In January of 2016, I quit my full-time office job to work from home. I was optimistic, and genuinely excited to join the unstoppable force of WAHMs! My vision consisted of a cozy in-home office, waking up early to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and writing through the peaceful hours of the morning.
My then 3-year-old would wake up, curl up on the couch and watch cartoons or play ABC Mouse. We would take a mid-morning walk followed by me lovingly tucking her in for an afternoon nap. After that, I’d finish any work tasks at-hand and be done in plenty of time to start dinner. HA!
My first day at home began with my daughter waking me up (peaceful hours lost), and crying until breakfast. She then gave her breakfast to the dog, slipped and fell on mega blocks and knocked over a vase of flowers that covered my laptop in water. It didn’t survive.
By the time afternoon nap rolled around I was still un-showered, wearing sweatpants and a frown. I wanted the comforting arms of my dependable, patient, childcare provider. I wanted my organized desk back in my quiet office with adults. And a working computer. I wanted to pack up my now destroyed home workspace, change my name and head for the border.
By the time afternoon nap rolled around I was still un-showered, wearing sweatpants and a frown.
Without getting into the screen time debate, let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of YouTube and YouTube Kids. Both applications are suitable for kids of most ages, if you use them correctly. YouTube Kids, however, is much easier to tailor to the way that you want your child to watch.
Full of handy parental controls, with YouTube Kids you are able to block content, limit access to approved content and turn off the search option. Also, and this is my favorite aspect…you can set a timer! This little perk is perfect for people like me who get immersed in their work and need reminders to turn off YouTube or make lunch or that their kids are even home. I’m kidding, I’m kidding.
This little perk is perfect for people like me who get immersed in their work…
YouTube Kids is packed with learning songs and shows that offer a pretty decent academic boost for the little ones. However, my little cherub cast aside the brightly colored animated educational videos when she discovered something that blew her little mind. She could sit in the comfort of her own living room, and without moving a muscle, she could watch other children open and play with toys. She was immediately addicted.
I admit, when I was first introduced to the idea of watching another kid open toys, I could not wrap my brain around what was so appealing about it. I was disgusted with all of it, and spent more time than I care to admit complaining about her watching other kids have fun while her own toys gathered dust.
I was disgusted with all of it, and spent more time than I care to admit complaining about her watching other kids have fun while her own toys gathered dust.
I was irritated by Ryan’s Toy Review and his upsettingly cheerful (medicated?) parents planning elaborate games and challenges made just for his ever expanding YouTube audience.
That kid makes over 11 million dollars a year because he can open a toy on camera and play with it. Round of applause, Ryan! You’re officially famous and you’ve done less than Kim Kardashian. That in itself is an accomplishment. I was a hater.
I started to slowly come around when I realized that my daughter was pulling a ton of inspiration from these videos to make up her own games, as well as to create story-lines for her toys. Once the obsession with just watching another person have fun wore off (and trust me when I say it wears off quickly), she began to want to make her own play just as fun and imaginative. We branched out from Ryan’s Toy Review, which was fine with me because I still can’t stand his parents, and began to explore other toy channels that were popular on YouTube Kids.
She was not only watching, but she was learning. She learned everything there is to know about dinosaurs from ToyLabTV. She fueled her obsession for horses and riding through Honey Hearts C. She was getting good solid doses of real-life, family-friendly fun from her favorite family vlog, Daily Bumps. She’s learned more about science from watching other kids experiment on YouTube than she has so far in school.
She’s learned more about science from watching other kids experiment on YouTube than she has so far in school.
My favorite part of YouTube is watching her get excited to try something. Whether it’s a new slime recipe or a painting technique, her eyes light up with excitement and she dances from foot to foot while she’s explaining to me what she wants to do.
Some things are a yes, such as coloring hot rocks with crayons. Some things are a no, like filling our tub with Lucky Charms and milk then snorkeling in it. You learn to choose your YouTube battles as you go.
We are now two and a half years past that first disastrous day. In that time I have purchased a new laptop, evolved my freelance business and found the time to make another baby.
I take a minute out of every day to fully appreciate the gift of YouTube. I briefly considered sending extravagant gift baskets to YouTube headquarters when I had six weeks of all-day morning sickness, a business to run and an entertained four-year old.
Times have changed. Life is busier. The way kids learn is evolving. Let’s evolve with it.
Encourage outside play as much as you can, mamas, but don’t ever be ashamed to take screen time and use it to your advantage. Times have changed. Life is busier. The way kids learn is evolving. Let’s evolve with it. ★
Chelsie Dautrich is a full time freelancer/online shopper and work at home mom. She lives in Upstate New York with her two girls, one husband and one rescue dog. Likes: Coffee, shopping, the written word, horses and really long walks without her phone. Dislikes: Making dinner, lines and reduced fat Oreos.