Naughty Parenting Habits or Genius Life Hacks?

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My daughter is an early riser.  No matter how early I manage to get myself to bed, 5 a.m. always comes way too soon.  Sometimes I can convince her “Mama needs more sleep to make milk,” and she will lie back down for 15-30 minutes.  Other times she insists on crawling out of her crib and into bed with me for nursing and cuddles.

I fear you read the above paragraph and are judging me as you think, Why doesn’t she set firmer limits, why is she still nursing that kid at two and a half years old, why is the toddler still in a mini-crib right next to her side of the bed, why is she complaining about all this when it appears she invited all these early mornings with poor boundary setting to begin with?  

Well, here is the thing:  I don’t really see it as a boundary issue, although I probably would have before I became a parent.  Some kids just get up early, and Emily is one of them.  We haven’t transitioned her into the other bedroom with Jack yet mainly because they have such different sleep habits and we don’t want her to disrupt Jack and have our lives spiral into tantrums that disturb our second floor neighbors/land people and get us evicted at 5 a.m.  If we were living in our own house with three bedrooms, Emily would definitely be in her own room by now, but anyway,  our financial situation that has us still in a two bedroom apartment is not the point of this post.

After she nurses and cuddles, Emily climbs over me and says good morning to her father, who has usually been up working until midnight the night before.  He then hands her the iPad.  She knows how to turn it on, navigate to the Amazon Prime app and find Kipper the Dog.

She watches quietly in between us and we all get another 45 minutes of peace and quiet before the alarms go off. Then we take the iPad away and everyone gets up to get ready for the day.

So, if you weren’t judging me before, you probably are now.

Yeah, somehow sleep deprivation and bone-numbing fatigue has made me “that mom” who’s toddler knows how to use the iPad.

Sometimes our day involves more TV and sometimes it does not, but the day almost always involves me stressing and feeling insanely guilty about the extra sleep I bought at the price of my daughter’s brain cells.

It seems like every time I turn on the internet there is another Huff Post article about why kids shouldn’t ever touch a handheld device.  I cringe as I read them, wondering if I am giving my daughter a predisposition to some emotional/behavioral issue, and if she was a terror in the grocery store because she watched TV for too long that morning.

On the other hand. . .

We all function a bit better when we’ve had a bit more rest.

My husband and I provide a fairly stimulating and balanced life for our kids.  They do not zone out in front of the TV all day.  We read to them daily, take them outside to get their ya-yas out, bring them to museums, and create art and sensory play experiences with them.  They are both clever, social, funny, and adept at solving problems.  They would also rather be outside running around the tree or playing in the sand box than watching TV or playing video games.

So, my feelings on the issue are mixed.  I kind of love this little life hack that allows me to stay under the sheets for a few more minutes in the morning, but it also seems a little crappy.

I know all the guidelines about kids and “screen time,” and I largely agree with and follow them.  While I try to set clear boundaries around technology, I also accept that my kids are growing up in a digital world and that using and understanding these tools is a part of their lives.

I do encourage mindful use, and try really hard not to let my kids use digital entertainment to regulate their emotional state, but every now and then it is so tempting to tell them to go watch a show while I get dinner together or spend five minutes reclaiming my sanity.

What do you think?  What do you allow your children in terms of digital media?  Do you have limits?  Do you have any naughty parenting habits?  Genius life hacks?  Please share in the comments below!  

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5 responses »

  1. Zero judgement. Before my son was old enough to learn how to use the remote, I would make sure the cable box was set to pbs kids and then turn off the tv and leave a bowl of dry cheerios out. When he woke, all he had to do was press the button on the front of the tv and he had cartoons and breakfast – and I had no interrupted sleep.

  2. Zero judgment here! Evie also wakes up at 5 and there’s not a darn thing I can do about it. I, too, let her watch a program first thing in the morning so I can have a few more minutes of rest. I’m pretty sure we aren’t damaging them for life.

  3. Hi! At L’s preschool we had this presentation by this dude who is totally anti-media, and it was interesting to hear from parents who grew up with NO TV etc. (my husband among them) and hear their experiences of feeling totally alienated by the entire institutional structure of society–and figure out how to have a balance in their own lives. At our house, no hard and fast rules. L doesn’t watch a ton of TV and we don’t have an iPad, but does he get my phone on long car rides? Sure. Do I stick him in front of a nature documentary if I can’t finish all my work before he gets home from school? You betcha. And, he doesn’t wake up at 5. If he did, I’d probably give him crack if it would get me through til 7…..

  4. I have loads of naughty parenting habits. My kids watch too much tv, sleep in our bed (and they’re 6 and 5.) If they wake up before 6, like you, I hand over the iPad and steal 30 more minutes of sleep. I swore I’d never be that parent whose kids slept with them, and we did great transitioning my oldest to his old crib. That all went out the window when we had the second. I would do ANYTHING for a decent night of sleep. They slept in their own beds while school was in, but now that school’s out they’re back with us most nights. I don’t even care. I’m seeing that it won’t last much longer and honestly I’m holding on as long as I can.

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