I’m writing this post, “Curious George 3: Escape to the Jungle” is playing in the background, and my two-year-old daughter is sitting next to me on the couch, surrounded by her Little People farm animals.
The nap did not happen today, despite the fact that we tried for over an hour. I spent the morning driving around for work meetings while leaving my daughter in the care of her grandmother and aunt, so I’ve maxed out my free childcare for the day and yet, the work isn’t done.
This is one of those moments in motherhood where the best of intentions disintegrate in the chemical bath that is REALITY. I never, ever, ever wanted my daughter to be a TV watcher. Maybe a Baby Einstein video here, a Winnie the Pooh movie there (watched in sensible 15-minute increments, of course). But I never wanted to have to rely on Netflix for anything.
I’ve worked from home as a freelance writer since her birth. It’s an amazing job for me and one that I really, really love. My husband and I made the decision when we married that I would stay home with our children, but when the time came, we still needed my income. Because we’ve been blessed with an abundance of helping hands courtesy of our family, it’s worked pretty well.
But most days, I need more help than I can realistically ask for from our generous relatives and friends. Guess who my very, very dearest pals are on those days? Let me introduce them to you.
Their names are Daniel Tiger, Curious George and…those weird kids who dress up and sign Mother Goose songs.
Recently, someone shared an article with me that warns of the dangers of frequent screen time for young children. I’m sure you’ve seen posts like this shared in your newsfeed. These articles are usually opinion pieces that discuss the statistical rise in childhood ADHD, suicide and depression, and its correlation to increasing childhood use of digital devices, a deteriorating level of activity in kids’ lifestyles and similar issues.
Let me just say that I agree completely with most of the points made in these articles. And if you’re a parent who has limited or completely forbidden screen time for your children, I’m really happy for you. I wish I could be you, actually.
But I would also encourage those who are sharing these pieces not to judge their fellow parents too harshly. Not every family’s lifestyles allow for the minimal screen time that we would all prefer.
In a perfect world, my daughter wouldn’t know what an iPhone is and literally, all of her toys would be plain Waldorf-style wooden blocks and colorful scarves that she used her limitless imagination to create fascinating made-up worlds with. All outdoors of course, because in this perfect world, it’s also always summer and my laundry is folded on the same day it’s washed. This is what I always wanted for her, and what I always expected our life to be like.
I also want world peace, a checking account that never gets below $100 and the ability to fit into my junior-year-of-college jeans. I ain’t never getting those things, either.
This is the life I have: I’m a work-at-home mother to a beautiful, really intelligent little girl who is incredibly needy and for some reason doesn’t like playing on her own (though we’ve tried. And tried. And tried.) She’s surrounded by love and support, we try our absolute best to get her to eat fruit and fiber, and she has access to healthcare and many other luxuries that other kids could only dream of.
She also watches a little too much TV. I’ll be the first to admit it.
I wrote a post several months ago about my increasing anxiety over my daughter’s screen time, and looking back on that piece now, I’d like to politely tell myself to chill out and check my priorities.
Because, like all couples, my husband and I have identified priorities for our parenthood and family life. One big priority (speaking for us, personally) is that I’m available to our daughter pretty much constantly for whatever she needs, aside from the odd two or four hours when I have to leave her in someone else’s care.
Another big priority is buying food. My job pays for our groceries, among other things.
Other families might not have these same priorities, and for them, a great solution would be daycare, or one parent not working at all. Neither of those options is right for us. We’ve taken the situation we have and tried to make the best of it for everyone.
And you know what? I’m actually gonna have to sign off now, because my kid is ignoring Curious George to color on…well, everything. At least all this TV isn’t stifling her creativity.