Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Guest post: A screen-free childcare fail

Firstly, I would like to say thank you very much to Jen for letting me guest post over here today! I’m Jennifer, I’m Mum to Harry (4) and Mia (21 months) and I blog about parenting, craft and travel over at Jennifer’s Little World .

I was very taken with Jen’s recent post Screenless Sundays. Like everyone else, I was always going to be the Mum that never relied on the television as a babysitter. However almost since my son was born I have been reliant upon a screen – to entertain children, to calm them down or just to keep them out of the way for a bit while I get on with something else.

For this post, my intention was to spend an entire day looking after both my children without using a screen. I thought it can’t be that hard, after all it’s only in the last few years that screens have been available for child entertainment!

Unfortunately, I have to report that I didn’t manage it. The day began badly when I returned from the gym to find that the television was already on while my husband finished getting ready for work. However I turned it off as he left, and along with dressing and getting ready to go out it wasn’t missed before we spent the morning at the local baby and toddler group.

So far, so good. We came back, had lunch and then they pottered about for a bit while I cleaned up and even managed a bit of housework. It was a rainy day so we couldn’t go out, but we kept ourselves busy with a bit of gluing and Duplo.

It was late afternoon that it all fell apart. Mia has just started to drop her nap, and while it means that she goes off to bed easily she does struggle to keep going. She became whingy, which then progressed into screamy. Harry was winding her up, they were fighting over toys and we had entered a meltdown situation. I popped on CBeebies and it was like magic. Both calmed down, and even though they weren’t actually sitting there and watching it (neither of them ever sit still for long) they played happily in the living room while the television was on in the background.

I needed to make a start on the dinner, and this is the time of day when I struggle the most. I have cooked dinner many a time with a screaming toddler hanging off my legs, which isn’t safe when I’m working with hot saucepans. Having the television on meant that they stayed well out of my way in the living room until dinner was ready.

So I’m afraid that I didn’t even come close to managing a day without the television. Perhaps I could have managed it with another adult around to distract them. Admittedly there was also laziness involved - I could easily have taken them out somewhere undercover.

I don’t feel too bad. I do plenty with my children that doesn’t involve a screen, and I do believe in everything in moderation. But I have a lot of respect for people that manage to raise children without one!

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