The Electronic Babysitter

I’d love to sit here all proud of the fact that the TV is almost never on in our house, but I honestly can’t take much credit. It was my husband who was super anti-TV when our kids were younger and I respected his wishes on that, even though I thought it was all kinds of bullshit since I was with them more and felt I unfairly shouldered the burden.

Later we all but gave the TV away, as far as our kids were concerned, because our daughter had such an awful time turning it off that the inevitable meltdown negated any stress relief provided by turning it on in the first place. In the last year our daughter quite literally never watched TV at our house.

I have busted out some Spanish language cartoons to keep my son occupied when he wakes up before I’m done showering after a workout, but that isn’t a regular occurrence. Still, at not even two years old he’s sat in front of way more lighted screens than his sister had at that age (actually, she never sat in front of any TV before she was two, my husband insisted on that).

So yes, I am pretty proud that we don’t fall back on TV, but it’s a misplaced pride because I didn’t really have anything to do with it. If it were up to me my kids would watch TV every day.

At least that is what I thought…until I realized I might need to turn it on to get through some of these insane afternoons. And suddenly I’m not sure I want to.

My in-laws suggested it first. They saw first hand the chaos that ensued when they dropped our son off after a day at their house. My daughter is tired, wired, clingy and whiny after a long day at school and after care. My son gets amped up just seeing my daughter. He wants to be with her. She needs her space. They require constant coaching in appropriate sibling interaction. I need to get dinner ready and on the table.

“Just have them watch Sesame Street,” my mother-in-law implored.

“Talk to your son,” was my immediate response.

But he was okay with it too. He also recognizes the perfect storm of shit that is the hour before mealtime, especially now that my kids are so hungry they want to eat long before my husband is even home. If I don’t turn the TV on, making dinner is almost impossible and by the time I get everyone seated at the table I am completely and utterly frazzled. The thought of making it through two separate bedtimes is almost unbearable.

When I turn on the TV, making dinner is a breeze. I can even get the dishes done, and put a load in the laundry early, which means I won’t be up waiting to fold clothes before bed.

Turning on the TV is the obvious choice, and yet I feel like a horrible mom for doing it. I have so few hours with my children, to abandon them to a glowing screen for 54 minutes feels like neglect. But then, when I have that time to recharge while I make them food, I can engage with them more in the final hours before bed. And I enjoy those moments with them more as well.

The only reason the TV is even an option now is because my daughter can handle turning it off. Whether it’s the diet or the magnesium or a bit of both, my daughter is truly a changed child. Now she hardly blinks when I turn off the TV. She comes straight to the table and starts to eat. (A separate miracle, to be sure.)

And so the two great barriers between me and my kids’ TV time have crumbled. My husband now supports me turning it on instead of balking at the prospect, and my daughter doesn’t meltdown when I turn it off. There is no reason not to use it except my own… I want to say concern over how much screen time they’ll be getting, but I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a fair amount of pride at stake too.

I also realize I have no idea how much TV other kids watch. Maybe an hour a day, four days a week, isn’t such a bad thing? Maybe that’s totally normal. I honestly don’t know.

 How much TV do your kids watch? How do you feel about how much screen time they get?


  1. My kids watch way too much tv…. And I’m ok with it. It started with too early wake ups as a way for us to be able to stay in bed (5:00 is too early here). Now with 2, it keeps Bryson quiet for the hour before Matthew wakes up. It won’t be this way once school starts (1 more effing week) because we’ll be getting them ready for school. Quiet time is sesame street or something for Matthew (Bryson naps), and they watch while I cook dinner. And you know what? I don’t care. I’m so tired of trying to entertain these kids 14 HOURS a day. The tv is a tool… A tool to my sanity. We limit what they can watch… It all has to be educational and not over-stimulating (flashy, bright, loud, lots going on), and it is teaching them things I wouldn’t think to. They’re big into Fireman Sam on Amazon right now, and Matthews understanding of fire safety and safety in general has come in handy. He now understands WHY he can’t do certain things because he’s seen the effect on FS. It’s nice.

    I used to feel bad. I don’t now. There are days when I’m just done and it’s crappy outside and they watch too much tv… And I feel guilty. But I get over it quickly enough.

