A Mother’s Rant Against the TV

As a mother, the list of tasks I have to do often appears endless. Although some I don’t mind doing—helping with homework, cooking dinner, vacuuming—I actually consider many to be less than appealing. Now that my children are older, you won’t find me longing for the days of dodging projectile vomit, cleaning up a baby whose diaper has exploded, or getting up in the middle of the night—multiple times—to feed a ravenous infant. That being said, just because the infant and toddler years have passed, it doesn’t mean that my children are any less demanding.

Each day, after my meetings are over and it’s time to turn my thoughts away from work and back to my kids and the evenings’ demands, I am bombarded by requests, from making chocolate milk to finding the forever-missing remote control. Depending on my own mood at the time, these demands might be met with a quiet acquiescence if I’m feeling relaxed and easy-going or—God forbid I’m feeling over-burdened—they will more than likely be met with a deluge of complaints about “no one helping me—EVER!”

I’ve noticed that it doesn’t really matter what my reaction might be—calm and understanding or raging lunatic—the demands never stop. As long as my children are awake, it seems I only get to sit down for five-minute intervals (ten, if I’m lucky). By the time I attempt to turn my attention back to whatever I had been doing—finding where I had left off in the book I was reading, un-pausing “Grey’s Anatomy” for the eleventh time, or recapturing my train of thought so I might actually finish writing a new post—one of my children will inevitably yell “Mom?” in the hopes that I will once again stop what I was doing to come to their aid.

The problem is they are still kids, and they honestly do need me to help them—sometimes. Like when one of the kids gets in the shower without grabbing a towel or bathrobe, and they are standing in the shower shivering waiting for me to materialize with robe in hand. Or, when my son needs something to drink and he can’t reach a glass in the cabinet—I mean, is it really worth the risk of him falling off a chair just so I can find out what’s going to happen between Meredith and Derek? I think not. So, I stop what I am doing, and I go—and I try not to get frustrated with them.

There is one thing that I absolutely hate doing, and I would, on some days, trade a thousand messy diapers not to have to do it any longer—

Finding something for my son to watch on TV.

I know, you were expecting something gross, like picking up dirty socks from the laundry room floor (which I really do hate doing), but honestly, being a “human remote control” is the most annoying job that I do on a daily basis.

Up until this year, my son couldn’t read, so at any given moment when he would ask me what was on TV, I would have no other choice but to sit down and read him the titles. I would scroll through the guide, reading each title, as he repeatedly said “No” to all of them. Then, with nothing to watch on “live” TV, I would turn to the On-Demand titles. Ten, sometimes twenty, minutes later, after having exhausted every title in the entire cable box, he would finally make up his mind and I would then have to remember where we had seen it listed.

As he has gotten older, and he can now read—or at least, recognize—the titles of the shows he likes, it seems I only have to help him find something once a day when “there’s nothing on.” No matter how long it takes, I find it to be a tedious and frustrating task—and by the time he has said his twenty-third “No,” I will have completely lost my patience and will have started ranting at him about how much I spend on cable, how his sister only had seven channels when she was young, how he should be happy, blah, blah, blah. Needless to say, this time spent with my son usually deteriorates into tears or hurt feelings.

Even as I sit here and write this, although it hasn’t made me hate being a “human remote” any less, it has made me realize something other than the fact that my son probably watches too much TV—my son needs me. As he continues to grow up, there will be more and more things that he will be able to do on his own, and although I know he will always love me, he will not always need me in the way he does right now. So, my advice today is for myself to remember this, and the next time he swears that even with three-hundred-and-seventy-five channels, THERE’S NOTHING ON, I will have the patience to know that it’s just his way of telling me he needs me.

I’m linking up this week with YeahWrite.me—check out lots of other great blogs!

Published by Erin Rehill

A few years ago, my then eight-year-old daughter told me that she wished I could write down all the things I told her so that she wouldn’t forget them when she got older. In that moment, my daughter gave me such a sense of validation, something I hadn’t really experienced in that way. As parents, we don’t often receive confirmation from our children that we are doing a good job, or that we even know what we are talking about. Since that time, I’ve started to pay more attention to the things I tell her, often thinking to myself “Will she remember this when she is older?” So, this is for her, my words of advice to be read, thought about, laughed at, and maybe even used, when she is older.

