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May 21, 2007

I Use TV/Computer for Babysitting

Screen While the debate is rages on about how much screen time kids should have, secret discussions go on between moms who have three or more kids (or moms who work). The information shared includes how to keep kids busy for about one hour so mom can shower before school, cook dinner, do a quick check for email, rest on the sofa or, for mom bloggers, fit in a quick post after a moment of inspiration. And one popular option is screen time.

We can't just send our kids out into the neighborhood to play like our moms did when we were kids. It is now too dangerous for kids to walk out the front door alone. We have spent hours playing board games, making crafts, getting our kids off the couch to play sports, organizing pedal car races and building legos together.  As a survival tactic, we have also searched for ways to have reliable quiet time - when live babysitters are not an option.

So, I laugh at those moms who are incensed by Baby Einstein shows because I use the older version ("Little Einstein") to keep my four year old twins in one place while I shower in the morning or get lunch ready. But I also laugh at anyone who associates "smart" and videos in the same sentence. I do not object if my kids learn that rojo is red in Spanish by watching Go Diego Go. Or practice phonics with a green leapfrog.  I do not object to anything that is non-violent for screen time (including playstation) if it means my child can have a playdate afterschool at a friend's house while I attend a work conference. I spend any free moment I have during the day making sure my kids have the proper stimulation with classes, sports, playdates, reading and playtime with mom. I don't have televisions in my childrens' room. But I realize that there are times when mom needs downtime, so limited screen time can be a helpful babysitter.

Here it is, I said it "I AM A MOM WITH THREE YOUNG BOYS WHO USES TV/COMPUTER FOR BABYSITTING AND AM PROUD OF IT!". Phew, that feels better to get that out. If Bill Gates allows his children 45 minutes per day, then why can't I (well, maybe an hour or so)? For busier days, maybe just a little bit more. I say bring on those educational videos, select TIVO recorded shows, click on websites like funbrain.com or even spend some time with Lego Star Wars on a playstation.

For those perfect moms with perfect kids who never, ever use screen time for babysitting because their kids entertain themselves for hours without a peep, I say good for you. I have nothing against you, just please don't brag. My kids entertain themselves for long periods of time without the TV, but timing is everything..... Multiple kids in the house presents greater opportunities for sibling arguments or for general trouble. And whatever moms with multiple kids need to do to maintain sanity in their house for their families and themselves is worth alittle screen time now and then....

Beth Blecherman has a personal blog Techmamas.com