Like many '80s babies I know, I have a solid collection of classic Disney movies on VHS. I'm pretty sure they don't sell VCRs anymore, so it's a good thing my mom is kind of a hoarder and saved one of my old TVs that has a built-in VCR. When my mom found out I was pregnant, she excitedly bequeathed that hunk of junk to me, reminding me of all the special times we spent watching Disney movies together. As kids, my brothers and I could get out of going to school by begging my mom to watch Lady and the Tramp in her bed, and we still joke about doing it to get out of adulting. I was looking forward to sharing those types of memories with my daughter, but wasn't envisioning that Disney cuddle session until she was at least 3 or 4 years old. I am so happy to say that I was wrong! My daughter is 18 months old, and we crush Disney movies together.
Don't tell my mom, but I rarely use the VHS tapes. The TV is small and the picture, obviously, is a little blurry and doesn't grab my daughter's attention. Also, now we have Disney+. It's totally surpassed Netflix as my favorite streaming service. Disney+ starts at $6.99 a month, and for that price, you get access to every Disney movie ever made, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the live-action Lady and the Tramp, plus the whole Marvel universe, Pixar movies, National Geographic shows, and all of the Star Wars collection. I'm sure I sound like a big Disney nerd, but when I saw the long list of titles available, my jaw dropped.
When Disney+ launched, I knew exactly where to start. My go-to is The Lion King, so I sat my little girl next to me on the couch one afternoon and put it on. I hoped we would get at least through Simba's intro to the Pride Lands before she lost interest, but she was hooked the whole time (minus a few breaks to try to eat a crayon, get water, etc.). She was waving her little arms to all the songs and doing her soft lion roar at Mufasa, and I was basically weeping with joy. I have so many vivid memories of experiencing Disney movies with my mom, my brothers, and my friends, and it is amazing to watch my daughter start to make these kinds of memories.
I love introducing her to Disney's timeless stories, and to the strong female leads of more recent Disney movies. I want my daughter to know that if Moana can leave Motunui, sail across the sea, and restore the heart of Te Fiti, she can do anything she puts her mind and heart into. Obviously, my 18-month-old is a little young to process those kinds of ideas, but you better believe I am giving her those lessons the whole time anyways.
Since my daughter is younger, I have yet to put in place any strict parameters around screen time. The AAP suggests about an hour a day for a child my daughter's age, and most Disney movies aren't much longer than that. But from my point of view, she gets so much stimulation during the day that I don't think a movie in the afternoon will harm her. My only rule is that we're watching it together, snuggled up on the couch. It is a really special bonding time for both of us.
I love to think of my daughter looking back on these memories like I do. Snuggling her on the couch and watching her face light up at Snow White, hearing her say "uh-oh" when Shere Khan comes onto the screen, and hearing her little roar at Mufasa all make my heart explode. I want her to know that those times will always be sacred to me. That if she needs a mental health day, she can ask to watch Lady and the Tramp in my bed, and I will always say yes. That if she ever needs a safe space to sit quietly and cuddle, we can pop on a Disney movie and fly off to Neverland together.