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.