Most people are surprised to hear that Zoey only gets to watch around 1 or 2 hours of TV a week. In fact, when I told someone this, they remarked that Zoey was “so poor thing”. Most people assume techies like Irene and myself will have an extremely tech savvy child. It turns out that while we are high tech geeks ourselves, we are pretty low tech parents.
In this age of technology, it is a common sight to see parents giving up their phones to their children, on the MRT, bus or at the dinner table. In fact, it seems many parents use it as a bribe or babysitter and it has become widely accepted practise.
Having observed how many kids are to the screen, it was a conscious effort on our part not to fall into the same trap. So you won’t see us whipping out a tablet or phone to keep Zoey entertained. Instead, she gets her choice of books and toys to put into her own bag when we go out. Whenever she gets bored, we take out a toy or book for her to play or read. If that doesn’t work, we normally start singing or entertaining her with the environment. “Let’s count how many cars there are” or “What colour is that truck?”
So even though Zoey is turning 2 this month, unlike many other toddlers, she hasn’t watched many cartoons and is not an iPad gaming whiz. In fact, she doesn’t normally get to watch TV or play with tablets/smart phones. TV is a treat reserved for when she has been really good and Sesame Street is the TV show we have selected for her to enjoy. The only time she gets to play with a tablet or smart phone is when we are Skyping with my mother, aunt or her godfather.
What she does have is music playing all day from an iPod that is mounted in a speaker dock. The playlist includes classical music and childrens’ songs. Even before she was born, I used to play music for her while she did somersaults in my tummy. I like to believe this musical environment has contributed to her sense of rhythm and love for dance. Other than music, we pretty much keep her entertained with books, toys and physical activity.
From the beginning we knew we wanted her to be a reader like both Irene and myself. So I stocked up on books of all types even before she was born. We started bedtime reading to her very early and she now has favourites that she will insist on repeating. In fact, we are so sick of some books that we have had to hide them so we are not stuck reading the same thing 30 times a night. Our little library has so many books, I think we can read her a new book every night for an entire year and wouldn’t need to repeat any of them. We have the same philosophy when it comes to toys. She has many toys that cover many different genres and will never be bored because I rotate the toys all the time.
I know many people will say children’s books and toys are so expensive and not worth spending on because they outgrow it so fast. The trick is to purchase everything second hand or during sales. I almost never buy books or toys new and will always hunt for them on Gumtree, Craigslist or Carousell. This has allowed me to cover a wide variety of books and toys on a much smaller budget. Whenever she outgrows something, I will resell it so I will essentially have rented the toy for the period of time Zoey was playing with it. This has worked well for us and I am sure many other mummies out there do the same thing judging by the huge preloved market for children’s items.
For physical activity, we have a slide and mini trampoline that she enjoys very much. On top of that, we regularly make use of the 2 playgrounds we have in our estate. Zoey goes to the playground at least 3 or 4 times a week. It gives her a chance to work off her energy by running, climbing and jumping. Recently, she has started to enjoy her scooter and will often request to go downstairs for a ride. I find she sleeps a lot better if she has had time to exercise during the day and make it a point to make sure she gets enough physical activity every day.
So why are we so resistant to introducing technology to Zoey?
Steve Jobs was famously revealed to be a low tech parent and this is the guy who gave the world iPhone and iPad. Basically, seeing the effects that technology has on us as adults, it is clear that our child should not be exposed to it at such a young age. I would rather Zoey have a love for reading and appreciation of the arts before exposing her to the vegetative state of TV watching or the soul sucking world of video games. I have been there and done that myself so I know how addictive TV shows and video games can be. Plus she has all the time in the world to become tech savvy and be a TV addict or gaming geek girl. I would much rather she enjoy her childhood for now.
Tonight was about balls, trains and boxes.
Her own personal playground where she is a daredevil.