Daytime TV and the Nanny
Television is so pervasive, easy to use, and always available. It has expanded from the living room and recreation room, to the bedroom, kitchen, and even the bathroom. The television is in grocery stores, cars, and waiting rooms. Television is here, there, and everywhere.
But, should nannies and au pairs turn on television programs while working? If so, when should nannies and au pairs turn the television off? Everyday this week we will focus on the effects of daytime television on the nanny or au pair and their charges.
Nannies and au pairs cannot turn on the television unless their employers allow them to use it during working hours. If the parents do not want their children to watch television than the nanny or au pair must not turn it on. Certainly live-in caregivers can watch television in their bedrooms when not working. But during the work day, nannies and au pairs can encourage imaginative play, educational activities, and free play to fill the day for the children.
It can be difficult for nannies and au pairs to start a job that does not allow them to watch the television. For many it will be the first time in their lives that they are asked not to turn on the television during the day. The temptation is compelling. Daytime television is an unparalleled babysitter. It is free, reliably available, and versatile. Undoubtedly, all children will view some TV and there are many educational programs, children's programs, and age-appropriate movies to view. The television can also be something to listen to when a nanny or au pair may not have meaningful adult conversation during the day working with children. Whether used as entertainment or as white noise many caregivers are in the habit of keeping the television on all day.
But, is daytime television good for the children, or just for the nanny or au pair? Clearly there are whole categories of television that are inappropriate for children and of little value to the childcare provider. There is no debating that shows like "Jerry Springer" or "The Steve Wilkos Show" do not air behavior that children nor adults should model.
Children benefit most by doing the things that all kids need to do to be healthy and develop to their best potential: using their imagination, socializing, playing, exercising, eating, and sleeping. All these functions are accomplished best not in front of the television set. Plus, television should not be a reward because it soon becomes an addiction and can lead to an unhealthy "couch potato" lifestyle.
Of course, there are some programs that are appropriate and suitable for children, that are entertaining and educational.Those program choices should be decided by the parents and adhered to by the caregiver. The child should be having a life full of involved activity, not just watching others being active in television programs.
But, to make the day enjoyable for nannies, au pairs, and children is to plan fun activities. Children won’t even want to watch television if nannies and au pairs have other activities planned. Caregivers have the power to make each Monday board game day when they play at least one board game together. Nannies and au pairs can schedule Wednesdays as "Manners Day." Each Wednesday the children cook with their caregiver, set a formal table, and play restaurant when everyone has to use their best manners. Fridays might make a great book day when nannies and children go to the library and read the books when they arrive home. Children will be planning what recipes to make and what games to play a week in advance. Who would turn on the television when they’re having this much fun?
Do you watch television while working during the day as a nanny or au pair? Do you allow the children to watch television while you are working?