2013 Week 29: Ode to Bubble Guppies

Expert guidelines: TV for kids under the age of two is discouraged — this is not reality for my family. There’s a little guilt in that as I wonder if I’m turning my kid’s brains to mush, but not enough to change my parenting. I’ve come to terms. We are a TV family.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I remember hearing a TV producer being scolded by parenting groups about the content of their made-for-adults animated program. The gist of that producer’s response was that parents should be more in tune when they choose to let the “TV babysit their kids.”

photo 1TV as babysitter — the concept seemed outrageous. I hadn’t given TV too much thought but imagined I would try to avoid tube time for the littles.

And then I had kids.

Now, Nick Jr. is my babysitter.

On any given day, Sophie plays, we read a few books, work on a puzzle. We go for walks, play on swings. She can go nuts exploring just about everything that won’t kill her. Kitchen cupboards, laundry baskets. She makes trumpets from paper towel rolls and drum sticks from lemon juice bottles. She does plenty away from TV.

But the child, as they tend to, has infinite energy and it grows daily. And then there are the temper tantrums, which began months ago and she’s not even two years old, yet. The child can have a melt down if I am not pouring her milk fast enough.

In an instant she bounces from activity to activity, furniture to furniture. Gone are the days when she listened to me when I told her to sit on the couch instead of using it as a trampoline. Days can become a constant string of, “Sophie, honey, no!”

These toddler antics are par for the course. But this mom needs a break and TV provides it.

If I give Sophie an hour or (gasp) two of Bubble Guppies, I can (gasp) do “me” things — clean, prepare a meal, get online or just relax next to her for a bit. This me time makes me feel more like myself and more patient in the face of the Terrible Twos.

On top of this, if Sophie didn’t have the Bubble Guppies, I would never get Olivia down for a nap. Sophie parades her noise maker toys and her latest speaking volume (scream) into the baby’s room. With the TV on, Sophie will stay, generally, in one area long enough for me to get the baby to sleep in relative quiet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages TV use for under-twos. They say:

  • Parents talk to their kids less when the TV is on. I don’t feel I need to talk to my kid constantly.
  • Kids may or may not learn from the TV. I don’t rely on the shows to teach my child. I spend time during the day doing learning-type play as well as letting her play by herself.
  • Research found that some kids who watch TV learn to block out background noise and play in a more focused manner. Interesting.

In general, the research does not show that TV improves intellect, but it also seems a little less than certain that it is causing harm. Sophie is on the money, if not ahead, in her development according to commonly used milestone gauges. If I thought for a minute that her language skills were suffering for her TV time I would put a stop to it.

She dances with the music, she repeats new words she learns from the show, she remembers sentences and recites them days later. I am good with this.

A lot of parenting choices are compromises. We choose how to balance restrictions and allowances and sometimes that means we do things we never thought we would. It’s normal when you’ve never before faced the circumstances. For me, TV provides a bit of sanity to an absolutely insane experience of being and raising a child.

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About Tara McLaughlin

I'm a stay-at-home mom to two girls in my boyfriend's hometown of Bern, Switzerland. Life as a new mom in a foreign country has been, in so many ways, rewarding and challenging. I will document that journey here, on Another 52 Weeks.
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One Response to 2013 Week 29: Ode to Bubble Guppies

  1. Heather says:

    I feel you on the guilt factor. I felt guilty for years letting Ella watch TV for what felt like hours on end. I feel the need to insert that we spend at least and hour to three outside every single day. That leaves only like a gazillion hours left in the day…..TV please. I gave up the guilt when PBS kids taught Ella to read. People would always comment on the words Ella used or her ability to read words early on and I admit to you right now I took credit for it. (between you and me right? 😉 The truth was in fact that Word World single handedly taught my child to read. Let go of the guilt honey! Do whatchya gotta do!!!!!!!

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