Most moms feel guilty that their kids are spending too much time watching their favourite cartoons or playing games on the phone or iPad – but stop beating yourself up about it, mom.
“Guilt can be such an overwhelming emotion especially when it makes you feel helpless. We need to give up the illusion of perfection and the kind of parent you should be and just do what you can do,” says clinical psychologist Ruth Ancer.
There’s no realistic amount of screen time for kids right now. “Limitations and boundaries are important, but you also need to recognise that it’s hard to thrive during this time, so just surviving is enough,” Ruth says.
If you’re chasing a deadline, need to get dinner on the stove or do the laundry – don’t feel guilty about switching on the TV or giving your child your phone to play with. If it gives you the time you need to get your work and chores done – that’s fine. “Screen time is our kids’ coping mechanism during this lockdown period, and it’s also helping parents to cope,” says Ruth.
However, says Ruth, it’s still important to encourage your child to spend some time outdoors to play as well.
If you are worried that your toddler’s eyes will turn into squares from all the screen time, try these tips to reduce screen time, or to make it more productive:
- Install educational apps on your phone or tablet for your child. You’ll have to do some research here as many apps claim to be educations (just to get you to pay for them), when they are in fact not.
- Create tech-free zones in your house. For example, you can say that tablets and phones are not allowed in their room, outside or at the dinner table. This way, they can play outside when you’re outdoors or with their toys when they are in their room. This will also give you an opportunity to chat to your kids about their day at the dinner table.
- Encourage your child to play. When you take a coffee break during your work day, get your tot outside for a quick treasure hunt or just a game of hide and seek. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate activity.
- Set up an arts and crafts station in your home office. You probably don’t want any distractions while you’re trying to work – but it could be fun (and keep your little one’s eyes away from the screen) to set up an arts and crafts station close to you where she can create master pieces you’ll love. You can also set up a mini office for your toddler where she can pretend that she’s at the office working and looking after the kids (get one of her dolls for her to look after while she works).
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.