It’s an inner turmoil that would affect the most conscientious of person. What to watch on the telly with Ayla. Sky Sports News or CBeebies? On one occasion I was giving Ayla her bottle (naturally as the only remote control operating adult in the relationship, I get to choose what channel we watch) and was watching Sky Sports News when I became engrossed by it. After staring at the screen intently for a good five minutes. I looked down to see our baby girls neck folds had consumed the vast majority of the 7oz and soaked into her sleep suit with sponge-like efficiency.
Nothing beats the sudden rush of adrenaline us Daddoo’s get when clambering for the remote to switch Sky Sports News off for something more child friendly when Mummy comes through the door. Even when Ayla’s in bed, my wife’s usual reaction to a hotly anticipated, live sporting event is “Do we have to watch this now?” pouring freezing cold water on the red hot build-up along with the very concept of live TV.
Children’s telly has changed a lot. Nowadays it’s a lethal combination of psychedelic colours and stick-in-your-head songs which is seemingly designed to send us struggling parents over the edge. From further analysis, some of the shows promote severely flawed characters as well. Could Bob the Builder please sack his useless apprentice Leo? The lad’s always on his phone which, working with heavy (talking?!) machinery in a hard hat environment, is a health and safety catastrophe waiting to happen?! Peppa Pig and Bing meanwhile teach our kids to moan and whinge relentlessly to anyone who’ll listen, Mike the Knight is a self-obsessed glory hound while Tree Fu Tom is a demanding little twerp. It’s not all bad, the inhabitants of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom aren’t in dire need of personality transplants. Those little elves and fairies are entertaining for kids and adults alike.
You know Ayla loves a show when the theme tune is met with a silent stare of awe, usually with an excited jig peppered in between. We are very much a cBeebies family (sandwiched in between Channel 5’s Milkshake! and Tiny Pops if she’s still up after bedtime). This makes her favourite shows Twirlywoos, Get Squiggling (Note to Squiglet: you need to bring out your own merchandise mate as it’d sell like hotcakes!) and Swashbuckle. The ‘Swashbuckle Cheer’ was the first routine Ayla learnt without me or Rachel teaching her it, in fact she taught us. Anyone who’s been around during Swashbuckle is told in no uncertain terms to ‘stand up’ and ‘MARCH’.
One of the reasons I like cBeebies is the lack of toy adverts. On other stations there’s a constant bombardment of commercials advertising ‘must-haves’ like £80 dolphins and plastic dogs that poo on a shovel. Sadly, my ‘biscuits and TV chill’ time has now been well and truly kiboshed as Ayla demands at least one of my beloved biscuits relentlessly. Even catching up on the news with my favourite breakfast cereal now has to be enjoyed with the bowl up to my chin while Ayla scales my body like a climbing frame.
I’ve found a great way to combat the baby stealing my TV snacks is to have one of those fruit pouches at hand. Their easy, squeezy feature means you don’t even have to look away from the telly. I’ve also even learnt to do the whole “Row your boat” skit hands free, only using my toes so I can keep an eye on the gogglebox. Remember Daddoo’s minimum effort, maximum payoff – I joke!
Once the babies in bed and it’s officially grown up time the battle doesn’t end. I bet the majority of parents have spent a fair portion of time staring at the blue screen of cBeebies until one of you asks the other “What are we watching here?”