Today’s guest post is from Katrina at Mama’s Organized Chaos. We’ve had many conversations about screen time recently, and I think she has fantastic points on letting toddlers watch TV. You can find me over at Let’s Be Brave.
When Caroline was about 1.5 years old, I really started TRYING to get her interested in watching TV. Up until that point, there really was no need for TV. Not only was there no need, Caroline wasn’t interested. It didn’t matter what I had on, she just didn’t really care about it. She wanted to read her books, play with her toys, or go outside instead.
Obviously, I loved everything about the fact that she was so engaged in those activities and much preferred them, however, I also wanted her to watch TV. Yes you read that right- I wanted her to watch TV. There are a lot of good things about having a child that can sit down and watch a show, and I was determined to find a show that she’d be interested in.
I felt content that I’d laid a good foundation for 1.5 years without relying on the TV. I loved that our daughter would rather be outside than inside watching TV. That’s a fantastic win. But there’s also a time and a place for TV, and TV shows can be very beneficial.
So, why was I trying to get Caroline interested in TV, you ask?
1. Rest time when your child is sick
Let’s face it, toddlers can be throwing up one second, and running around the next. They can have a 103 degree fever, and still want to run and jump and play at all moments. There’s often no reeling them in.
Toddlers have a ton of energy. While it can be beneficial at times to keep moving and keep your body working, it can also drain your already drained, sick body pretty quickly. Sometimes your body really needs rest to heal well.
Toddlers are NOT good at resting. And, odds are, they aren’t even good at doing one activity for long periods of time.
Which means… TV can provide that rest. A TV show can keep your toddler laying down and resting, while engaging them in the show for long periods of time. When you are fighting sickness in the house, that’s a very good thing to have happen!
2. Rest time when YOU are sick or unavailable
Let’s not forget about Mama. Mama is at work 24-7 with no down time. If Mama is sick, it doesn’t matter. There is still a toddler (or two, or three…) to tend to. Whether you are sick and need to rest, or you need to get something done, or even just to be able to tend to one of your other children… TV can provide some much needed down time to allow that to happen.
Yes there are other ways. Independent play time is a fantastic option for keeping little ones occupied as well. But let’s not discount TV for the win here as well!
3. Engaged and Learning
Kids TV shows today are not all about blowing things up and chasing after wascally wabbits.
There are some amazing shows today, and the great part is that you choose what your child is watching. No more is it just flick on the TV on Saturday mornings and hope the cartoons are good.
While I miss the idea of Saturday morning cartoons, I love that we have full control with places like Amazon Video to put on only the shows we want our children to see and learn from.
These shows today teach so much. The compassion, empathy, and kindness that Caroline has learned from Daniel Tiger is amazing. The life appropriate skills that are taught in Daniel Tiger like going potty, going to bed, brushing teeth, etc. are also incredibly useful and our toddlers relate to these things.
And I can’t say enough about the skills that she’s learned about controlling her frustration and anger.
As a parent, I’ve also learned some fabulous techniques from Daniel Tiger’s mom! These shows give us and our children a toolbox full of useful ways to handle life situations.
Shows encourage problem solving, exploring nature, and more.
YouTube videos teach the alphabet and numbers, and anything else you want to search for, in creative, engaging ways.
TV today TEACHES so much.
4. Expands Creativity and Imagination
Many make the argument that TV stifles creativity and imagination. I couldn’t have had a more opposite experience.
My daughter watches TV shows, and then expands her creativity during her play. She loves pretend play with her little figures and characters. She will take an idea that she saw in a show and just run with it in her own play. She expands and comes up with some amazingly imaginative ideas. It’s fascinating to watch.
5. Encourages Problem Solving
Every single show we’ve selected for Caroline to watch promotes problem solving and learning to think for yourself and make discoveries. Those lessons then translate to Caroline in her every day life.
Dinosaur Train: HIGHLY promotes getting “out into nature and making your own discoveries”. You learn real facts about dinosaurs and the world around us. The dinosaurs are constantly exploring nature. They make hypotheses and find answers to their questions.
Paw Patrol and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse are two fantastic shows for teaching problem solving. Figuring out how to use different tools, and how to solve all sorts of different problems in different scenarios is what these shows are great at.
Will it be different for our future children?
Yes. I didn’t have the TV on for 1.5 years with Caroline. That was easy because there were no older children in the house wanting to watch TV. It honestly wasn’t intentional to avoid TV, however. We had other things we were up to and TV just wasn’t making the list of things to do. So yes, any future children will be exposed to TV at a younger age- but I’m ok with that!
What shows do we like?
Caroline loves these shows (and they are Mama approved as well):
– Daniel Tiger
– Dinosaur Train
– Paw Patrol
I also have nothing but great things to say about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Caroline isn’t interested in it yet, but it’s a great one for promoting problem solving.
How often do we let our child watch TV?
We don’t have LIMITS. I am a firm believer that limiting things draws attention to it and makes it more desirable. We don’t ban TV at times, or limit the amount of time per day. We just do what makes sense. Some days that means no TV. Some days that means 1 show. Other days that means several shows. We will go a week without TV just by chance, and then a week with TV every day. We say no to TV at times just like we say no to other activities at times. It just depends on what is going on.
Keep in mind…
It can be just a season. We are in a season right now. We just went through a pretty traumatizing event in our lives, and some days I don’t feel like dealing. That’s ok. As a result of that event in our lives, I’m also taking in every moment for snuggles and low key days at home with Caroline. I don’t get to have lazy days at home with her forever. Before I know it she’ll be in Kindergarten and our lazy days will be a thing of the past. I’m taking them while I can!
Everything is fine in moderation. As with anything else… balance is what is key.
Don’t ever feel guilty. Today’s online world of perfect pinterest moms make TV sound like something only horrible moms would let their children do. I call BS. I am a great mom, just as you are… and I think TV is adding value to our home (see all of my above reasons). Don’t get sucked into mom guilt. Choose the shows wisely and embrace the season you are in, Mama.
Katrina is a babywise mom of 2. Her older daughter just turned 3, and her younger daughter (angel baby) would have been 4 months old this month. She is a mom that uses schedules and routines, but also cloth diapers, makes her own baby food and baby wears! She is very passionate about the benefits of breastfeeding on a schedule, and huge advocate of doing what’s right for YOUR family. Keep it real with her over at Mama’s Organized Chaos.