Category "Parenting"

The Benefits of Screen Time for Children

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Everyone agrees that too much screen time is not healthy for children. Yet so many of us let our kids be in front of a screen for hours. Many won’t even admit to it; thinking that denying kids screen time would make them a better parent. I don’t deny and don’t make excuses. My children receive a fair amount of screen time and I’m ok with it. Would I prefer if they entertained themselves by reading books only? Probably. But since that’s not the case, and I suspect it isn’t for most children, I contend with the screen time they receive.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think letting kids watch TV passively for hours on end is a good thing. But there is screen time and screen time. Watching TV passively is not the same as playing a video game or communicating with friends on Facetime or Skype. Some kids also do their homework on a screen. Many would put all that in the same “screen time” category. But there are differences. And as long as they are all done in moderation, I think it is OK to let children, even at a very young age, have some screen time.
My kids are given an Ipad at school. From their tween years they get used to doing so much on a their Ipad. Homework at home, school work during class, communicating with teachers and each other.
I hear parents talk about the time limit they put on their children’s screen time. That’s important and surely makes people fee like responsible parents. But how about making the issue quality and not just quantity? Knowing what they are watching on TV, doing on their tablets, which video games they are playing is more important then limiting screen time, which is not all that useful when more and more homework, papers, book reports need to be submitted digitally.
Video games not only help children’s hand/eye coordination, but they teach them to search, negotiate, strategize and problem solve.
Using a tablet for school work has been shown to be so beneficial to many children. It encourages the quieter children to “raise their hand” digitally when the in class answer is expected digitally. It helps the rather disorganized child be more structured by placing items in different folders.
As long as we choose our children’s digital intake wisely, I believe that with the changing times, it is more beneficial to let them have the screen time then to deny it.

The Breastfeeding Wars

For some reason, it seems as there are two distinct categories of mothers: Breastfeeding Moms and Formula Feeding Moms. Since becoming a mom myself 13 years ago, I have encountered so many different reactions to any approach you take. If you are a breastfeeding mom who pumps and puts the breast milk in a bottle, you get comments, especially if you’re not doing this to go to work. Why would you forego the special bonding time that only breastfeeding provides?  If you’re a breastfeeding mom who chooses to alternate between formula and breast milk, you get comments for not giving breastfeeding more of a chance and introducing “garbage”. You must not value your baby’s well-being as much as you value your free time. You laugh, but I’m serious. I have literally heard a mom or two liken formula to garbage. No matter that it is packed with nutrients and is been known to hold a baby’s appetite for longer hours at a time.

Alternatively, many formula moms judge the breastfeeding moms as nature-loving “close to the earth” types. They often brand them as less sophisticated moms willing to let the world stop around them while they breastfeed for an hour at a time.

Wonder where I stand? I have alternated between bottle (formula) and breast for my first 3 babies, starting with mostly bottle with my first and increasing breast with my second and third. I used to carry my breast pump to Business School when my second child was 4 months old. But in 2003, Business Schools didn’t have a breastfeeding lounge, so I tried pumping from the bathroom stall and very soon gave up. My fourth was a breastfed baby all the way, until 15 months no less! But all that doesn’t tell you where I stand. I stand in the camp of respect.

Respect others’ choices and curb your preaching, because we don’t know people’s reasons for doing what they do. So please don’t judge a woman until you have walked a mile in her shoes, and focus on what’s really important: Bringing up well loved and well adjusted children! A Bottle or Formula Mom may need to bottle-feed because of work, because of health issues or past surgeries, because this is what her family life permits or simply because she does value her free time as it ultimately enables her to be a better mom. As for breastfeeding moms, there is nothing less unsophisticated then providing your baby with the antibodies that only breast milk could provide, while at the same time bonding with your child for hours. Personally, I am as close to a city girl as they come and yet I cherish my recent breastfeeding hours with the fondest memory.

Mommy, How do Babies Get in the Tummy?

We are all pretty capable and accomplished, so why is it that when our 3 or 4 year old suddenly looks up and out of nowhere asks: “Mommy, how do babies get in the tummy”?–we freeze, and are unsure on how to handle the situation?

Many of us have been there, and if you haven’t it will likely happen to you at some point so be prepared!

Some fun responses I’ve heard from Mommy friends include: “Babies grow in Mommies’ tummies after they go to college,
get a good job, fall in love and get married…Then the baby comes in their tummies.” or even “Babies get in mommies tummies when two people who love each are old enough and ready to have a baby together.”

Way back when, I had also chosen to include marriage in my explanation. Of course that became a problem when our then babysitter got pregnant without a husband. Babysitter became bombarded with questions like “how could that have happened?”…you could imagine. I was also proven wrong by my kids who now knew better.

 

Thankfully my kids start formally learning these things in school in a wonderful program about life values, starting at age 10 or 11. It takes the onus away from me from having to actually start all the not-so-fun conversations, yet gives them food for thought which they know they are always welcome to come share and discuss with me.

So what to do between ages 4 and 10? Between the time they start asking to the time they may learn about these things formally? I certainly don’t have the answer, but what I do know for sure is: Do answer! They will then know that their questions are important to you, and that they could come to you for questions and conversations. Especially because as they get older, they will find things out from friends and the way-too-accessible internet, so they may as well learn the truth from the most reliable source!