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  1. I do this on a regular basis for my three year old. The worst with him is he’ll say he wants to watch something, watch for five minutes, then say he wants something else to watch. Drives me crazy!

  2. My fiance and I have discussed a bit how we will handle the television when we have kids, but I don’t know if we will even have one. We are both Hulu/Netflix watchers. I imagine the internet will be a bigger thing in our household!

  3. I can relate! It is just so tedious and honestly if StinkBug is watching tv it is b/c I am trying to get something else accomplished so i just want him to hurry up and make a choice.

  4. I understand your frustration! I give my kiddo a choice of two shows. If he doesn’t want one of those the t.v. goes off. It was hard at first because he didn’t like being cut off, but it has really cut back on the time I spend standing there negotiating with him.

  5. being a mother to a daughter who’s soul purpose in life is to stay attached to my leg, oh, do I get this 🙂 Thankfully my 5 year old son is super good with the remote…he can work netflix better than I can 🙂

  6. I hear you on the “there’s nothing on” front. I don’t like being a human remote either and we don’t even have cable (just netflix). And yes, kids demands never seem to end…have you tried the just ignore them and see if they can figure it out on their own approach? Sometimes this helps..

  7. Oh my gosh, the endless demands. I feel you sister! it’s gets so frustrating….I like your advice though, they won’t need us forever. In a few years, we’ll probably be begging them to come out of their rooms and watch tv with us.

  8. Ah, the age of too many choices. I would limit his choices, and if none of them work for him, then too bad. I know, that’s mean but c’est la vie. Or I would try divert his attention to something else – a book? A game?

    I think it’s them just wanting to be with you, do things with you that really matters. But I have a 2 year old whose TV content we control, so really, what do I know? 🙂

  9. I lie. I tell them that only This Show or That Show is available. They are young enough to believe me. Ahhh sweet innocence! We always use on-demand so that it ENDS without starting into commercials or another show.

    You can always make one of the choices to have the show off, that might make the show choices more palatable. 🙂

  10. In my living lab of kids with ages from 14 to 4, I believe you have hit on a truism. They do always need you no matter how big. My big a-ha moment with my teen was when I realized that our biggest fights came when I was expecting total independence and he was expecting a hand. Hmmmmm. As for the tv in particular, I told my kids a long time ago that I don’t know how to work it or the video game systems. They pretty much only use them on the weekends when there is “tech support”. ; ) Erin

  11. What a sweet ending to your story. My boys (age 6 and 7-1/2) record every episode of the two shows they like, and they know to go to the DVR to find and watch the recorded shows. So luckily I’m not a human remote!

  12. So true about starting and stopping things a thousand times a day! You’re right – it won’t be long before their needs will change and they won’t need us in quite the same way. It’s an important reminder for me today. Thank you.:)

  13. I used to be the human remote: Dad would say “Go turn the channel to 28 and see if public television is having beg week.” Or “Grab the aluminum foil and extend the bunny-ears.” I thought the whole point of children was to make them be the remote?!?

    I love the fact you can see that he needs you still in his demands. If you can find something to cherish amidst the frustration, you’ll have a lifetime of wonderful, loving memories. And that is what makes it worthwhile, right?

    Great post.

  14. Oh, to long for the days when it was easy enough to grab the remote control and click through the cartoon channels until something particularly pretty popped up! It does allow for you to limit and control their watching habits though, which is great. Some of the kids I used to babysit for had free reign on everything, and while Friends may be a great show for (young) adults, it somehow seems less appropriate for a seven-year-old. So even though it is exhausting and time consuming, it is good that he wants you involved. 🙂

  15. I can really identify with this post. My kids are almost 6 and 3.5 – and they most certainly *need* me. They can’t reach cups. They can’t read the “Olivia” show titles on the DVR. They can’t make their own breakfast.

    I find the incessant demands overwhelming, too. For me it has both to do with the mild depression I am battling and simply being human and running out of patience. But this blog post is an excellent reminder that they won’t always *need* me and I need to find that patience – and perhaps, possibly, enjoy being needed. Sometimes. 😉

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