On TV, Sugar, and Other Parenting EvilsJanuary 23rd, 2014
Can we talk about reality for a minute? You know, the one we live in where perfection isn’t even in the vocabulary (thankfully) and we’re all just trying to hang out and be HAPPY!
About that, did you know that life is short and fragile and you never know what will happen from one minute to the next? Of course you do! Now, think, is the perceived “perfection” in parenting worth you and your child’s happiness? Do you want to come to the end of your journey and say “I’m confident in my choice to never allow my child sugar” or do you want to say “we had a kick ass time together”? I personally prefer the latter.
There is so much talk about what to do and what not to do. And really, if we’re not discussing serious issues that can have dire consequences, say vaccines, it’s a completely personal choice. I choose to chill out.
TV rots your brain we’re told. It’s hard for me to fully understand this. I grew up in what MUST have been the TV generation, and I’m fairly alright.
I realize screen time needs limiting, and there are days when I know it’s been on too long and I feel bad about it. And then I slap myself. 90% of the time, my kid is at daycare, the park, the pool, Science World, the aquarium, grandma’s yard…you get the picture. She spends 8ish hours a day at daycare where they don’t even have TVs. So when we get home, and I’m exhausted and have exactly 12 minutes to whip up some sort of healthy culinary masterpiece, what should I do? According to some people, I should expect my also tired almost 4 year old to play independently, and baring that, I should allow her to help in the food prep.
Reality check, aisle 1!
I love when she helps me make food, but it’s not exactly expeditious. So week night dinners are not the time for that. Not only are we tired, we’re hungry and we already eat too late.
So when she asks for a show, I oblige. I oblige for both of us. I want to play with her, but the reality is I just can’t. And to be honest, she’s played out and WANTS to relax. And at bedtime she gets many books. So go for it kid, enjoy the purple dog or Peep or whatever weird show you enjoy, I’ve got kale to massage.
So fine, my child is being raised by “other people” and “television”, whatever. Last time I checked she was advanced for her age, and she is the most loving and affectionate human I know. So at least they are accomplished parents anyway.
Then there is sugar. Now, I’m not saying we don’t care what goes into her body. I’m just saying that treats are awesome and I like to give them. We eat well, daycare has a strict menu, and she drinks water exclusively by her own choice. That all said, we have ice cream and cupcakes and chocolates and French fries and pizza, because we’re human and humans like junk food.
I remember when I was a teenager and my boyfriend’s cousins came for Christmas. Those kids were NEVER allowed any sugar. The kids were all in the basement playing, and proceeded to find a case of coke….and drink THE ENTIRE THING. Not only were they complete maniacs, they threw up for hours.
Denial only leads to temptation and indulgence. My kid earns treats, and when Halloween comes around, we leave her candy where she can get it. She always asks, she doesn’t ALWAYS get, and she doesn’t go crazy scarfing it all at once. I just threw the remnants out last week. She’s learned that treats are treats, and functions around them. There is rarely if ever any begging, she knows if I say no now, I’ll say yes later. I give her the credit she deserves, and trust her to make the right choices
She gets a treat after breakfast if she manages to go to bed without too much drama…the rewards system works for me and I have no qualms about it.
Speaking of sleep, at almost 4, getting her to GO to sleep can still be a challenge, however, she will sleep in until 9am (suckers!). I’ve had SO many people judge us for allowing her to go to bed late (she’s asleep on average closer to 9-930pm) and state, with no uncertainty, that that is why she can be difficult.
You know what’s difficult? Getting home at 545pm, cooking and eating dinner, throwing her through the bath and expecting her to be asleep at 730pm. That’s completely unrealistic. I have to work to pay for all that TV and her pure sugar diet, so I can’t be home any earlier. And even if I WAS, my husband simply cannot be, and we kind of like having dinner with him (not to mention he does bedtime). So we made the choice early on for her to have a late bedtime. Yes, it’s bitten us in the ass, and no Dr. Child Expert would ever tell us we’re doing the right thing, but we are. We are because that’s how we spend time together. We are because we enjoy the flexibility it offers. We are because it’s our reality and we do what we can to make it easy, for everyone’s sake.
My number 1 priority is my child’s health and well-being, and a big part of that is her happiness. I refuse to deny her things that make her happy because it’s “wrong”. I refuse to deny her things that make my life easier, thus making ME happy, just because someone told me I shouldn’t. At least I know if I die tomorrow, she’ll remember me as a fun and happy mother who exposed her to a million wonderful things, and that’s good enough for me.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, just use your brain to make the best choices, whatever those are for you.