the blog

  • Hollyanne Simon

(Audio Version at the Bottom) This post is going to tell you all the do's and don'ts of screen time. What shows your kids should and should not watch, what games they should and should not play on their tablet and how much screen time is too much time. Here it is... Whatever works best for your children and family. Thats it. This is such a hot topic in the mommy space with some going as far to say that no child should have screen time and you are not doing what is best for your children if you have a television in your home. Right after you have your baby and go to the pediatrician they begin asking how much screen time your child gets since there are recommended amounts for each age. I remember being so scared because we often had Little Baby Bum on for Zeke as well as other music I would play through our TV. I was a new Mom and was constantly worried if I was doing the right or wrong thing for him. I am not a doctor but I believe "watching TV" is extremely subjective. 90% of the time the TV is on in our home, my boys have it on as background noise and glance up every so often while they are playing. As a baby when the TV was on my boys weren't looking at the screen, but instead were listening to the music which is imperative for so much developmentally, plus I want them to be a musician like myself and their grandfather, lol. Screen time is not a one size fits all and comes down to boundaries. When it comes to boundaries we all have different ones we set for things such as food, television, relationships, social media, purchasing habits, and everything in-between. Those boundaries are set based on our own personal is no different for children. Would you tell someone how much to spend or not spend on Amazon each month? Of course not. That would be ridiculous because there are way too many variables, plus...mind your own business (says the girl that gets multiple Amazon packages a day, lol). Some children may be overstimulated by screen time or you may see a negative change in their behavior if they have too much of it. Other children may learn and thrive from educational games and shows, it truly depends on the child. The only person that should be telling a parent how much screen time is too much is the parent themselves. Every family is going to have different boundaries for screen time and that is totally okay. One family may be anti TV where another family may have it on all of the time. When it comes to screen time, no family is doing it right or wrong. I have seen so many infographics circulating on social media (what else is new? I right? lol) that say that screen time is terrible and damaging for children. If you look up studies there are so many that have polar opposite findings and it can be very confusing. We can argue "facts" and "statistics" until we are blue in the face. My opinion still stands. The appropriate amount of screen time will look different for each child and it is up to the parent to decide what is best for their child. How can we say, "screens are terrible" or "2 hours is too long" when every child is different?

There are so many things that impact our children especially when it comes to the environment in the home. Although this may be more of an important issue for some families based on various experiences or needs of the child, I believe that generally speaking, there are much more important things to focus on within the home that impact a child's development and cognitive function. Some people choose to focus on one thing more than another, especially when it comes to judging other families that are doing things differently than they are. When I see a family that has a different structure than mine the first thing I notice is the love that child is receiving. Who cares that they do things differently than us? What matters is, that they are loved and happy...not what their bedtime routine is, if they have a stuffed animal in their crib, or how much TV they watched that day.

I am going to share with you what we do for screen time because I figure there will be questions but again, this is what works for us. No shame or judgement on any family that does things differently. After all, we are different families...things should look different! My boys are not interested in movies, of any kind. If the show does not have constant music, most of the time they will not watch it or even glance at it. Around here we stick to Little Baby Bum, Dave and Ava, Super Simple Songs and Blippi. Blippi was the first actual show without songs that both of the boys would watch although Zane is still not very interested. Typically the boys have about an hour-two hours a day of TV, somedays more and somedays less. When it comes to the tablet Zeke gets to play his educational games on it maybe once or twice each month. I keep it more for special occasions that may not be as fun like the doctor or the dentist or car trips. It is something that is not a constant in his life so he never asks about it and that is how we prefer to keep it for now. By the age of 2, although Zeke was not talking much, he could count to 20 (verbally and also visually could recognize and say each number) and knew his entire alphabet (verbally and also visually could recognize and say each letter). Now at 2.5 he knows all of his shapes, colors, says numbers all the way to 100, and also has a freaky memory. He can listen to a song once or watch a Blippi show once, and he will have the entire thing memorized. All of the melodies, the words, everything. We will be sitting at the table doing something else and without even seeing the show/song, as soon as it comes on he will begin reciting it. It is truly remarkable. I do spend a good amount of time, most days, working with my boys but he has learned so much from his shows and games and it is astounding. It is something that we believe is balanced well in our home for our boys and we have found what works for us! If you do not have a TV in your home, that is great, but that does not mean your choices are the "right way". It is what you have decided is best for your family, and no one can argue that. If you have the TV on non-stop because it allows you to spend time with your children while also working from home, that is awesome and you are a fantastic one can argue that. The comparison game in the motherhood space truly needs to stop. Lets focus on what we are doing for our own children and family before focusing on what other families are doing for their children. I don't know about you, but I am busy enough with my own children. I don't need to be concerning myself with how parents are raising theirs. We need to spend more time lifting each other up instead of loudly screaming what we believe is best for children. Do what is best for your children and I will be over here doing what I believe is best for mine...while supporting, encouraging and reminding you how great of a mama you are!

