I’m not ashamed to say it- for a solid month, maybe a little longer- my TV was primarily responsible for entertaining my kids.
I know. I’ve spoken of the dangers and pitfalls of letting your kids watch too much TV in the past, and I still stand by those words. What I have learned, though, is that there are some times- rare occasions, mind- when it is helpful, and even necessary, to let your kids watch TV all day. There. I said it.
A few months ago, our family found itself in the midst of a tragedy- the loss of our infant daughter. I was decimated. My whole family was devastated. It was easily the worst time of my life, and we’re all still recovering. Those first days and weeks I was a wreck, and unable to pick up the pieces. I couldn’t be the mommy I was before, and couldn’t bear to interact and continue all of my mommy responsibilities, so I did something I vowed I’d never do: I let my kids watch as much TV as they wanted.
I needed time- lots of time- where I didn’t need to be responsible for anything. Meals were prepared and dropped off; my husband managed evenings. But during the day, they watched TV all day- or rather, they were given that option. I’m sure they used the computer, and I’ sure they played games. But they watched more TV than they had in the previous year.
Why am I explaining all that? To get to the point, which is this: they’re okay!
While I wouldn’t recommend it on a regular basis, I found that not only were they entertained, they learned things. My three year old now knows all of his letters and the sounds they make (Super Why!). He can count like a champ (Team Umizoomi). Both of my preschoolers have learned many more Spanish words (Dora the Explorer and Go Diego, Go!). My five year old is adding and subtracting in her head (Team Umizoomi). She’s also reading and spelling much better (Super Why!, Word World), and can explain to anyone why you need rest, adequate hydration, and to take a bath (Doc McStuffins). And they play much better together, often reminding each other to share and work as a team (Yo Gabba Gabba! And The Wonder Pets). I am thankful that at least a little good came of this, because I was really worried. I needn’t have been.
Not only did they watch lots of TV, they’ve learned to act out what they’ve seen- most of it good. Their imaginations have been soaring. My three year old is all about his trains (Chuggington, Thomas and Friends) and frequently replays episodes on the floor, and adds to the stories (Transformers).
My little princess attempts to fix every toy she can find (Doc McStuffins), and does pirouettes and grand jete’s all around the house (Angelina Ballerina). She hosts tea parties every afternoon (Sofia the First) for all of her friends, because she is, after all, a princess.
If you asked me today, I’d still speak up for encouraging free play among young children, and less screen time. But I have learned that sometimes, extra screen time can be a good thing- a helpful thing.
So, the next time life happens to you or your family, consider that allowing a little extra screen time may be just what you need to get back on your feet, and don’t feel guilty about it. Life is way too short for that.