age. It feels like such a challenging stage to me and while I know I’ll make it to the other side, sometimes it is just exasperating and I find myself wishing my kids were just older (though I do picture myself with young kids for a long while since we hope to have lots of kiddos). Anyways, that’s a bit of a ramble, but if you ever want to post a “reminiscing” article, I would loooove it. In any case, thank you. I try not to “follow” too many voices but yours is one I trust and appreciate.

With sincere gratitude,
Steph


December 13, 2014

I am only 25 and don’t have any kids, however I do agree with everything you wrote here and hope one day I can myself try it with my kids! And i loved the relaxed tone of your philosophy, not imposing and yet you seem to achieve your goals! 🙂


December 13, 2014

I love this! Thank you for sharing!


Elisabeth
December 13, 2014

Thank you for your very thoughtful post. My children are grown now. But when they were little we didn’t have a television. I didn’t want to expose them to movies etc. for many reasons. But mostly I wanted to leave their imaginations untainted. When one reads a story to a child they create their own images, not those created by Disney’s animators. But my main reason for keeping movies and television from them is that they couldn’t choose to have these images planted in their young minds. I fed them nourishing food for their bodies why would I feed their imaginations unwholesome images. Children are vulnerable and need us to protect them. I am a Children’s House teacher at a Montessori school. It saddens me to see the girls obsessed with “Frozen”. I watched the movie just to see what it was they were so excited about. I was underwhelmed by it. Bless you for your lovely contributions to motherhood.


Catherine
December 13, 2014

Hi Courtney, I just wanted to say that I believe whole heartedly with everything you say on this post. I too feel really strongly that children watch far too much TV and have far too much screen time. It is lazy parenting. Parents are just using screens and electronics as babysitters, and bad ones at that. Children should be drawing, painting, colouring in, playing with their toys, looking through books, baking with their parents, using their imagination, and as you say, having a chance to get bored. It greatly saddens me that kids as young as 2 have their own ipad. All this will make the world a sadder place and our children, in my opinion are worse off. It made me so sad when my 6 year old son is the only boy in his class without a Wii, playstation etc, and when he has friends round to play they ask where are his computers etc. what happened to running around playing spies/pirates etc. I agree it can be hard as a parent to try not to give in and let them watch tv when you are tired/busy /UK winter, etc, but as you say, within 10 minutes they have found something to do and are more happy as a result, rather than being brain dead zombies from being stuck in front of a TV/screen. I really think the world we live in needs to make a change. Our children deserve a proper childhood.


Sally Smith
December 13, 2014

I agree with your thoughts but it feels hypocritical to me. You reject many marketing and branding notions, yet you use your children every day to promote brands … and through online platforms.


Charis
December 13, 2014

Great post. It’s got me thinking… Thanks x


Gina
December 13, 2014

I’m 22 and I don’t have children (and I don’t know if I will, cause being a parent seems so difficult and demanding to me) but I’m totally in love with your parenting style. In fact, I started thinking about having kids after discovering you, cause I realized there’s a different way to parenting, and you are the expression of this. As a little girl, my parents tried to restrict TV to us but they didn’t manage really well since they got tired soon and we (tiny annoying people) won the battle very often. As I grew up, I realized I hated most of the TV programs and nowadays I don’t watch TV. When I go to hotels, etc., I don’t even realize there’s a tv in the room! When I want to see some series or a film (in DVD), I use it, but I never watch cable TV. My family is quite addicted to watching TV and I can’t stand it, the noise annoys me a lot. As a babysitter, I live two different situations: my three little cousins are totally “TV & electronic children”, they have huge amounts of toys but they always want to watch a program or a film cause or they fight for the iPad. On the other hand, the two boys I babysit don’t have a TV or an iPad (neither access to a computer) and they just have a few toys (but LOTS of super beautiful & smart books and LOTS of craft materials to be arty and creative) and they would never say “I’m bored, let’s watch a film” cause they don’t even know what’s that! Haha! They play on their own (usually with things that are not toys… like casseroles!!) and can be creative. I love that. Is the way I want to educate my children if I have them someday. Also, I’m with you with the Disney issue. But living in Spain is quite difficult since EVERYTHING is Disney… Anyway, thanks so much for writing this post, it’s such a pleasure to read you.