    1. If my kids were up at 5am you can be damn sure we’d have the TV on. When my son wakes up at 6am on weekend days and it messes up our whole morning routine I tell my husband he should get out the iPad but he never does. I’m not sure why. I think he still feels bad that he’s not even two yet.

      I’m curious how much you’d let them watch if you weren’t with them 14 hours a day. I think that is a big part of me feeling bad about it, that I have such a limited amount of time with them during the work week. But the reality is I couldn’t be with them in a meaningful way while I’m doing what I need to do so maybe it doesn’t matter? I don’t know. I’m torn, and it’s mostly because I’m working and don’t see them much anyway. Especially my son. I feel like I hardly see him these days because I’m on daughter duty in the morning and then I can’t make one-on-one time him before he goes to bed.

  2. I think I’m more Anti computer / iPad than TV. Which is only because society tells me so. We watch tv in the morning when getting ready and before bed. On SAHM it generally is on in the background but not the main focus. Sometimes if I’m just knackered it is on. To be honest I’m not overly fussed with TV. It is a form of babysitting for me as there is no one else to do it! I just try not to let it get too cray cray.

    1. It’s interesting that you’re more anti computer/iPad than TV. I feel the other way around, because at least when they are on the iPad they are participating in some way. They are engaged. When the TV is on they look like zombies. It’s kind of sad to see their little spaced out faces. The only reason I don’t use the iPad when I’m making dinner is because it would become a fight (we only have one). I wish I could put an educational app on instead of just dumping them to sit silently and stare unmoving at the TV.

      I don’t feel like I’ve heard that anti computer/iPad message. Why are they worse than TV? I just thought they were bad because they increased overall screen time, I didn’t realize they were worse than he TV in and of themselves.

      1. Really, maybe it is an Australian thing. There is a real mummy backlash on those that use – probably more specifically – an iPad than a computer. Heaven forbid you take a child out and they are using an iPad! The mummy mafia go in full swing.

        i find that when Molly is on the iPad it is all consuming, you call her name and she ignores you whereas when she is watching TV she is generally still playing or reading etc. It isn’t her sole focus.

        However, either way I am not fussed. Whatever floats your boat. I don’t think they will end up scarred. It isn’t like you are the type of mother that will abandon her children to the TV and if it gives you 30-45m grace at the end of the day to get dinner on the table and shit done then embrace it. Try not to over think it.


        1. Interesting – I’d say Stella is WAY more engaged and learning when she’s using iPad apps. I am way more concerned about limiting TV time than iPad time, b/c TV time is passive. My sister teaches 7th grade, and the kids are solely on iPads – no paper. They airdrop their assignments to her and take the iPads home for homework (no books either!). It’s kind of crazy, but that’s the way things are going!

    2. I’m curious about this too. why anti-computer vs. tv. like Noemi I feel like they are just zombified by TV whereas computer games are interactive, teach them how to USE the computer (a good skill) and some are quite educational once they get the hang of it. I learned to type (100 WAM) playing computer games!

  3. We were really anti-TV initially, too. B never watched a screen (except when grandma did it against our rules & without telling us) until he was 3. We started with movies once every few weekends. L started joining in around 1.5-2 years old, when we couldn’t get him to nap reliably during movie afternoons. G used to occasionally use sesame street when he was trying to shower on days when I went to work early, and it saved a LOT of stress for him. B used to freak out when the show ended, or a movie ended, but he realized that he was getting nowhere with that—L still whines & asks for me, but B corrects him!
    Currently we do movies maybe every other weekend, occasional 30 minutes shows, but not really on a daily basis since we don’t honestly have time and they are much better at entertaining themselves. If they were being nuts and I was trying to get dinner on the table alone, you better believe I’d have a show on! I absolutely think in your situation, you should look at it as a good wind-down activity after a long day, and if they don’t cry about turning it off, then there is no problem.
    All rules go out the window when traveling or with grandparents. its a daily TV/movie free-for-all. My MIL also has them do some computer games, which I don’t mind, but don’t have the patience to help them navigate—they can’t quite figure out the mouse/trackpad yet so they need a lot of help. They occasionally play games on our phones when we are at a restaurant or some other situation that they can’t do anything else.

    1. Oh, I didn’t mention it but on trips it’s absolutely a free for all. I don’t mind that because it’s a special circumstance and they don’t bring that expectation of increased screen time home. Even they seem to understand it’s a special situation. But yeah, on trips they are using the things constantly, especially when we’re all stuck together in one room for a week.

