I’m a full time working mom who is away from my kids 8+ hours a day, five days a week. I want nothing more than to come home and be 100% invested in doing all the fun things but that’s just not our reality. Dinner needs made, served then cleaned up. Laundry needs folded. The dogs need walked and fed. The list goes on and on. So what are my kids doing while I get all of my tasks done? Most likely, you can find them watching TV.
When the weekend finally arrives, I want nothing more than to sleep in past 7am but for my kids, it’s just another day so it’s up by 6am all weekend long for us. When I stumble out of bed on Saturday or Sunday morning, I get the kids settled with a breakfast bar and water, feed the baby his bottle and we all plop down in the living room… In front of the TV… For at least an hour or two if I’m being honest.
When my husband and I have had an exhausting workday and we’re ready to pass out at 8pm, what do we do? Have a movie night! An opportunity for us to still be with our kids but not be up chasing them around. But are we REALLY with them?
No. The movie of choice is usually Moana for the 100th time or whatever new cartoon is on Netflix. We’re not overly into to it so we sit close to each other and the kids on the couch but we’re completely disconnected surfing Facebook on our phones. And on top of that, even with a movie on in the background, our 3yr old has a new interest in her tablet so she’s most likely playing a game on that as well.
How did we get here? How did I start depending on screen time like this? Does this make me a lazy parent? Does it seem like I don’t care about my children and what they’re doing? Before kids, I would never have thought this would be me. I planned to always be active with my kids. I planned to make all nutritious and homemade meals and snacks while maintaining a clean house and still doing all the fun things. And screen time? My kids won’t even like TV because we’ll be too busy having FUN!
(Insert eye roll) Oh, how naive.
I feel like you’re either reading this judging me (and judging hard) or saying ‘Yes, Girl!’ because they’re caught up in this vicious cycle too. So if you’re being a Judgy McJudgerson, move along. I’m judging myself hard enough. I KNOW too much screen time isn’t good for my children and can have long term effects. It can change their mood and behavior. It really is a form of addiction that’s just as unhealthy as the next. I know!
But if you’re saying ‘Yes, Girl!’ then take this vow with me. Vow to leave the TV off when you get home from work. Let the kids be in the kitchen with you while preparing dinner. Have a conversation or let them help with dinner. Make sure the TV is off during dinnertime and eat at the kitchen table as a family. Let the laundry go unfolded. Even the dishes can wait. On the weekends, get up, get ready and play outside before it gets hot out.
I’m willing to bet our children won’t even miss TV because time and attention from us is far more valuable. Our influence and love will take them further than whatever educational show we tell ourselves is good for them will that they’re watching on TV.