Post by Abby Locker
Every parent has their own unique style of parenting and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Some things work for parents while other things don't. That doesn't mean that every parental decision we make isn't going to be met with overpowering opinions and controversy.
At the forefront of many parents' minds is the issue of television. Should I let my child watch it? How long should they be able to watch it? What should they be able to watch if I do let them? Questions abound and finding an answer is really a matter of what works for you. So, I was faced with these questions and found what worked for me.
Parenting is downright exhausting. Anyone who tells you otherwise has either never been a parent or is lying. Every little moment must be weighed by priority - should I use this nap time to clean the disaster zone that is the kitchen or should I actually get some sleep for myself for once? When I started my parenting journey I was dead set on never putting my child in front of a television to distract them, but then reality sunk in. The reality that the two hours a day I got during naps wasn't enough to maintain my household and my sanity. So, I changed my tune and allowed myself two 30 minute increments of selective programming.
I only would allow my child to watch educational shows. We pay for premium programming with Verizon FiOs so why not use it for its full potential? We started with baby-focused programming then moved onto toddler programming and educational shows that I could enjoy as well. Some of the programs even focus on improving reading in children. There was always something so no matter what time of day it was, I could find something that was appropriate for the entire family and even the grandparents got on board.
Realistically, even though I could control what happened in my house, I couldn't control outside forces. Restaurants, doctors' offices, and daycares all have televisions and no matter how hard you try, brightly colored moving pictures are going to grab anyone's attention. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and babysitters all run their house differently and while I can encourage other activities, I can't enforce my rules all of the time. It's a matter of lowering your expectations to a reasonable level.
I'm not saying it's the answer all of the time. In fact, I'm saying quite the opposite. We still read to our child and go for walks outside. We complete special craft activities and spend time together as a family. A television should never be considered a babysitter, but it does work to distract them for brief periods of time.
Now that my child is a bit older we allow him to play on devices as well. Sometimes he even helps me with my couponing. He pointed out that the only Verizon FiOS promo code available now is for new customers, if you're interested. Allowing your child to use tablets and watch television may not be for everybody and that's fine. But it works for us.
People will try to tell you how to parent from the moment you announce your pregnancy but the end result is up to you. You, as parents, get to make the final decision regardless of the number of how-to books and educational seminars you attend. No matter how stuck you are on a certain style of parenting, your mind may change and that is completely okay so don't be afraid to adjust according to your needs.