My Kid is Plugged In

0SP70JWWOKLast week, I cried over an anticipated trip to Wal-Mart.

For the first 20 months of his life, Joseph could have cared less about screen time. I was always so proud of this! Over time, he started to love watching home videos on our phone. In the last 2 months, Joseph has really taken a liking to screen time. YouTube “fail” videos (we like harmless ones with kids), Bubble Guppies, and the Mighty Ducks series. I’m not sure how it happened, but screen time has progressed and it seems like something is always on.

I’m panicking. I’ve always felt strongly against kids having too much screen time, and I’ve never wanted Joseph to be plugged in. But, I hate to admit this, life has been easier since he’s become more easily distracted. Dishes and chores get done and I can sit and relax.

But now, I feel guilty. Part of me wants my kid back who wants me to give him my undivided attention all the time. Who is always begging to go outside. Who needs to see other places and people. But now, the first thing he asks for in the morning is “Buppies!”. How did this happen?

I feel less physically capable to keep up with him when we go out. I’m 30 weeks along and I feel like pregnancy is getting real! Sore hips, Sore back. Sore feet. Slow. Not to mention I’m so tired. In my mom guilt about him watching too many things on the screen, I wanted to get him out of the house. Too hot for a walk, I decided on a trip to Wal-Mart, to pick up some things for dinner.

But I cried. I cried at not wanting to put up the effort to take him out. It’s physically demanding, but also emotionally demanding. He’s almost 2 and has a mind of his own. Going anywhere means constant negotiations.

“Joseph, to the car please.”

“Joseph, down this aisle.”

“Joseph, don’t touch that.”

“No Joseph, you can’t take that car out of the box.”

“Joseph don’t run across aisles, you will get hit!”

“Joseph stay here, I have to pay.”

“Joseph, please let’s walk to the door. These bags are heavy and I really have to pee.”

“Joseph, mommy is getting really cranky. Let’s. Go.” *finally just has to pick him up with all of my bags and take him in*

I had the whole scenario played out in my head. That’s what I was in for if I took him out. So I cried as I watched him watch Bubble Guppies, loving and hating how easy it is to let him do it.

After I had my cry, we did go out, and it played out exactly as I had imagined it. But I tried to be thankful for it. I tried to be thankful for his curiosity, and for him wanting to run, to play, and to make his own decisions. It is hard and draining on me, but I don’t want to miss these moments where he is learning so much.

I don’t know how to manage his screen time. I want to have clear guidelines about how much and when. I want him to learn how to play, and pretend, and entertain himself. I bought a book for easy crafts to do with kids. I’ve picked out different trails and beaches we can visit. I wish we had more friends to play with, but summer isn’t a great time for play groups. And any time he asks to go outside, I try to muster up as much joy as I can and take him out, whatever the cost to me.

I’m trading one set of parenting woes for another!

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