Switching off

How much TV time is too much?

According to numerous sources;
Nothing before 2 years old, 5-8 year old 1 hour a day and an hour and a half for children over 8.

I have never been a big TV watcher – probably as I had little to no screen time when I was a child ( we didn’t own one until i was around 5), my parents were and still are very active and so the TV was only viewed at night or for special occasions during the day.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching TV in the evening, but even then my viewing is often while I work and usually we watch documentaries or factual/news programs. (except Arrow – my one treat a week)

Up until 4 weeks ago, my children watched probably an hour a day of TV, they are 2, 5 and 15 – the usual excuse were I gives me a chance to cook dinner, or I am a WAHM and it gives me some time to work during the day – then something happened, a couple of parenting groups I belong to discussed the effects of TV and the link between TV and behaviour, learning and sleep and how much was to much, so I started doing some research of my own (read here for an interesting journal article)

I also found this poem by Roald Dahl


The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need                                                                   Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did. 

Roald Dahl

The next day the TV stayed off and off it has stayed for the children except one movie once a week, of which the 5 year old watches the whole movie and the 2 year old watches probably half of it. The 15 year old has an average of about an hour a day of screen time, but swaps TV for his computer games/social media etc – some days (like last night) there was none, others there is more than an hour (this does not include homework screen time however)  We also watch less, the TV does not get switched on until 8.30, previously it was on from when the children watched TV and then switched over as they went to bed.

The first few days (as suggested in the poem above) were not as pleasant – the 2 year old did appreciate not watching Iggle Piggle going to bed and there were tears.  The next day was easier and the next, easier still.  A week went by and they no longer cared for the TV, instead finding toys that they had discarded, digging in the garden, making up stories and baking with me.  The weather in Melbourne has been miserable (it would have been much easier for me to implement this in Summer, or Spring at least) and I still did not waiver, I wanted to see what would happen – would it make a difference to my kids?

I have always seen the TV as a waste of time, the last month has proven that to me. By switching on the TV, I was taking away lessons, be it social interaction with each other or measuring as we bake or growing things in our garden – I was taking these opportunities away.  Did you know that the average American child has watched a year of television by the time they are 6 (i would assume that Australian children would have a similar finding).  This truly saddens me.  Many people argue that it’s at night time or poor weather so it’s not as bad – yes, it’s not as bad as missing out on sunshine and valuable vitamin D, but your kids have missed out on building fairy castles with wooden blocks that mine did before bed and the magic of waking to find that had visited or reading stories together and making them up or chasing each other around the house dressed as ghosts.  Another argument for having the TV on, is that it is back ground noise – to that I ask, what about the radio or CD’s… we are a big fan of stories on CD’s and currently our favourites are ‘The Enchanted Forest’ and ‘5 Children and It’… Classical music sees my children break into dance and so too does music with a heavier beat – the 2 year old is perfecting her bottom wiggle and spinning to make her skirt twirl like her sisters…

The biggest surprise I was in for was the change in my 2 year old.
Prior to the ‘switch off’ she was in bed and asleep by 7.30pm(ish) on a normal night she would wake at 9.30 and then hourly to be resettled before coming into bed with us when i went to bed (around midnight) as a result of this she was often grumpy and appeared to be over tired all the time – I have never had great sleepers, they are like me, light sleepers and noises wake them.

BUT 2 weeks ago this changed… she still went to bed at the same time, but she slept until 2am and then came in with us – a one off I thought, but then she backed it up with another.  A couple of days later I was telling a friend that Miss A FINALLY was getting the sleep thing together and she commented that it was probably related to the lack of TV… I hadn’t even associated the two, but she as right.  That day was Saturday and Saturday is movie night – low and behold awake at 9.30pm, 10.30pm and 11pm before I went to bed and took her with me. Sunday, no TV and sleeping until past midnight again!  I’m not saying that this will help everyone, but the screen time that my children had before bed certainly affected their sleep.

So, should everyone ‘switch off’ too? YES, Im not judging you if you don’t, but I have the same excuses that you can list. I am a WAHM and need to get things done, my kids are with me all day every day (except Tuesday), my husband works long hours so I don’t get much help, its cold and wet outside, I need to make a phone call, it stops them arguing at times… but childhood is too short to be wasted.  I did it, you can too – your children will thank you for it, not necessarily in words, but in the way the behave and because you have given them your time.



Full of regret

Have you ever seen My name is Earl?

You know, the SitCom that Earl has a list of all the people that he wants to apologise to? Have you ever thought of your own list?

