Trying to unravel what TV to watch as a family

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I chose not to monitor the amount of TV my children watched when they were toddlers, believing that mixed with other less sedentary activities, it was a good way for them to relax and give me a break from the constant questioning, whining and/or demands for my attention.

In my case, this somewhat laissez faire approach paid off and now I think that they have a balanced perspective and don’t feel compelled to gawp at programmes such as Cash In The Attic just because it is on.

When they were younger I could largely control what they watched as well.

Okay, so maybe they wanted to watch a tedious and cheap animated version of Alice in Wonderland, with ear-wrenching songs, three times in a row, but at least it afforded me an hour and a half of sitting still and maybe resting my eye lids for a while.

Young children enjoy the reassurance of repetition, even if it sends us into a head spin of mental torture.

But at least at that age they are still too young to figure out the On Demand button and watch an episode of Peep Show.

Now that they are older I feel that I have lost control of their TV viewing.

At the weekends they are often up before us and are more than capable of turning on the TV and watching whatever they like.

Our youngest seems to be transfixed by any fat-burning, image-changing type show that involves transforming some poor deluded individual into a long-lashed, orange-skinned clone with straightened hair.

Not quite as educational and inspiring as Teletubbies. And probably more emotionally damaging than Peep Show.

Yet one of my favourite family times is when we all snuggle on the sofa, with hot chocolate, tea, or ‘purely medicinal’ wine (for the grown ups, obviously) and watch a film or a TV show together.

Sharing experiences like these, even if they are sedentary, can be a great bonding time, and also gives everyone the opportunity to be together in a relaxed atmosphere.

However, recently I have found it increasingly difficult to find something to watch that everyone is happy to sit through.

I have endured some pretty dire children’s movies in my time but in the spirit of good domestic relations I am fairly easy to please.

Their father inevitably falls asleep three and a half minutes into any show or film – enabling the game of Poke Dad When He Snores – so his opinion is consequently negated.

But the children all have their different, often somewhat strong, opinions on what they want to see.

How do you satisfy the viewing preferences of a nine, 12 and 14 year old?

And how do you ensure that this special bonding time doesn’t descend into a full blown argument about the relative merits of Bigger than Beyonce and Sherlock, or the reasons why despite the swearing and its 15 classification Life of Brian is permissible viewing for reasons of comedy history, yet Blair Witch Project, (also a 15) is unsuitable.

Should I bring out the Mary Poppins DVD?

Or maybe they should be encouraged to read a book instead.