I was committed to staying home with my children after they were born, but I was also adamant about maintaining my career. In my opinion, working from home is like taking on two full-time jobs, so I'm a busy woman. I have a committed partner of 13 years, but he works outside the home so all of the day-to-day parenting duties fall to me. So, yes, I rely on electronics to keep my children busy. An iPad in my kids' hands means I can actually get things done, but it also means there are questions you don't get to ask me when I hand it over to them. Like, ever.
Please hold all judgments, first and foremost. I'm sure I'm not the only mom in the history of parenting who's been forced to utilize an iPad, iPod, Kindle, tablet, DS, Playstation, or any number of electronic helpers. I know the so-called "risks" involved, and all the studies and articles that remind me how "bad" too much electronic time can be for a child's brain. I get it. But there's only 24 hours in a day, and there's only one of me. Until science allows me to clone myself to accomplish all the things, letting my kids play on a device for a little while is just how it's going to be.
And please don't try to passive aggressively shame me for how often my children end up outside or how much exercise they're getting by sharing stories that start with, "When I was a kid." We live in a different time that happens to be electronic-rich and I'm OK with embracing that change. On that note, here's some things you don't get to ask me if you see my kid on the iPad. My kids' lives won't be ruined because they stare at screens occasionally. I promise.
"How Often Do You Let Your Kid On That Thing?"
Not that it's anyone's business, but my kids are on their iPads as often as I need them to. I set time limits most of the time, but I'm not a perfect mom. There's been more than a few days when that damn iPad thing has saved me from having a meltdown of my own. When I'm tired, on a deadline, or in need of 10 minutes of peace, I don't pay attention to the clock.
There's worse things I could do than allow my kid to play learning games on an iPad, I assure you.
"Aren't You Worried It'll Rot Their Brain?"
No? I mean, I think of future repercussions sometimes, but not because I'm worried about my kids' brain development. Even if they're not playing an educational game, and it's just "for fun," they're still learning invaluable tools to stay tech-savvy so they can keep up with their peers.
Besides all that, my kids are smart. They do well in school, and don't show any signs of delayed progress. I'm not worried about a little time on an iPad every now and then.
"Do You Even Know What Your Kid's Looking At?"
Actually, yes. Part of being a parent means supervising my unsuspecting children who may accidentally click on a YouTube suggestion. And then another, and another, and another until they're in an inappropriate place. Like I said, I'm not perfect, and because the aforementioned YouTube rabbit hole has happened before, I've learned to watch a little more closely when either kid is on anything electronic.
"What IfY Your Kid Clicks On Something Inappropriate?"
This happened with my oldest, and it took a while for my partner and I to realize she was watching thing she shouldn't have been watching. We immediately took the privilege away and had a lengthy talk about the internet.
She has proved my partner and I can trust her since then, but we still monitor our daughter's every online move. Our son, however, can only go to certain sites that have been approved (and has to go through a long parental lock sequence that will alert us if otherwise). But rest assured, I'm always watching.
"Don't You Have Time For Your Own Kid?"
Being a busy, working mother of two doesn't (in any way) mean I don't give my children the time they need and deserve. If anything, by doing things that fulfill me (my career, running, etc.), my kids get a better version of me when I'm with them. It may look like they're on an iPad a lot, but there's a lot more to our story than what you see.
"Do You Make Your Kids Go Outside?"
Yep. And they enjoy it, too. But when it's 100 degrees outside, my kids are trapped inside with nothing to do. Outside isn't always an option and there's only so many things they can do inside, too. While we love to order wholesale craft supplies, and play games, and do all the wonderful inside things when there's time for me to facilitate them, an iPad is just as viable an option as anything else.
"Are You Really Letting Electronics Parent Your Kid?"
To be honest, sometimes. But don't people like to go on and on about how it takes a village to raised a kid? I cannot, and will not, do this all by myself. And as a result of some iPad time, my youngest not only knows how to play Angry Birds like a pro, but he's also teaching himself how to spell, read, and count higher than he knew how before the almighty iPad. If it's used correctly, it can be a good tool. Plus, it's blessed me with the ability to go to the bathroom again. Alone.