Before I became a mom, I was the best mom on the planet. I fantasized about the gentle discipline I would practice; never raising my voice at my child, serving nutritious organic foods, and (of course) restricting all screen time. Then I became a working mom and relaxed some of my self imposed rules, especially those regarding television. In fact, there have been a number of times the dreaded "screen time" saved my ass.
You see, the fantasy of a perfect parent quickly dissipated when I was faced with the bone-aching exhaustion, never-ending responsibility, and constant guilt that is part of every parent's reality. And while I still try to have some limitations on screen time, especially if I notice that glazed look in my child's eye and he won't look up from the screen when I ask him a question. I also try to make sure that at least most of the things he watches are educational, or haven't crossed the threshold from annoying to "I can't bear to sit through another second of that horrific background song." I have my limits, after all.
However, there are situations during daily life when a little screen time is the perfect solution to keep my little one absorbed, busy, and quiet. So, honestly, I can't really apologize for relying on that "horrible screen time" in the following moments:
When It's Just Too Damn Early
My son's waking time has got progressively later since his birth, but it's still about an hour earlier than I can bear. So, in the mornings he is allowed to watch TV in my bed while I pretend to care about the plot line to his show (but I'm actually just snoozing). Win-win.
When My Kid Was Sick
A little TV time or a lazy movie afternoon is the perfect way to take your child's mind off the fact that they feel rotten. If my kid feels more inclined to cuddle up with me under a blanket, and maybe even take a nap, I'm all about turning on the television.
When I Was Sick
One of the hardest parts about parenting? Well, there are no "sick days," my friends. If you feel awful, you don't get a day off.
On the days when I can't lift my head off the pillow, I'm all about grabbing a bunch of snacks for my son, putting on the television, and just getting through the day as quickly and easily as possible.
When I Had To Take An Important Call
All toddlers seem to have some kind of built-in volume control that immediately goes to its nosiest setting when their parent is on the telephone.
So, if you ever need to take a super important call (maybe about work or anything in which you need to actually, you know, hear the other person), it can be really useful to let your kid play a game on your device or watch a show.
When We Are Traveling
My son is a seasoned traveler. As a 3-year-old toddler he's already been back and forth between England and Canada five time and visited France, Portugal, and Cuba. So my partner and I are definitely used to flying with a little passenger and, as a result, have our travel routines down.
Recently, however and because my son is a little older, we have noticed the in-air time has become smoother when he can happily watch a movie, TV show, or play a game. So, yeah, screen time makes travel more comfortable for everyone.
When We Have A Long Layover
It's not just the flying part of traveling that can be exhausting. If you encounter any type of layover it can be hard to keep kids entertained.
We recently had a six hour delay on the last leg of a long journey overseas. We were only one hour from our beds and, still, had to spend almost a whole day wasting time at the airport. Our tablet was certainly put to good use that day!
When I Have A Doctor's Appointment
Nobody likes sitting in the waiting room, you know, waiting. If it's boring for adults, just imagine what it's like for kids who need constant entertainment or action. To get him to sit still long enough for my name to be called, a little Paw Patrol does the job nicely.
When My Friend Needs Me
When your friend turns up at your door with ice cream, wine, and a sad face, its time for a Frozen screening. Your little one can be quietly entertained while you catch up on all the gossip and convince your BFF that she's better off without that dude.
Like many good parenting suggestions, it does make sense to limit screen time, especially if other activities are being neglected. My son would much rather paint a picture, play, bake cookies, or go outside than watch TV. As long as that's the case, I don't think a little screen time now and again (or even a small amount each day) is too harmful.