If, like me, you are stuck in New England, you have noticed it is negative degrees outside, with no let up in sight.
What do you DO with your life if you are stuck in this sub-zero catastrophe?
You could take up ice fishing, or ice climbing, or perhaps ice skating.
Or you could be the parent of a toddler who is not quite ready for these advanced motor skills, and who stands still yelling, “Mamma! Stuck!” when you dress her in the appropriate amount of layers for said weather.
So you improvise. You go shopping at big box stores. You go to drive-thrus for donuts. You visit every friend and relative you know. You check out the PlayPlace at McDonalds and at the mall.
And it’s still cold.
And so you watch TV.
So. Much. TV.
The American Pediatrics Association urges no television time at all for children under the age of two.
If you had asked me, before I became a mom, whether I would let my child watch TV, I would probably have told you no. I grew up in a very TV restricted environment, and I believe, despite the huge stink I put up as a child, that I am better for it. I am rarely bored and almost always able to figure out a way to pass the time.
But now, as an adult, I watch a lot of TV. Bad TV. Rot-your-brain type TV. It’s like my ongoing adolescent rebellion.
But not with my child. And so I digress.
When it was above 10 degrees outside, we played outside all afternoon, both on the weekends and when I got home from work. TV was not the first choice. Or even the back up. But now, with a stuffy nose and full-out cold every two weeks for both my child and her parents making up most of our winter thus far, sleepless nights from said colds and the eruption of an entire mouthful of teeth, and a heavy work schedule, my brain, for one, is mush. My energy is down.
But you know whose energy is never down? The gang from Yo Gabba Gabba. They are always ready to jump, shake, and shimmy.
And when I feel blah from the weather, and my full-time job, and the fiscal cliff, you know who is always, always cheerful? Elmo.
When I say “watch TV” I should clarify: we watch exactly three things here: Elmo DVDs, DVR/On-demand episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba, and YouTube Videos of cats. I always wondered who actually watched videos of things like “cats playing piano” on YouTube. Now I know. My child DELIGHTS in cat videos.
In fact, here is our favorite:
The Mean Kitty Song
This media diet eliminates the two things about TV that are, perhaps, the worst for kids: commercials, and violence.
But it doesn’t eliminate the #1 reason that kids shouldn’t watch TV- when you watch TV, you aren’t interacting with your child. They are watching a picture.
And the guilt sets in.
I am using this guilt to motivate me to use TV as an activity we do together, as opposed to a baby-sitter.
Today, for example, when we were watching the Yo Gabba Gabba episode about dress-up, my daughter ran to get her own “party hat” (they wear hats to dress up). So I ran and got my own party hat. We spent several minutes swapping hats, and trying on each other’s hats. Then we danced. (In Gabba Land, it is time to dance fairly often).
Am I saying I never turn on Elmo so I can cook dinner or go throw in a load of laundry or eat dinner with my husband? No. I totally do that. And I absolutely admire people who don’t. I do know real people who allow their children no screen time at all, ever. And I am in awe of those parents. Did my daughter rip my iPhone out of my hand yesterday because I was spending time texting while I thought she was occupied, watching TV? Yes. Did I put them phone down and play with her after she did that? Yes. Lesson learned that time.
If TV can get us through this winter, and teach my child to say “Mamma, party hat! Awesome!” then I totally think its worth it.
Guilt, be gone! ‘Cause now it’s time to DANCE!