      I also pull my phone out a lot when I’m running errands with my son. He can navigate between apps and he’s only 22 months old! It’s crazy. I don’t know how parents took their kids grocery shopping before smart phones. Seriously.

      1. my kids actually really love grocery shopping. its restaurants that immediately=phones. we don’t take them out to eat much at home, but on vacations or on the odd occasion we go out for a special occasion—they are playing on the phone until food comes & then after until we leave. otherwise its chaos, they are getting up, running around. I know I know, horrible parenting led to that behavior…

        1. We don’t even take our kids to restaurants, mostly because we know they won’t eat the food. They can manage In n Out without phones, but that place is all about fast service. 😉

  4. My daughter is 21 months old and for the last couple of months on Sat and Sun morning she will watch 30 minutes of Sesame Street as we ease into the day. My ped seemed fine with an hour/week when I told him about it at her 18 mo appt.

    Honestly, do whatever works for your family. If you use that time to make dinner and it allows you to recharge before putting the kids to bed their brains are not going to rot from 1 hr of tv 4 times a week.

    1. I keep telling my husband we should use a little TV time to ease into weekend days, but he thinks we can manage without it. Of course I’m the one who gets up first with the kids while he gets an extra hour to wake up slowly and comfortably in bed…

      1. Can you take turns getting up with the kids? Or has this battle been lost? I almost always get up with my son, even on days when my husband doesn’t have to work until later. This drives me crazy. But on weekends we generally take turns. Still, it drives me crazy that this is primarily my responsibility unless I ask ahead of time.

        1. That battle has been lost, mostly because the kids will ask for me (more like whine or yell for me until I appear) so I don’t get to sleep in anyway. I’d rather get up with them and let my husband sleep so I can “earn” myself some time later in the day to see a friend or write a blog post. 😉

      2. huh. “WE can manage without it”. Its great when you aren’t the one managing. I would say—OK, you wake up and deal with them or I’ll turn on the TV

        1. Yes. My thoughts exactly. Don’t tell my husband, but my son has enjoyed many a half hour of Baby Sound Touch or Pocoyo on a Saturday morning. 😉 Thank you iPad!

      3. I am pretty sure that my kids get unlimited ipad time on Saturday mornings for the same reason my parents made sure we got unlimited tv time on Saturday mornings. Not that I at *all* want to think about that with regards to my parents.

        Just sayin’ unlimited weekend morning screen time is a win-win for everybody in the household.

  5. My 21 month old has viewed some TV here and there — nothing specific for kids, but occasionally we will watch it with him around (specifically sports). I tried to get him to watch Mickey Mouse when I had a huge headache and he was only amused when there was singing. He has also watched some shows on an airplane. He watches a ton of videos on the iphone — does that count? It’s mostly videos of himself but also videos of different songs. He has gotten really into the Sesame Street characters because his grandmother keeps on buying him Sesame Street merchandise. Anyway, a few weeks ago I tried to watch Sesame Street with him. I was actually really disappointed with it — I didn’t remember it being so fast-paced and frenetic. He was so excited to see his favorite characters on TV. When we turned it off (after about 15 minutes), he started bellowing, “MORE MORE MORE.” And since then he occasionally asks for “Ernie and Bert on TV.” So, I think we are going to be holding off for a bit because he seems a bit too into it. My husband works from home and can sometimes amuse him while I make dinner. If I didn’t have that option, I probably would have tried using TV more frequently.

    1. we found the original sesame street episodes from the 70s/80s and played those for a while—much better, no annoying elmo. I grew up on those (I watched way too much TV as a child, my parents now feel bad but they didn’t know any better!)

      1. I love the warning on the box about not being appropriate for today’s children. (In an early episode, Gordon invites a neighborhood girl into his apartment for cookies and she goes. I think it’s fairly clear that he’s her teacher at school, but probably not so clear for a toddler.) The documentaries are really interesting too– they were figuring out how to get kids interested. So in the really early videos they thought that kids liked watching animals, so they’d have these really long videos of cows and bears (which DC1 would SCREAM his head off because he found them so boring), but then realized kids weren’t actually interested in them.