N
December 13, 2014

Hi Courtney,
Thank you for your post 🙂
I feel that the way others parent their children should be handled with an open mind. Far too often I see other mothers glaring, snickering, and making nasty comments to and about other mothers for their difference in parenting. So I really appreciated that you emphasised the post with “that this is what works in our family and for our children. I know it won’t work for every family…”


Federica
December 15, 2014

Totally agree with you! 🙂


Kristin
December 14, 2014

I so appreciate this post, and you setting aside some of your own time to write it. As a new young mom ( 26 with a 20 month old and an 8 month old,) I admire and look up to you in many ways. You’re positive outlook, ability to capture beauty in the simple moments of motherhood, and refreshing parenting techniques are just a few of the reasons you are the best role model to me personally. I find myself in difficult moments with my own kids thinking ” ok, now how would Courtney handle this! ” ha… Seems silly, but honestly you have such grace and you must be doing something right, because it shows in your photos. The way your children interact with each other, play creatively, and have such strong relationships with one another – it shows in the photos – and its admirable. I can only hope and pray that my children will be close like yours, and learn how to entertain themselves. We also do not have a tv. I agree, and feel strongly that electronics are robbing children of magical childhood memories that would be made building forts, playing outside, pretending to be something.,. Etc. As parents, I think one of the most important roles we have, is creating a childhood worth remembering. And we all know, Kids don’t remember their best dAy of television. I can’t tell you enough, I really look up to you and respect your voice/thoughts/opinions . I think you are doing a beautiful job and making great choices in the ways you parent your (stunning) children. I don’t understand how any one could come up with any thing bad to say about/ to you. Thank you again, for taking the time to write and ispsire once again!


Alysia
December 14, 2014

Thanks for this post! This is the first time I am commenting on a blog post but this is so timely and I appreciate you sharing your parenting wisdom. As new parents this is the way my husband and I want to raise our baby. It has been easy so far (she is only 8 months). But looking toward the future I have been a bit perplexed on how to handle one aspect of this.

1- Since children love to emulate adults, what is the conversation you have with your child when they ask why you use an iPhone/IPad/Laptop and they are not allowed?

It seems unavoidable that at some point they will see you using these items for work, shopping, bill pay, recipes, music, phone calls, etc. I would love to know what you/others say to them.

I realize I maybe late to the game on this thread but would so appreciate some ideas. I’ve had a hard time finding an answer to this in my readings.

Thanks!!


December 14, 2014

[…] and sometimes we go the entire morning before nap without turning it on. Just this week I read a fantastic and timely article by Courtney of babyccinokids (she is such a fun person to follow on the Internet – though I don’t know much about […]


Susan
December 15, 2014

I enjoyed your article, Courtney. I agree with much of what you write – we too limit screen time for our two boys (4 years gets a little, baby gets none!). We don’t have a tv in our living room and we never watch commercial or free-to-air television, rather subscribing to or downloading what we want to watch, when we want to watch it. My husband and I have no desire to waste our precious time staring at reality tv rubbish or being subjected to commercials encouraging us to buy and consume more, and therefore we extend the same philosophy to our children’s viewing practices.

Despite this, we do try to take a moderate approach and allow some tv/movies/cartoons. Why? Because like books, music, and art, the moving image is a powerful vehicle for storytelling. A quality program will capture your imagination, your heart and give you joy and fun. It may educate you, entertain you or move you. My family were migrants to an English speaking country and watching programs like Sesame Street and Playschool helped me to improve my English. Sharing a special (and rare!) packet of potato chips and watching a classic film like Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music with my mum on a Saturday night is still a precious childhood memory for me. Taking my son to see the latest Pixar film at the movies, treating ourselves to popcorn and laughing with a theatre full of kids at all the funny bits is such a joyous, shared cultural experience. Curling up with him and my husband in bed with the laptop and getting lost for 15,20 minutes in a cartoon is relaxing and comforting.

I agree that too much screen time is a brain-deadening waste of time. But I also like to think that – like with most things in life – managing the quality and amount of tv or film can serve to create special and enjoyable time for families in its own way.


