By now, I’m sure most of you have heard of one of the newest parenting trends called “sittervising” that has become a recent hit on TikTok. When I first heard of the term, I have to admit that it wasn’t quite obvious to me what exactly it entailed. But once I read up on what it was, I realized that I’m already an avid sitterviser—and I didn’t even know it.
What is sittervising?
Sittervising is supervising your kids from a seated position. Instead of always engaging in play with them, this trend encourages parents to sit back and watch their kids from a safe distance. Coined by Susan Allison, M. Ed, founder of the Busy Toddler Instagram account, “sittervising” is supportive of children and parents.
Picture this: Your children are playing while you are sitting back (on your couch, on a park bench, in a lawn chair) and watching them entertain themselves. You’re comfortable and your kids are safe and engrossed in their own play. It’s a win-win.
You are encouraging independent play while at the same time, getting a moment to put your feet up and relax a bit.
While sittervising doesn’t mean that you can never engage in play with your kids, it takes some of the pressure off parents to always be hands-on. And it promotes a safe environment for children to learn how to navigate self-regulation.
“The very basis of sittervising is to remove the adult from directly interacting (and sometimes interfering) with the child’s play or activity—because kids need play experiences without adults,” quotes Allison.
I believe that this parenting style is a good thing, especially for parents who never feel like they get a break. Sittervising is my way of gathering myself and collecting a few minutes of relaxation. It’s my way of rolling my eyes at the mom guilt that tries to creep in and make me believe that if I’m not engaged with my child every single second of every single day, then I’m a bad parent. I’m not.
Because of all the parenting trends that exist out there, sittervising reassures me that both my child and I matter. His safety is not forfeited and my peace of mind can be sustained (even if only for a little while).
Sittervising is a great tool for parents who often find themselves overwhelmed, exhausted and pressured to always be hands-on. It encourages natural development and stimulation within children that doesn’t include their parents always interfering with (and sometimes completely interrupting) their flow of active engagement.
When should you start sittervising?
You can start sittervising your kid from the time they’re just a baby. Of course, how you sittervise a six-month-old will look completely different from how you do a two-year-old. But the key is being aware of how you can allow the child to safely explore on their own while you simply disengage.
How you can sittervise
Simply create a safe environment for your child, place them in it, and take a seat. For younger kids, maybe it’s giving them a specific toy that you know entertains them. For older kids, maybe it’s giving them an activity or allowing them free reign to choose what they would like to do.
One of the most important things to remember about sittervising, though, is that you should always be monitoring the safety of your child. One way that I’ve been able to sittervise is by creating a safe environment for my child to exist in. His bedroom is child-proofed and there’s not really anything he can get into that would be harmful to him, so I often let him run wild and play while I sit in the rocking chair and watch him. Sometimes, I’ll even step into my room (which is right across from his) and watch him from his baby monitor. I find that removing myself often encourages him to get creative and become more engrossed in his play.
My son’s playpen is another secure area because it’s in our living room. I often plop him down in there and then snuggle on the couch with a book in my hand.
These moments, even if they’re a mere 20 minutes a day, give my child a chance to be in his own world without me hovering over him 24/7—and give me a chance to breathe without being attached to my kid all day.
I have the opportunity to take advantage of his independent play time and relax. Or, when sittervising doesn’t completely involve sitting down, I can tend to something that needs to be done—like folding the laundry, sweeping the floor or making dinner.
Many may say that sittervising is simply just “lazy parenting” but in actuality, it’s more of a conscious choice that is made to create benefits for both the parents and the child. And it addresses the parents as people with human wants and needs.
So you’ll find me sitting back and encouraging my child’s skill development through this parenting trend—while also making the most of the “me time” that I have the opportunity to get. Because I’m just one mama who needs a break from time to time—and sometimes, sittervising is the easiest way to sit back, kick my feet up and take a deep breath.
A version of this article was published in September 2022. It has been updated.