I use TV as a babysitter, and my kids are just fine
Being a mom is hard. Don't get us wrong: It's also one of the most precious gifts you can give yourself. But some days it sucks. And some days you need an MFin' break. And some days... some days you can get a lot of napping in during two episodes of Caillou.
I promise myself on a regular basis that I will never buy my kids an iPad or turn over my tablet during road trips. I'm a firm believer in imagination and of looking out the window. As a wee young'un, if I were for some strange reason left at Lake Worth Beach, I would have had no issue navigating my way back to my house, 10 miles and two left turns away. Why? Because I looked out the window. Meanwhile, my friends' older kids can't even remember how to get to soccer practice on the other side of their school. They pile into the car, turn on their devices and tune out the world around them. I don't want them for my kids. Given my genes, they're going to be spacey enough as-is. At least force them to space out on the scenes around them.
That said: I'm not always anti-device. My spectacular childhood fashion sense came from the likes of Punky Brewster and Kids Incorporated. I played pretend as the cowboys from my grandma's show, Bonanza, and as my cousins' favorite entertainment, TMNT. And, let's be real: Most '90s kids own their fair share of books featured on Reading Rainbow. So, television clearly has its place in a kid's life.
However, there's this stigma that has been placed on TV that has greatly influenced moms' perspective of how they use it. Most families have a fairly strict number of hours they let their kids zone out on the Disney Channel per day/week. And that makes sense... especially for kids who are easily enthralled and unwilling to find their own entertainment without being forced.
But what happens when their five weekly hours are run through by Thursday afternoon? It's Friday. You've had the longest day ever at work and you're two hours away from the babysitter arriving and a romantic night out with your partner. You need a nap, a shower and a session with the tweezers. Putting time restraints on television and making it out to be the devil isn't helping anyone. If you back down, you're not keeping to the rules and you're going to feel guilty. If you stick to your guns, you're going to fall asleep in your chicken Alfredo. No bueno.
The fact is that it doesn't need to be this complicated. We need to stop making television out to be a bad influence in general. Perhaps we should spend a little more time controlling the quality of programming instead of the quantity of time on the couch.
More importantly, we should consider what we're capable of accomplishing if we give in to Clifford or Girl Meets World. I can empty the dishwasher during an Adventure Time mini-episode. I can curl up on the couch, with kid, and get in a power nap during one soul-crushing bout of Liv and Maddie. And, honestly, is there anything better than hearing cackles of laughter at the Penguins of Madagascar while you finally, for the first time in days, take time to read another chapter of Mindy Kaling's new book?
Think about how you feel when you don't get enough sleep. Think about the last time you regrettably snapped at your kid because they asked you to play Barbies when you were trying to vacuum. Is it worth it just for the sake of control over a made-up evil? Take a hint from Elsa and Anna, Mama. Sometimes, you just have to let it go.