December 15, 2014

Thank you for this insight. We have a one and a half year old and are inclined to do similar in our household. Best, Amy from Maine


Alice
December 15, 2014

I agree with a previous commenter that you are indeed preaching to the choir–your readers belong to a certain demographic, so I don’t think there will be much dissent. My husband and I were both latchkey kids (me in America with TV and him in Europe without TV). We both had unsupervised play with siblings and neighborhood kids, a typical 70s childhood. As adults we do not watch TV at all, except for the occasional movie. When we became parents, we too decided to limit TV, electronics and screentime for our kids, now ages 6 and 3.

That said, I have learned to be flexible. I do not want to be uptight about it, especially when we visit my family or the grandparents who have completely different habits. I have shared my views with them, but they live differently. My husband gets nervous and cranky around those situations, but I honestly do not want to stress out in front of my family over TV!

On the weekends, after big cleanup chores, we allow the kids to watch a few cartoons (in their native Croatian language) or a movie (we like classics too, Pipi Longstocking is a favorite). I find a lot of contemporary cartoons obnoxious and just poor-quality in terms of story. They teach kids to be cynical, sarcastic and rude. TV commercials are even worse, so we do not expose them to them at all. We lived in Europe for years and the commercials there were no better, it was a just a barrage of toys, snacks and cereal.

I have learned to be flexible about toys as well. We only buy them toys on special occasions and I do not buy pink, plastic things either. However, since moving back to Los Angeles, the kids receive a huge amount of toys from friends and relatives. I remove what I find objectionable (Barbie dolls for a 3-year-old, no way), but I’m open to keeping toys I would normally not buy. I don’t want to be ungrateful and snobby about it.

Overall, my kids spend most of their time playing with each other with limited screentime on the weekends. This works for us and I feel like it’s balanced. Although I can understand why some commenters feel strongly about this subject, even outraged and judgemental, TV and video games are not the worst things that can happen to kids. Most families love their children just as much and they are doing the best they know how.

As a long-time reader of the Babyccino blog, I find it to be an inspiring, uplifting and charming tribute to childhood. And yes, it is aspirational–the products are not accessible to everyone. That’s ok, you don’t need to copy Courtney’s and Esther’s lifestyle, you can just come for the ideas.


Carolina
December 15, 2014

Completely agree with your approach. I do not have a TV, ipad or smartphone (and I get criticized so much for this at work here in DC), but my son does have access to screen time via laptop for three reasons:
1) To do stretching exercises to his neck due to a medical condition (congenital torticollis), through a list of approved cartoons at youtube.com, 3 times a day, 5 minutes each cession
2) Skype with grandparents who live far away; and
3) To see short family videos I have made.

Was curious about your policy concerning Skype. Thanks!
Carolina


Carolina
December 15, 2014

I should add, my son never sees me using the laptop, unless to check the weather or direction to go somewhere. I leave computing for when my son is asleep. Secondly, my phone is only to make and receive calls, so my son does not see me having a lot of screen time. I see so many parents glued to their smartphones in the playground, not interacting with their children, it’s very depressing!


Samantha
December 15, 2014

Such a lovely post. I agree with your views on parenting, however, my husband’s career is in computer forensics and he is a lover of technology. I grew up in the country surrounded by nature and filled my childhood with imaginative play, but he comes from such a different perspective that we often clash on this front as parents. My oldest son really enjoys the iPad and games. He is now 6 years old and I’ve firmly held my ground against any gaming systems for years now, and I’m trying to do so through this Christmas as well. It’s been a real struggle for us. TV is something that I have the power to limit during the day, but I admit to using it to entertain my almost three year old, and even 17 month old. I’ve been making a conscious effort to try and cut it out completely, but again, my husband and I don’t agree. I think it is so important that you and your husband are on the same page about this, I think that helps tremendously. Although my children only are allowed to watch “educational” and engaging television, and I only permit educational apps on the iPad, it still is too much for me and makes me uncomfortable. Life seems more stressful and chaotic with all of these devices. I too have succumb to the iPhone prison. I’m starting a new habit of turning it off completely at 9pm and leaving it off until 8am. I’m also starting to set aside 24 hrs for a “sabbath” each week where my computer and phone go off completely, and I only engage with my family, rest, and do things that are life giving to for myself and my husband and children.


