OK I Admit It! I Let My Toddler Play Games on My Phone

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We’ve all seen it: a mom hands a toddler her cell phone in the grocery store. Suddenly, all the Carols and Janets within a one-mile radius flock to the scene, clicking their tongues and looking on disapprovingly, as if toddler phone games were the parental equivalent of handing your child a cigarette.

I’ll admit it right here: I occasionally let my toddler use my phone. In fact, I’ve even downloaded a few toddler phone apps specifically for his use. 

ALERT THE AUTHORITIES!

Sometimes a parent NEEDS to use toddler phone games 

I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’ve spent probably 95% of my toddler’s waking hours with him during his lifetime– caring for him, talking to him, affirming his emotions.

Occasionally though, I need to accomplish something and my ability to think clearly with a soundtrack of screaming and whining has gradually declined over time.

Maybe it’s aging, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve birthed a boatload of boys — whatever it is, my brain, the one that runs this family circus show, it sure ain’t what it used to be.

Sometimes I can chat endlessly, discipline intentionally, or carry on while my toddler has a full-blown meltdown in public about having to sit in the cart. Sometimes I can carefully supervise my toddler so he can help me push the cart and collect groceries without accidentally destroying everything in Aisle 14.

Other times, I’m 72-months-pregnant, we haven’t slept in days, Dad’s on another business trip, and I just can’t handle one more second of my toddler whining. At that point, it’s my toddler game apps to the rescue! My toddler can have a few minutes of screen time and I can complete a full thought.

Every generation has their “thing” and, for us, that thing is phones (so hold your horses, Judgy Janet). 

Laptops, ipads, cell phones — they weren’t a thing “back then.” Still, I’m sure there was *something* that parents in the 1980s did that made the 1960s-parents shake their heads. And I’m sure there was something the 1960s-parents did that the 1940s-parents found appalling. 

How do I know? Because judging other parents is a timeless tradition.

How many kids you have, what you feed them, how you discipline them — pick a topic, any topic–someone has an opinion about how you’re doing it wrong.

Screen time and phone games for toddlers are just the latest iteration in the Parent Judging Olympics.

Sometimes a parent NEEDS to use toddler phone games  I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’ve spent probably 95% of my toddler’s waking hours with him during his lifetime-- caring for him, talking to him, affirming his emotions. Occasionally though, I need to accomplish something and my ability to think clearly with a soundtrack of screaming and whining has gradually declined over time.

But you know what? If smart phones and games existed for any of the other generations, I bet they would’ve used them too. I’m sure of this because, as much as times may change, there’s one thing every generation of parents has in common: the occasional desire for a few moments of peace so they don’t lose their ever-loving minds!

Toddler phone games are really not that big a deal. Really.

Do toddlers need to learn to wait? Of course they 

do.

They need to learn patience, they need to learn socialization — in short, they need to learn how to be actual functioning people in this world. But a toddler playing games on a phone for a few minutes here and there isn’t going to interfere with that.

(Not convinced? Check out what the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has to say.)

What these screens will interfere with is me forgetting the toilet paper at Target, even though it’s printed RIGHT THERE there on my list, for the third shopping trip in a row. 

And THAT is something to celebrate!

If you’re a parent that doesn’t use toddler phone games (or possibly even any screens at all) as part of your parenting philosophy, that’s great. You do what works for you.

But if you’re a parent that occassionally resorts to a screen for some back-up as you’re navigating the oh-so-long days of early parenthood — there’s nothing wrong with that either (and you’re in good company)!

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