Was TV Your Childcare Provider?

I’m coming clean when I say that PBS Kids TV helped me raise my toddlers. In fact, I probably should have claimed them as my childcare provider on my should you use tv as a babysittertaxes.

It all started as a casual fling, the occasional viewing of Clifford the Big Red Dog and a quick snippet of Sesame Street, but then it morphed into so much more. Do you know why? My babies actually stopped fussing and watched it.

This allowed me to pass out on the couch next to them for my famous mouth open, drooling, deep coma type sleep. I always hated it when the program ended so I would try and justify one more episode, much like an addict. I used the excuse, “If I can’t be a well rested mom, then I can’t be an effective mom.” For the record, I have NEVER met a well rested mother.

The problem was I found I was getting stuff done and the longer they watched, the more I caught up on much needed sleep or work.

I always drew the line at Dragon Tales, however. At that time in my postpartum state, I felt Dragon Tales represented something mystical and magical and was infiltrating the minds of my young babies with fairy dust and evil magic. I figured the least I could do as one of those moms that employed the TV as babysitter, was monitor the content. Whatever. The day I let them watch a whole episode will live in infamy. I had crossed over to the good stuff!

My kids started learning things like Spanish, their ABCs, numbers and shapes, healthy food choices and easy little crafts. Now I was trapped. Why should I try and teach them when PBS was doing a most excellent job at it? You see my inner turmoil here. Finally, guilt mom would set in and I would turn it off and drag out the huge floor puzzles that was part of our daily routine.

After the floor puzzles, Spanish Bingo and the Dr. Seuss books made their appearance. By then 3pm would roll around and I would jump for joy when I saw another episode of Curious George was coming up. Nap time for mama.

The day finally arrived when we were watching our shows and the screen went to static. The cable had been turned off, purposely, in an effort to be budget conscious.

Life as we knew it suddenly looked very bleak. I felt lost and alone without the comforting background noise of Mary Elizabeth and Clifford.

Like any good mama, I had prepared for the worst because no sooner had the cable gone out, did the DVD player get plugged in. Today my kids are continuing to learn Spanish, reading books, writing stories, inhaling cookies like Cookie Monster and the biggest achievement of all, imitating Bert and Ernie like bad asses.

There is no way I could have taught my children all that on my own. Well, except maybe for the cookie part.

Today, it’s possible the theme song of Clifford The Big Red Dog can still be heard playing in the house, even though my kids are at school.

Maybe I’m the one TV has been babysitting all these years.

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Jessica is a a wannabe urban homesteader, living in Portland with a blended family of 4 kids, 3 rescue dogs and 4 chickens named after Starbucks drinks. Even though Jessica is a vegetarian, she really misses bacon. In addition to 10 to 20 Parenting, Jessica is a regular contributor to a variety of urban living and parenting magazines. She can also be found spreading 'peace and wisdom' over at her blog, The Dalai Mama, at www.travelingmercies-jessica.blogspot.com

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Jessica Hoefer-Land

Jessica is a a wannabe urban homesteader, living in Portland with a blended family of 4 kids, 3 rescue dogs and 4 chickens named after Starbucks drinks. Even though Jessica is a vegetarian, she really misses bacon. In addition to 10 to 20 Parenting, Jessica is a regular contributor to a variety of urban living and parenting magazines. She can also be found spreading 'peace and wisdom' over at her blog, The Dalai Mama, at www.travelingmercies-jessica.blogspot.com

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