Before I had a baby I was fairly adamant that I wasn’t going to be one of those parents who let their children watch lots of television. I had beautiful fantasies of me and my baby playing together on the floor, giggling and happy all day long. It was a shock to realise that actually babies are initially pretty limited to what they can do and how they can engage.
I was blessed with what I describe as a ‘High Maintenance’ baby, one who didn’t want to be left alone for more than 7 minutes. That was the magic number. She would play on a mat for 7 minutes, she would be held by someone else for 7 minutes, she refused rocking/bouncing chairs, and there’s little else you can do with a baby of three months. That seemed to be the extent of her attention span. Once those 7 minutes in heaven were up it was back into my arms, not content with that alone, I had to be moving, while playing music. Joy. I was exhausted, the house was a tip and I was beginning to smell pretty bad.
Then one day, one magnificent, wonderful day while perusing YouTube I found a video, “Baby Einstein Orchestra” it called itself. I knew my little beast had a penchant for brass bands (a story for another day) so I thought I would give it a go. My baby stared agog at the screen as puppets and cartoons danced about and played various instruments. She sat silently, drinking it in…for 15 minutes! I almost wet my pants! Imagine, imagine the things you can achieve in 15 minutes… Washing up, vacuuming, a shower, a crossword, a workout, or what I did, make a cup of tea and eat cake while checking out Facebook. Bliss.
Over time I discovered other Baby Einstein videos. Some clever people had cut out the boring bits and made clips of just the puppets (which I found far less annoying), these went on for over and hour. My 7 minute baby sat and watched these for up to 45 minutes with the help of some other devices (will discuss this in another post). At first I felt a little guilt (see first post), but what I came to realise was that the space that Baby Einstein gave me, allowed me to achieve some of the basics that then meant when I did play with my little one, I was 100% engaged with her. I wasn’t thinking about the cleaning that needed to be done or what to cook for dinner that night, I had already attended to these while she enjoyed a bit of Baby Einstein, I was just in the present enjoying that moment. A true gift!
So, for any tired parents out there, desperately in need of some time and space from their wee one, I can highly recommend trying a bit of television. It may initially feel wrong, but if baby is enjoying it and it allows you to achieve those basic daily tasks, do it. You may find that it frees you to enjoy the time you spend with your baby more…