Adventures in Attachment Parenting: Justifying the TV by Allison Silver
For starters I never wanted to be that mom who just plopped her kid in front of the television and used it as a babysitter. Being an early childhood teacher I have done numerous home visits where the television was always on and blaring so loudly you could barely think, let alone have a conversation. Oh no, not me! In fact, I did not want to even introduce television to my child until after her second birthday. Why her second birthday you might ask? Apparently, there has been some research done that correlates television watching before the age of two with having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder later on in childhood. And to be honest with you I’m not even sure what journal this study appeared in, but somehow the age of two years is the magic number for television watching.
So in theory this is a great idea and during our first year it was easy to apply. I made sure she was never just staring at the television and my husband and I were mindful of what programming we were watching while she was awake or in the same room. Then she became a toddler. A toddler who is either running around or wants mommy to pick her up. I love holding and wearing her to get chores done, but sometimes I just need a few minutes. I don’t think the researchers who did that study ever tried to take a shower with a screaming toddler staring at them through a glass shower door.
One night, kind of by accident or desperation, we discovered that our daughter really loves Barney. But not just any Barney. It has to be The Singing and Dancing with Barney. She literally stood in the living room mesmerized and watched thirty minutes before she came looking for me. I was able to get dinner prepped and put in the oven while she watched Barney! Since this episode of Barney is on Netflix, I quickly realized that we could probably watch it on the iPad. One morning I set the iPad on my dresser and played Barney. Again she stood there mesmerized and watched it while I took a shower! Success!!
A few weeks ago when we moved, I downloaded Barney from iTunes to make sure we had access in case we needed it before our Internet got connected. And I also downloaded a Wiggles video. She loves them both and up to this point I have justified using the television as a babysitter so I can get dressed or take a shower and occasionally to get dinner started. But my real downfall occurred when I bought an iPad holder for the car.
Our daughter has hated the car since birth! The past few months have been better but it is still just a question of when, not if, she will start screaming in the car. Again, by accident or desperation, I found an iPad holder for the car on Amazon for twenty-five dollars. My thinking was that this would be awesome for a longer car drive. In our world, anything over thirty minutes could be considered a long car drive! Last week I put it in the car to see how she would do and this kid fell in love. She was quiet and happy all the way home. In fact, when we got home she didn’t want to get out of the car! Seriously, this thing is my new favorite invention.
The only problem was every time we got into the car she would see the iPad holder and start saying, “Buh!” for Barney. I thought, “Oh great, what have I done?!” Every time we go in the car she is going to expect Barney. I was pretty proud of myself for quickly remedying the situation. Before I put up the iPad holder I used to have a backseat mirror on the headrest so I can see her from the front seat. So I placed the mirror over the iPad holder. Now when we get in the car the first thing she sees is the mirror and not “Buh.” Believe it or not this has actually worked.
I was beating myself up pretty bad about using the television as a distraction (I like that term better than “babysitter”) until I spoke to a friend about it last week. In her opinion a happy content child in the car is much safer than a child who is screaming. A screaming child is a distraction and a safety risk. I love that! If you think about it, it makes sense. I wasn’t able to stick to the two years guideline, but in my defense I don’t want to be a safety risk on the road! And at least I don’t plop her in front of the TV all day, right? I mean a mama has to take a shower, make dinner, and drive the car!