Mom to mom: I’m a WAHM (work-at-home-mom) to two littles, an 8-year-old and an 11-month-old, and I often use our digital devices as the babysitter. I know — oh the horror! I’m such a bad mom, right? Wrong. Most of us do this from time to time. We have to do it from time to time because... well, sanity. We all have our reasons, and if some of you mamas are able to go through life without ever handing your child an iPad, I applaud you, but then I'm going to ask you to get off your high-horse because we’re all good moms — iPad or not.
My truth is simple. We live in NYC, and at this point in our lives, we’re not able to afford a nanny, so I work from home to avoid that insurmountable expense that can cost up to $16,000 per year. My summer days with both kids home are very structured to say the least. I know that I need to get the bulk of my work done during nap time and my older son pretty much entertains himself, but when my baby is fussy — it’s all about watching a movie or some screen-time, as I’m in survival mode.
Yes, we do have limits, but some days, life is tough and we go above and beyond those limits. Digital devices also get handed off sometimes during subway rides, when we’re out at restaurants or waiting for what seems like forever in doctor’s waiting rooms. It happens, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
I get where the “sanctimommies” are coming from, the ones who are quoting studies and advice that doctors give for keeping screen-time to minimum and only starting after a certain age. I feel you, and I too only want what’s best for my kids. There’s so much conflicting evidence when it comes to this topic that we could actually argue forever. The Washington Post reported that "children younger than 30 months 'cannot learn from television and videos as they do from real-life interactions.' And to use a mobile device before that age on tasks that aren’t educational can be 'detrimental to the social-emotional development of the child.'"
Then The Guardian reported that “for very young children, there may be benefits in being able to handle the world of the tablet before they have the motor skills to handle their broader environment,” referencing a Duke University study in which babies who were too young to pick up objects on their own were given Velcro mittens, causing the objects to stick to them instead. "Being able to manipulate their environment gave these very young children a kickstart to learning. It is possible that tablet exposure might be doing something similar," they shared.
With so much information coming at us, it’s up to us as parents to make the right decision for our children. For me, I take other things into consideration, like getting my work turned in, the importance of having a second to breathe while my daughter isn’t getting into everything and the rare moments I can take a shower before my husband gets home from work. Those moments I owe to the iPad, and I’m pretty damn thankful for them.
I hate how there is such a divide here, and I wish with all of my being that as moms, we could just have each other’s backs. None of us know what happens day in, day out in each other’s household, so continuous judging of the way we each parent needs to end. In fact, it’s gotten out of control.
So I plead with you all: Until you’ve walked a mile in every single other mom's shoes, stop the judgment and shaming when you see a mom pull out her iPad or phone and hand it off to their child. We’re all just doing this mom job the best we can, and don’t forget that this job, unlike any other, doesn’t come with a handbook or a set of rules. Every situation is different, and we’re navigating the best we can, making choices that work for us as we go.