One of the things I always tell other parents -- especially other working moms who are struggling with their juggling of career and motherhood -- is that they shouldn't feel bad about letting their little kids watch TV if they need to get their work done.
It's something I really believe is OK. It's something I do more often than I'd like. And it's something that makes me feel like a total hypocrite because, half a lifetime ago, when I was a nanny, I never turned the TV on when the kids were around. Ever.
It was a matter of pride, sometimes, but more often than not it was because the parents I worked for didn't want their kids staring at the TV. And sometimes, it was extremely difficult -- a long winter trip to Florida with three kids and no car comes to mind -- but they were the parents, so their word was law.
Now, I'm the parent. And, while I still use some of the TV-free tricks I learned way back then, there definitely are times -- often when I have work to do from home and the kids aren't in school -- when I'll pop in a DVD of "The Backyardigans" and only turn it off when I realize, all of a sudden, that my little guys have just watched four episodes in a row.
Adding to the guilt: The American Association of Pediatrics says that kids under the age of 2 watch too much television. Granted, my 2-year-old isn't getting four hours of tube time at a pop. And there's a huge difference between "Curious George" and "Cops." But still.
How much TV do your kids watch per day? Are they doing other things while the TV is on (mine usually are), or are they absorbed in the show?
Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.