Not laughing Jimmy Giggle: parents distraught about ABC Kids' schedule change

Jimmy Giggle shouldn't be dictating when kids go to bed.
Jimmy Giggle shouldn't be dictating when kids go to bed. Photo: Facebook/ABC Kids

First it was In the Night Garden, when ABC Kids had the gall to move Iggle Piggle and his other trippy friends to noon (even though it's clearly not called "In the Noon Garden" is it). Then there was the great Play School debacle when the national broadcaster pulled another swifty and put Big Ted in a 9am time slot from 9:30am, earlier this year.

And now it's happened again.

This week, parents are up in arms after ABC Kids announced another permanent scheduling change, one they claim will mess up bedtime routines all over the country.

"Did you love our extended programming in January?" ABC Kids posted to their Facebook page on Monday night. "Great news – it's coming back! Starting Monday 4 December, ABC KIDS will air from 5am to 7.30pm, meaning you and your little ones will get an extra half-hour of ABC KIDS every day."

Unsurprisingly, given scheduling changes inevitably send mums and dads into a tailspin, parents were quick to condemn the decision. Many decried that Giggle & Hoot's Goodnight Song signals to their children that it's bedtime - at 7pm and NOT 7:30.

"No. No. No. No. NO!" said one parent. "That throws the whole routine out of whack."

"Not good for our house," another added. "Our little boy knows it's bedtime when Giggle goes to bed, at 7!"

"CAN YOU STOP DOING THIS FFS!" said one passionate protester. "Bedtime is when shaun the sheep ends. I HAVE TO WATCH ENOUGH KIDS TV WITHOUT STUFFING EVERYTHING UP BY CHANGING THE TIMES."

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Look, while I'm sympathetic to the fact that putting little kids to bed can be more painful than stepping on a piece of Lego, there's an underlying issue to Giggle Gate that's a tad unsettling and worth examining. Should we really be reliant on Jimmy Giggle to signal to our kids when it's time for them to go to sleep? Isn't it up to us - as parents - to do the parenting. And if you think the use of the word "reliant" is hyperbolic, well you'd be mistaken.

"Why are you changing this?" one concerned parent wrote on Facebook. "[Aren't] the majority of your viewers under 4 or 5? Kids need sleep rather than more screen time in the evenings."

Yes, kids do need sleep more than screen time of an evening, that's a given. But it's our responsibility to set those limits and boundaries - not Jimmy and his owl sidekick. Jimmy might be staying up for an extra 30 minutes from December 4, but that doesn't mean our kids have to.

Perhaps this furore is a gentle reminder that our children's routines probably shouldn't be based around a TV station, where programming is subject to change. In fact, last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new screen time guidelines recommending that children shouldn't have screens in the hour before bedtime. Why? Because research has shown that TV before bed is associated with fewer hours of sleep per night, from infancy to mid-childhood.

What Giggle Gate highlights, in an increasingly digital world, is that it might be whole lot safer to stick to bedtime cues we can control, like having a bath or settling in for a cuddle and a book.

That said, the Goodnight Song doesn't even have to be banished completely if it's an important part of your child's evening. You can read Hoot's Lullaby in book form and it's available on YouTube anytime - not just when Jimmy decides to call it a night.