Mom Confession: My Kids Watched TV on the Way to School This Morning

Right around the time I started having kids, portable DVD players for the backseat of your car became a big thing. A lot of minivans and SUVs even had screens installed right in the vehicles themselves! That’s fine for other people, I thought sanctimoniously to myself, but my kids are going to learn to entertain themselves.

This morning, I caved. My elementary-aged daughters watched the pilot episode of Gummy Bears on the way to school, and they loved it. In between fighting traffic and reminiscing about my own childhood (because hi, it was Gummy Bears, and I had forgotten all about Gummy Berry Juice), I thought about one of my favorite quotes: You can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sails.


Things change, and rigidity never helps anything in the end. Then again, consistency is important too. So how do you know the difference between giving in and making adjustments?

So about this TV in the car thing ... My kids have never really hounded me to watch TV in the car on short trips. Also, until last spring, they only occasionally spent more than 12 minutes in the car at a time. But then we moved, and now their school is a solid half an hour or more away in rush-hour traffic.

Then there’s the TV-during-the-week rule I’ve been pretty good about maintaining. Weekends used to be filled with tons of TV, so I figured school nights didn’t need to be filled with brain rot too. But ever since their dad and I separated, I only see them every other weekend, so those Saturdays and Sundays are spent running around having fun, not watching TV.

This morning as I pulled out of the driveway, on time (!!), and so amazed by these girls and what a great job they did today getting ready for school, and thought to myself ... what am I thinking? Why can’t they watch TV on the way to school?

I pulled over (on my residential side street because, for the record, fiddling on iPhones and driving don’t mix) and found the first episode of one of my favorite childhood shows. I handed it over and told them, “I want you to know how proud I am of you getting ready so nicely in the mornings, especially since you have to get up earlier now. Would you like to watch a show on the way to school?”

"WOOOHOOOOOO!" they both hollered. They loved it, by the way.

I don’t feel like I caved in. I don’t feel inconsistent in my parenting. I feel like the wind changed, and I adjusted my sails.

Do you let your kids watch TV in the car? Am I getting entirely too philosophical about commutes and cartoons? How different would road trips as a kid been if we'd had cartoons in the backseat?

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