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Screen time makes me feel guilty—and helps keep me sane

An extra episode here and there isn’t going to break us. 

Screen time makes me feel guilty—and helps keep me sane

It happens more often than I’d probably like to admit. I get a work email that needs immediate attention, so I pop on a movie to distract my little one while I write articles or call in for a quick team brainstorm.


Or, while participating in my weekly volunteer work, I calm a sudden tantrum in the car by handing my two-year-old my phone, her favorite nursery rhyme videos already queued up and ready to play (again.)

I wish I could tell you that I followed the American Pediatric Association’s screen time recommendations perfectly, but, well…I don’t want to lie to you.

It’s a rare day indeed that we view the one-hour-a-day recommended by the pros, and I’m not sure any of my daughter’s favorite videos would really be considered “high-quality programming.” (Thanks a lot Johny Johny Yes Papa.)

Sometimes I feel really guilty about it.

Am I frying her brain? Is another episode of Sofia the First going to ruin her chances of getting into good schools?

But other times, I have to let myself off the hook.

Because to be honest—there are days when screen time is the only thing keeping me sane.

Days when I have three articles due and an hour-long call with a client. Plus breakfast, lunch and dinner to make and dishes to do and laundry to fold and dreams of working out and even taking a real shower. All while raising that tiny little human I love so much.

Sometimes life requires a little help, and I’m not ashamed to rely on our friends Elmo and Dora when necessary.

We all want to be the best moms we can be.

But the thing is, sometimes being my best is not focusing every second on my daughter. It’s not filling every second of her day with a new, amazing activity that requires my undivided attention.

I take pride in my role as a work-at-home mom because I love that my daughter sees me taking care of our family and home all while being her closest companion.

My daughter also sees me stretching my creative muscles and contributing to our family in financial ways too.

And I’m so proud of that.

I want my lesson to her to be that she can be a mother (if she wants to be) and still be a person. A person with big goals who is ready to go after them.

Sometimes screen time is the only thing that lets me set that example. So I’m doing what I have to do.

Do I feel like the world’s greatest mom when I hand her my phone to watch makeup tutorials on YouTube for half an hour (#girlmomlyfe) so I can finish an article? No. Do I think I’m winning parenting awards when I answer the question “Frozen again?” with “Um…okay…” because my conference call isn’t done yet? No.

But in this busy season of life, I think we have to be okay with some sort of balance.

I set limits on her screen time, but I also accept that an extra episode here and there isn’t going to break us. She may not always pick the most educational content, but I make sure that what she watches is wholesome (and try to sneak in educational options when I can.)

Odds are, she won’t remember what she watched when she was two. But I’m confident she’ll remember the time we spent together—and that’s the kind of plugged in parenting I can get behind. ?

In This Article

    An expectant mama's to-do list can feel endless… but here's the good news: A lot of those tasks are actually really exciting. Planning your baby registry is especially thrilling: You get a say in what gifts friends and family members will buy for your new addition!

    But it can also feel a bit overwhelming to make sense of all the gear on the market. That's why we suggest mentally dividing your registry into two categories: items you need to prepare for your baby's arrival and items that sure would be nice to have.

    Here at Motherly, our editors have dozens of kids and years of parenting experience among us, so we know our way around the essentials. We also know how mama-friendly the registry-building experience is with Target, especially thanks to their recently upgraded registry and introduction of Year of Benefits. Just by creating your baby registry with Target, you'll snag a kit with $120 in discounts and samples. The savings keep coming: You'll also get two 15% off coupons to buy unpurchased items from your registry for up to a year after your baby's expected arrival. Change your mind about anything? The Year of Benefits allows for returns or exchanges for a full year. And as of August 2020, those who also sign up for Target Circle when creating a baby registry will also get the retailer's Year of Exclusive Deals, which includes ongoing discounts on baby essentials for a full year.

    Here are 10 items we agree deserve a spot in the "need" category on your registry, mama.


    A crib to grow with your baby

    Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 Convertible Crib

    First-time mamas are likely creating nursery spaces for the first time, and that can get expensive. Adding a quality crib to Target registry gives friends and family members the option to join forces to make a large purchase through group gifting.

    $269.99

    A safe + convenient car seat

    Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT Infant Car Seat

    The list of non-negotiable baby essentials is pretty short, but it definitely includes a car seat. In fact, most hospitals will not allow you to leave after delivery until a car seat check is performed. We recommend an infant seat, which can easily snap into a base in your car.

    $99.99

    A traveling nursery station

    Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

    It's hard to beat a good playard when it comes to longevity. This item can be baby's sleeping place when they're sharing a room with you for the first months. Down the line, it can function as a roving diaper change station. And when you travel, it makes a great safe space for your little one to sleep and play.

    $99.99

    A swing for some backup help

    4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

    A dependable swing can be a real lifesaver for new parents when they need their hands free (or just a minute to themselves). Because many babies are opinionated about these things, we appreciate that the mamaRoo has multiple modes of motion and soothing sounds.

    $219.99

    An easy-to-clean high chair

    Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

    Our best registry advice? Think ahead. It really won't be long before your child is ready for those first bites of solid food, at which point you'll need a high chair. We like one that transitions to a booster seat atop an existing dining room chair.

    $99.99

    A diaper bag to share

    Eddie Bauer Backpack - Gray/Tan

    When you're a mom, you're usually toting diapers, wipes, clothing changes, bottles, snacks, toys and more. You need a great bag to stash it all, and if you're anything like us, you'll choose a backpack style for comfort and functionality. Bonus: This gender neutral option can easily be passed off to your partner.

    $64.99

    A hygienic spot for all those diaper changes

    Munchkin Secure Grip Waterproof Diaper Changing Pad 16X31"

    We can confidently predict there will be a lot of diaper changes in your future. Do yourself a favor by registering for two comfortable, wipeable changing pads: one to keep in the nursery and another to stash elsewhere in your house.

    $29.99

    A way to keep an eye on your baby at night

    Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor DXR-8

    Feeling peace of mind while your baby sleeps in another room truly is priceless.That's why we advocate for a quality video monitor that will allow you to keep tabs on your snoozing sweetheart.

    $165.99

    A comfortable carrier to free up your hands

    Petunia Pickle Bottom for Moby Wrap Baby Carrier, Strolling in Salvador

    A wrap carrier may be about as low-tech as baby items come, but trust us, this product stands the test of time. Great for use around the house or while running errands, this is one item you'll appreciate so much.

    $39.99

    A full set of bottles + cleaning supplies

    Dr. Brown's Options+ Complete Baby Bottle Gift Set

    Whether you plan to work in an office or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, bottles are a valuable tool. To make your life as simple as possible, it's nice to have an easy-to-clean set that is designed to work through the first year.

    $39.99

    Target's baby registry is easy to create from the comfort of your own home. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with the Year of Benefits featuring exclusive deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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