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  • Hollyanne Simon

(Audio Version Down Below) There is so much pressure for us mamas on social media. Everything from what our kids are wearing, eating, watching/not watching, and especially when it comes to the toys they are playing with and the activities they are doing. My degree is in Child and Family Development from SDSU, and before I had children of my own I spent years teaching, writing curriculum, coming up with activities, buying toys, etc. I learned about all different types of toys, play styles, activity stations and more. I believe that the type of play is much more important than what the child is actually playing with. So many toys can be open ended...they don't need to be wooden or organic. Every toy can be expanded upon. Every child is different. What overstimulates one child may not overstimulate another. One child may be really excited about building whereas another child would rather color. Many of the toys we have that light up, have a screen, or play music...I have seen my boys do incredible things with such as stack blocks on top of them, try and balance them on top of one another, sing along with the songs and more. My two year old can count to 20, knows all his shapes visually and by name, and knows all of his letters visually and by name. A big part of that came from the leapfrog laptop which is one of his favorite toys. He knows the melodies of all of the songs. When it names the animals, he will run and get the animal that it says. Just because it has batteries does not mean children cannot expand on what the toy does with their imagination and creativity. He is very musical and the rate he memorizes toys music, sounds and the order everything plays in is quite astounding. Does he also love building? Yes. Does he also love creating shapes with his wooden rainbow? Yes. But in our home we do not stick to one genre of toys as we believe there are good things and amazing learning opportunities from all toys! Comparing children is never a good idea (besides medical professionals), when it comes to personalities, likes or dislikes, temperament and developmental milestones. Every child is different so we can't say, "these toys are the best" or "children should not play with these types of toys". I have seen so many infographics comparing wooden toys to plastic toys and then listing why the wooden ones are better. As a mother it can leave me feeling not good enough or questioning if my child should be playing with those types of toys. Thankfully I know better but I think this way of thinking and spreading information is so toxic and quite frankly is shaming Mothers for what they do and do not purchase for their littles. Before having my boys I knew I wanted them to love playing independently and I wanted to provide them every opportunity to do so. That to me is much more important than what they are playing with. Of course there are some incredible toys out there but I truly believe almost all toys can be open-ended, even if they are plastic or light up and play music. We have a wide range of toys in our home and when I say wide, I mean W I D E. Like, my husband says if one more toy enters our house it will explode...type of wide. Can anyone relate? We have everything from wooden toys that were my grandfathers, trendy aesthetically pleasing toys from small shops or even some from Amazon, to the leap frog light up books and laptop, to every single little people play-set they have ever made (not exaggerating), to wooden building blocks, plastic building blocks, endless amounts of books, balls, plastic animals, dolls and pretty much everything in between. My boys love all of it. Imagination can be seen in children playing with all types of toys, not just Montessori or Waldorf toys. Putting pressure on moms to buy certain types of toys or saying that these toys are better than another is just bad information. If your child is easily overstimulated or you prefer those types of toys that is of course okay, but not every child is like your child and not every family is like your family. It is fine to prefer a certain style of toys over another, but shaming another parent who has different toys than your child or saying that these toys are better than my opinion...needs to stop. I think it is also important to remember many families do not have the financial means to purchase all the ‘instagram worthy’ organic-New-Montessori-Neutral toys. So lets stop saying that is a must have. Kids are happy with a water bottle, and Walmart toys aren’t the devil. Children can build with things they find around the house like plastic cups, play kitchen with things from the kitchen or play with a container filled with water. Second hand toys are always amazing too including things you may find at a yard sale. Last weekend I got the boys two big bags of little soft plastic cars which they love (and have been now discontinued), and they are thrilled with them. When it comes to children's imagination, the opportunities are endless. Something I do each day when cleaning up after the boys have gone to bed is rotate their toys out. Each day they play with different toys and read different books. It would be impossible to put out everything they own, but this way they are constantly working on different skills and using their imaginations with wide ranges of toys and activities. It is a great way to make a few toys go a long way as well. At the end of the day you know your child best. If your kid prefers the leap frog laptop over building blocks that does not mean they are unintelligent, screen addicted, and going no where in life. We have a mixture of toys in our home and the boys are happy, healthy, learning and thriving. Every child is amazing in their own way. Lets not limit them, and don't forget, you are doing an amazing job with what you have, Mama! **For those of you that may be looking for some toys for your littles or some activity ideas, check out my Amazon storefront. I have everything on there that I have gotten from Amazon (including the shelf and rug in the photo). We also have toys from small shops, Walmart, yard sales, and more!

