by Shadra Bruce

Let’s face it, whether you’re a single parent or just home alone with the kids, there are times when you simply need to take a break. When the kids were younger and Dave was still part of the corporate world, there were times when he was traveling or away from home for long hours. As a stay at home mom, my job was to take care of my babies, something I did with ultimate joy. But there were days when I had a migraine, or the flu, orĀ  needed to get something done – or just didn’t feel like actively parenting. And you know what? Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues helped me out. It doesn’t make me a bad mom; it makes me human. And my kids, now 8 and 11 and totally embarrassed that they ever watched Dora and Blue’s Clues are not impaired by the experience. If anything, watching Dora sparked Parker’s desire to be multilingual.

As with anything we do, it’s a matter of balance. If I sat my kids in front of the TV every day for four hours, it would be irresponsible. But I’m not at all opposed to catching a half an hour break here and there when needed (or, a whole day of laying in bed together watching movies when I have a migraine). It was age appropriate and educational.

Now that the kids are older and Dave and I both work from home, TV is rarely an issue. We only have basic cable – enough to pull in basic news stations. However, we still rely on the TV to give us a much-needed break. The kids aren’t old enough to be left alone, and when Kira is away at school, we don’t have a sitter. Are we bad parents for wanting to have a break? Nope. We monitor what our kids watch and engage them in conversations about what they see. We balance their TV watching with other things, like going outside to play, playing board games, reading books, and being creative. Turning the kids loose with a favorite movie gives us a couple of hours to talk, share a French film (thank you, Netflix!) or take a break from active parenting, and that makes us better parents when we are engaged with the kids.