Parents pick and choose their battles, and this Mama is not waging a war over screen time!
I’ve read the research. I know the cons. But dang it, I’m a working mom, and sometimes I use the iPad as a babysitter. It’s a part of our regular routine. It keeps my toddler busy so I can do the millions of other things I do as a mom that keep our world turning. Meal planning, cooking, folding laundry, working full time, straightening up, kissing booboos, feeding baby sister, answering a text from a friend, scheduling a doctor appointment, pumping! The list goes on …
And here’s the real scandalous part. Sometimes I use the iPad as a way to award myself a break. Because believe it or not, I’m human. I’m not Superwoman, and I don’t even pretend to be. I need a break from all the doing and planning and all the “Hey mommy, what is this?” too!
Not only does society put too much pressure on moms, but we do it to ourselves, too. I’m not a perfect mom. I don’t aim to be, so I’ve simply just removed screen time as a thing I care to pressure myself about. We don’t have hard rules around time limits or usage windows. We simply give it to our toddler when he asks and take it away when we feel he should probably go play with the millions of toys he owns instead of watching other kids play with said toys. Are there fits when we take it away? Absolutely. But we calmly explain that now it’s time to play, and that’s what we do. After about five minutes of crying and tattletaling on whichever parent did the taking, he moves on and dives into whatever imaginative world his mind wants to conjure.
I know this approach might not work for other households, but it works for ours and keeps me sane. I live and parent by the philosophy that what my child needs most is a mentally healthy mama. I am extremely protective of my mental space and capacity, so if that means my child has a few more minutes of screen time than what is recommended so that I can squeeze in a small brain break, it just is what it is. We try to limit his screen time to educational videos, but sometimes the kid wants to watch 20 minutes of real trains going over a “ding ding” (aka a railroad crossing), and I’m not going to fight him on it. Do I sometimes wonder if this makes me a lazier parent than my own? Sure. But then I remember that if you name a 90’s toy, I can absolutely sing the commercial jingle, and I feel like I turned out okay.
Long story short, I’ve simply just opted out of dying on the screen time sword. Now dinner time with a picky eater – that’s a hook I am firmly hanging on. I will die trying on this hook! Just eat the carrots, kid! PLEASE!!