Get your kids ready for Beijing

I’m talking about gearing up to watch the Summer Olympics, of course, not about traveling to China with your children. My advice for far-away travel with children can best be summed up via two-pronged approach: 1) Just don’t do it, or 2) Benadryl. So, yeah, if you’re actually going to Beijing for the Olympics, have a wonderful time, but I have no suggestions on how to make that a smoother trip. Good luck!

But, if you—like most of us—are getting ready to spend some quality time with your kids and your television, starting tomorrow, that I can probably help you with. See, most children will react to the idea of watching sporting events on TV rather than cartoons or kids’ bands with a mixture of horror and confusion. Why would you want to do that, they would ask, if only they could articulate the question through their displeasure. But after years of experience, I’ve learned how to convince my children that watching the Olympics is just about the coolest. thing. ever.

My secret? I go for the sports that are just plain cool to watch, regardless of your age or favorites. When trying to cajole your kids into watching with you, ask yourself which events are most likely to pique their interest. Check out the complete list and you’ll find it’s pretty easy to decide. Swimming, for example, is something the kids do, but isn’t all that much fun to watch. Diving, on the other hand, is always fascinating, plus it has the advantage of having some very young contenders (which is always a draw for kids).

Need some more ways to get the kids psyched for the Olympic games? Here’s some online resources for kid-friendly fun:

The Kingdom of Paramithi, from The Wiggles

If only there was some way to have the great kids’ shows you already love somehow spawn other great shows your kids would love, and then you’d be able to flip on the television and reason, “Well, we already enjoy X, certainly we’ll like Y, as well!”

That’d be great, wouldn’t it?

Oh. Wait! That’s already happening! It seems that Australian sensation The Wiggles aren’t just a bunch of pretty faces with some great kids’ music. In fact, Anthony Field (you may know how better as the blue Wiggle) is developing a new show:

The Wiggles, Nine Network and Nick Jr. will combine to present a new pre-school series for Australian families this year: The Kingdom of Paramithi, a collection of musical stories for young children in 30 half-hour instalments.

The Kingdom of Paramithi is scheduled to premiere on the Nine Network in November 2008 and on Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. network in December.

Created by Blue Wiggle Anthony Field and Paul Field, written by Paul Field and Paul Paddick and developed with the experience of The Wiggles production team, the series incorporates musical performance, dance, comedy and charismatic new characters.

Anthony Field said:”The Kingdom of Paramithi is an exciting new series full of adventure stories drawn from a rich tradition of folk tales and music. You’ll meet a king and a queen and a host of colourful characters who are passionate about putting on a show.”

Confession time: I read the show description (a king and a queen and a host of characters) and immediately thought, “Wow, they’re making a new Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood!” Hee.

Regardless, it sounds promising, and it’s nice to know that we don’t have to wait too long on this side of the pond to get in on the action. Though this part did make me giggle:

“We are really thrilled about this collaboration,” said Deirdre Brennan, Director of Programming for Nickelodeon Australia. “The Wiggles production team are incredibly experienced in knowing what children want to watch and how best to connect with them.”

Really? They know what kids watch? I mean, I never would’ve guessed that, based upon their current path of virtual world domination via the ardent obsession of every human on the planet under the age of four….

Visit the Ty’s Wiggles Store for all your Wiggly needs!

Television without guilt — really!

Every now and then I come across another blog where I feel like I’ve met some kindred spirits. Usually it’s a place where someone confesses to letting their kids eat food they’ve dropped on the floor or something like that. (Uhhhh… not that I’ve ever done such a thing. Gross! But it makes me feel better about my own less-than-stellar parenting moments.)

Confession time: My favorite sort of mom-solidarity is when someone admits to letting her child watch [fill in the blank] television. (Fill in the blank with “too much” or “not exactly quality” or “totally annoying,” it’s up to you.) So you can understand where I immediately fell in love with the Smart Television Alliance Blog in general, and with this post about giving up the TV guilt trip, in particular. Why, I was hooked right from the description of author Debbie Bookstaber:

She grew up watching He-Man cartoons and still went to Yale.

Well, there you go. Actually, I grew up on an insane amount of television, and I more or less turned out okay, so I do have trouble seeing TV as the evil I’m apparently supposed to believe that it is. I’m all about balance, though, so I do love the suggestions in the article for how to best keep TV in its rightful place:

1. Find new ways to play.
2. Make TV viewing an active experience.
3. Pick the right programs.
4. Don’t use the TV as background noise.
5. Lighten up.

Do go read the whole thing for details, but the bottom line is that watching television can be a part of a well-rounded, guilt-free upbringing. Awesome.

Tune in for the Teen Choice Awards tonight

I’ll tell you right up front, here, that neither of my children are teens. Nor will they ever be. I mean, I assume they will eventually become teens whether I agree with it or not, but as soon as my oldest hits the teenage years I fully intend to enter the Witness Protection Program, thereby missing most of whatever it is that teens do to their parents. (This is not a frivolous plan. It isn’t. Hey, who asked you, anyway?)

All of this is to say that my children will not be checking out the Teen Choice Awards tonight on Fox, but perhaps your house shelters some of those mysterious teens I hear so much about, and perhaps inbetween eating you out of house and home and telling you how you’re completely ruining their lives, they’ll take a break to tune in.

I love this picture of Miley Cyrus from last year’s show; she looks so cute and sweet and adorable. Of course, Cyrus is hosting the awards this year, no doubt as part of her continued campaign to prove to the world that she’s All Grown Up Now, Thank You Very Much.

(Awwwww, don’t be like that, Miley. We still love you as Hannah Montana!)

In addition to seeing what sort of outfit the young hostess wears this year, you’ll want to tune in to find out what the kids are digging these days. You know, just in case you decide to stick around through the puberty poisoning.

The Muppets are back this weekend

Do you know what you’re doing this Sunday?

If you were ever a fan of The Muppet Show, and especially if you have kids, now, I bet you’ll be tuning in to Studio DC: Almost Live! on the Disney Channel.

Remember how The Muppet Show used to feature “famous” people that your parents often had to explain to you? Okay, maybe that was just me. But often the celebrity guest evoked a “Who??” from me or my brother. We still loved watching, every week, but we didn’t necessarily recognize the “big talent.”

Now that the Muppets are breaking out on the Disney Channel, though, I don’t think your kids will have any trouble identifying the humans. Check it out:

[Me: Ashley who?
My daughter: Moooooooooom!]

The Muppet Newsflash has more details (including which Disney stars you can expect to see doing what), but the bottom line is that Sunday, August 3rd, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. there’s going to be muppets doing a show.

And say what you will, I think that’s awesome. Then again, I’m a fool for the muppets. I still really have no idea who Ashley Tisdale is, though.