As a work-at-home mom (WAHM) my "me time" and patience is limited. My days consist of sitting in a thinly cushioned office chair with an achy back and bored 6-year-old slumped on the couch, giving me a death stare. What is a WAHM to do? TV and the tablet have been a babysitter, and I have no problem admitting that.
My daughter has been watching TV since she was about a year old. It was always either some sort of baby channel or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It wasn't constant, but it gave her dad and I a break and let us all relax. Happy parents, happy baby, happy life, right?
At first, I was concerned what friends and family thought of my daughter watching TV at a young age. That her mind would be warped from too much screen time.
New parents hear it all the time from "concerned" friends and family about the harmful effects of too much screen time. How they will not be as smart and engaging as other kids, and besieged with obesity and sleep issues. But it's all about moderation and knowing the content of what is being watched.
Don't get me wrong. I am not a perfect parent and I do admit to letting my daughter sit on the couch, be lazy and just enjoy watching TV. I get it. I do the same. I watch home shopping networks to help me fall asleep and relax. With school, outside activities and just expecting to be a perfect kid 24/7, being a kid can be exhausting and sometimes kids just need a mental and physical break.
As my daughter has gotten older, I realized that she is growing just fine and the only person who should be concerned the most about my child is me. She understands watching TV is fun but also should not be done at all times.
My daughter also understands that she can learn a thing or two from watching TV. Nick Jr. puts a sort of a disclaimer stating what your child may learn from watching a certain program. Bubble Guppies was my daughter's favorite show for awhile, and the episodes are age-appropriate and entertaining.
And to be honest, I enjoy watching these type of shows with my daughter. I get to see her engage with cute characters and I get to learn a little bit about parenting. I see how my daughter reacts to sharing and learning about what would happen when she sees the dentist for the first time.
My daughter likes to watch shows that my husband and I enjoy as well. She even lets us know when there is a show on that we like.
I recently heard my daughter yell from the living room, "Daddy! Your favorite show is on!" It was Dragon Ball Z.
I discovered there are benefits of watching TV with young children, such as "continent engagement" when your child is watching something and you respond to it. Childmind.org also explains how watching TV with children can enhance communication between yourself and your kid. When you show interest and are involved, it opens up a conversation. And with my daughter being 6, I will take all the communication from my suddenly private girl that I can get.
I think it's hard for some parents to understand how watching TV equals quality time with your kid and how it can be educational. I believe watching TV with you kid counts as quality time. Only you know what's best for you and your child. If keeps my daughter engaged for more than five minutes and she's learning than she can go ahead and blob her bottom down on that couch and watch TV.
Although my kid does watch a ton of TV, she is monitored and there are guidelines to what she watches. As she is getting older, if I watch a show and think it is appropriate for what I know she is capable of watching, then I will let her know. I don't want to be too restrictive so that my daughter hides things from me, but I do want to be involved and participate in what she does so she knows I am aware and comfortable with what she is doing.
Since my daughter turned 6, she graduated from Disney Jr. to Disney XD. She used to love PJ Masks, and now one of her favorite shows is Gravity Falls. I remember watching it and thinking this is not the type of show I grew up on. I watched shows like Full House and Animaniacs. But then I realize times have changed and that includes kids' shows. There are more girl superheroes and diverse families and situations shown. Many shows now let kids know it's OK to be different.
Parents and guardians should know their kids well enough to understand what is and what is not appropriate for them to watch. Take the time to sit and watch an episode with them to understand before judging.
Ultimately, you know your child better than anyone else. You should do what you feel is best for you child and yourself. If your kid watches TV and it gives you free time to do something else, then so be it. Parents have to work, stay at home and take care of kids and have lives to live. It's OK if everyone needs down time every once in awhile.