Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The tired mum's guide to kids TV





When you have kids, you enter the world of children’s television, which can be an overwhelming place. And while we may have started out with parenting ideals about what we would or wouldn’t be letting our kids watch, it's likely these have been somewhat compromised completely overridden along the way.

Because we're mums, and we're tired. I don't know about you, but there's no way I can be everything to my kids, all day long. And when there's things that have to get done, I can't have four small people hanging around my ankles asking me for stuff.  Which is where TV comes in. I never thought I’d be a 'Wiggles mum' - I remember resisting anything to do with them when I had my first baby. But here I am, six years later, and I know all the freaking words (and actions) to Do the Propeller. Which is an awesome song but whatever.

So rather than worry about how much we should or shouldn't be watching, I've focused my attentions on what I can and can't stand having on the TV in our house. The way I see it, as long as I use the principle of moderation (i.e. the kids get plenty of screen-free time in their lives), then TV doesn’t have to be a bad thing. A good children's TV show can be great for social and emotional development, as well as entertaining for the adults in the house. And there are some great shows around, that easily pass my test:
  1. It has to NOT annoy me. This is why Lazytown is banned from my house. What the HELL is that show about anyway?
  2. It has to be at least vaguely educational in some way. If it's teaching them something, then that helps me, right? It takes a village to raise a child and all that.
  3. It has to hold their attention. Because there’s no point putting on Ben and Holly if they’re climbing the walls after five minutes.
Have you found your way around the world of kids TV yet? If you're still dazed and confused, here is my guide to some perfectly nice TV for kids that will keep them happy, may even educate them, and - most importantly of all - may offer you some light entertainment along the way:
Brum (CBeebies)
Brum is an old racing car who escapes the farmer's garage whenever he can to help the people in the Big Town. This show uses no speech apart from the narrator's voice-over, so kids have to use the actors' cues to figure out what is happening. I love it for its simplicity - there's no bells and whistles here, just old-school adventures with a car that does good deeds for its community.
Good for kids because: it's a sweet introduction to the world of goodies versus baddies, only no one ever gets hurt and Brum always kicks arse.

Gigglebiz (CBeebies)
If you haven't come across the talented Justin Fletcher before, you must see this. He's a comedian for kids, and is hilarious in this comedy sketch show. He does a variety of characters and knows what gets kids laughing. I may or may not have a weird mummy crush on him... 
Good for kids because: this is a great introduction to old-school comedy for kids. They will be amazed that all the characters are performed by the one person.

Woolly and Tig (CBeebies)
This super-sweet show focuses on the adventures of little Tig and her toy spider Woolly. Woolly helps Tig deal with new experiences and is always there for a chat when she's feeling a bit worried. 
Good for kids because: it aims to help kids manage their feelings and deal with new experiences, like a first sleep-over or family holiday. 

Shaun the Sheep (ABC KIDS)
This show is hilarious. The best thing of all is that the theme song is sung by Vic Reeves (from Vic Reeves and the Wonder Stuff - they sang 'Dizzy' back in the 90's. Anyone remember?)
Good for kids because: there is no speech in the show, so they have to use their comprehension to follow the story. It's also great for encouraging their imagination about what really goes on at the farm when the farmer's back is turned.

Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom (ABC KIDS)
The cutest show ever. Not just captivating little stories for kids, this is actually really f***ing funny.  
Good for kids because: they get to use their imagination about what really lives in the bottom of any garden. It's like The Enchanted Wood (Enid Blyton) for modern times. 

Peppa Pig (ABC KIDS)
I find Peppa and her family lovely. Sure, sometimes I wonder about the realism of this little town she lives in, and no, her family isn't perfect. But I love their little adventures and the quirks in each of the characters - including the variety of British accents.
Good for kids because: Peppa's adventures are easy for them to relate to and offers them a new perspective on family living.

Jackanory Junior (CBeebies)
Hooray! Someone else to tell us all a story. And not just anyone - an actor-type person, who is trained to be engaging and entertaining.
Good for kids because: story-telling is always good, and the readers on this show do a fabulous job of keeping their audience hooked until the very end.

The Wiggles (ABC KIDS)
Ah, The Wiggles. They might not be for everyone, but I have to hand it to them for their song-writing skills and ability to entrance every single one of my kids.They know what they're doing and they're good at it.
Good for kids because: this lot knock themselves out trying to teach kids a bit of everything - the alphabet, healthy eating, dancing, as well as some less explored territory, like managing food allergies and expressing emotions.

Have you got a favourite kids TV show? Anything you can't stand watching? Got a favourite Wiggles song?!


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