Federica
December 16, 2014

Hi Courtney,
your comments are even more interesting than this post. I have two little boys (3,5 and 1,5 years old) and for me it’s really interesting to hear about other parents experiences…I always try to improve myself as a mother and as a woman. Maybe I don’t agree with everything you (or other parents) said, but you helped me many times and I always try to make the right decision for make my children happy! I’ve learned many things from you and I will continue to read your post. The most important thing for me is not to criticized other mothers for what they do with their children (who are we to say if what they do is right or wrong?) but try to lear what could (not must) be right for us and our children. I hope to have explain right what I would say because I’m italian and unfortunately my english is not very good.
Thank you again and have a wonderful Christmas with your lovely family!


Paula
December 16, 2014

This is a lovely article, one that I’ve added a shortcut to, for when I need assurance! I was wondering though, would you perhaps consider doing a post on ‘thoughtful/slow’ toys? Things that your kids go back to again and again?? I have a boy and a girl, both still small, but I’m very aware of only investing in toys that will last, and appeal to both of them-I would really appreciate any recommendations!


Julie B
December 16, 2014

I’ve already commented but I’ve been really inspired by your post & parenting, and wanted to throw another question into the mix…
You do a lovely job creating boundaries and “curating” a certain atmosphere in your home, which I love. But my question is, what do you do about the less than desirable gifts your children are given? I’ve been collecting toys and clothes to donate this holiday season, and cannot get over the amount of plastic (dare I say) junk we have. I want to get rid of even more, but feel badly as it belongs to them… How do you deal with things brought into your home from others?


Jackie
December 16, 2014

Hi Courtney, what a lovely, and very inspiring read. I have always tried to limit the time my boys (4 & 6) spend with technology, and they have been fine with it up until recently when the playdates started! And now I get “why am I not allowed to play on an ipad/xbox/watch disney XD, when all my friends are??” Have you ever had this problem when your children go to other kids houses? I would love to hear any advice you, or anyone else may have about how to explain it to them. I always feel stuck for an answer.


Jasna
December 17, 2014

I don’t really understand how can anyone (not talking about Courtney but about some commentators) brag about not giving their children technological devices in this day and age??? I mean, come on! That is so backwards. And it is also kinda rude that you are forcing your kids to live the way you lived before all things internet. As in the words of my favorite poet, about kids: “For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”

With that said, some limitations are, of course, necessary, taking into consideration the age of the child.

In the end, I will tell you a story about a friend of a friend and her kid. She never let her daughter eat at McDonald’s. The child wanted but was not allowed. However, when she started school a friend of her’s celebrated birthday and they got to eat food from McDonald’s. After that the kid pressured her parents to take her to McD once more and finally they gave in. When the cheeseburger arrived, the girl opened the paper that the burger was wrapped in, then KISSED (?!) the burger and started eating it, much to the dismay of her parents. Needless to say that “forbidden fruit” is the sweetest, so parents should think about that before being too strict about things that surround kids.


Loes Bakker
December 17, 2014

This is very refreshing! I always think of how when we were young we didn’t have an iPad for long journeys either (makes me sound old). We would always get a holiday colour and puzzle book and we would listen to the radio. Or sleep of course!

One thing I was curious about is the thing about taking them shopping. I do the opposite, I take them everywhere, but we hardly ever get everything. And when we do I make sure they see me pay for it. I wouldn’t want them to think new things just magically appear to our house. We have to work and pay for things and sometimes things are too expensive or not necessary to buy. I think children should become aware a value and money at a young age, so that they 1) appreciate what they do have and 2) will be able to make choices and think about things before getting them. There is just so much of everything out there, whether it is food, toys or clothing. New things are not a given, it’s something to appreciate. Although it’s funny of course, since at first children often want the cheap and shiny stuff instead of the high-quality, long lasting things. Anyway I may reconsider this, not making a fuzz about it is something I may want to try as well.


