I try not to judge other parents. My theory is "to each mommy her own" but the truth is, I'm human and there are a few things I see and hear that make me scratch my head or, yes, even judge (like car seat safety).
Awhile ago, a few other mommy bloggers embarked on a "No Screen Time Challenge." I was instantly intrigued and eagerly started clicking through the posts. I have to admit, though, that I was quickly disappointed by the struggle these mommies had with cutting out screen time. And I even had to laugh a time or two as they discussed the hardship of going to the doctor, nursing a newborn and dealing with tantrums without the aid of their phones, TVs and tablets.
I laugh not out of judgment but because this is my life. Every day. I made the no screen time decision when my eldest started showing interest at a year old. I now turn off the TV during their waking hours (though this is tough to get other people who help care for my children to do). My kids don't get to play on my phone or iPad whenever they want (or ever).
My eldest uses my computer to make her eBooks for school and my iPad to do her weekly research project. We also instituted a weekly movie night (earned by good behavior throughout the week) but that is pretty much the only TV they get. I've even completely cut out TV time (dancing, cooking or travel shows) after nap which was routine for years to get us all from grumpy sleepy time to dinner. But we're so busy now that we don't even miss it.
We don't throw our kids a screen (usually) when they start screaming at a restaurant. They wait patiently (most of the time) or if we have to, we take them out. Most restaurants now give out paper and crayons which my kids are happy with and if we are at a place that doesn't, my purse is always stocked with pens and plenty of unneeded receipts. And if we do decide pull out the phone, it is always to look at pictures, never games or videos (unless it's of them!)
We made the choice to not do screen time for many reasons. Not just because of the "research" but because my instincts told me they don't need it. When we moved to Dublin and my eldest started spending all day watching the TV that I always had on for background noise, I said "no more!" and we haven't looked back.
So how do we survive?!?!?!?!
No, I don't give my children my undivided attention at every moment in order to appease them and I DO still get a lot done. We don't spend every day out of the house just to keep from being bored. In fact, we spend a lot more time at home than we do out.
When I need to cook, clean or do other essential life tasks, my kids help me, play together or entertain themselves. When I need to take care of something on the computer or phone, they (generally) play quietly or I wait for nap time. They have learned that I do my blog work in the morning while they do their school work and it's just part of our routine now.
We don't miss screen time because we've never had it. It's not our go-to fix. Instead we go to books, blocks or outside time. If they are really driving me crazy, we go for an impromptu craft, art or science project.
Would a little screen time help me with being a more successful blogger or complete more housework? Of course! But it's not worth it to me. None of us are suffering without screens and I know it's going to get harder to keep them away as they get older. So, like juice and soda and candy, I do as much as I can now so that they don't get used to it and need it later.
This post was previously published on Beyond Mommying.