By Law Momma Contributor
My neice and nephew watch television very rarely. They play outside, read books, and do fun activities like coloring and planting vegetables and herbs. When they watch television at all, it is usually in Spanish so they can work on learning Spanish at the same time. They live on a lot with several fenced in acres, a swing set, a sand box, a vegetable garden and chickens, and they prefer being outside to almost anything in the world.
My sister is a stay at home mom.
I work outside the home.
When J was first born, I was hell bent on raising him the way my sister raises her kids. I wanted him to have millions of options on what to do with his “free time” and I wanted none of them to be television. I thought we would do arts and crafts and build towers with blocks. I thought that our “free time” would be spent running and playing in the yard and climbing trees. I thought that I could do everything my sister does in 1/3 of the time. I thought that if I couldn’t do what she does, I was failing my son… failing myself… and failing at motherhood.
For a long time now, I’ve tried to hide how much television J watches. I’ve tried to pretend that we spend lots and lots of time with the only noises being our combined laughter and the click, click, click of stacking together legos or blocks. I’ve tried to pretend like I have reached some magic land of awesomeness where I can single parent without the need for Nick Jr. or Disney Jr. or PBS Kids.
But the truth is, I couldn’t do what I do without television.
There. I said it.
My son watches television. We have a routine on Saturdays that allows us to be home in time to watch Wonder Pets at 10:30 followed by two episodes of The Backyardigans before lunch/naptime. In the mornings, he watches Little Bear or Little Einsteins while I get ready for work and in the evenings, we snuggle together on the sofa and watch a Disney movie. Our yard is not fenced in and I haven’t been outside to clean up the ridiculous amounts of dog poop since learning that having a herniated disc is a good excuse not to do that. In short, when we go outside on the weekends, we mostly stay in the front yard or on the small semi-circle fenced in patio. We still spend time building with blocks and coloring and racing cars, but we also spend a fair amount of time snuggled in front of the television, giggling at the antics of the Wild Kratts.
I have been embarrassed and worried about judgment and thinking that I’m a parenting failure for too long. We watch a lot of kid-friendly television and movies. And there is absolutely no way that I could be a single, working outside the home mom without it. How would I shower? How would I cook/clean/breathe? The fact of the matter is this: I need television to maintain my sanity as a single, working mother.
And you know what? I’m learning to be okay with that. Because if this is the worst thing I do to my kid? Well, then I’m doing pretty darn great.