Before I had M, I knew that I wanted to raise him away from the television. When he was still a newborn, I watched a lot of movies and some television whilst breastfeeding. As M grew older and more conscious of his surroundings, I kept the television turned off.
Then, as he became more mobile and went through a series of developmental milestones, I found myself exhausted and parenting from an empty cup. Before I knew it, I found myself plunking M in front of the television for short bursts through out the day. I did this so I could shower in peace or make a much needed phone call; I needed time to myself. I ended up feeling guilty.
Then one day, my Aunt who knew I was terribly overwhelmed said “a little TV is not going to hurt him for now. What is the alternative?” At that point, I let it go, but still tried to limit his screen time as best I could by taking him outdoors when I was able. Outdoor time consisted of either supervised play in in the back yard or daily jogs to the park where we would spend a couple of hours at a time. Sometimes, we went to the park twice a day.
Now that we are in a new city, I am working full time and M is in daycare full time. I no longer feel overwhelmed. With my parenting cup having been replenished, I decided to go back to no screen time as I am now able to devote more time to M. I decided to go back to no screen time after reading a blog post by Janet Lansbury entitled “A Creative Alternative to Baby TV Time.” This article provides alternatives for parents to use before resorting to television as a form of distraction. What struck me about his article was that she points out why parents resort to television. Rather than guilt parents, she provides practical steps in order to avoid using television as a babysitter. As Janet Lansbury states near the beginning of the article, “It baffles me that the experts give warnings and criticisms, but nobody offers parents viable alternatives to using TV as a babysitter.”
So, in the next part of this post, I am going to address how I organize our house in order to facilitate, and encourage independent play. And in part three, I am going to address my own screen time. In the mean time, read Janet Lansbury’s article and be encouraged!