Can we please get real about screen time?

According to The People Who Know Things, the most recent studies show that screen time melts your childs brain, causing a stunting lack of empathy. Additionally, studies done by the Most Scientific University have found that screen time contributes to ADD, ADHD, peanut allergies, and severe emotional disability. The more Curious George plotlines your child knows, the less creative, intuitive, self-controlled, smart or likable he will be. In fact, your small people will definitely be failures at all things if they get more than three minutes of screen time per month. SCREEN TIME IS LITERALLY THE WORST THING EVER, PARENTS. Your child is turning into Darth Vader even now, as he quietly plays Lego Star Wars.

You’d better switch that thing off and be the sole provider of all creative outlets, intentional play, learning activities and relaxation. Oh, and stay patient, mama. No one can have any fun if you’re not endlessly patient.  Also Pin things a lot. And make sure you and babies look cute while you play- you wouldn't want Instagram to catch you at a bad angle. 

Because as all the moms know, the thing mommas need most is more guilt. Mom-shaming is big business these days,  so in order to not internalize all of it, we keep screen time at the top of the list of “Things to downplay so that we look like not-failures.”

You guys, screen time happens in my house. Like, A LOT. Sometimes many hours a day. And sometimes not at all, but those days we either have a lot going on to entertain the small people, or I AM GOING CRAZY insisting that I live up to the Impossible Mom Standard. (It doesn't help that I seem to lack the "Fun-Parent-Gene," which my husband has in spades. Give me structured activities, outings, group play any day...but make me chase and wrestle or play make-believe for hours on end...I die.) 

For sanity’s sake, it is either screen time or playpens, and playpens have been out since 1996. (I mean, listen, if you still use a playpen, maybe you live in France or maybe you’re just renegade like that, please email me because I want to know why I’m missing out on a really good thing.)

So what is an intentional mama to do? Never, ever go to the bathroom, or drink the reheated coffee, or throw in a load of laundry?

You guys.

MY CHILD WILL NOT DIE OF DANIEL TIGER.

Seriously. Won’t. 

When I was a kid, NOT ONE SINGLE TIME did I think “my parents are terrible, cold, unfeeling people because they are letting me watch my most favorite show right now.”

I literally hear “Mommy, I love you” when I finally turn on Sprout. Is it not a child's greatest joy to watch a thing?  Especially when screens aren’t a constant babysitter. On that note: of all of the idealistic screen time rules I have broken, I've kept this one: if my kiddos become disinterested, off goes the TV/phone/whatever. I do this in order to intentionally cultivate the specialness of screen time, because when it’s on, I NEED YOU TO SIT STILL AND BE QUIET. Which will only happen if it’s not constantly and totally accessible. 

It comes down to this. Can we please set a more reasonable, realistic and fair standard in this modern world of the Playpen Famine?


Here’s a start:

-If in your home there are substantial times of non-screen play

-If there is quality time between parents and children

-If there are times of specialness and creating memories with and for the kid(s)

-If you’re careful about what your kids have access to on-screen

-If your children feel loved and are provided for and are given attention and fed and clothed and put to bed at night

Then mama, you’re hitting the mark. Living the dream. You need feel NO SHAME about screen time. Even (and maybe especially) on hours-of-screen time days. Because you are a mom in the twenty-teens century, and life, for whatevertheheck reason, life is just that busy. You. are. ok. 

The guilt that you feel proves only one thing: You are an amazing and intentional mama who really, actually cares about her kiddos. 

Do what you can. Be free of the rest. And for the love: take a break and put on a show for the kids. Go get your coffee. Sit and breathe and be alone-ish for five minutes. No guilt. And if it’s longer, know this: all the other moms who you think are totally looking down on you are secretly allowing more screen time so they can get their stuff done too.

What screen time rules do you keep? Which ones have you given up on?