Yesterday, I went on Facebook and asked moms to share their “Mom Confessions” for the week – you know, the stuff we do that we don’t want everyone knowing about. Like driving through Chick Fil A for dinner three nights in a row.
Answers ranged from frozen pizza for dinner to secretly trading their kid’s CFA toy for an ice cream cone and eating it (which I found GENIUS!), but one common thread among the confessions was this: “My kid had too much screentime this week.”
I totally get it. We hear all over the place that you shouldn’t let kids watch TV or play on a screen until they are at least 2. Or is it 25? I can’t remember, because we implement a different strategy in our house.
In our house, I actually take the opposite approach. I don’t really worry about screentime in my toddlers and preschoolers.
I’ll give you a second to gasp in horror.
I know. I KNOW. But hear me out.
I’m not talking about giving the kid an iPad when they wake up & taking it away when it’s time for bed. OBVIOUSLY. What I’m talking about is SANITY. Sanity and common sense.
Call me crazy, but there are a few occasions throughout the week when I desperately need silence. Usually this is when I’m finishing up some work (a necessity), or when I’m out to dinner with my husband and the kids are tagging along (a rare luxury).
During these times, I have a choice. I can fill my bag (or the kitchen table) with toys, crayons, trucks, books, and snacks, all of which will hold my child’s attention for about 3.5 seconds and then end up on the floor, OR I can let them play an educational, age-appropriate game, or watch a faith-based show on my phone for 20 minutes.
Guess what I usually do?
Here’s the thing – very few things hold my three year old’s attention for longer than 5 minutes. Is this because I let him play on the iPad every now and then? Maybe.
But also, maybe it’s because he’s three.
My strategy does change around three-and-a-half or four-years-old. By that point, my kid is starting to actually enjoy coloring, or engaging in independent imaginary play for more than a few seconds. I can pack my bag with a few coloring supplies and a couple of action figures (or ponies), and we’re good to go.
By five-years-old, they are starting to read & draw actual things that are not scribbles, and we can bring books and notebooks everywhere we go, and LIFE IS SO MUCH BETTER FOR EVERYONE. At this point, my child is mature enough to engage in a creative activity, and mom (or mom and dad) still get the much-needed 20 minutes of silence. At that age & maturity level, a screen is no longer an option for them.
So, here’s our screentime strategy in a nutshell: I let my kids watch TV and play on an iPad during the ages when all the rules warn against this. And then, when they get to the age where screens become “acceptable”, I take them away.
Is this totally the opposite of what we’re “supposed”to be doing? Yes, yes it is. But I use my own God-given common sense, and I monitor how long they are allowed on those screens, or watching TV, and I choose games and shows that are educational or faith-based.
And guess what? My kids are healthy, happy and JUST FINE. They are creative, engaging, and very, very talkative. (See what I mean?) And Mommy is sane.
I believe this is what’s called a “Win-Win”.
So, to all my rule-breaking momma friends out there – take a deep breath & relax. When you’re the mom, YOU get to make the rules.
What “rules” do you break as a mom?
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