Monday, September 18, 2017

Grandmother TV Tips

Back at home.

There are no photos to share of our babysitting weekend. We were too busy to make any. Thankfully, Daddy-O was there for much of the time. I truly cannot imagine that would I survived without him. Well, maybe I would have survived, but I wouldn't have done well. Three girls. Three ages. Three schools. Three schedules. Two ballet classes at two different dance schools. One high school football game. (Chauffeuring only for this one.) One first grade birthday party. Keeping up with the schedule is hard enough. Carrying out the schedule is a major accomplishment.

Thankfully, they have a mommy who limits TV time. But when Mimi is in the house, I'll fully confess that I let them watch more than usual. No. It is not a free for all, but it does give me a way to get things done. Or, it gives me a minute's break. Keeping up with kiddos is not my daily routine anymore. And I'm much older than when we had our own limited TV rule.

Disney and Nick Jr. are kings of kid shows, but there are some, especially the ones aimed at tweens, that have have characters with attitudes that we'd rather not hear mimicked by our little ones. They are going to hear them other places but there's no need to reinforce them at home. Baby Girl calls them "appitudes" in, "he is nice, but sometimes he has appitude." Even at age three, she knows exactly what that means. Makes me long for the days of Gumby and Howdy Doody. Update: just discovered that Gumby–from the 1950s–is free with Amazon Prime!

If you are a tired grandmama and need a moment to catch your breath, or you find yourself in charge of small children–grandchildren, neighbor's kids, random cousins dropped off at your house–here are a few programs to keep in your back pocket. Google any of them to find more videos. There are other good ones out there (check out PBS), but these are some that you might not know about.

Peep And The Big Wide World (free with your Amazon Prime membership)

Most episodes are just under 10 minutes. Sometimes that's all you need. This Canadian production features a bird and chicken and a duck. It's clever. It's funnier than it sounds. (I love the colors and simple drawings.) And there is some (preschool) science and math thrown in for good measure. Joan Cusack narrates.

Pingu (free with your Amazon Prime membership)

These are mostly five minute segments. It's a British-Swiss clay animation about a penguin family at the South Pole. Don't worry if you find a version with foreign title pages on YouTube. The penguins all speak "Penguinese, consisting of babbling, muttering, and his characteristic sporadic loud honking noise..." (It sounds a little like Italian,) This non-language makes perfect sense when you watch. The mother knits—kind of fun for me. Be aware...there is some preschool potty humor in a few of these. 

Pingu is a little boy penguin, who like all little boys is playful, gets into trouble, and loves his family. Baby Girl particularly likes these. I think it's because she identifies with many of Pingu's problems. 

Little Bear

Another Canadian production, based on a series of children's books illustrated by Maurice Sendak. These gentle stories are about a little bear and his animal friends. These friends are kind to each other. The show has a calm, quiet feel that makes it a good choice before bedtime.

Both of our little ones like these. Each show is about 25 minutes and contains two stories. We can still watch these reruns on Nick Jr. Little Sister finds some shows too baby for her, but she still likes this one.

Tec The Tractor

A cute farm show from BabyFirstTV, it features a little tractor who helps out all around the farm. This is not an animated show. It's filled with real farm chores and baby animals. Each episode is around 15 minutes.

If it's a rainy day, or a sick day, or a waiting day, or a very busy day, maybe a little extra TV time is in order. Here are a few hints if you are not a video savvy grandmother:

  • All of these can be found on YouTube, so you don't need cable or satellite TV.  But you do have to get through the ads that pop up first. Yes. They are annoying, but that's why the videos are free.
  • If you are an AmazonPrime member, check out their free offerings. It's part of your member benefits. 

  • Watching on Amazon Prime or iTunes should make it harder for little ones to drift into another video, maybe an unapproved one. 
  • Videos can be bought and downloaded from Amazon and iTunes. 

  • YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and iTunes can all be viewed on a smart phone or iPad if you've added the apps. And of course, they are all accessible on your computer.


  1. So good to know about these! Thank you!

  2. Missy, you know I'd rather be doing a craft or playing a game or reading a book. I try to save these to use after I've run out of other things to do. Or when I've run out of energy!

  3. Bookmarking this post!! When my kids were little, Sesame Street and Mr Rodgers were my "babysitters"! Are they still around?

  4. Judy, Sesame Street still exists, but it's different than when our own children were little. And I have recorded a few episodes of Mr. Rogers that came on within the last year, but I don't see them often. I think Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is this generations version of that precious Mr. Rogers show. Another good one to add to your list is "Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends." It isn't on Nick Jr. anymore but you can buy it on Amazon. It's such a positive show for little ones. Again, there is a lot of focus on being kind to each other. I'll be honest...I want a show that I like, too. Miss Spider fits the bill.


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