Sometimes the TV is the Babysitter

I don’t feel guilty about it. Not one bit. And if you ask me, neither should you.

I must start by saying that whatever you choose to do for your family is your business. We all believe we’re making the best decisions for our people, and those actions are personal and, often times, different. We know too much screen time is a bad thing. Of course, the TV isn’t some kind of electronic nanny that we can place the kids in front of for hours on end, and trust that they’ll be safe and cared for; that’s our job as parents. Sure, not for hours. But for 30 minutes or an occasional Elmo double feature? I say, “Absolutely we’ll do that.”

I was thrilled when my almost two-year-old would sit and watch a full episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which we could probably refer to as the gateway drug of children’s programming. She was busy, I saw a chance for a little free time, and I was psyched. Fast forward a few years and the ability to pop on a show every once in a while is one of my favorite parenting tools of the trade.

Here’s a few reasons why I don’t beat myself up when my little one gets some screen time:

It gives me a break when I need it

Yes, I’m a mom, but I’m also a human who needs a few minutes of downtime and sometimes Doc McStuffins does the trick. I can take a quick shower, check my work e-mails, or start dinner while I watch the news (cough, E! News that is) in peace for a bit.

It gives my husband and I some time to actually talk to each other

We’re all happy when dad comes home for the day.  And by the time we all play together, eat dinner, do bath time, and read what feels like a million books, we’re spent. So, every once in a while, we’ll hand her the iPhone at the dinner table or at a restaurant, so we can talk about whatever is going on in our lives without her cute little interruptions. We’re going to maintain our relationship while she’s occupied and not feel guilty about it.  

She’s learning

We have a 3.5 year old ocean life expert thanks to The Octonauts on Netflix. She’s so proud and excited to tell us what she’s learned about sea creatures that I’ve never even heard of before. My knowledge of marine life is super limited, and it gives us something new to talk about while filling her brain and firing up her imagination at the same time. We’ve recreated many shows during our playtime, and it’s fun to let her take the lead and act out her favorite scenes.

It gives us a chance to cuddle

Yes, this may be a cheap move on my part, but as my daughter gets older, I’m finding less opportunities to snuggle her little busy body. Insert an early morning cartoon in bed, and poof, a little mommy daughter time for both of us.

I mean, we did it

Most of us watched TV as kids and turned out fine. It’s all about moderation, content supervision, and making sure the rest of our time is filled with enriching activities. If this is how we check out and chill for a bit, I’m all in.


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