I remember it clearly. I was pregnant with Max – in my third trimester actually – when Mr. C and I were dining out at a swanky mediterranean restaurant. I looked over at a neighboring table that had two young children seated in high chairs. The parents had propped two tablets in front of them, one for each kid. I nudged Mr. C and he leaned in.
I said, “You see that table over there? Let’s not do that when we have kids.”
He nodded, “Of course.”
I think I went on to say that meal times should be when we sit at the table together and enjoy our food without electronics. That I wanted to connect with our kids. That I wanted dinner time to be about the conversation and food. That I wanted our kids to have good table manners.
In retrospect, all I can say is: Judge not, lest ye be judged.
I’m probably being too hard on myself but one of the things I feel guiltiest about, as a parent, is Max’s screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 should not be exposed to any television or entertainment media. And my newsfeed never fails to have an article about the detrimental effects of screen time to young children. Atrophy to their developing BRAIN, no less!
A lot of my guilt stems from my previous (delusional) belief that I would be able not to expose Max to any electronics at an early age.
The reality is, at two years old, Max navigates YouTube on my phone better than I do, knows all of the names to the pups on PAW Patrol (Chase! Marshall! Rocky! Zuma! Rubble! and Skye!), and has his own apps folder on our iPad.
I have resorted to giving Max my iPhone when we are dining out on more occasions than I can count. Heck, I even give it to him at home when I’m having a particularly difficult day feeding him.
Many times, he gets planted in front of an iPad or TV so I can get chores done, take care of Alexa, or just get a mental break.
I consider it a great and successful day when we can get through it with zero screen time. But when he gets too much screen time, it really kills me inside.
I hate the way Max zones out when he’s in front of any screen. His normally expressive and animated face becomes completely slack. The boy who usually won’t stop talking and moving and dancing and laughing and whining and crying becomes completely motionless. He tunes out of the world and I hate it.
If I’m really being honest, I give Max screen time for me. To make my life easier. And, sometimes, I really do need my life to be a little more peaceful, a little quieter, and a little easier. So I do it. But I do it at the expense of sucking the life and energy out of my wonderfully (and terribly) rambunctious, high-energy, never-stop-moving toddler.
So there it is. Add that to a growing list of my failures as a parent.
What are some things you feel guiltiest about?
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