Loes Bakker
December 17, 2014

I forgot one thing that I find very important as well. What to do when they are at friends’ houses with TV and iPads or when they receive gifts that we don’t like. I also find it very important to emphasise everyone and every family is different. To me it’s perfectly fine if they are allowed to play computer games somewhere else. Things are different at someohne elses home, but that doesn’t make us change our point of view. Hopefully, that will result in them having their own opinions and making independent decisions as well. I let them keep all the toys they receive, even barbies, which I absolutely detest. The filter it out themselves and often go back to what they got from us.


Maiken
December 17, 2014

Hi Courtney! I always appreciate when you share about these things. I appreciate anyone who swims up stream in this way. I don’t feel so alone in the battle. I do have a question like the 2nd comment in this stream. I didn’t see you respond, so I’m asking for myself too. My husband and I have much in common but our viewpoints as far as tv/electronics differs. He is on his phone and computer a great deal and it bothers me and I see our 19 month old daughter’s interest in those things growing. I bothers me. What’d you do if you were in this position? Thanks!


Courtney in London
December 17, 2014

Hi Maiken,
Thanks for your nice comment.
I think my husband and I are pretty lucky that we mostly agree on these types of issues. My husband is rarely on his phone or iPad in front of the kids, and usually waits until they’re in bed to open up his computer.
I think if I were in your shoes, I would ask to have set screen-free days, perhaps on the weekend when your kids are home? It’s probably not realistic to ask your husband to stop using his phone and computer entirely, but perhaps you could start with one or two days a week?
We try to have screen-free weekends in our house, which means I really try to get all my work done during the week so I don’t have to open my computer on the weekends. Perhaps if your husband is mentally prepared for a screen-free day, he could work around that? Just an idea! x


Jessenia
December 18, 2014

Hello!

My soon to be 3 year old son received and IPad from his grandmother and for the first few weeks he was obsessed with it. I was really frustrated and my mom got upset with me when I would hide the IPad or take it away when my son was misbehaving. He still uses the IPad every once in a while and I don’t mind him using it. It is when he starts crying because he lost a game and throws a fit, that I am not okay with it. So we limit his use and surprisingly he plays more with the toys we have for him. Now my mom thinks that my fiance and I are crazy because we do not constantly buy him toys and when Christmas time comes around I think really hard about which toys I should buy him. We have plastic and battery operated toys and he plays with them for a few minutes. I have found that he enjoys puzzles and legos much more. I guess more “quiet” toys, which requires for him to use his imagination. He also loves going to parks and playing on the playground much more. It is a struggle for sure because I know that my mom’s heart is in the right place and with the technology booming today. The good thing is that every parent knows their kid better than anyone else and that they know what works best for their children.

I was wondering what are some toys that you recommend for children. Any toys that you have found to be really worth buying for the kids. My son is going to be 3 in January and I like to get him toys that he will use for years. It has been fun watching him build towers with legos and blocks and I can only imagine what he will do in the next few years.

Thanks!


Kate
December 18, 2014

Hi Courtney,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us on this subject on such an eloquent and non judgemental way – it must be hard to be under such public scrutiny over your parenting style! I have a question which isn’t meant to be inflammatory, but is a genuine one which is love your thoughts on. Do you think you would maintain your stance on Screen time if you had no help around the home? I think I have read in other interviews you have given that you have a part- time nanny, and I think a cleaner/housekeeper? I may be wrong about that so sorry if I have jumped to conclusions! I guess my question is a lot of mums are very stretched with looking after children as well as getting all the housework done, and then giving time to other things (spouse, work, other commitments). I love to get my children involved in the chores around the house but there are times when they are tired, their siblings are at school and they don’t want to help! My children do play on their own (we do watch TV/films but under limits) but sometimes it feels kinder to put a film on for them if they need to chill out and I need to get stuff done. This is not a criticism of you in any way, or the fact that you have help, I think that’s great, but I’d really love to know if you think you could maintain your position on this issue if you were doing everything yourself. Really appreciate this thoughtful discussion!


