We Have a Babysitter. His Name is Clifford.

I am a stay-at-home mom who used to be a kindergarten teacher and a nanny. I have spent a lot of time taking care of children. I know a lot of activities and crafts and songs and games that I can play with my toddler. So, ideally, my son would spend all day, every day, in an enriched learning environment filled with activities and songs and age appropriate stimulation.

However, I am also married to an anesthesia resident. That means that I do not get regular help. That means that my husband is routinely gone anywhere from 12 to 16 to 24 hours at a time. So the whole husband-comes-home-at-five-and-helps-with-the-evening-routine thing just isn’t a consistent part of my life. We also don’t live near family, and don’t have the resources for a scheduled babysitter, so I take on a majority of childcare and household responsibilities by myself.

As much as I would love to say that my child is always engaged in developmental play and on a good schedule and everyday is wonderful, that’s just not true.

Sometimes, I have phone calls to make that require no toddler screams in the background. Sometimes, the dishes and laundry need my attention more than Thomas and the train table. Sometimes, I need a break more than once every 24 hours.

So sometimes, TV is my babysitter. I monitor the content. Clifford, Thomas, Curious George, Caillou, and Peep and the Big Wide World are some rotating favorites. My child is aware of the Sesame Street gang and can recognize the Barney theme song. These are all facts that I’m not particularly proud of, but I’m not really ashamed either.

Spending every single moment engaging my son just isn’t realistic. There are bills to pay and business calls to make and a house to clean and dinners to cook; often without the help of a spouse. And then there are those moments when I have just lost my patience or my ability to deal with the constant needs of a two-year old in the prime of his terrible twos, and it might be better for him to watch TV than deal with a strung out Mommy.

TV is my helper. It helps me do the dishes and the laundry and the phone calls. It helps me get a break from my other wise never-ending care of a demanding toddler. It helps me balance parenting, household maintenance, life administration, and every so often; my sanity.

My son isn’t being raised in front of a TV, but it is a fixture in our lives. He will grow up with a lot of different activities and experiences, and I guess TV is just going to be one of them. As much as I hate to admit it, I really do depend on that little bit of animated entertainment every day. So thank you, Clifford and the gang, for your contribution to my child’s life. I’m not sure I could do it without you.


  1. Friend, I understand exactly where you are coming from. For the last 16 months, my husband has been a store manager and that means he is constantly on call. The past few weeks he’s been working 70 hour weeks – and living hours away from everyone, it’s just me and Annabelle. It’s been tough. Like you, we are also financially strapped and I can’t leave the house or go do whatever I would like because we can hardly afford for me to stay still! :)

    Belle watches a LOT of PBS. Still, it’s what we need to do sometimes. Some days more than others. :)

    • Oh no!! That is so hard on you. I feel like we have such similar situations! Thank goodness for PBS. And blogging. :)

  2. OMG, we should never feel bad about plopping our kids in front of the tv for a well-deserved break for a hard-working mom! That is so tough with your hubby being away so much. We all do what we need to do and what’s best for our family at the time and no one should judge! I think Dora taught my one son how to count and as I write this, the Backyardigans are holding their attention nicely.

    Have a good break today! :)


  3. Wolf Prince watches Baby Signing Time a lot. It’s the only thing really that we specifically put on for him, but he comes over and signs “baby” when he wants to watch his movie. Some days I wouldn’t be able to get a shower in without it. He doesn’t like Sesame Street. Only baby I know who is scared of Elmo. The others are fine.

    I finally finished that post. :) http://www.chasingthewolfpack.com/2012/03/11-things-about-momma-wolf.html

  4. It makes me laugh when I visit the pediatrician and see the “screen time recommendations”. Hate to admit it, but screen time is important to my sanity. Esp with a 3yo who now refuses to nap and her little sister (15 months) who just learned to walk. Ahhh!! My little one adores Clifford too. I used to write down my task list for the 30 minutes that my girls were engrossed in TV… but then I realized I needed to stop trying to justify it to myself. This is how I cook dinner and sweep the floor.

    • I am so glad I am not the only person who goes over the “recommended” limit. It really is the only way to have dinner, clean floors, and sanity.