Imagine Parenting

I must say I’m loving all the memes, videos, tic tocs, tweets and more about home schooling. All the gratitude pouring out for teachers. The sudden realisation that home schooling is not for many of us. Most of us are now getting a taste of hands on parenting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Over the past few weeks social distancing has challenged many of us. When my eldest two were young in the 90s I went to work for £10 less than the childcare cost because being at home all day with 2 young children reached it’s limit. I’d lost the ability to hold adult conversation. My confidence was wiped. I sang Barney songs in my sleep.

Let’s look at that. I knew every single Barney song inside out and backwards. 10yrs later when I had my second round of toddlers I still knew every song from the first note of the intro. I’m sure I still do. Why? We watched a lot of TV. Back then I was having lots of seizures so the safest place in the house was the sitting room. If I had a seizure the girls would be safe  They watched a lot of TV. We did watch a lot of educational children’s shows and plenty of National Geographic. We had lots of educational toys and books too. They are both teachers now so it can’t have been as bad as society would have you think.

We beat ourselves up about screens. In the 90s it was TV. Now it’s gaming. The hours I spent watching TV as a kid, the hours my eldest kids spent watching it has mostly been replaced by gaming in my house. There is lots of research about screens, consoles, phones, tablets etc being bad for children’s development and I don’t dismiss that. Like most parents I agonised about gaming and managed to keep the main consoles out of the picture until they were all double digits. Here’s HSE guidelines Screen Time & Younger Children designed for under 5s.

Now I have something they care enough about that they happily do what’s asked of them for screen time in return. I finally have barter power. Something for the rewards chart! Knowing what games your children play and who they play with is important. Watch the impact a game has on them and if it increases their anxiety or aggression that needs to be discussed with them, calmly with a view to learning from it. Internet safety is another aspect we should be well aware of. People they play with, even friends, have the capacity to be bullies and there are terrible stories of online predators. A government resource on internet safety is Be Safe Online.

At this time, as we stay home for Covid19, many of us would be lost without gaming and screen time . I love the fact that my children are keeping in touch with friends and family online. I’ve even changed my stance and don’t mind them buying some online credit for their game. I think we can beat ourselves up too much and that is no good for anyone. Imagine if we stopped beating ourselves up as parents? Imagine when this is all over we appreciate the fact that technology doesn’t have to be the enemy. What was our TV growing up is now our children’s gaming.

Theresa O’Donohoe

5th April 2020

 


2 thoughts on “Imagine Parenting

  1. Imagine my mother, widowed by the war, with two children in a rural area much more remote than where you are now. No car, no TV, no telephone (not even a public telephone within 2 miles, until she campaigned for and got one which tought me about local activism!).

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