I find myself constantly telling my kids "enough iPad---go play outside" or "no more games on my phone---find something else to do!" or "the movie is over---go play with your toys or something else for a while." I am constantly worrying they are having too much screen time, then feeling guilty about it, and finding myself telling them to do ANYTHING ELSE!
Yesterday I came downstairs to my 3-year-old setting up an "obstacle course" in our living room. Every book from the bookshelf built into jumping barriers, every pillow and blanket from the couch weaved into a maze, every DVD and random item from the entertainment center as more obstructions for his course. And what do I do? I start getting angry about the huge mess he has made, asking him why he needed every last candle and book and that he was going to have to help me clean this up. Then I took a second, kicked myself in the face and got on his level and said "I'm sorry." Here he was, using his imagination, playing on his own, and most importantly, NOT with a screen, and I was mad he made a mess! Kick. In. My. Face. I asked him to show me how to do the course, I timed him over and over, and then he timed me. Why do I never win? The rest of the day I thought back to times I told him no to painting because it was going to be too messy, or sighed when I walked into his room I had just cleaned and saw all his toys
dumped out of the buckets. I cannot have my cake and eat it too. I can't get on him for screen time (which is nice and clean) but then get on him for making a mess (when he is doing exactly what I told him to do). So, I made a parenting mission statement, if you will, last night, in my head. I will never be mad at him for making messes (within reason) if he is using his imagination, if he is being creative or entertaining himself. If I want him to have less screen time, sign me up for more messes please.
So, in case I am not alone in being a hypocrite mom, let's remember we want them to make messes, to be silly, and to play with all those toys we buy them. Especially because we don't want them to watch those random people play with those toys on Kids - Youtube (anyone know what I am talking about?)