Apparently a quarter of all parents of young children in the UK use TV as a babysitter.
Anyone who comes to our house during the daytime will know the TV is pretty much guaranteed to be on, perma-tuned to the likes of CBeebies and Tiny Pop.
As a stay-and-work-at-home mum the TV is my friend – in fact, just like the Teletubbies, I couldn’t live without it. Unless they’re watching Ross Kemp on Gangs or Topless Darts I fail to see the problem.
Admittedly BB does do an uncanny impression of the Go Compare advert, and admittedly when she recently spilt blueberry juice on her school shirt she said ‘it’s ok mummy, we just need to get some Vanish Gold Oxi for whites’ (I kid you not). But surely these are mere trifles in the grand scheme of things.
I’m not ashamed of using the TV as a babysitter, and nor should you be. As if there isn’t already enough to worry about.
10 reasons it’s ok to use TV as a babysitter
1. When they’re ill. What better way to enforce rest – and therefore recovery – than to settle them down in front of their favourite programme or TV channel dosed up with medicine and under a blanket?
2. When you’re ill. How else are you going to get any rest – and therefore recover – if they’re bouncing off the walls demanding you get out the play-doh, craft box, or – worse still – Aquabeads?
3. When they’re tired. BB often comes home from school absolutely exhausted, particularly towards the end of the week. She’s not good for anything other than lying on the sofa watching TV, and frankly that’s the best place for her.
4. When you’re tired. Let’s face it, we can’t all be cookie-baking, play-doh-making, let’s-get-the-glitter-out parents all the time. Sometimes the flick of a switch is as far as my imagination will stretch.
5. When you work from home. I’ve written before about how to work from home with a baby and stay (relatively) sane, and the TV plays a major role in this. If I have a deadline or important phone call, what better way to keep them occupied than their favourite TV show?
My saving grace at the moment is CBeebies’ stop motion Twirlywoos (who needs CGI?) which practically hypnotises Little B. We were recently treated to a sneak preview of the brand new Twirlywoos episodes and sure enough, he was absolutely captivated and didn’t budge from his seat for the entire length of the show (15 minutes – and it’s amazing what you can achieve in 15 minutes).
6. TV can be educational. I’m talking about good quality TV here, not TOWIE. It’s always baffled me exactly how programmes like Teletubbies and the Twirlywoos do it. How do they ‘speak’ to kids in ways us parents just can’t? I got the chance to ask Twirlywoos creator Anne Wood (of original Teletubbies and In The Night Garden fame) that very question and she told me there’s no secret formula.
She says: “It’s a question of long experience of trying to understand the world from a child’s point of view. Children live in the same world as us but they see it very differently and so we try to make shows that speak to children. Not just talk at them, but have a conversation with them.”
Anne is in her 70s and Ragdoll Productions, which has been producing award-winning kids’ TV for decades, is her brainchild. Frankly she’s far better qualified than I am to teach my kids anything useful, and I’m more than happy to leave them in her capable hands.
7. When you need to cook. There’s nothing worse than having a baby or toddler crawling around your feet or emptying cupboards when you’re boiling water or you’ve got knives out. The way I see it, the TV is keeping them safe.
8. When you want to go to the loo – alone. A rare occurrence, I know, but it does work from time to time.
9. When you Just. Need. Five. Minutes. Sometimes, when both BB and Little B are staring agog at the TV, I go into my bedroom and lie face down across the bed. It might only be for a minute, but it’s surprisingly therapeutic.
10. It helps keep you sane. I simply don’t understand people who have kids but don’t have a TV. A bit like people who don’t drink, I’m inclined to view them with suspicion. What do they do when they need to do something requiring one iota of concentration?
Do you think it’s ok to use TV as a babysitter? Or do you think relying on screens is a big no no?
We were sent an exclusive Twirlywoos headband in exchange for this post, and I also got the chance to interview the show’s creator Anne Wood. As always all opinions are my own and based on my own honest experience.
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