I've approached this 3 different ways: Let them watch all they want for a few days till it wears off and they realize how bored they are; let them watch one or two half-hour shows per day; and turn the thing off entirely. Turning it all the way is IMO the best but it's also the hardest work as with their different personalities they really don't engage each other so well so Natalie depends on me to entertain her. LOL (Josie is fine as long as she has a book.
If they're asking for specific episodes you can probably use that to your advantage and let them have their morning wakeup time. That's also how Josie wakes up in the mornings for now (won't be able to when school starts as she'll be out the door ridiculously early
), the same way as I spend some time on BW and Facebook (although I fantasize about spending a lot less time inactive myself LOL). I'd avoid watching before bed as the light from the TV can literally disrupt sleep; it's often recommended to avoid TV/computer a couple hours before bed as the bluish light from the screen interferes with melatonin production (that's your science trivia for the day
). And yes, kids can be sad when it's time to turn the thing off, but they do learn to handle it.
Here it's been so darned HOT during the midday that I've been trying to shift any screen time to that time; we retreat to the cool basement and put in a DVD or pull up some free on-demand or even see if there's a cooking show on we can all enjoy together.
The Morning Box idea sounds like a good one - I'd absolutely give that a go!