Tuesday, December 07, 2010

True Mom Confessions: The DVD Edition

I was home yesterday with Petunia, who was recovering from some sort of illness. Maybe croup? It is hard to tell with her, since she doesn't get the telltale "cross between a barking seal and Darth Vader" cough. She gets a fever and a sore throat, and gets clingy and cuddly and just wants to hang out in some adult's arms and watch TV.

So that's what we did, because I was tired- she hasn't let me have a good night's sleep since last Thursday- and I hurt my foot on Saturday, possibly by serving as her human walker for one hour too many, so a long walk (another favorite of hers) was not an option.

Even when she's not sick, Petunia gets more screen time than Pumpkin did at her age. I could make a lot of excuses about not wanting to have Pumpkin associate her little sister with new restrictions on her TV viewing, but the truth is that I'm just a little more laid back about it. Hey, it is a cliche for a reason.

We don't really watch much actual TV. Pumpkin watches Dora (and so does Petunia, because she's there, too), and we occasionally watch some shows on PBS Kids- Sesame Street, Curious George, Sid the Science Kid, and the show with the weird gang of word nerds who go around fixing stories.  But mostly, we watch DVDs. Petunia's favorites are the Signing Time DVDs- both the original and the Baby Signing Time DVDs. So far, the only sign she knows is the one for "more", which she uses to mean "give me a cracker" as well as "more".

When she gets a little older, I suspect she'll be as enamored of the Noodlebug DVDs as her older sister was.

Pumpkin has moved on- she tolerates Signing Time and Noodlebug for her little sister, but when she gets to pick she chooses one of the Leap Frog DVDs (we have Letter Factory, Talking Words Factory, and Word Caper, and I swear they've taught her more about phonics than anything else has) or one of her Chinese DVDs. She is learning Chinese with a teacher, but we find the DVDs help reinforce the vocabulary, especially since we don't speak Chinese ourselves. We have most of the available Chinese DVDs at this point- I wish someone would make more that would teach some new words. Our favorites are the two Follow Jade DVDs and the The Adventures of Walker & Ping Ping DVD (we have the one with both the Great Wall and Chinese Market stories).

I used to feel a little guilty for our use of DVDs. We certainly know plenty of people who have sworn off TV altogether. But I'm over it. The DVDs and Dora help me get dinner on the table with a minimum amount of crying. They are a great non-food reward for Pumpkin. I truly believe that they have taught Pumpkin useful things- from sign language to how to sound out words to how to count to ten in Chinese. Presumably, they will teach Petunia useful things, too. And really, it would take a hard heart to deny her a snuggle and a show when she is sick. She points at the TV, and looks at you with her big, hopeful smile, then looks back at the TV, then back at you.  I should consider myself lucky that all she wants is a Signing Time DVD!

What about you? What are the favorite DVDs/shows at your house?


  1. We are all about the D to-the-mutha-effin' V- D's at Chez hush! DS watches about 5 movies regularly: Toy Story 1 & 2, Ice Age 1 & 2, and Monsters vs. Aliens. DD doesn't seem to ever notice or care.

    Yes, it's a cliche for a reason!! ;) And I for one, am a happier mom for it. Need my mommy's little helpers because unlike some lucky parents, I don't have a kid who will nap or just go play quietly for an hour in his room. I call it survival.

  2. Well, I think TV is totally fine (actually DVDs on the computer since we don't own a TV...which kind of makes it easier because you can't just turn it on and watch mindlessly). We tend to get DVDs from the library, they've got a huge and fairly random selection of kids stuff. Currently we've got "Shaun the Sheep - Back in the Ba-a-th" which is hilarious. Dora is another big favorite. I love the shows that get her watching actively rather than just reclining and looking completely dazed by the glowing box. Dora & Signing Time are particularly good since they're getting the kids to respond. Although I've recently had to institute a new rule - when the video is over, if you fuss and whine about wanting another video, there will be no video tomorrow. Oh the whining. Must make the whining stop!

  3. DVD and DVR for sure. And I don't even have a second child to blame it on. Backyardigans on DVR and Toy Story, Ice Age, Cars and lately Mickey Mouse Christmas movies. Little Bear was one of my favorites and he hardly ever wants to watch it anymore. We have three leapfrog movies, too, and that reminds me I need to put them back in rotation because he does like them also.

  4. Toria7:59 PM

    Oh man I would die without my electronic babysittier!

    I like to watch PlaySchool with him at least once a day (it has a different ep on morning and arvo) and get him to do everything they do. But he prefers to watch it with me. But it is a brilliant show and gives me ideas of things to do and songs etc too. I feel like a worse parent if I MISS that show than if we watch it. (I have no idea of the american equivalent.)

