In Defense of a Little Television

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My friend and I were new moms, walking the Arboretum on a beautiful Boston spring day, when she turned to me and said, “I have a confession — I’m a bad mom sometimes.” I got scared at first — what was she going to say? My imagination ran a bit wild, until she said, “I let my daughter watch ‘Curious George’ while I get dressed for work in the morning.”

Flash forward to five years later, and I read the same sentiment in an email from a woman in my moms’ group. She asked if she was the worst for letting her 22-month-olds watch “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” while she cleans up, because the research says to not show TV to kids before age 2.

Then, I thought of what my mom has been telling me for years: “Put down the research.”

This is the information age, and I love it. I love knowing avocados have good fat, which brand of stroller is going to be the smoothest ride, and the fastest route in traffic at the flick of a Siri. But we have to remember there is a downside. Every day the media lets us know something new about parenting and how we are all screwing it up. Or maybe the research is in our favor, and we pat ourselves on the back for making the right choice. I know I am not alone when I say it’s all too much.

When it comes to parenting, do your best, but let’s all give ourselves a break.

On a recent snow day, I was so excited to have my girls home. We played with stickers, read books, listened to books on tape, made pancakes, played in our play room, painted Valentine’s, had a dance party, and then… it was 11 a.m. What is a person to do with the rest of the day? So, dare I say it? I turned on the television. I then made lunch, checked email, and answered a couple text messages. The TV went off and the day went on.

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Occasionally turning on a TV with appropriate and curated programming does not make me a bad mom. I am creative, I am inventive, I am playful and fun, and I love being a mom. But I am also a human being. If a television show gives me a chance to go to the bathroom, wipe the counters, and take a breath, I am choosing to turn on the TV.

In our house we have TV vacations, limited screen time, and basically no iPad use at all. I know there will be plenty of time for that later in life. I want my girls’ lives to be full of reading books, exploring, painting, cooking, building, imagining, and playing. That’s the stuff of childhood, and it should be! I’m not saying TV needs to be part of every day or never again, but there’s balance in this world. So I’m letting my kids watch “Daniel Tiger” sometimes, and I’m not saying I’m sorry.

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