Two kids sitting on a couch watching TV.

Tech & Media

TV Won’t Wreck My Kids, And it Might Keep Me Sane

May 19, 2017

I was the best mom in the world . . . before I had kids. My kids (who weren’t yet born) ate only organic meat and dairy products, only played with wooden toys and only wore organic cotton. They didn’t consume any sugar at all and didn’t even know what a television was. I was recognized worldwide for being a mom who had chosen the absolute best for my children. (Have I gone too far?)

In truth, I even managed to maintain some of those lofty ideals for the better part of two years after having my first child. My daughter really didn’t eat any sugar at all before the age of one, and I was strict about abiding the screen time guidelines that were just coming out. They called for zero screen time in the first year and no more than an hour a day after she hit one.

Then I found myself with a two-year-old and unexpectedly pregnant with my second baby, and the world shifted.

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I could tell you how my daughter became a raging, needy toddler; how my pregnancy was difficult and exhausting; how my anxiety went through the roof and how my spiking hormones sent me spinning into prenatal depression. I could tell you how it became apparent that my coping abilities and my patience were waning, and that I hated myself for letting my daughter watch television.

But I’d be lying because the truth is that it was a blessed relief.

My two-year-old was an incredibly intense little person. There was never much down time or independent play. She wanted guidance or interaction every step of the way with all activities, so I absolutely relished the times when I could shut off for a while.

After my son was born and I was home alone with both kids, television became part of my survival. When you have a high-maintenance preschooler who’s just the teensiest bit jealous of her new brother, going to another room to put him down for a nap involves either multiple interruptions or TV. I chose the latter every single time.

Even now, I acknowledge 100 per cent that TV is a crutch for me. As someone who works full-time from home, I don’t have time to prep dinner before my kids get home from school. Rather than opening a dozen canisters of playdough, one at a time, or setting up a paint station only to have the kids finished with it in less than five minutes, I’m just fine with sitting them down in front of their favourite shows. I can get dinner underway and maybe even finish an assignment.

The amazing thing is that now, at five-years-old, my daughter can self-regulate. She actually turns the TV off without any prompting (on some days) when she nears two hours. And while she does indeed love her television programs, she also loves to colour, do crafts, play with her dolls, go to the park and any number of non-media-related activities.

So am I the greatest mom ever, like I thought I would be? Not really, no. But does letting my kids watch TV make me feel a little bit more sane? Without a doubt.

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Article Author Glynis Ratcliffe
Glynis Ratcliffe

Glynis Ratcliffe used to be an opera singer, but after her daughter begged her to stop singing and be quiet for the millionth time, she decided to use her inside voice and write instead. Two years later, this mom of three writes regularly about parenting and mental health for online publications like Scary Mommy, BLUNTmoms, Romper, YMC and The Washington Post, as well copywriting, editing and ghostwriting for anchor clients in various industries. Find her on Facebook, Twitter as @operagirl and her blog, The Joy of Cooking (for Little Assholes).

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