Like many Mum’s I can often catch myself discussing the very different natures of my two boys. Polar opposites, chalk and cheese………..you name it I’ve said it. Their uniqueness translates across every moment of our day from Nixon’s need for control over what he’s wearing, to Ethan’s general compliance and respect for authority. Everything one boy is, the other isn’t.
This can make family time quite a struggle as deciding on mutually agreeable activities that cater to a 4-year-old, an almost 13-year-old and two parents, can be an exercise in diplomacy akin to USA v North Korea negotiations.
Ethan just craves information. He has a voracious appetite for visual media and will essentially watch anything at any time. Great content can be rewatched over and over if it’s of particular interest – I can’t count how many times we’ve all seen Walking with Dinosaurs, The Blue Planet or Changing Seas. What’s great about Ethan’s viewing habits is that despite his faves, he’s always keen to branch out and discover new shows, docos and movies. His attitude is definitely ‘The More the Merrier!”
Nixon, on the other hand, hates change. He has around 5 shows he likes to watch over and o v e r again on Netflix; Wild Kratts, My Big Friend, Justin Time, Oscar’s Oasis and Mouk. That’s all we’re allowed to work with. Settling in for some couch time and snuggles with my little guy can be a tad painful. Did I mention he has an aversion to movies? Asking Nix to watch a full-length feature is like asking an 11-year-old boy to pick just one ice-cream flavour to eat for the rest of his life. My four-year-old has commitment issues obviously, a movie is just waaayyy to long to be a viable entertainment option – at least in his mind lol.
What to do, what to do?………………
Don’t ask, Don’t Tell
Honestly, when it’s time for a group consensus, sometimes the only way to reach one in my family is to ignore the ‘consensus’ part, or even the very notion that I was hoping for some family time.
Mum’s and Dad’s everywhere know that the sure-fire way to get your children’s attention is to sit down on the couch and at the very least create an illusion of relaxation. They’ll come running within minutes and be all up in your business. The secret to introducing a new show, movie or genre is simply this – have it playing before they realise what’s going on. Set the stage for Family Movie Night or a rainy arvo snuggling on the couch without the public service announcement, “Kids we’re going to watch something new!”.
Try it, it works.
So far I’ve successfully introduced Nixon to Puss in Book (which is super-fun as you can control the action), he’s been snookered into watching The Land Before Time (a beautiful dinosaur movie I remember seeing in the theatre with my little brother) and the Netflix Original, Troll Hunters has been accepted as the new go-to by both boys if they’re in that (very) rare, couch-cohabitation mood which all parents dream off.
Don’t settle for watching the same shows guys, just employ your grown-up smarts, get creative and discover some new content to enjoy with your family next time the couch is calling.
PS, this also works on your significant other. Dave wasn’t convinced my new obsession, Ozark, was for him, but he walked in after I’d already begun an episode and was very quickly converted!