Monday, April 6, 2020

My children had a bazillion hours of screen time this weekend and....

The other weekend, my children beat their own personal worst for screen time. This weekend beat last weekend. Right now, I am OK with this. I am in full-on parent survival mode.

Special needs moms are especially at risk for one thing right now: guilt. Our children aren't getting their usual schooling, and it's tricky keeping up with the virtual demands as we juggle our work and other kids. Our children aren't getting their usual therapies, and filling in those gaps with exercises probably isn't happening. Our children may not getting a ton of our attention. What many of our children are getting is screen time.

Guilt, guilt, guilt. It runs in our veins, and right now, it can feel overwhelming. Oh, heck, ALL the feelings are overwhelming right now.

Have you googled how much screen time is too much? Sure did. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) used to recommend none for tots and under an hour for kids ages 2 to 5—but those were widely considered too restrictive—plus consistent limits for kids older than six. As of several years ago, the AAP loosened up their guidelines (noted here). The best you can do is set some parameters (next weekend, I'm going to institute screen-free afternoons—or at least try), have screen-free times like at meals and bedtime, try to spend a little time exploring the digital world together and not beat yourself up on those days when it's screen time, all the time. This isn't going to last forever. I am no expert but it seems like a good month or two of excessive screen time isn't going to screw up our children's brains.

Max likes to watch fire truck videos and videos of L.A and practice schoolwork on IXL. Ben is into PJ Masks, occasionally playing educational games and watching TikTok dance videos and/or making them with his big sis. Sabrina FaceTimes constantly. Without screen time, there is literally no other way for Dave and I to do our paid work, the housework, cook, clean, care for our children, disinfect the house and groceries, figure out how to keep getting groceries and do All The Things.

At times, we need a break, too—something that's easy to neglect because of all that we're juggling but really, really important, given all the stress and sadness. My break usually consists of sitting in the backyard, on Ben's swing. It works.

This pandemic will go down in history as one of a handful that had a major impact on civilization. That's one seriously valid excuse for whatever you're not doing with your child or feel like you're not doing with your child.

As always, you are doing the best you can.


Please don't go guilting yourself.

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Thanks for sharing!

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