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Here's a secret: Almost all parents let their kids watch videos when they absolutely, positively have to get something done. That's okay. So long as your preschooler has plenty of active and imaginative playtime in addition to lots of time with a loving caregiver, they should be just fine.

Here are some easy ways to manage the time your preschooler spends watching TV or videos and to improve the quality of his or her viewing experience:

1. Choose mindfully.

Preschool TV shows that offer real substance are out there—you just have to find them. If you can, record the shows or add individual videos to a playlist so when an episode is over, your preschooler knows TV time is done.

2. Use the shows as a jumping-off point for related activities.

Say there's a segment on Sesame Street about butterflies. Spend some time drawing butterflies or making them out of Play-Doh. When you can, visit a nature preserve, get some books or rent movies that delve deeper into the topic.

3. Split it up.

Instead of two shows in the morning, make a deal with your child. One show before school and one show after (so you can make dinner!). Try these extra-gentle shows, some of which have short episodes that lend themselves to morning viewing.

4. Consider mixing things up.

Many of the new apps available for smartphones and tablets provide a kind of hybrid experience of watching and interacting. Your preschooler is old enough to do a bit of self-directed learning for short periods.

5. Set some boundaries.

Teach your preschooler to ask before turning on the TV or tablet and, if you can, how to turn them off after the show ends. Agree on a time or show limit.

6. Use it as a reward.

For example: TV time only happens once your child is dressed and ready for school.

7. Manage content.

Consider subscribing to a specific channel your kid likes on YouTube or adding shows to a playlist. That way, your child will watch only the shows on his or her cue rather than clicking around on YouTube.

Originally posted on Common Sense Media.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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