April 1, 2020

Sick time, or how I introduced TV

Every book I read told me that if I let my daughter watch TV (even if it was on in the background) before she turned two years old that she would develop ADHD and be a menace to society. For the most part, I adhered to this no TV policy, and when she turned two I started to let her watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse once a day. What else is it there for if not to entertain toddlers? When she was 2 ½, she came down with a case of hand, foot and mouth disease and had to be home from school all week. She couldn’t go to the park or have a playdate or basically leave the house.

What to do, especially because I had my 4 month old to take care of? The answer: TV! Who knew how great TV was once you allow yourself the pleasure of letting your kids watch it. During our HFM infection, Cinderella was watched about 20 times. TV will entertain your kids while: 1. they are sick and can’t do anything; 2. you have to feed the baby and it takes an hour; 3. you take a shower; and 4. Insert reasoning here. There is a reason that the DVR and Tivo were invented, and it’s beyond recording shows while you are not home. Not that I let her watch TV all day. That would be bad, right?

Some parents maintain bragging rights about not letting their kids watch TV at all past this two year benchmark. I tip my hat to those people. Once you start it, it’s like Pandora’s Box, and you can’t ever go back. I’m not necessarily advocating for using the TV as a babysitter. That would make me the parent I don’t want to be. However, when Junior is home sick from school and you’ve got new baby to tend to, there really is nothing easier (short of a babysitter). One also should not feel bad about using TV as a break or to distract the older one while tending to the younger one.

However, while I was pretty strict about no TV for my first, I am completely unable to stick to this for the second. Every morning when I turn on the TV for Mickey Mouse, the baby watches it too. He rocks his little body to the Hot Dog Dance and squeals when Mickey comes on. It’s adorable but in the back of my mind I hope that this early exposure to the Disney franchise isn’t going to create a monster as all those parenting experts would try to make you believe.