If you’ve ventured through the mommy blogosphere with any regularity, you have probably experienced some form of mommy guilt — maybe for letting your kids watch TV or choosing not to homeschool. It’s rampant in the platform of blogging and social media.
It’s super easy to say, “You shouldn’t do this,” or, “You should do this,” all the while not realizing that we are heaping heavy burdens on moms out there that they were never meant to carry.
Today I want to talk about one specific burden: TV guilt. You know what I’m talking about. The “You shouldn’t let your kids watch TV” guilt that gets passed around by well-intentioned mommies out there. I’ve done it myself. In fact, before I became a mom, I swore I would never turn on the TV for my kids. A little extreme, I know. But what was driving that passionate, albeit ridiculous self-imposed rule?
Let me say this first: Guilt and conviction are NOT the same. I don’t recommend EVER making a decision based on guilt.
Guilt is that feeling that you’ve done something wrong according to what others say; conviction is that feeling that you’ve done something wrong according to your own values.
For example, I felt a lot of guilt early on when I started letting my kids watch TV. In contrast, I felt a lot of conviction for having made other moms feel guilty in the past for allowing their kids to watch TV. Do you see the difference? Guilt is NOT good. Conviction IS good.
So why did I change my stance on the subject of letting my kiddos watch TV? Conviction.
What caused me to change my mind? Well, a lot. First of all, I never anticipated I’d be a mother to a child with special needs. My oldest son has combined-type ADHD. For anyone who knows what that is, you know where I’m going with this. I was (am) EXHAUSTED all. the. time. My sweet boy requires a LOT of energy. For him, watching TV has been somewhat of a therapeutic reset for his body. (Before you blast me by connecting ADHD to watching TV, read this article.)
Yes. I know. Even the therapists say, “Watch out when it comes to TV!” And I don’t disagree with them entirely. However, there’s one thing they don’t always tell you in occupational therapy, speech therapy, and behavioral therapy: Mom needs a therapeutic reset for the body (and the mind), too!
Now, we happen to be a very, very strict family when it comes to TV. We don’t have cable, so we don’t have to fight with commercials. Thank you NETFLIX! We can very easily regulate what our kids see, which makes things a lot easier (and guilt-free!) when it comes to letting our kiddos watch some TV. Our house rules differ from yours, and that’s okay! For us, watching high-energy shows like Sponge Bob literally sends my son into sensory overload. For him, that means he very easily loses control of his impulses. He has a very difficult time with self-regulation, and shows like that feed it (and stress me the heck out!). So we tend to stay far, far away from shows like that.
Am I mommy shaming you right now? No. I’m giving you insight on how we keep the TV without the guilt.
You see, when my son gets out of control, we all need something calm to do. We like to call this a “body check.” (I actually got that from his preschool teacher. LOVE HER!) We decided to turn TV into our calming activity. But wait, this isn’t just for the kids; this is for ME, too!
When mom gets body-check time, it means I am able to reset my motor, methods, mentality, and motivations. Not only does this make me feel great AND re-energized for the rest of the day, it also resets the entire tone of my home. Everyone knows that if mom’s in a bad mood, so is everyone else. TV can give us a break, and you know what? We need the break.
Even if your kiddos don’t have special needs, they DO need a mom that is calm and happy. If TV helps you and your family reset, then I say it’s an absolute godsend!
Here are 5 way you can keep the TV without the guilt:
- Keep it calm. Watching shows together or even letting your kiddos have some chill TV time alone can be a super opportunity to introduce a calm ambiance to your otherwise chaotic home. Some kids need more stimulation than music. My son can’t keep himself engaged in music alone and ends up losing control of his body. BODY CHECK! Choosing shows that are free of loud and fast music and blinking lights can really help entertain without overstimulating.
- Keep it positive. There are so many shows out there that can really ramp up kids’ innate impulse to hit, jump, kick, punch, etc. Sticking shows that are devoid of violence (even little kid violence) can really help prevent TV from becoming a curse. This is important for YOUR sanity. If the kids are calm, mom is calm.
- Keep it quiet. Kids feed off of noise. Noise is annoying. Give yourself permission to just have some quiet time while the kids watch TV. Seriously. This time isn’t just for them; it’s for YOU!
- Keep it short. I have a really hard time even writing this one because I actually find myself getting so into the calm time that I’ll find an hour (let’s be real … a couple hours) have gone by without anyone even noticing! Is this bad? Not necessarily. If everyone is enjoying one another and some much needed quiet time, give yourself the grace to let it go. Maybe it was needed. The point is to give everyone a break from the chaos of life. Once you feel re-energized to re-engage with your kiddos in a way that takes more mental and physical energy, turn it off. Sometimes all it takes is one episode of their favorite show! Sometimes it takes a few.
- Keep it beneficial. I like to keep shows educational for my the kids. Why? Because I know I can walk away without worrying what they’re watching. Remember, this isn’t just for them. It’s for you, too.
Do you deal with mommy guilt for your parenting style? Are you struggling with tuning out of guilt and into your own conviction? Check out this post for a more in-depth look at mommy guilt and how to politely put it in its place.
Now it’s your turn! Do you find yourself turning to TV when you NEED a break? What are some of your family’s favorite shows and movies to share with one another and why?