I have… I remember the day that I decided that I should say sorry to one person in particular. I was serving coffee while I was working in my after school job – that must have been over 15 years ago, and i still haven’t done it.

This girl I bullied, well my group of friends did and I was part of it. She was a ‘nerd’ she liked books, wore glasses and was not athletic at all – so we picked on her. It was cruel and we must have made her life miserable and I have carried this guilt for years.

I remember one particular time we made a song up about her and sang it to her, while she hid in the toilets from us reading her book. Looking back I feel sick, of course she would hide in the toilets, of course she wouldn’t talk to us or participate. It was mean, unkind and cruel.

I got what was coming to me though, in high school I was bullied on and off by the popular group that I was once apart of. But that’s not why I am sorry, I am full of regret because I stooped to someone else’s level, I took part so that I wasn’t bullied. I followed the crowd because I was not strong enough to walk away or stand up for her.

People that know me now, see me (I think) as a kind person… I am kind. I care, am empathetic and take time to do things for others. Life is one big learning curve I know, but I am ashamed of my actions when I was younger. I wish I could change them.

Several times I have looked for this person via social media, but she isn’t there, I can’t find her.
Today I got her sisters name and I sent her a message.

I am not sure what I aim to do, I don’t think this is self serving, I don’t think this will take the guilt away… But I want her to know that I am sorry, that I have been thinking about it for years and that I wish I had never played a part. Her primary school years would have been awful and I was part of that. I can’t give it back or undo it. She may not care or respond or want my apology – but I will find that out I guess.

I hope I can find her…


25 of the best friends ever!

I have 25 exceptionally close friends, some of them I have never met and quite possibly never will!

Just under 2 years ago a friend (that I had never met) set up a facebook page for small/micro Work At Home Mum (WAHM) business owners to network and chat. Within a few weeks the group had over 100 members.

Over several months the main contributors felt the need for privacy as chatter would not always be about work and so the group structure changed and a small group formed and moved away.

In the last year we have become exceptionally close – aside from the business side of things (which boasts a successful regular market to showcase the groups talent) these women have become some of my best friends!

As I mentioned, many of us have never met – but that did not stop us hosting 2 surprise baby showers for 3 expectant mummy members…
We secretly organised gifts and selected a date to ‘host’ the baby shower for the two members that were pregnant at that time – we estimated the time that it would take for the gifts to arrive and they were sent to the recipients – can you imagine the surprise as large parcels started arriving marked ‘Do not open until instructed’

baby shower1

We managed to contain our excitement and keep the secret and then on the baby shower day, we invited them to a secret Facebook group where we had uploaded party food pictures, we had games to play and champagne to drink – and then they were allowed to open their presents!
I don’t think there was one of us that didn’t shed a tear and we were all in different rooms around Australia and New Zealand!

More recently in the space of 24 hours we decided to raise funds for a family that was in need of support – on Friday morning the discussion started and by that evening items were made, an auction market was set up online and items started to be uploaded to the site for previewing. The following day- 36 hours later the auction started with over 30 items 100% donated by us for the benefit of this family.
By the time the auction had closed we had raised $2,000 (well actually it was $1,997 but someone donated an extra $3 to make it $2,000) you can see our efforts here

Many people think that friendships online are fake, false or based on lies, and yes I am sure that there are many that are.
But not this one, these women have shared their highs and lows. We have worried, cried and laughed with each other. We have also been cross and SHOUTED to get our point across, but most of all we love, we support and we care.  We come from all walks of life, our history, religion and parenting styles all differ – but somehow in there, it doesn’t really matter…

I love my LAMmies ♥

A new year, a new blog and a new me

I resigned from my job last week…

I cried but I feel free. In fairness, I haven’t worked in my job since February 2011 when I started early maternity leave after a few complications. I loved my job, I built it from nothing. I earnt recognition within my organisation and within other organisations but that doesn’t matter now, it didn’t feed my soul, it paid the bills and made my life more comfortable, but I didn’t laugh out loud, act crazy, paint, bake, dig in the garden and look into the faces of people as I did things and know that I really mattered to them, that they valued me or even cared about me.

But now I do… My Children totally and utterly rock my world, they are the start (some times too early) and the end of my day. This week really is no different from last week, but by uttering those words – ‘Im sorry but I wont be returning,’ things have changed.

I talk too much when I see my friends (one of the downsides of spending the majority of your time with children) so I have decided to Blog. I have loads to talk about, my business, my children, recipes, ideas, comments, feelings, products new and old in store….

AmbeRocks already has a Blog, but only one entry was written by me, its not mine and its not me… So a new Blog it is, I hope you will join me!



Me and my biggest fans!Me and my biggest fans