Hi, parents. How we doing? If your answer is A. “Rough”, B. “Terrible, thanks” or C. “crying noises,” then welcome; you are among friends.
My family and I are 8 weeks into staying at home, and any semblance of routine/sanity has been forcibly punted out the window. My only constant companion, other than my two children, my husband, and my crippling anxiety (insert hysterical laughter), is my mom guilt. I’m not teaching them enough. I’m not playing with them enough. I’m not baking/crafting/exercising with them enough. Should I go on? Because I could. In a pandemic full of vast uncertainty, the mom guilt is depressingly reliable.
The only thing I don’t feel guilty about is letting my kids watch television. I firmly believe they’re better because of it. From the
prison comfort of our living room, they’re exploring new interests, learning new things, and seeing the world through quasi-educational kid TV shows. If there’s an added benefit of giving me a momentary break from ceaseless questions and “Mom, look!”, then I’m deeply grateful for it. Here are a few of our guilt-free favorites that are getting us through quarantine.
Where to Watch: Disney+
Get ready to fall in love! This is our current family favorite, and when I say “our,” I mean the grownups enjoy it just as much as the kids do. I can’t even begin to describe how precious, funny, and creative this show is. Set in Australia, it follows the adventures of the titular Bluey, a precocious and energetic Blue Heeler puppy. Together with her dad, mom, and little sister Bingo, the show is a study of family dynamics, life skills, and personal growth, mainly through the kid friendly medium of imaginative play. So while it might not be steeped in traditional academia, it teaches important life lessons (in Australian accents!). Whether it’s setting personal boundaries by practicing your “big girl bark,” resolving conflicts, or the importance of persistence (an episode that literally made me tear up), every episode contains adorably wrapped nuggets of wisdom.
Ask the Storybots
Where to Watch: Netflix
No phonics or mathematics here, either, but there’s still a lot of fun things to learn on Ask the Storybots. I’m not super clear what a storybot is; sentient, (only mildly annoying) nano-robots who live inside a computer? That’s close enough, probably. Each episode begins with a phoned-in question from a curious child, and the wee bots use songs, animation, and special guest stars to explain the answer. The topics range from the super applicable “Why do we need to brush our teeth?” and “Why do people look different?” to the scientific “How are planets made?” and “How do our ears hear?” Plus it answers two of life’s most important questions: where chocolate and french fries, aka 99% my quarantine diet, come from.
Where to Watch: Disney+
Ah, my children’s first love. For a solid 18 months, this is one of the only kid TV shows they would deign to watch. Thankfully it’s quite educational, in a slightly highbrow way. Little Einsteins aspires to instill in toddlers an early appreciation for art and music, showcasing a famous artist and composer each episode. It also dabbles in other subjects like international architecture, natural and man-made wonders, and astronomy. Do you know how uppity I felt when my barely-two-year old spontaneously identified a picture of the Tower of Piza and listed all eight planets, in order, to the tune of Fur Elise? Uppity AS HELL, y’all. So if you too need that small parenting ego boost, sit your kid in front of the Little Einsteins and wait for your own little genius to sprout.
Blaze and the Monster Machines
Where to Watch: Nick Jr or Noggin
It’s monster trucks that teach STEM principles; what’s not to love?? And it’s not just for boys; my engineering-minded daughter loves this show, and not just because the main truck mechanic is a girl. Your kids will learn math, scientific principles like solar energy and aerodynamics, and general manners like good sportsmanship and lending a helping hand.
What guilt-free kid TV shows are your kids watching? Share your recs in the comments! And now you’ll have to excuse me, my kids are watching TV and I can finally self-sooth with chocolate in private.
Food. Books. Naps. Deeply obsessed with Tolkien, Baby Yoda memes, and traveling as often and as far as possible. Determined to live in Scotland. Amateur historian. Professional stay at home mom. Rabid consumer of scotch, peanut M&Ms, and Reylo fanfic. Creator of possibly the best PB&J ever. A little too in love with Kylo Ren.