Stop what you’re doing right now. I’m serious. Put down the dirty laundry, stick your kid in front of a show, and pay close fucking attention. I am about to share the single most important Instagram post you will scroll by today.
If your self-quarantine has been anything like mine, you’re probably running in family-sized circles inside of your house, buckling under the ridiculous pressures of homeschooling, ugly crying in front of your kids on the regular, tripping over every single toy on your damn floor, and wondering when the hell this pandemic will be over.
I get it. I really do. This shit is beyond tough. But parents, please know that you can rest easy now. Because Glennon Doyle has got a plan for us.
In a thoroughly entertaining social media post, the Untamed author talks about a phone call she had recently with a distraught mom friend. As her toddler howled like a wild animal in the background, the woman verbally purged out all of the mom guilt she was experiencing from allowing her kid to have too much “TV time.” Doyle stopped her friend in her tracks, gave her some ass-kicking advice, and makes a powerful observation that we all need to hear right now.
“Parents, listen to me and listen good,” she writes. “TV TIME is for PEACE TIMES. You know what TV TIME is during the corona? TV time is ALLLL THE TIMES. ALL THE TIMES. ALL.”
Cue my long-awaited sigh of relief. Someone finally said the thing we’re all secretly feeling paranoid about, and she’s letting us off the fucking hook. It amazes me that I still even require an outside voice to help assure me that I’m not royally screwing up my children by letting them do day-long marathons of Daniel Tiger. We moms are so fucking hard on ourselves, and it shows. Enough, I say. We deserve better. And thankfully, Doyle is here to help us.
“You know I love you, and I always try to be gentle,” she explains. “But this mom-shaming yourself during a global pandemic is where I must draw the line.”
Doyle spent several years as a third-grade teacher, but had to quit because her salary wasn’t enough to cover the cost of daycare for her children. In an effort to keep working, the mother of three opened up a home-based preschool in her basement. After the kids were picked up at the end of the day, Doyle would work well into the night on lesson plans.
She asked parents to report back to her whatever their children said that they learned during the school day as a way of helping her know what to teach. Every single one had the same damn response. Each kid remembered the final activity of the day and forgot everything else.
“Here is what I learned about children,” she says. “All you have to do is finish strong, okay?”
This philosophy has been working for Doyle ever since her third child came along. With her first two children, she had been obsessed with monitoring screen time, making sure her they were checking off all of their developmental boxes, and being an all-around superhero. Then she birthed her third baby, and shit hit the fan. She got looser with screens, relaxed about always being “on” with the kids, and enacted what she fondly calls “mediocre parenting.”
When she noticed later on that there was virtually no difference between any of her children despite her becoming lax about so much with the final one, Doyle realized that she had been placing an undue burden on herself. Her three kids turned out great, and it didn’t matter how much or little they binge-watched Gravity Falls during their childhoods.
Maybe, just maybe, we can all let this mom’s words soak in and finally grant ourselves the permission to calm the fuck down now. And it just might start by modeling some royally awesome, Glennon Doyle-approved mediocre child-rearing. “Listen to me, parents of young ones,” she says. “After breakfast, read a book with them. Okay? Great. That’s starting strong. Then a quick seven-hour TV show. Then before dinner, turn off the TV, and do something cool. Something fun. Not Pinterest fun. Just easy fun. A board game, ‘I spy’ — that is finishing strong. Then dinner. Then obviously another family show. That is ‘The Corona Plan.'”
If your child is school-aged, Doyle hilariously recommends that you just mute the TV and turn on closed captions to teach them about reading. If they want some water, just encourage them to get it for themselves, and you’ll have a PE sesh in the bag. Ask them how many episodes of The Mandalorian they just watched, and their answer can count as math for the day.
And if they whine about being – gasp! – too tired of watching a shit ton of TV?
“You look them in the eye,” Doyle advises. “You say, ‘Baby, keep going. You got this. You can do hard things. Get back in front of that TV. Carry on, warrior.'”
The self-proclaimed “world-renowned de-motivational speaker” goes one step further for any caregivers who felt wary of her emboldened suggestions. She provides parents with a New York Times article written by two Oxford professors that’s entitled “Don’t Freak Out About Quarantine Screen Time,” and it serves as a sophisticated reminder that our children are all going to be okay if we can just fucking relax a little bit.
At the end of her epic pep talk, Doyle reminds us all that the best thing we can do for our kids is to embody a shame-free environment. And I couldn’t be more on board with that. As she so eloquently states in her post, now is a better time than ever to take the easy way out whenever possible. We are all collectively going through something profoundly disruptive and even traumatic at the moment, and all our children honestly need right now is to feel safe and loved. With so many parents struggling to make ends meet, worrying about how they’ll feed their kids, or balancing the impossible demands of working and 24/7 parenting, the last thing any of us should be dealing with is guilt that has no right being there.
Let’s take a page out of Glennon Doyle’s book and not make this temporary chapter more painful on ourselves. Our kids will thank us for it, I pinky-promise you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go replay Frozen 2 for the millionth time today.
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