Once upon a time, I had a rule. The rule was a good rule. It fit into our lifestyle and was not stressful to keep. When my seven-year-old was merely a tyke, when I was mothering one easy-going child, our rule was that my daughter would only watch one television show per day. This was a compromise of sorts. I didn’t want her to watch any TV because of all those studies out there that recommend against children under age two having screen time. But alas, she enjoyed TV, so I figured one show a day wouldn’t hurt too much.
But then the second child was born.
You see, the day before my youngest child came into the world, I thought I had this whole parenting thing down. I had a good TV rule, after all.
My second little girl came boldly and quickly into the world. She cried, no SCREAMED, many hours of the day. I was the only one that could hold her. Even her daddy couldn’t calm her. At 2 months old, my oldest daughter was sleeping 4-6 hour stretches and had a predictable nap schedule, so I just knew I could get my younger child to sleep, too. But she didn’t sleep. EVER. Okay, maybe I’m a little dramatic. She did nap. Sometimes. In 20 minute increments. If I was holding her.
As a result, I was a walking zombie mommy with a little zombie baby attached to me during the day. Gone were the cute hands on crafts and regular trips to the library for my toddler. Forget it. It was a good day if we were all fed and had on semi-clean clothes. To keep my sanity, the “one TV show” rule went out the window. In the months following the birth of her sister, my kiddo learned to recognize her numbers and honed her fine motor skills by pressing the buttons on the “comote retrole.” What a proud mothering moment.
Since that time, the TV rule has gone by the wayside along with many other well-intentioned and slightly unrealistic expectations. Generally, I encourage my children to go outside, get crafty, or look at a book (if chores and school work are done) before turning on the TV. But the TV gets turned on. Every. Single. Day.
When I start to feel guilty about the TV (insert your own confession here) I keep myself in check by looking at the big picture. The kids are okay. Thriving, really. Active. Healthy. Well-mannered. Loving. Thoughtful. Creative. HAPPY.
There is no perfect mama. There is no perfect set of rules to raise children. We should all do the very best we can with what we have, but let’s give ourselves and other mamas a little grace. And let’s drop the word “confessions.” It implies that we should feel shame, when in reality, most of us are truly doing our very best. Life is so often different than what we expected, so no mama should be shamed when mothering.
Yes, my kiddos watch TV. A good bit of TV at that. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Sounds like you know the best rule of parenting. Adapt. I didn’t know your second child was such a learning experience?. Love to read your stories.
Ms. Kathy, she throws new challenges my way daily! Even now, almost five years later. 😉
[…] You know what they say about the word never. “Never say never!” These were the lyrics sung by a cartoon mouse and bird in one of my favorite childhood movies, “An American Tail” but the irony of the statement escaped me until I was older. There were plenty of things I said I’d NEVER do, especially with regard to parenthood. These NEVER statements began early. “I would NEVER have a c-section.” I’m now the proud bearer of a c-scar. “My kid would NEVER use a pacifier” was amended to “past age 1” and then again to “except at night.” NEVER would I allow my children to watch more than a certain amount of TV. You can read about how well that turned out here. […]
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