    But for when I need to do something in another room without distraction then my most reliable friends are Little Einsteins, Monsters Inc, or Pocoyo. I loved Monsters Inc and Pocoyo since before he was born, and I can tolerate (or tune out) einsteins more than I can other similar quest shows, although I do let him rent Dora or Diego occasionally (and Diego is letting me be online right now). Einsteins/Dora/Diego have also managed to get my reluctant talker to speak back to the tv, which is great! Now to get him to talk to other people too! (now if I can just stop hearing the STUPID words einsteins puts to classical music when I hear that music in another context...)

    Ever since he stopped napping we have had a DVD in the afternoon if we are home, to save my sanity.

    We dont have Signing Times here, and no local equivalent. I would have been all over it if we did, sounds like it would have been fantastic with his speech issues.

  5. E got no tv till he was two and I was pregnant and pukey. Now he (and B) get one or two shows a day. He used to love little bear, dinosaur train and curious george but he is currently obsessed! with Dino Dan and Life and still enjoys the wonder pets on occasion. I do my best to bring B with me wherever I am in the house while the tv is on but inevitably she ends up in the living room for at least part of the time. And like Cloud, I've relaxed a little bit about the whole thing. And if she was sick and wanted to watch some tv, then I'd be the first in line to snuggle up under the blankets with her and indulge in a cartoon or two.

  6. Hey Cloud, the nerds who fix stories are from Super Why. Yeah we watch that too.

    And Dora.

    And Caillou.

    And a few movies. Anything with a Princess gets a lot of air time around here.

    We get new stuff from the library when she's bored of the current stuff. I'd say the TV is on for a couple hours a day in my house. Some days more. Do I like that she watches it so much? No. But I'm like hush... I don't have a kid who will play quietly, or even who will play at all (she has trouble with independent play), and sometimes mama needs a break that is more than 22 minutes long. When Annie goes down for her nap, TV comes on and I get my break. Cup of coffee, a few blogs to read, my own to write, a magazine, tidy up the house, and Annie's up again.

    I used to feel more guilt for that than I do now. Now I know its really the best solution for everyone in the house. So I'm ok with it now. :)

  7. paola5:29 AM

    'Chuggingtons' is the new big one in our house. DD loves it and although I think Noah is probably a bit old for it (he's nearly 6), his train-themed vocab has been growing in leaps and bounds. It has made me realise just how many idiomatic expressions there are in the English language train related. That on its own, gives it the thumbs up IMO.

    Noah has recently become obsessed with dinosaurs and we have found a BBC production called 'Walking with Dinosaurs' which he can't get enough of. After a half hour episode he pulls out his dinosaur book and tries to identify that dinosaurs he has just seen and then start the million and one question about how they sleep ( whether they lie down or stand up like horses), why they abandon their babies, why being small brained makes them not very clever etc etc.

  8. Anonymous8:03 AM

    This is my first time commenting, but I've been reading your site for a while. Hi!

    Google Reader "recommended" your blog to me based on my feed, and I enjoy reading about your parenting experiences. I have an 18 month old, and have learned so much from reading other mothers' blogs -- like what DVDs are good for little ones!

    I'm planning to purchase the Signing Time DVDs for my little boy right away.


  9. I'm so jealous of all of you who get to watch movies with actual plots! Anytime we try something like that, it is pronounced too scary. There are even some Dora episodes that she makes me turn off. She loved the story book form of The Lion King when we had that from the library, though- made me read it over and over, even the part where the father lion dies.

    @Susan- welcome to my blog! I'm glad you like it.

  10. We are all about Disney and Pixar movies at our house which is fine with me because I love them too. Of course, since they are in the range of 90 - 120 mins, DS watches a LOT of TV. Frequently up to two hours a day, more on the weekends because if DH is letting me sleep in, he puts the TV on for DS when they get up and they sit and watch cartoons and eat cheerios together on the couch.

    The new favorites over here are from a boxed set of Christmas shows my husband picked up from Costco containing all the old stop-motion animation classics (like Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, Little Drummer Boy, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town). Those are the shows I loved as a kid so am actually excited that DS is into them. TV can be a tradition too!

  11. My girl is like nej and hush describe and doesn't play independently, so if we need to do something without her trying to "help," we put the TV on. I'd say she watches anywhere from 50 minutes to 2 hours on any given day. And I am just not going to worry about it.

    We watch all sorts of shows. If it's on Nick Jr. or Sprout, we've watched it. The reason we've seen so many different shows is because my daughter gets bored with the same shows or same episodes. We even had a brief period when she wasn't watching Dora or Diego (don't worry, they are both back to being our regular wind down before bed).

    The movie we started her out with was Winnie the Pooh, and then The Jungle Book. For Christmas, I just bought bought them the first Toy Story! I think she's finally ready for it, and I know I am looking forward to watching it again.

    I also bought an Italian DVD for kids learning the language! I'm really excited about that, since she's gotten into Italian lately.

    @paola - We occassionally watch Chuggington, and I think of you and your kids' train obsession!


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