An open letter to CBeebies

FAO: Giovanna, Nigel, Mr Tumble, YolanDa and co...

Dear CBeebies,

I feel like I owe you a thank you. A drink or a lunch or something.

I know it’s your job to entertain the nation’s children, but honestly, I don’t think I could have got through lockdown without you. I hope I don’t embarrass you, but over the past few months I’ve come to think of you as an angel residing in the TV.

Before having a baby, you were just a lovely channel that my nieces watched. I didn’t take all that much notice of what you were doing, but I knew that you were a trusted crutch of which caregivers could lean. Your early morning shows helped parents grab a coffee and collect their thoughts when their energetic offspring were bouncing off the walls. Or an after-school treat to keep the little ones entertained while their tea was being made.

But then I had a baby of my own and you became something more to me. Baby Club was my entry point as it helped calm my son when he just wouldn’t stop crying and I had no clue, as a first-time mum, what on earth was going on. If I’m honest, I also just wanted the comfort of someone else in the room.

On one particular bad week, my husband was away with work. My son had colic and I came down with mastitis. It was hell and I was in no fit state to attend a real-life baby class but there was Giovanna and Nigel to help me get through. ‘Clap your hands, wiggle your toes, touch your nose’ were the perfect tonic to help us survive until bedtime.

But then the real game changer came in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic and the news that all parents were dreading. With schools and nurseries shut, a mutual feeling of panic swept the nation. How on earth were we going to cope without childcare and a full-time job with no playgroups, grandparents or playdates to take some of the load?

The days felt long and monotonous and I ran out of toddler activities pretty quickly. But you, my dear CBeebies, really helped an awful lot. Don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t plop my toddler in front of the TV and leave him there all day, but you definitely helped to break things up with fun, music and education.

I certainly learned a lot too. I now know lots about precious metals and how water is filtered thanks to Maddie’s Do You Know?

And YolanDa’s funky Band Jam lifted our spirits with some good music and dancing on rainy summer mornings, and I was pretty thrilled when Beverly Knight made a guest appearance. Then there’s Mr Tumble – the King of CBeebies - who helped my son connect words with sign language far quicker than I ever expected.

And who could forget the wonderful In the Night Garden and Clangers – a signal in our house that it’s the end of the day and time to wind down. I usually celebrate with an instant coffee and a quick doze on the sofa while my son curls up next to me. I can also confirm that three minutes of Hushabye Lullaby are all that’s needed to make a tired mummy and son feel so much better about everything.

So cheers to you CBeebies. You’ve helped me take Zoom calls, meet deadlines and stay relatively sane while keeping my little one laughing, dancing, learning and relaxing. I dread the day when my son decides he’s outgrown you, but maybe I’ll pop back every now and then when I need a bit of respite.

Very best wishes,

Cat, a grateful mum and fan