Ahh the dreaded "Screen Time".. I've been wanting to speak about this topic, share my thoughts on it, share what we do with screens, and open up a discussion about it for awhile now. Let me start by telling you how I used to feel about Screens..Before Harley was born I thought I would be an anti-screen parent DUnnn Dunn Dunnn..and let me tell you that now I am not an anti screen parent! I hope you didn't think this post was going to be a long article telling you how bad TV is for your kid and how you should lock it up in the basement along with your iphones and tablets. That's not at all how we do it. Actually I'm here to tell you my 2 year old does watch TV. I've been feeling like the health and wellness community has frowned so deeply upon screens that now us Mom's feel overly guilty when we let our children watch TV or movies. So this is how I used to feel..incredible guilt if he watched TV, and almost disappointed in myself if he watched something that wasn't considered "educational" (meaning cartoons, disney, blah blah, nothing that's all that bad). I also found myself judging other parents who exclusively used Screens. I talked horrible about a couple I knew who used their tablet as a babysitter while they visited with us. I also thought terrible, terrible thoughts about a family I saw on a walk one day. They had their little girl in a stroller watching a tv show on her Moms iphone. I thought, "Wow that is just horrible..how on earth could you allow your child to watch a screen, especially on a Cell phone, and while your outside..she could be enjoying this beautiful day!!!" I even went home and told my husband about this and we both couldn't even stand it!
Now let's fast forward to how I changed my mind about Screens and what changed my perspective. 2 personal experiences helped me come to terms. At the end of that same year I began to experiences some health issues, both physically and mentally. I was experiencing extreme sleep deprivation, (Mamas you know what I'm talkin about!). Basically I hadn't slept in over 2 years. When I was pregnant I couldn't sleep, when I labored I couldn't sleep, with a baby I couldn't sleep, with a toddler I couldn't sleep. I then developed horrible insomnia in between. So even when he was sleeping..I COULDN'T SLEEP. I was severely burnt out, which caused me to develop a lot of anxiety. I felt anxious ALL the time. It was so hard to keep up with Harley all day and night. It was especially difficult to constantly be playing with toys, doing funny voices, running around, park hopping, and all those kiddie things. It was also so hard to be that tired and never get a break. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch and sleep or WATCH TV. I needed a break..a little less "child time" and a little more ME time. So I finally started giving into my bodies need to rest. Harley and I would watch a (disney) movie in the mornings when we were up too early to function. And god I just felt beyond guilty about it. Almost to the point where it wasn't really helping because the guilt didn't help me feel better. But Harley loved these movies so much! He would get so excited to watch the cars racing in "Cars", the bugs talking in "A Bugs Life", and the Hawaiians singing in "Moana". He would get up and dance, cheer, and act out scenes with his toys. He even picked up on new words, and found his number one love in life...CARS. Hah! He was actually learning so many new things and forming personal interests through these movies. This time allowed me to get a little extra rest, I could close my eyes, or just lay down next to him for a bit and he would be just fine. Then something clicked in me while watching him watch these movies. It really isn't THAT big of a deal..I watched movies when I was young, so did Colton, so did YOU. And we turned out alright, right?! I like to think of myself as a successful person and I don't think the TV I watched as a kid effected me all that badly.
Then there was the time I even stopped judging other parents! It was a typical afternoon, I was at the park with Harley, enjoying a beautiful San Diego day, laying out in the grass watching Harley go up and down the slide laughing and smiling. Until BOOM..smiles turn to cries so easily with kids! Harley skinned his knee for the VERY FIRST TIME. He had never even seen blood before, let alone his own blood. Man, he was hysterical. Crying, screaming, hurting. I'm not even sure it hurt that bad, but he was so confused, he didn't understand what happened, but he was not happy! I couldn't calm him down for the life of me. I held him, rubbed his back, even nursed him. But he was STILL crying, and crying beyond hysterically. I tried a snack, a toy, singing, nothing was helping him. God I felt so bad for this little guy. I then put him in the stroller and tried to walk it off. But he was so not having that walk. I didn't know what to do, I couldn't drive home with him that upset. Well, OH MY GOD you guys I whipped out my iphone with a singing nursery rhyme cartoon and handed it to him. He smiled! Oh my god he smiled..he stopped crying..I couldn't believe it! He still looked a bit sad, but he smiled..I felt relieved but at the same time I was also thinking, "Wow I'm one of thooose parents". The entire walk I kept thinking everyone was starring at me because my 2 year old is holding an iphone. By the end of our walk he was feeling much better. He looked at his skinned knee, and he was okay with it. He went back to the park and finished out his playing session. He just needed a true distraction to shift his thoughts. What A learning experience..for me! I would never judge another parent for using a screen again. We never know the situation or the circumstance of a parents choice. No I wouldn't just put a show on for him during a walk on a normal day but man it cheered up that boy and I don't feel bad about that at all. I learned how wrong it is to judge parenting choices when we have no idea whats going on in others lives.
So now that I've said Harley is allowed to watch TV, I of course mean modestly. We don't have the TV on all day, and if its 2pm and sunny outside you'll most likely find us at the park or the beach. But if it's a rainy day or we're feeling like a rest day we might just be watching a movie at home. Of course we won't judge you if it's 2pm and you're not outside because we all know what's best for our own personal families. My point is that screens in moderation instead of no screens at all can work just fine. Nowadays I've been able to rid myself of anxiety by taking personal time for myself every morning, for 1 hour. Again I felt completely guilty at first but then realized it was only making positive effects on our daily life. Harley watches 1 hour of a show or movie while I take a quick shower and do some yoga stretches (which I do right next to him and kind of watch it with him, but this helps me flow without him crawling all over me and under me while I'm stretching.) I don't feel guilt about this morning routine anymore..at all really. I've become SUCH a better Mom since doing this. I'm so much more present with him after and I enjoy playing with him so much more too. It's my restart button, and allows me to time to clear my mind before a busy day. I can't even believe I went months without allowing myself time to shower just because I didn't know what I would do with him while I was in there..I'm mentioning these things to let you know it's okay to take a break if you need one, and to tell you to do what you gotta do to get that break. It was a lot better for us to give in to a little screen time and have a sane mommy, then to keep banning tv and end up a frantic mess and not be truly present with my kid. I hope this helped even one of you to not feel guilty for doing something that feels right for your family. Or maybe it will help you know that it's OKAY to take a break if you need it. Let's not judge each other and stick together as parents! Please leave a comment if you read this post, I would love to hear from you! And would love to hear if you use screens or not use screens!
The Vegan Ferri