As a mother of a three and four year old, and as someone who is not overly stingy with screen time, I have been subjected to many a marathon of toddler shows. Most parents will, at some point, reach a saturation point, where they will ask themselves “Am I Watching Too Much Toddler Television?”. The answer is almost always ‘Yes!’, since even a pinch of toddler shows seem to melt brain cells from two rooms away. In order to intervene while you still have time, I’ve outlined some of the most obvious warning signs here.
1. You announce activities in song
You’ve begun signaling your kids for daily activities using toddler show tunes. For example: you announce bath times using the Disney channel filler song lyrics: “Let’s take a bath, a lovely bubbly bath!” and bedtimes are suggested with the Pajanimals’ “Are You Ready For Beddy-Bye?”.
2. You cyber-stalk the humans from kids shows
You’ve Googled extensively to find out what happened to Steve from Blues Clues. A “Where Are They Now?” on The Wiggles gets your full attention, and a possible baby bump sighting on Nina from Sprout’s goodnight show has you sweating the possibility of months of reruns again should there be another extended maternity absence.
3. You can’t cook without quoting cartoon characters
When cooking dinner you taste something and utter “Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. Delicioso!” a la Dora’s backpack. When questioned about what’s on tonight’s menu, you may answer ‘hot dogs, hot dogs, hot diggety dogs!”.
4. You discuss the logic behind cartoon characters
You may have found yourself in deep conversation with your spouse about how, if Goofy and Pluto are both dogs, one can talk and one can’t. You may have also discussed at length the reason for Caillou’s baldness, when he is supposedly four years old, and shows no signs of ill health.
5. You read the closed captioning
You’ve watched enough Curious George to know that closed captioning prefers to describe George’s typical monkey noises as ‘chortling’. You’ve discussed with your spouse whether this is the correct description, or whether chattering might be a more appropriate term. You’ve subsequently wished for those 3 minutes of your life back only to be interrupted by some hijinx involving Hundley the dog.
6. You have precision voice recognition skills
Your mental library of cartoon voices allows you to cross reference voices from “Wow Wow Wubbzy” with potential duplicate voices on ‘Julius Junior”. You’ve rewound and listened with closed eyes to form educated guesses about where you have heard certain voices before and have spent time validating your hypotheses on IMDB.com.
7. You take educational programming to new levels
You sing the alphabet to your kids, not with the traditional tune, but “Alpha-Pig Style”. You’ve enticed your child to eat the last 3 bites on his plate by reminding him that 3 is the number of the day. If your child is stuck on a letter sound, it is virtually impossible not to burst into the following Letter Factory song: “The __ says __. The __ says __. Every letter makes a sound the __ says __”.
8. You’ve expanded your vocabulary
You’ve secretly used a dictionary to look up “shunting trucks” and “tidmouth sheds”. You may even have adopted nonsense words into your vocabulary, telling your children how much something costs in Umi dollars vs. real ones. Be extra concerned if you’ve tried to figure out the US to Umi dollar conversion rate.
9. You are a walking program directory
When your 2-year-old points to Youtube on the iPad and says “Numbers!” you immediately rattle off a list of choices from memory (forced repetition) “Charlie and the Numbers? Numtums? Numberjacks? Tutitu Numbers?”.
10. You’ve perfected a fake British accent
Because nearly 50% of the world’s kids shows seem to have people or animals speaking with British accents, you are able to sing approximately half of kids show theme songs using said accent, regardless of often being mistaken for a drunken Nanny McFee.
11. You have a love/hate relationship with Amazon Prime
You can name 3 or more Amazon Prime obscure kids pilots such as Joe B. and G. Raffe, Tumble Leaf and Wishenpoof. While your kids love these shows, they want more. and Amazon Prime often has no more to give, causing repetitive watching or repetitive whining.
12. You pay for your habit
You pay $6.00 a month extra for the Sprout channel, because that is the only way to get your Fireman Sam fix along with the highest percentage of British-sounding mice, dogs and pigs. You have added an Amazon Prime subscription in order to get their original kids series, and Netflix streaming because that’s the only way you can see the full array of Busytown Mysteries, Leapfrog and Color Crew. You keep your full cable subscription in order to get 87 Disney and Nickelodeon channels to round out your viewing (and that of your kids).
If you are exhibiting more than 2 of the above behaviors, chances are you are watching too much toddler tv. Unfortunately, this is a very tough cycle to break and when you hit rock bottom, you may find yourself alone and channel surfing only to find a never-before-seen Octonauts that you are powerless to turn off without outside help. For this reason you need to recognize the signs early and stop now. Pick up a go outside, play a game or give the kids a bath (‘a lovely bubbly bath’).
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