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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

22-minute Shows Are Worthless

It's 9:07 a.m.  Dora is on to give me a few minutes while I try to make breakfast for everyone.  I manage to clean out the dishwasher and fix my coffee before 9:22 a.m. when I hear "Mama.  Mama!  Glasses!  Oops!  Again!  Oh no!  Mama, mama, mama, hugs!  Hugs!  Green couch!  Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama."

By 9:23 a.m. I have two toddlers assaulting my legs, pulling on my hands, threatening to cry, needing attention, wanting to play.  I give up my tasks and entertain them best I can for the next seven minutes.  Since they were watching Dora and wanted to see more of the show, I spent much of that time explaining to them that they have to wait for the commercials.

However, by the time 9:30 rolls around, they're immersed in the blocks we are playing with, and they protest when I get up to continue fixing breakfast.  They assault my legs, pull on my hands, threaten to cry and demand more attention.  I turn back from the kitchen where they have followed me and settle on the couch, attempting to get them interested in the television again.

It's 9:37 when they finally become immersed in the show, and I sneak away again.  I put the tea on the boil and the bread in the toaster.  It's now 9:41.  Someone has gone on the potty!  A break while we celebrate and take care of the aftermath.  At 9:46, I'm back in the kitchen.  I butter the toast.  I take the fruit out of the fridge and pour the cereal.  It's 9:50.  Someone else has gone on the potty!  Another break, another celebration.  By the time we're done with that, it's 9:53 a.m., and the commercials are on again.

Good luck trying to put milk in the cereal and care to the now screaming tea kettle.

"Mama, mama!  Blocks!  Mama!  Look!  Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama."

I sigh as I head back into the living room and distract them for seven more minutes.  By now, thank goodness, it's 10 a.m. and Sesame St. is on.  By 10:06 a.m. the babies are finally getting into Sesame St., and I can usually put them off by telling them to watch it while I fix the tea, make my husband's lunch, set the table, and eat.

I look up in amazement as I'm eating my breakfast.  It's been at least 8 minutes without interruption.  Is that possible?  It is possible. But only because the creators of Sesame St. got it right.  That show is 57 minutes long.

What I'm trying to say is that 30 minutes of one uninterrupted show is worth more than 90 minutes of 22-minute shows.  I'm trying to say that 22-minute shows are absolutely worthless.

When a mother sets her children in front of the television all morning, that's not really the case at all.  Four minutes of television at a time does not a bad mother make.

So, yes, my kids supposedly watch TV for two hours each morning.  And, no, I don't feel bad about it; I don't feel like a careless mother.  Because, really, in sum total, they've watched about 20 scattered minutes of Dora, and a blissful half hour of Sesame St.  (Sesame St. remains on until 11, but I'm done with breakfast and able to better tend to them exclusively at that point.)

It is ridiculously hard to make a breakfast - that would normally only take 15 uninterrupted minutes - in spurts of three and four minutes.  Tasks that should take no time at all can take hours.  What I need is Dora to last an hour.  If it did, my kids would spend less time "in front of the TV," because they'd leave me alone long enough for me to actually do what I need to do, and I'd be able to return to them fully much more quickly.

Twenty-two minute shows are worthless.


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  1. Amen! Even when watching a whole season on DVD (or netflix streaming as we've been doing lately), the 22 minute ones aren't worth it. (Why do these not all automatically "play all"??? I try to work while she's rockin' out to Dora and it seems like I get the "Uh oh!" alert that I have to start a new episode every time I turn around.

    Sesame street has it down, you're right.

    Karinya @ Unlikely Origins

  2. When I was a little kid in the early 80's, my mom had a few episodes of Sesame Street that she had recorded on VHS so that she could "time-shift" our TV viewing to the times of day when she needed to get something done. It sounds like if Sesame Street were on at 9am, it would work better for you. Why not record a few episodes (on a dvr... or vhs if you can still find one) and put them on at 9am.

  3. This is why I'm a fan of DVD's, and Noggin! Well, now they call it Nick Jr. :P They play very limited commercials between episodes, and they're usually commercials for Nick Jr. or little Moose and Zee shorts. They tend to keep the kid's attention more than the commercials on Nick. The only downside is they play stuff like Toot and Puddle in the mornings, which might not hold a younger kid's attention as much as Dora. We like Netflix for renting DVD's of kids shows (you can get the Dora hour long specials, like Dora Saves the Mermaids or Dora Saves the Snow Princess). And sometimes family type video stores offer kids DVD's either free or really cheap to rent :)

    I swear we don't watch as much TV as it sounds lol

  4. I couldn't get anything done without our PVR, (Canadian TiVO...) we can record shows and skip the commercials (I've taught my boys to work the skip button.. a bright yellow arrow...of course this often dissolves into fights over who get to press it..sigh) anyway, I agree...short shows with commercials are useless. And lets not feel's not like we're sitting them there so we can drink beer and play poker..we're trying to get people FED for Pete's sake! Survival people, survival....

  5. Oh, and I have Dora Saves the Snow Princess, hour long! Lifesaver!

  6. Yeah, my kids use to watch the same show. I sometimes wonder thinking what's great with that show! My kids are not that kind of kids who sit somewhere silently. But now I should say thanks to that wonderful video production for making them sit in front of the tv at least for 20 minutes!

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