Can we have some honest talk? And please, hold off on your judgment. See, I truly do not give a sh*t about how much screen time my kids have. Yes, I know, parental blaspheme over here. But the thing is, my kids can drive me absolutely bonkers and that flat screen TV in the living room makes the difference between wild children with a screaming mother and happily distracted kids with a mom who is busy getting sh*t done. Same goes for the tablets in the backseat of the car and even the occasional YouTube video on my phone.
You know what I’m talking about, because we’ve all been there: that horrible time of day when the kids are overtired but you still have another load of laundry to do, plus cleaning, plus homework, plus God knows what else before you can get the kids into the evening routine of dinner, bath, and bed. That’s when PBS or a movie becomes the Thelma to my Louise.
And I’m not sorry.
I know we live in this era of perfect parenting, where parents are supposed to have Waldorf-inspired crafts at the ready for cranky children to mellow out to. However, the reality is — at least in my house — that kids sometimes need to zone the eff out, just like I do. I have Facebook and Pinterest to help me mellow out, and my kids have games and TV.
I sometimes even consider it free babysitting. Seriously. There have been times when I purposely withheld all screens because I knew I would need them to help me keep the kids in check while I did important things like take a stressful business call or bang out some work from my home office.
There have been times when I just haven’t been up to being the Mary Poppins version of myself for my kids and I needed a lazy day, so I turned on the TV and left it on. All. Damn. Day. My kids would wander in and out of the living room, watching whatever the heck was on — all kid fare, but still, this is the kind of thing that raises eyebrows in some parts.
I’ll even admit this little gem: sometimes, I use screens as bribes for good behavior. Yeah, go ahead and judge me, Sanctimommies. But here’s the thing: you know you do it, too.
“If you want to download a new game for your tablet then you MUST clean your room!”
“When we get to Grammy and Grampy’s house, you best behave or I’ll take the tablets away, do you understand?”
Yup, I’ve said those things, and I’ve meant them with zero regrets.
I view screens as a cheap and easy way to entertain and/or distract my kids when I need them to be quiet and in one spot so that I can get important things done. How else am I going to clean the house, get dinner on the table, and do my work-from-home job?
I used to be ashamed of my laissez-faire attitude toward screens because I thought that it made me a bad mom, but the truth is, I don’t really care. My kids are smart, kind, and generally well-behaved (although they do have their moments!). They are not drooling zombies sitting in front of screens all damn day, but you know what? On the rare rainy day when we literally do nothing but watch movies, I feel zero regrets.
Screens all day every day are not a great thing for kids. Like anything else in life, they should be balanced with healthier and more mindful activities. Of course, my kids do have many days sans screens. They are exposed to all kinds of great stuff, like community events, arts and crafts, home science experiments, and endless hours of outdoor playtime. Screens are a part of modern life and this idea that we can eliminate them from a child’s experience is, to me, ridiculous.
So, I embrace screens and take advantage of them to help me get through my day unscathed. I love the idea of an analog lifestyle, but that is not realistic for my family. We sometimes overuse screens and we sometimes abandon them altogether for long periods of time. Either way, my kids are fine.