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  • Hollyanne Simon

(Scroll Down for Audio Version) On Tuesday we said goodbye to our home and it’s been a difficult transition for me. Partly because we still don’t have somewhere to live, plus COVID, plus fires, plus new orders in a new city and a new way of life that we are anticipating as a Navy family. It takes a lot for me to feel overwhelmed, but all of this on top of our routine being off...I’m kind of a mess. But it is okay. 

This is our sixth move in seven years and I’ve never been attached to any of our places we lived. I always have cherished memories and take a ton of photos but now as Mother, I’m finding it hard to leave the home where we started our family. Every single first you can imagine we experienced in that home and I get so emotional just thinking of it all. My boys are my world and everyday I enjoyed looking around each room and remembering such sweet moments. We won’t have that at our next place, but I look forward to the new memories we will create. 

I am also a person that needs closure. We were supposed to PCS in May but then it changed to September and we were thrilled. I thought I had so much extra time to spend with my friends and at our incredible Church, and then COVID happened and shut everything down here in March. I had no time. In my mind I haven’t had the proper goodbyes, the hangouts I wanted to have, the play dates, coffee visits, dinner dates, etc...and now we are leaving. I’m bummed and super sad about it if I’m being honest. 

We still don’t know when we will be at our new duty station, although we need to be there by October 9th. We don’t know where we will be living, what the home or neighborhood will be like...nothing. We are pretty much going in blind. I’m not really scared though, or anxious. I’m more annoyed and frustrated that we are not able to do anything about our current situation and that everything is in limbo. I’m upset for my boys and if I think about it hard enough I feel like I’m failing them as a Mom. We thrive on our routine, structure and stability and so much has changed and is out of our control. We are thankful to have a place to live right now with my family while we are technically homeless, but it isn’t my norm and it’s hard for me. As a military spouse I’m good with change and flexibility but usually I am able to keep my routine and structure. I’m not able to right now and it’s challenging me. 

Every hardship we have been through as a family, we have come through stronger and more equipped for future trials. I think back to so many seasons where I asked myself, “how will we get through this?” Where things felt impossible and overwhelming. But we made it.

Although we are in such a season of uncertainty I still remain grateful. 

I’m grateful for more time with family and close friends-like-family

I’m grateful for precious time with my husband

I’m grateful for the many blessings we have because of the military 

I’m grateful Chris and I both have stable jobs and income 

and the list goes on...

In this season I will recognize what’s hard and feel those feelings but I will keep my spirit of positivity and gratitude. We will make it through this season, stronger...and with lots of stories to tell for the future.

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