        Actual evidence suggests that TV has had no negative impact on kids and that Sesame St. may have had positive impacts on the groups it was trying to impact positively. So all our parents who let us watch Sesame St. were doing just fine. (So long as we know not to talk to strangers.) (Though it looks like Alexicographer in her alternate persona and I already had the same conversation about quality of kid’s tv and neither convinced the other, granted that was before I’d discovered My Little Pony.)

  6. Oh, I think an hour of TV four days a week is totally fine! Most of my friends let their kids watch TV when making dinner. I think this is normal. I don’t because I honestly don’t think my son would sit in the living room for an extended period of time anyway, and because I sometimes can get my husband to help out. On days when I work, I usually use the slow cooker and the nanny will take it out of the slow cooker when it’s done and sometimes will prepare a vegetable.

    1. I was assuming it was normal but I wanted to make sure. I don’t have many mom friends to ask about this kind of thing. Kind of sad, actually. 🙁

  7. My kid watched little to no TV (etc.) until he was about 3, though it was certainly on in the background and at times my DH tried to pique his interest. Which is to say, this wasn’t policy, it was practice — DS showed no interest in screens until about 3.

    Ever since then it’s been a running, er, discussion, between me & DH. DH is indifferent to (or in favor of) screens and I am opposed. My feelings are partly based on philosophy, but also based a lot on observation of my kid and how he reacts to screens (gets sucked in).

    Our first adventure was a point when DS (age 4 or 5) became absolutely obsessed with Scooby Doo. Fortunately just the originals of which there are only about 24. I did try letting him watch as much of those as he wanted to see if he’d get over it and learned that (a) he can/will watch hour upon hour upon hour of TV if allowed to do so and (b) that wasn’t just a phase — at least not one lasting only weeks or months. Also (c) being told to turn the thing off/stop watching is a source of intolerable agony (to DS and, by extension, to us).

    Since then, it’s been something of a trial-and-error with misadventures here and there. DH insists that he “watched tons of TV” as a child and turned out fine, but my position is that the world he grew up in and today’s are so entirely different both in terms of accessibility/frequency and in terms of quality of programming (lots of choppy/plotless videos) that he is comparing apples to a now-extinct type of orange.

    We did go through a phase of telling DS he could have screen time on weekend mornings “until we woke up,” but that produced an outcome involving him getting up earlier and earlier (5 a.m.). Then I set a no-screens-before-7 a.m. on weekend mornings, and that resulted in his climbing into our bed at 6 a.m. and wriggling until 7, so now we have a no-screens-before-noon rule that he respects (as long as I am home to enforce it, see comment about DH having a different take on these limits). He also did a couple of wake-up-at-2:30 a.m. and sneak out to play routines that we nipped in the bud by, in effect grounding him (a week of no screens).

    I will say that his liking screen-related stuff has made it possible for me to use that as a reward at times (or a punishment), which is useful — it’s the first thing he’s wanted to do that I don’t want him doing (much), so at least there’s that.

    Our basic rule is no more than an hour a day, not counting time in school or for homework (though I would, see below re: a screen is a screen), DH bends/ignores this rule regularly, and I try to circumvent his doing that too much (sometimes by being the default parent, sometimes by signing DS up for stuff, e.g. summer camps). Some of what they do is watch TV together, and some of that is educational (e.g. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s stuff) and I am a tiny bit more accepting of that, but basically as far as I’m concerned, video presents information in a way that DS’s brain is clearly already very willing/able to accept/embrace/absorb, whereas other things (e.g. books) present information in ways that he is less willing/able to accept/embrace/absorb, and our job as parents is to allow him space/insist that he practice things that will help him develop the cognitive/development skills he lacks. And in this regard I do think a screen is a screen is a screen so I count them all together. DS is now old enough that we can joke about this a bit, i.e., we’re eating out in a restaurant that has a TV on and I say, “Well, there goes your screen time for today.” (I am kidding. I don’t count that.).

    There are days (sick kid, sick parents, horrific weather) when all limits go by the wayside or at least are dramatically extended. OTOH, knowing that DH doesn’t respect my limits, whenever I can get a day with less than an hour, I try to.

    DS has finally developed interests that trump screens, so I’ve relaxed a bit. Also, I’m a bit more relaxed about his accessing screens with friends, i.e., I’m not — necessarily — going to tell him he can’t play with a friend who’s playing a video game just because DS has already had his allotted screen time for the day. And I get that he wants to be sufficiently savvy to converse with his friends about the latest video games, etc.