Courtney in London
December 18, 2014

Hi Kate,
Thanks for your kind comment. I’m happy to answer this question!
I would really hope that I would be able to maintain my position on electronics even if I didn’t have the help we currently have. There was a long period where I had young babies and no nanny help at all, and even then we never turned on a television (in fact, we didn’t even own a TV in those days!). Ever since having children, we have had a cleaning lady come once a week to help clean our house, but it wasn’t until Ivy was born that we started having some part-time nanny help. Even then, it was one or two days a week at the most, and even today, while running a business and working nearly full-time, I only have a nanny come three days a week to help watch Marlow. I have always maintained my position on TV and electronics, even during the days when I didn’t have any help at home. I remember discussing it with my husband before we got married — we both agreed to give our future babies a screen-free childhood and it’s just something I’ve stuck to, no matter the circumstances. To be honest, our no-TV rule is less of a rule in our family and more just a lifestyle. My kids never ask for TV, hardly ever ask for the iPad, and have never asked me for a video game or other electronic device. So it’s not that I’m constantly saying no to them – it’s just more that my kids get on without it and have gotten so used to that lifestyle.
I can completely relate to how difficult it is to have young children and to keep them entertained at all hours, and I see your point about putting on a film to give them some down time (and you some time to get stuff done). It sounds like you have found the right balance, and know when to limit it, and I really wouldn’t worry that you’re doing anything wrong. We all have to do what works best for our family and our children. We all have different circumstances, different children, different jobs, husbands with different jobs, etc., etc., etc.


Kate
December 18, 2014

Thank you, that’s really helpful to think of less screen time as a lifestyle rather than a rule. I think most of us can see how we could gradually direct our kids’ (and our own!) attention away from electronics and towards other things. Shifting our mindset and challenging ourselves to think creatively about how best our children could occupy their time, whilst still letting them watch the odd film or well loved programme when they’d like to (or when needs must!) seems a lot more doable than an all out ban! Thanks again for your thoughts Courtney x


Meg
December 19, 2014

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond & share! Activity based gift suggestions are a wonderful idea! I believe someone requested this as well, I would love/appreciate a future post on favorite toys/staples for your kids at different ages.

Happy Christmas!


December 19, 2014

[…] post on Babyccino about kids and electronics.  I found it to be such a lovely, non-judgmental post.  I have been meaning to write about my […]


December 25, 2014

[…] enjoyed this post on Parenting, TV and electronics, comments were great […]


Elizabeth
January 6, 2015

I’ve come to this post a bit late but I am so glad I came across it. You’ve shared your thoughts on what can be a very controversial topic in such a thoughtful and non-judgemental way. I think as parents we can make ourselves feel very guilty when we don’t do things “perfectly” and your post could have easily been written in a way that induced guilt but it wasn’t at all.

I am a fairly new mum (my son is 16 months and I am 16 weeks pregnant with no. 2) and the issue of TVs and iPad use has been on my mind lately. My son is not particularly interested in tv yet but he does love to dance and I downloaded him a ‘best of the wiggles’ show that has lots of their songs which he enjoys watching (he is on his feet dancing and running around the living room the whole time). But I am very hesitant to introduce any other screentime until he is much older.

I would love to avoid commercial tv altogether (and my husband and I don’t watch much so it shouldn’t be hard at our house) but know he will be exposed at my parents and sisters’ houses (we are walking distance from lots of my family so see them a lot!) I am open to movies, though would like to think I’ll be selective and make it more a special treat as a family on a Friday night or something like that. Sound of Music and Wizard of Oz were the only two movies we had when I was growing up. I did watch tv but also rode my bike, played in the creek, did puzzles and board games etc.

I have recently read the book ‘simplicity parenting’ which recommends no tv and have found the suggestions so helpful already even though only a week has passed since I read it. It suggests culling toys dramatically and avoiding ‘closed ended’ or ‘finished’ toys (usually battery operated etc). We removed the vast majority of toys from my sons room and just left his favourites which happened to be the ones recommends in the book – things like wooden blocks, stacking toys, shape sorter, animal figurines and my son is so much happier. We’ve noticed a remarkable difference in his ability to sit quietly and entertain himself for long periods of time. This was rare before as he would get frustrated and distracted by all the ‘stuff’ and just want me to entertain him.

I have also been making an effort to not use my iPhone or iPad in front of my son. I reserve it for during his day nap and once he’s gone to bed. My husband will really struggle with this though!

Thanks so much for an inspiring and informative post. Would love to see you move here to Australia but you would spend your time worried about sunburn and spider bites – nowhere is perfect!!


