Screen time for kids is a controversial topic. Some people allow unlimited screen time, others are very strict. We usually fall somewhere in the middle, with screen time limited to a couple of hours a day at weekends and in the holidays, with none allowed on school days. This summer however is different and while I’m still not entirely comfortable with the amount of time being spent on screens, I’ve decided I’m going to cut myself some slack. Here are the reasons that I’m using screens as babysitters this summer.
I Need to Use Screens as Babysitters in Order to Work
I’m incredibly lucky to work from home, most of the time I’m able to keep my work contained in the hours that the children are at school. That of course hasn’t been possible for the last 5 months and I’ve had to use screens to be able to get anything done. Normally in the summer I arrange a day or two each week where the kids are at some kind of summer camp to allow me to work. While that might have been possible, with some summer camps opening, I wasn’t really keen to send them and I also felt I should leave those spaces free for the “work outside of the home” parents who really need them.
We Still Want to Stay Mostly at Home
While restrictions have eased and we have been doing more things, we are still being fairly cautious. We’ve done parks, local woods and have met up with friends but are still avoiding busy places. This means none of the days out we’d normally be doing to keep the kids entertained. Usually we’d go swimming, go to the cinema, go to the roller skating rink, visit the farm, the splash park, the local museum, have a day at a theme park and maybe visit London. None of that is happening this year but I still have two kids complaining they are bored from sun up to sun down.
I’ve Run Out of “Creative Parenting Energy”
Can you believe we had to keep our children entertained entirely at home for all of those months? If you told me in advance I’d get through that I wouldn’t have believed you, but here we are. Yet it has taken its toll. I feel like I have used up all of my “creative parenting energy” and just don’t have anything left to give. We all worked so hard in lockdown to stay positive for the kids and come up with ways to make it seem like a fun adventure instead of something scary and I think we’re all a bit burnt out at this point. Plus the kids themselves have had enough of it. They’ve baked all the cakes, played all the games, completed all the science experiments and read all the books. There are only so many things you can do at home.
The Kids Deserve Some Escapism
Speaking of the children’s needs, I think they need a bit of escapism. Their whole worlds have been turned upside down this year, the lives they knew stopped overnight and they’ve had to adjust to this “new normal” without the life experience to help prepare them that we have as adults. If watching films or playing computer games gives them an escape from all of that then I definitely think there’s a benefit.
Online gaming has also allowed my kids to reconnect with some of the friends they have been separated from. Children under a certain age don’t really get much out of talking in the phone or video chatting. Playing a game with a friend in Roblox allows them to spend time together in a way that’s more like their real life interaction.
I Need Some Mental Space
As an introvert, having my family around all of the time has been challenging. Sometimes I just really need to be alone with my thoughts for a while. If I’m not, I become grumpy and withdrawn which doesn’t make me a very good parent. Letting them watch TV for a bit longer while I have a cup of tea and read my book upstairs allows me to then be a better Mum for them and I think that’s worth a bit of extra screen time to preserve our parent child relationship.
Once the children are back at school in September (fingers crossed) we’ll go back to the same screen time limits we had before but for right now, I feel a generous amount of TV and gaming is what we all need to retain our sanity. It may not be the greatest parenting but it’s preserving the parent child relationships that had become so fraught In this house by the end of home schooling.
How are you coping with a different style of summer this year? I’d love to hear in the comments.
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