I have to tell everybody a secret. I let my son have screen time. We don’t have a television upstairs, and that’s where we spend most of our time, so he doesn’t get it constantly (although he wouldn’t even if our television was upstairs), but every once in a while, he gets to watch something on television. Sometimes it’s his digger you tube shows. Sometimes, it’s Blippi. Sometimes it’s the Cars movie. Other times it’s a cartoon or Disney movie that I pick because I don’t want to watch Cars or Digger with him.
I’ve read and heard all the reasons my son shouldn’t have screen time, and I’m impressed with the parents that stand their ground, or are able to not let their children watch it.
He doesn’t watch every day. We keep him busy most of the time (or he keeps us busy), but some days, he does watch it. Some days when I know he isn’t going to nap, we take a time out, and watch something together.
I used to put something on the tablet if I needed to get something done. Especially if my partner isn’t home or working night shifts, it really helps a lot to let him watch a show so I can make him supper. This is important for me because he is still learning to play independently. If he was better at that maybe this wouldn’t be an issue, but he loves hanging with his momma, and it’s sometimes hard to chop vegetables while I have a kid in my arms. I give him other activities like play dough, but he gets bored quickly. We obviously still work on independent play, but we need to work on it more.
Why am I writing this? Because I think a little screen time will end up being okay for my son. I think it will help me keep my sanity. I think he isn’t going to suffer in the long run because he watches it.
That being said, I feel the pressure to not let him watch it. I also suffer from Mom guilt when he watches it. If he asks to watch it, I think it must mean I let him watch too much. If I’ve had it on too long, I think he’s going to be one of those kids that stays inside all the time in the future.
My son never stops moving. Never. He will sit down for a quick snuggle, or a quick story time, and then he’s on the go again. Taking a break to watch something on the screen helps us BOTH take a break and take a breath.
I know he’s not going to be a kid that plays video games and watches television all the time instead of going outside. He may sometimes choose to stay inside, and that’s okay, but he will also love getting outside.
As always, I need to ditch the guilt.
My partner and I are parenting in a way that keeps us both sane, and makes all three of us happy. We play A LOT with our son, but we also sometimes sit down and turn on a show for him or with him. Lately, I don’t do it so I can get things done because my partner is home right now. I do it so I can sit down with my kiddo and enjoy some quiet time together. I actually really love it. How can I feel guilty over something I love? I have older Disney movies that I will turn on for him, and it’s so much fun to see him interact with the show and with me.
Today we watched Dumbo together, and he loved it. I wasn’t sure if he would, but he talked the whole way through it, and narrated. He loved that there was a train, but more than that, he watched the emotions and told me about them. He knew the momma was sad because she was separated from her son. He knew that having her son would make her happy. He also wanted Dumbo to be happy. He immediately knew that the mouse should help cheer up Dumbo, and suggested that the mouse give him a hug when he was sad. He didn’t enjoy the scene with the bubble elephants when Dumbo accidentally drank beer. (This would not happen in a Disney movie now.) I also dislike that scene, so I made sure he knew it was okay.
He does occasionally watch shows that only appeal to him. If he does that, sometimes I will write, or I will read. I make sure I’m present so he can discuss it with me. I also shut it off when I know he’s become a zombie. (Or just before he becomes a television watching zombie.)
I don’t mind him growing up with a favourite show. I remember loving shows when I was growing up. Of course, we had television (two channels), and he doesn’t have that. We have lived without cable for years, and watch Netflix for the most part. I’m not sure how that’ll work for favourite shows in the future, but I want him to look back on some of the shows with fondness as he gets older. (Maybe they’ll even be back on Netflix 20 years later so he can rewatch them.)
In conclusion, screen time is not the perfect way to spend time with your kids. It’s not the best way to teach them. I always try to have a book with me so my son will see me reading instead of on my phone or watching something. (Sometimes I am on my phone though. I try to balance it out.) We do a lot of playing, a lot of sensory activities, a lot of reading, and a lot of learning. Do I love that I rely on screens occasionally? No, but I refuse to continue feeling guilty about it. This is my choice as a parent, and it is something that my son enjoys. He knows it’s a treat. I’m not going to stop giving him screen time (although, I plan on never giving him more than I already am.) We never watch television before bed either. It’s a before supper kind of treat. It’s books books books after supper.
Life with a toddler is hilarious, fun, exhausting, and frustrating. Every once in a while, I may take a breather and let him watch something that makes him smile. It’s also great if we’re sick or I’ve sprained my ankle and can’t play.
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