I'm on my way home after a day at work - I've been gone for twelve hours (close to 13 once I get home). My toddler has probably watched three episodes of Mister Rogers in my absence. Yes, you read that right. Three. You won't catch me arguing that screentime is somehow beneficial to my kid. I know that it's less than ideal, because TV will probably rot my kids' brains, make them obese, and give them social anxiety. It's simple, really. This is what works for us. My son is active and won't sit still for the TV, so I worry less about using it as a babysitter. Instead, it provides background noise that makes my life easier (my ADD doesn't pair well with silence). When my life is easier, my kid's life is easier and better for it. I'm able to relax and enjoy and interact with him instead of being stressed and on edge.
Mister Rogers is freaking amazing, by the way. In case you didn't know, every episode is on Prime Video. Fred Rogers teaches kids to embrace their curiosity, to rely on their imagination to take them places, and to process their emotions with sensitivity. If letting my kid learn from this sweet genius is wrong, I don't want to be right. And you can rest assured that someone out there is clutching their pearls extra tight right now. Not only do I let my kid have screen time, I ADMIT IT. OPENLY. ON THE INTERNET. Guess what? Most parents do it, too. Most kids grow into okay adults. I'm good with those non-specific odds.
In non-mom words: Come At Me, Bro. My toddler watches TV and there's nothing you can do to change it (unless you want to be my free nanny). Maybe I'm feeling particularly edgy about this admission because it's a compromise I've made in my favor. Almost every decision I make as a mother benefits my child first and foremost. At some point, a person has to put herself first so that she can then turn around and put everyone else first again.
I've decided this one is for me. Yes, I've watched every episode of Real Housewives of Orange County. But my kid would rather bring me a book to read than watch even a whole episode of Mister Rogers. For now, at least, he isn't being sucked into it like his Netflix-binging mom. While he plays with his Retro Rocket Scooter around me, I half-watch seasons of Jane the Virgin. (And Vicki totally knew Brooks was faking cancer, by the way. Also Jane the Virgin is incredibly well-written.)
So far, Shep hasn't shown any signs of mental decay from watching TV with his parents. We’ve decided we’ll keep him even if he decides to DVR Everybody Loves Raymond when he's old enough. On a real note, though: I’m telling you this because I want you to know that it's okay to be an imperfect parent. Again, I know all the reasons screentime is bad for children. And I still let my kid watch TV. You don't need to contort yourself into an unnatural shape in an attempt to please everyone.
Give yourself permission to stop trying to do that.
Give your kid a microwaved hot dog.
Let them eat it while they watch anything but Caillou.
What would you rather do than watch another episode of Caillou? Do your kids have favorite shows? What's your guilty indulgence as an imperfect parent? Tweet to me and let me know! @pi3sugarpi3