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Screen time & our toddler: How we manage it all

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Let’s be honest, the TV is an integral part of most households. In fact, many have more than just one. We use the TV to help wind down from the day, to pass time, to educate ourselves and, if we’re honest, to keep our kids busy so that we can have just a few minutes to ourselves.

Our daughter is two-and-a-half and has been watching TV for about a year or so, but we have put some very solid boundaries in place to make sure that it doesn’t become her only source of entertainment – and also to make sure that we don’t start abusing the square babysitter.

  1. First and foremost, we are very selective about what she watches. There are probably four shows that she watches and hasn’t become bored with yet. One of these shows is Peppa Pig, which I know has received very mixed reviews from parents, but so far Aria hasn’t picked up any bad habits from Peppa and the gang. In fact, it’s helped our family quite a lot! Of course, the minute we see behaviour we don’t like that is linked to the show, we will simply remove it from her playlist. Other shows that she watches are Doc McStuffins, Noddy and The Magic School Bus.

“The TV isn’t banned in our home, and if Aria wants to watch something, all she has to do is ask.”

  1. Using Netflix and Showmax as opposed to YouTube really helps us to make sure that she isn’t watching too much telly. The time between the “Are you still watching” notification is definitely a bit longer than we like Aria to watch TV for (we aim for 30-45min) but often I lose track of time and it really helps to have the little reminder.
  1. We have certain times of the day that she is allowed to watch TV; when I am getting ready in the morning and making her breakfast, and then for a little while before suppertime. There are exceptions to this rule; sometimes she refuses to nap and then we watch a little movie so that she still gets some downtime. The same happens if she is feeling a little bit under the weather.
  1. There are certain times of the day when she is not allowed to watch TV, one of which is when there is a plate of food in front of her. We aren’t too bothered if it’s just a snack, but if it’s one of the main meals of the day, there is no TV allowed. We sit down and eat mindfully. I know from experience what a bad habit eating in front of the TV is and I really want to try and avoid Aria from picking it up if I can help it.
  1. There is no TV in Aria’s bedroom, nor does she have her own tablet. This is something that as parents we feel quite strongly about for our family. We only have one TV in our home and so if she wants to watch something, there is only one place for her to watch it. For us, we feel that if it is too accessible (having a tablet, own TV, etc.), it will become a major source of entertainment for her, which is something that we want to avoid.

The TV isn’t banned in our home, and if Aria wants to watch something, all she has to do is ask. Sometimes I say let’s go outside or read a book for a bit first and other times I put a show on straight away. All we want to do is prevent watching TV from becoming the main way she keeps herself busy.

There are so many different opinions and resources floating around about how watching TV affects your child that it’s very easy to become quite overwhelmed. I think the key, like most things when it comes to parenting, is to do what feels right for your child and your family. You know their personality; you know what will serve them positively and what might have a negative knock-on effect.

At the end of the day, technology is only getting more and more intelligent and the TV isn’t going anywhere. What we as parents need to do is decide how we manage this in our child’s life.

This article was written specially for BabyYumYum by Mascara & Mimosas.

Sarah Booyens Profile ImageSarah is a beauty-product hoarding mama who simply cannot get enough coffee into her system. You can expect to see a little of everything in her blog Mascara & Mimosas, from what makes parenthood a bit easier to her latest beauty obsession – or even what DIY she’s just tried.

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