    Also, we’ve started watching a few movies together as a family, and I do treat those as a “social event,” not “screen time.” And I let DS watch sporting events on TV without counting that, because realistically we’re not going to go to them live but he still enjoys seeing them. But with very few exceptions, those are things DH is watching anyway — DS isn’t in tune enough with sports schedules (yet) to make requests.

    We’ve steered entirely clear of portable devices, which was a great decision for us if I do say so myself. There is never a question of whether DS will watch a video in the car, or bring a device into a restaurant.

    Ahem. Very long story short, however, in your shoes I do not doubt that I would, indeed, let my kids watch Sesame St. while I got some things done after getting home. I don’t think it’s realistic to figure that you can interact with them meaningfully while getting supper on the table (etc.), and your being able to knock those tasks out quickly and safely seems like a win in terms of the quality and quantity of time you spend with your kids. And, note that my obsessiveness is related to my own kid’s behaviors (e.g. sneaking up in the middle of the night to play video games, for heavens’ sake!). So.

    1. I like your post, because it captures a lot of how I feel. my kids also seem to get obsessed with watching tv & movies and would watch forever if i allowed it (I don’t, but my MIL does, and they DO watch endless hours when with her). I try really hard to pack enough into the weekends that they don’t have TIME for a movie every weekend, but lately we’ve been doing more around the house & they start whining/begging until I give in. I often wonder what it is that I’m against—and I realize its that I don’t think screen time is BAD, but its not doing anything GOOD for them most of the time. They aren’t watching anything educational, they watch the same movies over & over (and because they insist on that, we don’t usually watch with them. one viewing of the lion king per year is enough for me!), and they are cartoon and fast-paced, frenetic, sometimes with mean jokes and violence (yes! even in disney/pixar cartoons!) that they pick up on and repeat over &over. I love it when they are physically active or mentally active. It makes me feel better as a mother for some reason to see them developing some part of their brain! And they play really well on their own most of the time these days—I don’t NEED it to get stuff done anymore like I used to 6-12 months ago. Figuring out computer games and all that is going to come soon…not looking forward to that battle.

    2. Oh Alexicographer, My Little Pony is SO MUCH better than the My Little Pony from our childhood. I would argue that children’s tv has improved, not deteriorated. Blue’s Clues, Dora the Explorer, Aquanauts… there’s some good stuff out there. If you want pointless, try to watch the original Strawberry Shortcake (the modern version actually has plots that make sense) or He-Man as an adult (!)

      Though I guess your DH is more of the Flintstone’s era? Soooo bad. And frenetic too– he must have been watching Looney Toons with extra violence and maybe even some racism. (The new Woody Woodpecker, I will grant, is just as bad as or possibly worse than the old one. Ugh.) And if he saw those black and white cartoons that they not longer show, like Felix the Cat… definitely frenetic. (Rocky and Bullwinkle is still awesome though.)

      (Also, as a note, one big difference between me, who was only allowed to watch tv on Saturday mornings, and DH who always had it on in the background growing up, is that I cannot even pay attention to a marriage proposal if there’s for example, a Seinfeld rerun going on in the background, whereas he has no problem ignoring the tv. Not saying that’s causal, but…)

      1. Haha. Oh gosh, well I cannot say (and do not say) that I have systematically compared tv-of-my-era (or my DH’s) with today, though certainly the original Scooby Doo’s referenced were available both in my childhood and DS’s (though not DH’s).

        OK, let’s see. I remember watching, as a child — Superfriends, before the Wondertwins. Probably a bit of Flintstones, yes, though I don’t think I was fond of it (Superfriends, I was. Talking my mom into allowing me an ENTIRE HOUR of Saturday morning TV was a big deal at the time…). Jetsons. Growing older, my (younger) sib and I watched — well, Sesame St., certainly, and Zoom and Electric Company were available (but we didn’t really like or watch them). The original Star Trek (see below). Batman. The Dukes of Hazard (yes, really. Obviously that was excellent, very good preparation for a productive life.). Dr. Who. Also, a very naughty thrill — the babysitter letting us watch Love Boat (followed by Fantasy Island if we were really lucky and our parents stayed out late) on Saturdays. And Mash. Certainly we were older (than my DS is) when we were watching lots of those; when the last Mash episode aired — and I remember that being a bit deal, and being sad because I was used to watching it regularly — I was 14.

