Ever since we've gotten our minivan, videos have been playing in the DVD player wherever we go. At times it has seemed a little ridiculous. I remember a Manic Mommies episode that I listened to where the Manic Mommies thought it was a bit much to have it on for the 5 minute ride to school. I agree. I think I heard that episode before I had the DVD system built into my car but even now I still agree. And I still have it on for the 5 minute drive to school.
I've always justified having it on by saying that my kids don't really watch that much tv at home and a little bit in the car will be fine. We usually get our videos at the library and the kids like to pick out new ones every week or two.
I've read blogs or books or articles about the how the car is a good time to talk to your kids because you have their undivided attention. That's probably true. When Jack gets in the car and there is a video on, he puts the headphones on and you've lost him. But since I'm not working and get to spend all day with my kids I don't really need their attention in the car.
In the past I've tried turning the video player off as a punishment. I thought maybe that if they got punished enough, it would wean them off the videos. But usually it was just one child who was in trouble and then I got cries of, "It's not fair!" I also didn't really use this punishment enough for any weaning to occur. Then I would forget my powerful punishment tool for awhile because I don't really have the need to discipline them a lot in the car anyway.
A few weeks ago, Pat mentioned that he is always impressed that the channel is never changed from what we left it on the night before. Meaning we haven't watched any shows (downstairs) all day. (Or we watched something that was DVRed and didn't need to change the channel...but let's just say we didn't turn the tv on. Because we really don't turn it on that much.) Pat also thought that maybe we didn't need to have the DVD player running in the car all the time. I told him I agreed but that I didn't think it was contributing to too much tv and I wasn't ready for the war that might start if we started turning it off.
Recently though, the DVD player isn't the star player anymore...it's on the bench, playing second string. It will be Jack's turn and he'll say he doesn't want anything right then. So it will be off for a few days and then he'll finally ask for something and it will go back on. On one of these days when it was off, we were driving around somewhere with the whole family in the van. At one point, Jack was talking to me, Casey was talking to me and Pat was trying to have a conversation with me. I was going crazy and I wasn't even driving. I said, "This is the reason I have the DVD player on all the time!"
Once upon a time when I was in the Navy and standing watch, I used to have headphones on with different people in each ear and people standing behind me talking to me and I could listen to it all and comprehend it and then respond to all those people. But when two of those people are saying, "Mommy...mommy, mommy...mommy!, mommy!" or whining or crying or repeating themselves it gets to me a little.
So the real reason I don't mind having the DVD player running is because the car is my quiet time! I buckle everyone in, tune the radio to what I want to hear (I'm an AM radio dork usually), pay attention to the road and where I'm going and get there without any stress. The kids watch a few minutes of a show and we're all happy when we get to our destination. Maybe I could even say the DVD player is a safety mechanism...the less I'm trying to arbitrate bickering and answering the same question over and over, the more I'm concentrating on driving. So yeah...it's a safety device. Sort of. But really, I just enjoy my quiet time!