The NHS advises parents that children should have no longer than an hour a day of television, if at all. We probably watch that in the morning alone! Try as I might to restrict my lil man’s viewing time, I am normally too exhausted to not switch on the black mirror.
I don’t like the idea of my son becoming a TV addict any more than the professionals, but when it comes to 6am wake up calls, nap time and the half hour before bed, I resort to lazy parenting.
A typical day for us starts with lil man bounding in to our bedroom around 6 – 6.30am. About the time when Show Me, Show Me starts. So on goes Cbeebies with a bottle of milk in his gob while I desperately try to get 40 more winks, as it is likely I have been up in the night at some point to feed my darling daughter too.
He will have to watch Postman Pat, which is on at about 7am. God forbid I turn off the box before the end of that programme! Then, we head downstairs for breakfast when the telly will go on whilst I prepare his porridge.
The television is certainly my saviour when it comes to N A P time (don’t say it out loud they might hear you). Put something soothing on like Waybuloo, give him a bottle of milk and a blanket and you can pretty much guarantee he will be zonked by the end of the show. There’s no guarantee, however, that the lil madam will be asleep (as she is too young to fall for this trick yet) but at least I’ll only have one child to concern over for a short while.
Throughout the rest of the day, however, I do make a conscious decision to turn off the television and play or take the babies out somewhere more engaging. But during the times when the kids programmes are on, I find myself sitting there mindlessly watching to see where Mrs Goggins has put her glasses or how the Octonauts managed to assist the Albino Hump Back Whale. I like closure, so I can never switch off mid-programme. In some cases I have found myself gawping at the screen and my son has wandered off to go and play with his train set and I’m left wondering why they dub the children voices so badly in Waybuloo.
Then there is the face of children’s TV in Britain at present, Justin Fletcher. He is everywhere! Mr Tumble, Gigglebiz, Justin’s House and these are just the ones that he presents. What about all the character voices too; Timmy the Sheep, Jake from the Tweenies, Olly the Little White Van (I really watch way too much kids telly). What is it about him that makes him so appealing to kids? Is it his squidgy, man-child face? His sickly sweet voice? Or just that he saturates children’s TV so much they are brain-washed into loving him?
One show I do genuinely enjoy is Peppa Pig. I know she is a bit like Marmite, but I really do find it quite funny. Although these days I have probably seen episode at least ten times the jokes are wearing a bit thin. The five minute duration just isn’t enough to keep the little darlings quiet while I check my Instagram followers and so I end up putting them on a kind of loop.
Despite the endless cycle of Postman Pat and Peppa Pig, my son’s speech is very forward for his age, he is extremely active and doesn’t have attention difficulties or behaviour problems any more so than any other toddler of his age. In fact, he has learnt some, quite difficult, vocabulary from the likes of Peppa. Like the time when she entered a Muddy Puddle Jumping competition. My son sat there and just sounded out the phonemes ‘com-pe-ti-tion. Competition!’ I wouldn’t even have thought to teach him that word so early.
So, there you have it. Yes television probably should be restricted to some degree but I don’t think, as parents, we should punish ourselves if we need a little break or a helping hand from the nanny that sits in the corner of the room.