This is an article about why I think screens (TV, iPads, cell phones, etc.) are an amazing gift to parents everywhere. And let me guess, your first thought is something like, “Kids these days are so attached to their screens they never go outside for fresh air and some real creativity!” Okay, valid point I guess. Many kids are horribly addicted due to lack of parental control over their screen limits.
But let me paint a different picture, a picture that I’d like to think actually covers the majority of kids who get screen time: Creative, imaginative, smart kids who play outside almost every nice-weather day but who still get to play games on their parents’ tablets and/or get an hour (or two or three) of Daniel Tiger/Little Einstein’s/Peppa Pig most days. Are those children considered adolescent unicorns? No! In fact, that description meets not only my own children but also most of the kids I personally know! And if I know a bunch of kids of varying ages who meet that description, my guess is you, too, know many who get the best of both worlds.
To you moms who can go absolutely screen free—props. Major props to you. I know you’ll let me hear all about how you can accomplish this and honestly, you deserve to humble brag about it (a little). Because when I think of never letting my kids watch an episode so I can get 20 more minutes of light snoozing at 6 AM, I get scared. My anxiety kicks in when I think of all the times I’ve been out on errands and NEEDED my children to be quiet and calm down quickly after I had already exhausted all snacks and toys. Because what if I DIDN’T have my phone to pull out for them? How much more chaos would I be trying to control for how many more hours?
And the times when I’ve given everything I could all day long, when I’ve been engaged, read 25 books (with character voices), and I’ve given more kisses than I can count, when I’m emotionally drained and physically touched out—how would I manage without that coloring app on my phone for the kids? When I reach that point that literally every mom has experienced… that screen is a savior to me, plain and simple. It’s my 15-minute escape to pee alone or cry in the closet until I regain my composure.
So yeah, I can’t do without it. I won’t do without it. I’ll let my two year old have screen time, I’ll let my four year old play family friendly video games with my husband and I’ll marvel at how quickly she picks it up. I’ll do this without guilt because I have the control over it. I decide how long, what they watch, what games they play. I get to choose songs that help them practice their ABCs or TV shows that teach about kindness and potty training (thank you, Daniel tiger!). And every so often, I’ll let them select from my approved choices what screen time they want so they can feel independent and listened to. And if that’s selfish to use the screens so I get time to finish an article before a deadline, 20 extra minutes of rest, or a kid-free potty break, then OH WELL! Call me selfish, who cares. (Though side note, it’s NOT!)
Look, in the long run, they’re my kids. Yeah, raising kids takes a village but that only applies sometimes. And I’m choosing to NOT apply that principle in this area. They’re my kids and I know their, and my, limits. So it really doesn’t matter if you passionately believe I am frying their little brains since sometimes I don’t realize it’s been 2.5 hours before I turn the TV off. You have the right to disagree with me and even chew me out about it (please don’t). But I have the right to ignore you and remember I am a damn good mom just doing her best to survive and enjoy every part of motherhood. And sometimes, I need a break to remember why I love motherhood so that’s where the 30-minute Story Bots episode comes to the rescue.