Kids and TV – the complex dynamic in the mind of a guilty parent
My parenting philosophy, I’m discovering, is to let guilt be my guide. Yes, I’ve written previously about some of the more depressing aspects of that. Now, I’m noticing that it’s pretty much part of my everyday.
Murphyskid is home with me 2 days a week. Since I work from home, try as I do to contain my work to those 3 other days, things leak. Some days I’m twiddling my thumbs for several hours when she’s at daycare then dealing frantically with calls and updates when she’s home. So guess what? She spends a lot of time sitting in front of the TV or iPad.
For the last few months, I didn’t care too much because she just is not a kid that can sit still for long. She would watch one show at best and then run around with the TV as background music and generally turn the house upside down, playing games. This, while it translated to lots of clearing up for me, meant she wasn’t ‘watching TV’ all the time. So who cared? Especially, since I’ve never been a big participant on either side of the screen time debate. Everything in moderation is where I’m at.
Well… now, I care.
Because now she watches. Now, she will watch any number of shows back-to-back until I cut her off, usually with a massive fight. This isn’t moderation…
She tells beautiful stories, my little girl. She weaves a smilingly wonderful narrative. There’s fantastically unreal plot-lines, meshed with real people and their stories. This gets so crossed in her tales, it’s like seeing what’s in her head; and it’s beautiful. So beautiful actually that I looked it up, and found some obscure piece that told me to learn these four words: “and then what happened?” The perfect words for encouraging open-ended storytelling. So that’s what I did. And the stories were wonderful!
Then guilt crept up. The plot-lines are fab but the characters? Bubble Guppies? Ryder from the Paw Patrol? Max?? Ruby?????!!! All accompanied by the lurid background music of insipid, un-inspirational pop? Oh no. No, no, no.
I must elevate her to the level she belongs at. I should be enriching her mind with Shakespeare. Set to the melodies of the music greats. Sting at the very least.
How have my tastes become so… plebeian? My poor child! Waiting for me to stop her from paying homage at the altar of Disney.
Then I realize. This is her playground. She gets to play her game.
And I back off.
So what happens to the screen time? Well, she still has a lot of screen time. Occupational hazard. But I’ve become more regimented about my time on the days she’s home. We read books and cook and take turn picking shows so I can stick some more enriching stuff in there. I’ve also got her interested in some reading apps for times when I have to work. It’s not at a place that makes me guilt-free but I can live with it for the moment.
Good job mommy… 5 points for all that. -10 for letting guilt win; aaaaagain.