I bring my kids with me to the gym often, especially in the Summer months, when my teacher husband is home and he and I get the chance to do a workout together. The kids are very used to this drill and part of the routine involves watching iPad videos. There’s a great front foyer at my gym; a large, open area overlooking the workout floor but separated by a half-wall. They set up their chairs, I set up the Netflix, and they don their headphones and lay out the snacks. For one hour, three or four days a week, they get an hour of iPad time and my husband and I get an hour of fitness and friends.
But I wonder about the judgement.
We almost always bring the iPad to the gym. They almost always use it for the entire hour. I almost always wonder if we should bring books and scooters instead.
Here’s the thing: we are pretty strict about screen time. My kids each get 20-30 minutes per day. Usually my son chooses an iPad game and my daughter chooses a Netflix cartoon, and in the Summertime, they often use their screen time right after breakfast. On CrossFit days, they use it at the gym. We are an active family with a busy life and we throw in a family afternoon movie once in a while and watch nearly all Jays games in their entirety. TV is a part of our life, but not a big part, so why do I feel so guilty about plugging them in while I work out? Perhaps it’s because of my worry about public perception or perhaps it’s because of the contradiction between their physical inactivity during my physical activity.
Whatever the reason, I’m trying to adopt my husbands stance on this (and on many things), “we do what’s right for our family.” Yes, we do. And this works for us.
The truth is, I’m not a huge TV person; my screen of choice is my phone. But I do enjoy decompressing on the couch at the end of the day, nearly every day, with my husband, the TV in the background and my iPhone in the foreground. My blog post last week talked about my need for daily solitude and downtime, both of which my kids deserve to have as well. And if that downtime is sometimes done in front of a screen for sixty minutes, then so be it.
My kids love coming to the gym. They love flipping on the rings, hanging from the pullup bars, swinging the kettlebells, and having their iPad time. And when they grow up and look back on Summer childhood memories, I know that an iPad screen will not be a major player. “We do what’s right for our family.” 3-2-1-Go.