There's no doubt about it, parenting is hard. If we actually sit there and think about it being a parent is bloody hard work. I know this only too well as a first time parent. One minute you think that you have everything figured out and finally feel as if you have this whole parenting thing down, but then something is thrown into the mix to make life as a parent that much harder. Our daughter is nearly three years old so you could say that we've had our fair share of curve balls thrown at us. Separation anxiety being the mother of all the crappy parts of parenting. I will gladly take all those tantrums, potty training accidents and even accept the poo throwing incident in place of that. As parents we feel moments of laughter and giggles, moments where we feel like crying all day, sometimes for no reason whatsoever. But for me as a first time mum there are lots of feelings of self doubt and I'm pretty sure that I am not the only who knows what I am talking about. So you would think that we could be a little kinder to one another. Since becoming a parent to my daughter I have seen so many debates about in the parenting world. Breastfeeding vs bottle-feeding, baby-led weaning vs puree, or co-sleeping vs sleep training, just to name a few. Meanwhile I can understand that we can't all agree on the same thing, but there's one thing that I can't understand and that's being parent shamed for the decisions we make for our children. Yes, I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet. Namely, the screen time I allow for my daughter. Does it make me a bad parent?
I am a parent who will allow their child to have screen time, all in moderation I say. But it seems to me that parents who choose to allow their children to have screen time are getting a bad rep. Don't judge me when I say that I enjoy giving my daughter a little bit of screen time. It's not hard to guess why though? Peace and quiet to enjoy my cup of tea. Those fifteen minutes are absolutely magical. Please tell me I'm not the only one. But as I've said parenting is hard and we deserve those fifteen minutes to catch a breath and shouldn't be made to feel as if we are doing something wrong. I don't want to offend any parents who choose not to give their children screen time, I just want to make a point that parents who do should not be made to feel bad.
Before writing this post I did some research into toddler screen time and I found pages and pages of articles dedicated to the negative side of screen time. Most of the articles suggest that too much screen time for toddlers can have an adverse effect on their brains, in a nutshell. I have absolutely no idea whether what they are suggesting has any substance, but I'm not hear to tell you they have no value. I'm no expert but too much of something is bound to have some kind of impact of anyone's wellbeing. I just want to put it out there that screen time for your children is not always a bad thing.
I think that children born into the digital generation are lucky and are far more intelligent that we ever were. My toddler, like other toddlers are drawn to technology like moths to flame. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's a smartphone, tablet, electronic game or the television. As soon as it lights up, then their eyes do too. Have you ever watched a young toddler use a tablet for the first time? It's actually quite fascinating to see how quickly they can figure out how to navigate around the app or tablet. I actually sat with my daughter on her KidloLand app and I was quite surprised at how quickly she figured out how to get around the app and was even telling me that I wasn't playing her game properly. Well, that certainly put me in my place, that's for sure.
Children's programmes have changed so much, well in comparison to when I was a child anyway. I think we've come a long way from the Rainbow days. But children's programmes today are highly regulated to teach our children an array of activities. They can teach colours, letters, counting, basic morality (thank you Bing Bunny), teach them how to share, create friendships and to believe they can be who they wish to be. Why wouldn't you want to help encourage your child's learning? There is only so much you can do as parent, sometimes we need a helping hand from the good ole CBeebies channel. The CBeebies app has even been my saviour during those 4am get ups!
As a blogger to a toddler we are always been offered opportunities to try new apps. There are a countless number of amazing apps that can actually help enhance your child's development, some promote motor skills, enhance memory and pattern recognition. But as with anything, screen time should be limited. Screens are in no way a substitute for parenting! Both my husband and I make sure that we read with our daughter every night, without fail. We are always going out looking for adventures, going to toddler groups, and we are always at the park. We enjoy running around, playing indoor football (thank you for that one, Daddy), we like to jump on the bed, role play and dance like nobody's watching. We love getting in our kitchen and causing absolute chaos, that's the fun part. The cleaning up? Hmmm not so much. We also spend lots of afternoons trying to unleash our creativity with playdough, card, pom poms or glitter. But we enjoy watching the box!
With anything in life, everything is moderation is key. Says the person who just ate an Easter egg! I have known some people see bad behaviour if certain electronics are taken away, this is something that we haven't experience with our daughter and one that I hope we never do. But cutting screen time altogether may not be possible in some households, but there are ways in which you can limit their time without an almighty tantrum unfolding.
Set time limits.
With our daughter we started to monitor her screen time. We soon realised that she was watching her kindle a little too close to bed time, which was also reason why she wouldn't settle straightaway. So we don't include any screen whatsoever in her bedtime routine and we never have trouble getting her to sleep. With electronics set time limits and avoid them before bedtime, mama needs sleep too. You could also change the type of screen time that they are exposed to. So instead of having the television being on in the background, spend time on educational apps, e-books, or even a family film - something that you can do with them.
Electronics in their room.
I would have to say that you really need to think about allowing your children to have any electronics in their room, I feel that a bedroom should be make a 'screen free zone' as bedrooms are for sleeping. But that's personal preference. I don't think I will allow my daughter to have a television in her room for some time yet, my husband and I don't have one in our room, even when he's asked so many times. I think he secretly wants a man cave, but that's a whole different story. I think the real reason why I won't allow her to have a television in her room is because it's all I can remember about bedtime when I was a child. I shared a room with my little sister who was afraid of the dark and would always want the same DVD playing in the background, often waking me up during the night with the same sound of the DVD title playing, I can hear it now and makes me wince.
No screen time before bed
After realising that our daughter was not settling and sleeping at bedtime because she was getting far too excited watching videos on her kindle. So it's no TV or kindle before bedtime. No exceptions. I think for all children we should realised the importance of down time before bedtime and make a point of shutting all phones, tablets and televisions down. Something that we all could do with in this household.
Wow, that was a ramble and a half. I hope you didn't mind. At the end of the day, screen time is not a bad thing. It all depends on how parents decide to benefit from it and how long children spend time in front of it. As I have made it into adulthood intact, I am more than confident that my daughter will do the same. So why should I prevent her from enjoying it too. We are all parents, who are doing what we can, the best way we can.