Elizabeth
January 6, 2015

Oh and since everyone else is using this as a wishlist for future posts I would love some tips on meals – do you and your husband eat with the kids and all the same food, child friendly meals and snacks, tips on eating out, etc.


Emily
January 10, 2015

Hi Courtney, I follow your Instagram and blog and love all the photos of your beautiful children- they make me feel very inspired!
We have 3 boys, 10, 8 and 3. We limited screen time, maybe not as much as you but a lot more than a lot of people. We have one Ipad (and no games consoles) and they generally get 20 mins a day a few times a week to play on it. And we have film night on weekends. It has worked well for us and generally they are happy boys. But today our oldest went to a friend’s house and tonight is crying that he wants to go back there. And although I am sure he had a lovely time, I am also sure it is to do with the fact that they spent a long time playing minecraft and other games. I’ve offered for the friend to come here but he isn’t interested.
How do you deal with screen exposure at other peoples houses?? I am generally happy for them to have it but now so sad that he would rather be somewhere else as they have more screen time than us


Emily
January 10, 2015

Sorry the last bit was cut of- I just wanted to say I would be grateful for any thoughts and advice- feeling abit lost!!


Wendy Beaumont
January 19, 2015

Hello Courtney,
Thank you for your post, and by the way I too am an American living in the UK, have done for 3 years now! All the way from sunny San Diego, California, talk about a contrast! Anyhow, I love this blog and try to follow it when I can, for parenting tips, ideas for kids, etc. I have a 2 year old daughter named Sadie and I am 32 weeks pregnant with a second baby girl on the way-I fear I have fallen victim to TOO much screen time! I agree when I was young we played outside, made forts, rode bikes, and did a lot of imaginary play-all be it a generational thing, and our parents and our parents parents did not even have TV’s, etc. My struggle is with an easily bored 2 year old tugging at my leg, when I try to make breakfast, try to make dinner, try to attempt anything. I always take the time to sit with her and do activities, and being in a new house, I am putting together a playroom, but my question to you is this- do you have any good suggestions on toys or activities that when your children were of this age (2) enjoyed? We all know the weather in England can be unruly or I would just go straight outside to play, but I am struggling now with what toys to provide? I too now detest these plastic Made in China toys that seem to collect and overflow the toy area and want rid of them and to start fresh! I am going to set up a dress up basket as I think she would like this a lot (even got her a Tutu Du Monde dress, thanks to the post on here!)….but any ideas or websites would be appreciated?!! ( I was thinking a dollhouse or horse stables for her horses? Or perhaps and art easel with chalkboard?) I think the best advice you can ever get is from other Mom’s! Thanks so much!


Wendy Beaumont
January 19, 2015

ps…one last comment/question, what are your thoughts on allowing children to watch educational programs like David Attenborough’s, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet? Is it not the content but just the fact they are fixated on the TV irregardless? (my daughter loves watching and learning about the polar bears, whales, penguins, etc) Thank you!!


Courtney in London
January 19, 2015

Hi Wendy,
Thanks for your comments, and hello to a fellow American in London. : )
We’ve been asked several times to offer good toy suggestions to keep young children busy, and we’re in the process of writing a post. I’ll try to share my favourite toys and suggestions soon.
With regards to the educational TV programs… We own the Blue Planet BBC documentary on DVD, and it’s one of my oldest son’s favourite things to watch. We bought it for him years ago as he was (and still is) completely obsessed with sea creatures and ocean life.
Like I said in the post, we don’t rule out all movies or DVDs entirely (especially in the winter time when the days are so short), and will allow the kids to watch a movie every once in a while (maybe one or two a month), especially if it’s an educational one like Blue Planet or Planet Earth. xx


January 27, 2015

[…] from the odd post (like views on electronics or co-sleeping) we have mostly shied away from writing these more advice-driven parenting posts. I […]


Marko @ parentsupporthub.com
April 11, 2017

Be aware of your own time as parents and monitor your children’s use. If you replace that screen time with fun, creative or educational activities with your family, you are on the right track to achieving great balance for your family.
But balance can be very subjective and also could be varied based on the age group. Here is a helpful authoritative guideline.

The U.S. Department of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours of electronics/TV per day and
No electronics/TV for children under the age of 2.


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