Emma is a Peppa Play groupie. This is not at all her fault. She’s two, so her entire life is dictated by us. We could have encouraged Thomas the Tank Engine (where are the female characters?!), the Wiggles (the Red One freaks me out and don’t get me started on how they dress the girl), Ben and Holly (why does the girl have to be the fairy?), the Night Garden (um, no), or any number of other shows. But neither of us mind Peppa Pig so we downloaded all the episodes we could and we let her watch them almost whenever she wants. This was a lifesaver when I was totally incapacitated by pregnancy and needed her to be entertained for hours on end while I lay on the couch. She got a bit addicted but I’d say we are pretty much weaned off it now – she still watches it, but not nearly to the same extent. Which is good, because she’s a much more pleasant kid when she’s not watching TV.
While it’s not a perfect show (I do feel like Peppa and George are a bit too unnecessarily gender-typical in their preferences and I hate the ‘pink T shirt’ episode and I think the characters could be a bit more diverse) it has occurred to me more than once that Mummy and Daddy Pig are pretty good parents. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who I consider good parents, and I like to take tips and ideas from most of them. But Mummy and Daddy Pig are probably the only fictional ones. Here’s a bunch of parenting lessons I try to remember.
- Play with your kids. Even if you don’t understand the game, even if they keep changing the rules, just play.
- Make your kids play by themselves sometimes. It is not your job to keep them constantly entertained.
- Take them places. To museums, libraries, the gallery. On picnics. On drives. On holidays.
- Be flexible and spontaneous. Your kid wants to chase the rainbow? It might be silly but where’s the harm in that?
- Let them get to know their village by spending time with their friends, their grandparents, their cousins.
- Be kind.
- Have your own life – work, volunteer, have a hobby, have friends, go on date nights.
- Be involved in their community – go to the playgroup parties, know their friends and teachers.
I’ll never be an amazing parent – which is fine – but I try to be a decent one and I think these are not a bad starting point as we move through the toddler years.