The Guilt-Free Screen Time Working Parents Need Right Now
Inside: Right now working moms and dads everywhere need a hand from digital babysitters to get through the day. These online content creators are helping us get by guilt-free with podcasts, activities, and shows that teach and entertain!
Captain’s Log, Day 4398 of Quarantine: The crew has settled into a new routine and are relatively amicable.
I would like to say this is because of my excellent leadership skills, but it’s actually due to the real hero of this pandemic, technology.
Here’s to the Digital Babysitters
Have your kids been pioneering their way through lock-down grinding their own flour, exploring scientific principles through observation, and nursing small animals back to health? If so, that’s amazing, your kids are amazing, and you are amazing!
Us? Not so much.
We have been hiking quite a bit. (And I got the children lost in the woods only to stumble into someone’s background through a patch of briars.)
And we did bake a cake from scratch. (To celebrate the first time we ever even considered baking a cake from scratch.)
But I can’t write articles about remote job searches and virtual internship programs while standing outside in the woods. That’s not how my job works. So our family has also welcomed technology with wide open arms and covered it with a million air kisses.
The wonderful people who are creating content online are helping working parents everywhere figure this thing out and are keeping kids entertained, energized, and educated. For that, these digital babysitters (slash teachers/coaches/storytellers/artists) deserve many different kinds of Nobel Prizes that will be outlined below. But honestly, the Noble Peace Prize would work too.
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Jaime from Cosmic Kids
Nobel Prize in Namaste (In My Office)
Does Jaime have Venmo? Because I’m about ready to send her all my money.
If you’re not familiar, Cosmic Kids Yoga is a YouTube channel run by a truly lovely woman named Jaime who teaches kids yoga using fun stories, movements, and green screen backdrops. Each episode is about 30 minutes which is perfect for kids’ attention spans and for parents getting work done.
My children LOVE Jaime. Probably more than they love me. That’s understandable because she’s funny, sweet, and has a British accent. She wins. Also, she’s been doing mindfulness videos too to help kids manage mental health. Gosh, she’s incredible.
Nobel Prize in the Art of Conversation
If you have an extroverted kid at home than you know all too well that they have not stopped talking for 8 weeks. Of course I love talking to my children, but dude… I need a break.
So when my aunt sent my kids an Amazon Echo Show we had a solution! Now my five-year-old, Jack, has full-on conversations with Alexa on a daily basis while I try to work/clean/cook/hide in the bathroom for five minutes. Turns out Alexa knows A LOT about dinosaurs, knock-knock jokes, and Harry Potter.
Jack and Norah can also play podcasts on the Echo without using my phone, which is another huge win because I need my phone for calling clients and scrolling Instagram.
Speaking of podcasts…
Guy and Mindy from Wow in the World Podcast
Nobel Prize in Home School – Science
If you’ve listened to the How I Built This podcast from NPR then you know Guy Raz as an excellent interviewer who you’d totally want to grab a beer with. Turns out he’s also an excellent kid’s podcast host!
Guy and Mindy star as the hosts of the Wow in the World podcast which is all about teaching kids science through stories and silly characters. My kids adore Guy, Mindy, and the whole cast of Wow in the World characters, and have even called into the show on several occasions leaving them voicemails.
Pop this podcast on and your kids will be entertained without looking at a screen, plus it’s basically science class. Homeschool win while you answer those emails!
The Story Pirates
Nobel Prize in Storytelling
The Story Pirates Podcast is another fan favorite in our house, and in our car as we drive aimlessly around to nowhere.
For this podcast, kids write their own stories then send them into a super talented group of actors and singers who turn the kids’ stories into sketch comedy and silly songs. Lots of laughs shared around the kitchen table with this one! Plus the interviews with the kid authors after the actors perform? Stop it. Too cute.
Jack likes to play the episodes on repeat though so I’ve had one of the songs stuck in my head for four days. “The First Kids to Work at the Census.” It’s insanely catchy.
The Cast of Go Noodle
Nobel Prize in Getting the Wiggles Out
I had heard about Go Noodle pre-pandemic, but now I know literally everything about Go Noodle. Are we going to be tested on this after the fact? Because I am so ready.
Go Noodle is a kids’ website full of fun interactive movement videos for kids. They include songs like “Boom Chicka Boom” “Pop Seek Ko” and “Purple Stew.” Given their druthers, my kids would dance along with the Go Noodlers (including Moose Tube, Koo Koo Kangaroo and Blazer Fresh) all day.
