I let my toddler watch too much TV so I’m a failure of a parent.
At least that’s what the articles on Facebook tell me.
I’ve had to learn for myself that I’m really not a failure. I’m doing the best I can given the circumstances. And most importantly, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
I see a lot of articles shared around Facebook talking about how babies and toddlers shouldn’t be watching TV at all. All the articles usually come to the same conclusion: that watching more than X amount of TV (usually around a half hour or so) hinders their development and that they’ll turn into zombies (I might be exaggerating that last part but it’s what I usually envision after reading it).
And yet for parent’s like me it’s just not realistic to never have the TV on.
I’m a full time working mom in a customer support role and where sometimes I get to work from home. To help me and my daughter get through the day I turn on her favorite cartoons. This not only keeps her call and occupied during the day, it also helps so she’s not repeating Mom over and over and over again, vying for the attention she needs and craves.
Of course having a job is my choice and I could always choose to just be a stay at home mom so I can give her that full time attention. In reality though, it’s not a viable choice because we need the income to live. And also *gasp* I like my job and the people I work for.
It doesn’t stop the guilt, however, when I see my daughter absorbed into the magic of the television and I imagine her turning into a zombie just like those articles said she would.
But there’s something that helps push aside the guilt and turn her back into the sweet toddler she is. My daughter is learning from these shows.
To illustrate, I was giving her a bath one day when she kept saying the word “pump”. It puzzled me because I don’t use that word, like ever, but yet she was so excited to say it over and over to me so I’d know she knew this new word.
I asked her what she was talking about, because it was kind of random that she was talking about a pump, and she pointed out the shampoo and conditioner bottles. I looked at them and noticed that at the top of the bottles were pumps. My mind flashed back to a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode where they use an air pump to fill the tires. The fact that she remembered and understood what a pump was blew my freaking mind (because let’s be honest, everything my daughter does blows my freaking mind because I think she’s a genius).
I know it’s probably small potatoes for her to know the word “pump”, but if a consequence of letting my daughter watch TV a lot means she’s learning more than what I am able to teach her, I’m completely okay with that!
Not only does she learn new words, she interacts with the TV when they ask questions, when she sees something cute, and calls the characters she loves by name. I know the TV isn’t a substitute for real human interaction but she uses those skills she learns from watching TV in real life situations which makes me an even more proud mama.
Yet despite all that she’s learning, if I could give her the one on one attention that she’s supposed to get, I would do it in a heartbeat. But thankfully whenever I gripe or complain to my friends about feeling like a failure for the amount of TV I let my daughter watch, they tell me that they understand because they too let their kids watch a lot of TV. Now a lot of these women are stay at home moms who admit they couldn’t get anything done if they didn’t rely on the TV every now and then.
Learning this is what makes me feel the most at ease because I always thought that if I were a stay at home mom, then maybe I would be less of a failure, but in reality, there are all types of moms (working and stay at home) that are just like me!
So maybe if I’m not the only one doing it, then maybe I’m not so much of a failure after all.
So the next time I see one of those articles on Facebook about restricting the amount of time your kid watches TV. I just need to remember that I can’t let an article feel me with guilt of being a failure of a parent because I’m doing the best that I can just like the other moms out there like me who’s kids watch a lot of TV.