        (What my DH remembers watching/refers to is Gunsmoke, though I’m sure there were others)

        Strawberry Shortcake (did not know it was still being produced and have never watched it) and Blues Clues came later, I think? I do agree that Blues Clues is well done. The others you list, I’m not really familiar with. Having gotten over the original Scooby Doos (which I was OK with), DS was into Dora/Diego for a bit (those were OK, though a bit choppy to my taste) but is now firmly in Spongebob and Fairly Odd Parents territory, both of which are way too choppy and noisy for my taste (I’m kind of OK with FOP as an adult…). We have also started watching the original Star Treks via Netflix, which is interesting — I was surprised to see how sexist and violent they are. But they do have the advantage of asking one to follow a single major storyline with a few subplots in a way that it seems to me much contemporary tv, particularly kids’ tv, does not.

        Though at present, DS is mostly watching examples of Minecraft play on YouTube, so — plots?! We don’t need no stinkin’ plots!

        1. You’re watching the wrong tv! SpongeBob indeed. Not only is that bad, it isn’t even current. (Technically neither is blues clues though.). If you want story lines there is plenty of that available, and I highly recommend my little pony. (Caveat, first season has some problematic race stuff, in the way that white liberals can be stupidly and unintentionally racist. Not overt, but a bit crimgeworthy.). My 8 year old son is hooked, and so are the rest of us. Plus he’s learning that girls can be awesome. He also likes aquanauts, wild kratts, and peg plus cat.

          1. P.s. New dr who beats old– DH and dc1 have been enjoying it. We also are slowly making our way through psych as a family. And lots of movies, though he couldn’t sleep after coraline. Still, we are talking about big kids here… I keep thinking your guy is still 3, but he’s grown up just like my kids have been!

    3. I definitely understand your stance based on your kid’s behavior. I think it’s important to remember that every kid is different and how they react to TV time is different. We are realizing that our daughter gets overly stimulated by emotional storylines so we try to avoid actual movies and stick with educational TV shows because she can handle those plot lines WAY better than something with a dramatic climax. Let’s just say that now my daughter chants, “Movies always end happy,” (my line) when the conflict is in full swing.

  8. My 1st DD got 0 screen time until 2, per AAP. We then let her watch 1hr TV per day. I had a newborn and immediately regretted it. They won’t miss what they never had, so she would have been fine without. Once she got TV there was constant whining for more. Still she got only 1 hr per day. She all but gave up her nap at 2.5. Since then she’s been allowed TV during her sister’s nap. Once they went to daycare, my 1st got no TV except nap time on weekends. DD2 got zero until my DH w/out authorization starting letting her watch a little in the am at about 17 mo bc she was waking early. But not before a certain time otherwise that’s a reward for waking early. Now DD2 sleeps later so they both get a little (30 min or less) on weekday mornings, longer (1-2 hrs) on weekend mornings, plus DD1 gets some during weekend nap time (only after she practices letters and numbers). No iPad (we don’t have one) iPhone or Kindle, except they get to watch the Kindle on vacation (once since we got it).

    I’m a true believer in the AAP recs so we are fairly strict and it works for us. Since it is a rare treat it’s a good bargaining chip–if DD2 screams at bedtime (a recent thing) she know she won’t get TV the next morning.

    1. I was really adamant about following the AAP recs too, but I actually think they’re 1 hour a day for kids 2+ is a little much so… I don’t know. I’m doing what I gotta do with my son. I wish he had less screen time but I don’t think what he’s getting is excessive yet. He’s almost two. Only two more months.

  9. *shrug* We don’t have a tv but we do have an ipad and netflix and amazon prime and an xbox (for dvds). We go in waves. Right now my daughter gets irritable if she spends too much time with the ipad and won’t go to sleep, so we’ve cut way back. But we’ve also done unlimited with her. With DC1 we didn’t allow unlimited tv because he would get bored of it so it wouldn’t work when we really needed him to be occupied. But I’m not sure it’s possible to get bored of an ipad.

    We did disable youtube because DC1 kept ending up on this horrible Disney infomercial with this woman who kept talking about how all girls should love to shop and wear make-up and spend money (on the stuff she was selling). I wish there were also a way to disable some of the netflix shows on the kid’s netflix because I do not like the new Carebears at all.