For me, I can get a power half hour of work in while the kids rock out and not feel at all guilty about it because they are moving. Hooray!
PBS Kids Games App Creator
Nobel Prize in Home Schooling – All Subjects
We were introduced to the PBS Kids Games app a couple of years ago and the adorable learning games on here have been clutch for when we need a few minutes of “child sitting still time.” For example, when I’m trying to comb Norah’s hair, or when Glen’s trying to cut Jack’s hair. It’s been very hair related now that I think about it.
But now we are in a pandemic and the app is not hair specific for us anymore. The kids were each gifted a Kindle for Easter from my incredibly wise parents and have been looking forward to Kindle time with their PBS Kids Games daily. And since it is PBS Kids, the games are all about learning numbers, animals, colors, shapes, math, and kindness.
Bonus. The kids aren’t using my phone or computer for this, so I can get some work done. They are learning and having fun and I’m not obnoxiously emailing anyone at 11:00pm. Most of the time.
The Art for Kids Hub Family
Nobel Prize in Marker Art
Mo Willems gets a big shoutout here too of course. His doodle videos are great! My kids have been partial to the Art for Kids Hub drawing videos though.
If you haven’t checked these out, this very adorable and smiley family does drawing tutorial videos of all kinds of things including puppies, emojis, dragons, and Star Wars characters. I’ve learned a lot from the dad’s very positive and encouraging attitude, and my kids have come up with some seriously impressive drawings.
Any quiet activity that can be completed at the counter while I sit nearby with my laptop is a win in my book. Plus, it’s basically art class. Another homeschool class completed.
Reagan from Little Gym
Nobel Prize in Physical Fitness
My 3-year-old, Norah, is very independent, can self entertain, and is pretty introverted so she’s been fine at home. But she misses her best friend, her teachers, and the Little Gym.
The Little Gym is a nationwide chain of tiny gymnastics classes for kids. Norah has done dance and gymnastics there and LOVES it. So many kids do!
To keep all those kiddos moving at home, The Little Gym put together weekly video classes that kids can do at home. There are silly songs, animal movements, even makeshift parachute games. It’s not the same as being in the gym, but both of my kids are loving hanging out with Reagan on rainy days which in turn makes mom very happy!
Nobel Prize in Peace and Quiet
Did Disney know this whole thing was going to happen when they created Disney+? I’m honestly not convinced they don’t have a fortunate teller on staff…
And if they do, both Walt Disney himself and that fortune teller get a Nobel Prize. I have extras, it’s fine.
I don’t think I need to explain that much more about Disney+ and why it’s been a lifesaver for working moms and dads. It’s all of the Disney you love streaming on your TV, all the time. I’ve heard the animal documentaries are great, but so far my kids are enjoying the animated movies of my youth and some animated sequels of those movies I never knew existed. And of course, The Lion Guard.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve enjoyed some Disney+ after the kids are in bed too. Remember the movie Heavyweights? Gold. We need to unwind too, parents.
Everyone Who Has FaceTimed My Kids
Nobel Prize in Patience
Do some kids sit quietly when FaceTiming with relatives and have civilized conversations about what they did that day? I’m honestly asking because I want to know if my expectations are out of whack.
When my kids FaceTime they turn into feral animals and start jumping off furniture and screaming nonsense. Then they grab the phone and start turning the call into a Blair Witch style cinematic experience.
But through all of that, my incredibly patient parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. have continued to hop on the line with my kids. We miss you all like crazy, as you can clearly see from my stir crazy children, and even though these phone calls are not ideal it’s awesome to see your faces. Upside down.
Thank you for letting my kids show you their rooms, again, while I pour a glass of wine and hope for the best.
Congratulations to all of this year’s Nobel Prize winners! May we never be faced with a Nobel Prize ceremony specific to a global health pandemic again and you hold onto your reigning champ titles forever.
And seriously, a giant thank you to all of the geniuses out there sharing their talents. Because of you working moms and dads can get on a Zoom call without worrying the house will burn down. You’re incredible digital babysitters, wonderful people, and we love you dearly.
Read More on Working from Home with Kids:
To the Mom on the Zoom Call, I See You
Ridiculous Indoor Activities for Preschoolers