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Am I being a bad parent... by using the TV to keep my kids quiet while I work from home?

Three experts share their thoughts on a situation many parents have found themselves in lately.

Image: Shutterstock/Romrodphoto

EACH WEEK, WE hear from a reader who can’t figure out what to do about a tricky parenting situation. To get a balanced take on the dilemma, we ask Irish parenting experts to weigh in.

From choosing whether to push toilet training to allowing a baby to ‘cry it out’, being a parent involves decision after decision – and a whole lot of questioning yourself.

This week, one parent is torn over letting her children watch more TV than usual while she juggles working from home.

Have a parenting dilemma you’re struggling with? Let us know anonymously here and we’ll share it with our panel of experts.

This week’s dilemma

I’ve been working at home for over a week now and I’ve found it so hard to entertain my kids (aged three and four) at the same time. As a result, I’ve let them set up camp in front of the TV for a few hours during the day. There’s only one show that keeps them quiet (Hey Duggee), so they’ve been watching it on repeat. Usually we only allow screens once a day, for no more than 30 minutes.

I feel terrible about throwing this rule out the window, and I hate knowing they’re watching so much TV – never mind watching the same show over and over again – but I don’t think I have much of an option at the minute. Am I being unreasonable by letting my kids watch TV for hours when I’m working from home?

What the experts have to say

You’re not being unreasonable. These are difficult and unprecedented times for most parents (and children). There has to be a period of readjustment and setting new rhythms and boundaries that suit the circumstances in which we find ourselves. It’s extremely hard to do two jobs; work from home as if you were in a work place and mind two very young children. Many parents who work from home regularly have arrangements not to do the both things at exactly the same time.

So, if you don’t have extra help in the house, or the possibility of swapping work and child minding with your partner, you are going to have to find alternative things that your young children can do on their own whilst you work – and if it’s watching TV and they are happy, then so be it. This won’t last forever. Alternatives are to spend more time with them during the day doing activities such as arts and crafts, baking and exercising, and doing more of your work whilst they are in bed. The most important thing is that your children feel happy and reassured that all is well in their lives.

  - Krysia Lynch, Maternity Care Expert at Krysia.ie.

You are not being unreasonable. Our current circumstances are new to all of us and the challenge was sudden and unplanned. What I would say is, in my opinion, this new norm is not changing any time soon. Your current approach is only a short term solution, therefore it’s important for you to now accept the longer time line and psychologically prepare yourself that this is a marathon not a sprint. Try to figure out a new way of approaching your new circumstances if you can. In the long run, it will pay dividends for you all. Good luck and keep safe.

  - Deirdre Holland Hannon, Behaviour Specialist at @deehollhan.

You’re not being unreasonable at all. Firstly, well done to every parent for getting through their first week or so at home working while the kids are home too. You are one of so many parents that are in exactly the same boat. It’s an extremely challenging time for both parents and our children. Feeling overwhelmed right now is very natural and normal. As we are still getting our heads around changing behaviours, we are also finding what works for us as we juggle looking after children and being productive in our working roles. Please don’t feel guilty; we have to do what we have to do! 

 - Aoife Lee, Parent Coach at parentsupport.ie.

So what’s the final tally? Is this reader being unreasonable?

Yes – 0

No – 3

Have a parenting question you want answered? Let us know anonymously in our survey here or email us on family@thejournal.ie and we’ll put it to the experts.

More: Am I being a bad parent… by arguing with my husband in front of our kids? 

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