I have a confession to make…well, actually, I have SEVERAL confessions to make:
I let my kids watch TV. And I let them play games on the computer. And yes (GASP!), I even bought them their own IPod Touches. And I do so without guilt.
It started with this – every Saturday morning, Hubby goes for a run, Little B goes to ballet class, and while we wait for ballet to end, Little Bubba sits quietly in the lobby of the dance studio watching videos on my laptop with headphones on. “Saturdays mornings are his ‘treat time’ when he gets to watch educational videos while B is in class…” I’d tell the other moms, as if combining “treat” and “educational” removed the guilt of allowing my kids to be plugged in.
But “Saturday mornings” eventually became “Saturday mornings and Friday nights,” which eventually became “Saturday mornings, Friday nights, and [fill in the blank].” The Excuse-Snowball grew a little larger with each opportunity I gave them to play with their devices or watch TV.
Eventually, I just got sick of making excuses or justifying to people who commented or asked why:
- I bought devices specifically for my kids (Answer: So that I wouldn’t have to give them my phone every single time.).
- I bought them EACH a device (Answer: Because the thought of having them share and fight EVERY.SINGLE.TIME over who got to control it made me want to scratch my eardrums out…AND I got an incredible deal on them.).
- I let my kids use their devices, play on the laptop, or watch TV relatively frequently (Answer: Why do you care?).
Seriously, though, for those who seem to want to know or opine on the fact that I do, my answer to the last question is a selfish one and it all boils down to the fact that it gives me a little break when I’m occupied and/or my kids are bored. For example:
- My husband can run while I take my daughter to ballet with my son in tow, and I can still socialize with the other moms while my son watches videos.
- When we went on our first airplane trip to Disney, my kids were incredibly well-behaved, filling their time with videos and games (pre-selected by me). Incidentally, I overheard the kid behind me whining on the border of tantruming during the entire 3 hours, “How come they get to play on a phone and I don’t?” to which his mom responded, “Some moms don’t care…” I felt like turning around and saying: Care about what? Whatever, lady. Your kid is the one who’s about to lose it, not mine.
- Last weekend, we went to a house party where the host had older kids who have very little in common with two 5 year olds (do you remember being dragged to dinners with your parents when you were kids and being SO FREAKING BORED?). As soon as my kids started complaining that they were ready to go home, I whipped out the IPod Touches. That bought me another hour to spend some time with our friends.
- Similarly, this past weekend, we went to a dinner with our running club friends, organized for those who were up at a specific location for a marathon. Dinner was over and the novelty of coloring had worn off about 30 minutes earlier, but the group wasn’t ready to leave yet. Again, instead of being the “anti-social” person stuck in a corner entertaining my kids, I gave my kids my phone and they played quietly while we enjoyed the rest of our evening.
- When I was waiting with the kids in the cold at Mile 14 for Daddy to run by, I miscalculated and showed up almost a half hour early. Watching random sweaty strangers run by isn’t exactly a 5 year old’s idea of fun, and so I whipped out their devices so that they could play until Daddy got close. That allowed me to cheer on ALL of our club members; not just Daddy.
- Almost every morning after the kids are done with breakfast and while I am getting ready for work, we turn on the TV until it’s time to go. This allows me to take a sh*t in peace… (graphic, I know but I think you all know what I mean).
Incidentally, my son spends almost his entire time watching episodes of BBC’s Planet Dinosaur, knows some amazing facts about dinosaurs, and wants to be a paleontologist when he’s older. My daughter watches ballet videos on YouTube and plays with a drawing app called Doodl.ly. Brain-rotting stuff, you know?!
So, yeah – not only do I let my kids spend time on electronic devices / watching TV, but I do so without guilt.