    Honestly I don’t think it matters that much– DH had unlimited tv, I had super-limited tv. We can’t point to any obviously different outcomes, except I guess I’m a better at a lot of useless handicrafts and he’s better at videogames? All the credible research I’ve seen on tv watching shows that on average it doesn’t have much of an effect. Sesame St., Blue’s Clues, etc. do help low socioeconomic status kids academically. Never exercising leads to increased childhood obesity regardless of how those hours are spent not exercising. “Educational” kid’s tv does lead to some behavior problems (when they spend most of the episode showing kids behaving poorly and the very end there’s a resolution– the last part goes over kids’ heads).

    So, something my parents worried a lot about, but meh. We do whatever is easiest. Right now that means limiting the ipad, but in the past it has meant unlimited ipad. Just depends. We play it by ear.

    1. oh god, when Molly gets hold of the iPad she keeps watching playdo or cake decorating tutorials when she is watching youtube (trying to watch Peppa!) you can’t get that shit on the TV

    2. We totally deleted the YouTube app from our iPad as well b/c Stella (3.5) kept finding makeup tutorials and barbie movies. BELCH. Normally she just gets PBS kids type shows.

  10. I was planning to follow the AAP recommendations but recently started letting my 15-month-old watch a little tv while we get ready in the mornings, so about 10 minutes 4x a week. My reasoning is that she was otherwise just following me around whining and fussing and thus it wasn’t like she was actively learning and playing anyway. In fact, I’ve come around completely that I’d rather have her calm and enjoying a little TV instead of unhappy that I can’t pick her up. I know she’s getting so much good playtime at daycare that I don’t feel guilty. Yes, our time is limited on weekdays but it wasn’t quality time.

    1. I think that makes total sense. If the choice is between happy and calm or upset it seems like a really easy one to make. I should start thinking about it that way.

  11. I don’t have a lot of time to write, but my kids watch a lot of TV, and I’m mostly okay with that. I did wait until age 2 for my first, but that wasn’t going to fly for the second. It helps that they’re out all day in places where they get to be active, though (preschool, school, Afterschool, etc). So it’s really only a small part of their day, and it saves my sanity.

    1. I hear you on them being out all day doing other stuff. If I were a SAHM my kids would get way more screen time. It’s one of the reasons I’m thankful I work outside the home and they are outside/with other kids most of the day.

    2. I doubt we will be able to wait till 2 with our second either! Now we usually use it to separate them and give them their own space, but I’ll bet that’ll change in a few months.

  12. There is TV watching in our house at exactly the time you describe. Some days, more often than not actually, when there is only one of us home to get dinner ready, the TV goes on. Saturday and Sunday mornings, yeah…its on. There are time limits (25 min eps during the week and 1hr on wknd). But you know, sometimes it’s 1.5 hrs later on a Saturday and we are suddenly like, oh sh*t gotta turn that off!

    It’s limited to pbs, but it’s still TV.


    1. We used to watch a movie with our daughter on the weekends but then that stopped because she couldn’t handle turning it off. And honestly, we’d rather have some really good one-on-one time with her when her brother is napping, which is the only time we could watch a movie with her. So the weekends are mostly TV free, but it seems that won’t be the case during the weekdays anymore. LeSigh.

  13. Oh man, F watches SO MUCH more than S ever did – I think we managed to go until 2 years with him not having any screens – and of course now that he does, she watches as well – though she is up and down, and not transfixed. I’m OK with it. I have found that we do get lazy about it though, and it’s our fault – so I know when I’m feeling guilty it’s because I’ve said ‘yes’ to Netflix or iPad games for S so that I can go and do something else. I’m fine with them watching if I absolutely need to get something done, it’s the using it when I’m just too damn lazy assed that makes me change my behaviour. 1 hr a day 4 days a week? You are rocking it.

  14. Without reading any other comments, I’d agree that pride is definitely part of your fear here. 🙂 I get it, I’ve been there on many parenting issues!

    Also, my kids both get TV or iPad every day at some point – 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there – whatever is needed. Never more than an hour a day, but I absolutely agree with you that if I get those 20 minutes when I first walk in the door to quickly cook dinner and do the dishes in peace, it makes for a happy family dinner and more quality time for the next hour or two before bed. That’s a win/win in my book!

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