The biggest parenting secret?
What do most parents do, but not all of us will admit?
By Scott Dunlop
It’s quite easy to conceal one of the biggest parenting secrets. Since most parents are alone with their children, hardly anyone need know the truth unless you tell them. Most of us do it, some of us feel more guilt about it than others, and some feel no guilt at all: The square babysitter.
It’s Saturday morning and a hard work week has left you exhausted, especially since your day doesn’t end at work, but only after the last dish has been washed, the last sandwich made for tomorrow’s lunches and the last dirty sock picked up off the floor and slipped into the washing machine. All you want to do is lie in bed with a cup of coffee. So you slip over to the TV, shove in a DVD and buy yourself an hour. Sometimes two hours.
Parents often remark at their child’s ability to operate a DVD machine, even at a remarkably young age. Even toddlers can get their Barney fix with a few clumsy stabs of their chubby fingers. ‘My child is so technology-literate’, they’ll say.
Let’s face it; parents need to buy extra time. Even if the time isn’t spent swigging coffee while under the duvet, but vacuuming, doing the washing and cooking, younger kids can’t always keep themselves busy. There are some kids who spend almost all of their waking hours glued to their screens. But we wouldn’t admit that.
You don’t have to read endless literature on the results of studies about the possible harm done through too much exposure to television- most of us know it’s wrong. Not all of it, but our kids should not be spending the weekend watching TV. If we’re buying time to be better parents, that’s not necessarily bad. As with anything in life, it’s all about balance.
The great seesaw of life
I know from experience that my kids get ratty after too much screen time, so I always make sure that we spend as much time as possible outdoors. I’ve also got a no-TV-on-school-nights rule, which seems to work, as they read themselves to sleep, and appreciate the DVD time on weekends more.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m also guilty of buying myself time with that square babysitter. Sometimes I feel guilty, and sometimes I’m grateful to have something to distract the children while I sort out the house (or have another cup of coffee).
If you’re worried that you may be relying on the TV too much, don’t wallow in guilt, just try and spend more time having fun with your kids. All over the world, there are parents just like you, hiding under their duvets while their tiny people tiptoe into the lounge in their jammies, to have a little screen time.
Do you rely on the TV to buy you time?