10 Kids TV Shows That Moms Love Too

by Sarah Bradley
Apr 3, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. ET
Kids Shows That Moms Love Too
Image: PBS Kids, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu/ Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows

Hey, there. Do you need a parenting break? Maybe you need to wash your hair or answer some emails or wash the same load of laundry for the second or third time (no judgment — we all forget) or drink a cup of coffee that’s actually still hot. Face it: You need to distract some kids, preferably with something that will hold their attention for longer than 30 seconds. 

For many parents, this means putting on a kid-friendly TV show — and there’s nothing wrong with that (well, unless that kid is a baby). But many of the available TV options, while totally engrossing for a 3-year-old, are kind of... well, mind-numbing for everyone else. Sure, you don't have to park yourself in front of the TV to watch, but they're still playing in the background and infiltrating your (and any older kids') lives with all their boring, grating, annoying glory —  and now you’ve got that awful theme song stuck in your head too. 

What’s a mom to do? For starters, put on one of these quality shows instead. They’re so good, you won’t have to feel guilty about letting your kids watch “just one more” episode — or about plunking down on the couch to watch one along with them.

1 /10: 'Llama, Llama'

Llama, Llama
Image: Netflix

1/10 :'Llama, Llama'

Kids' favorite llama has come to animated life in this new series based on the books by Anna Dewdney. Many of Llama’s picture book adventures have been turned into 12-minute episode segments, so stories about losing a tooth, going on a sleepover, being homesick and getting ready for bed — wearing red pajamas, of course — will be happily familiar to lovers of the series (and warmly inviting to newcomers). The best part about Llama, Llama? It’s preserved the sweet and oh-so-relatable interactions between Llama and his mama, putting their close relationship front and center.

2 /10: 'Octonauts'

Image: Netflix

2/10 :'Octonauts'

What do you get when you cross 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with a children’s show about aquatic animal explorers? Octonauts, a British import about a team of undersea adventurers solving problems, attempting dangerous rescues and protecting ocean habitats as they travel through the deep sea. The show is clever and funny, but also imparts an impressive number of biological facts about the unusual — but totally real! — sea creatures the team encounters on their explorations. Just try not to sing along with the rousing “Creature Report” song that closes out every episode (I dare you).

3 /10: 'Peg + Cat'

Peg + Cat
Image: PBS Kids

3/10 :'Peg + Cat'

If you’re tired of your kids watching shows that feature characters who reinforce annoying or undesirable habits (here’s looking at you, Caillou), you will beg them to tune into Peg + Cat, the PBS Kids show about a spunky, whip-smart, ukulele-playing girl and her hilariously droll pet feline. With an emphasis on mathematics, Peg + Cat makes solving tricky problems an exercise in fun and creativity. Plus, it’s the only show on TV that can weave together storylines involving Ludwig van Beethoven, Albert Einstein, the Three Little Pigs and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile — an impressive feat.

4 /10: 'The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!'

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!
Image: PBS Kids/Netflix

4/10 :'The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!'

The PBS Kids version of this beloved Dr. Seuss character is a definite crowd-pleaser. The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! makes great use of The Cat as a dynamic educator, one who whisks kids Nick and Sally off on adventures that give them — and viewers — an in-depth look at how the world works. The show’s script doesn’t stick to the infamous Seussian rhyming format, but it does include a well-balanced mix of songs, prose and poetic refrains, and it covers everything from how bees make honey to how paper is made by recycling to what happens when bears hibernate.

5 /10: 'Puffin Rock'

Puffin Rock
Image: Netflix

5/10 :'Puffin Rock'

Is it just us or does everyone have a soft spot for Irish accents? There’s something soothing about the lilting speech patterns native to the Emerald Isle, and Puffin Rock doesn’t fail to deliver. In fact, there is nothing abrasive, loud or repetitive on this Irish show at all: Everything from the theme song to the dialogue to the beachside sound effects are toned-down, gentle and understated. The show, about a puffin family living on a fictional island, also features a loving sibling relationship between main character Oona and her little brother, Baba, which will give your squabbling kids something to aspire to.

6 /10: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Image: Amazon Prime Video

6/10 :If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If your kids are fans of Laura Numeroff’s If You Give… series, they will love seeing the adventures of Mouse, Pig, Moose, Cat and Dog come to life in this Amazon original series. The episodes mimic the format of the books, beginning with a simple idea and — through a series of funny twists and turns — ending somewhere completely unexpected. But Mouse and his friends don’t get flustered by the changes in their plans, offering kids a valuable perspective on flexibility and making the best of every situation.

7 /10: 'Curious George'

Curious George
Image: PBS Kids/Hulu

7/10 :'Curious George'

The books are classics, and so is the show — it’s been around since 2006! But it never feels outdated or past its prime, and it continues to offer an encouraging look at the nature of curiosity. The animated George, brought to life from the pages of Margret and H.A. Rey’s beloved stories about a mischievous but well-meaning monkey, not only asks questions about the world around him but takes his time trying to find the answers. He makes mistakes, he problem-solves, and he keeps trying until he works it out. And he has a lot of fun along the way.

8 /10: 'Wild Kratts'

Wild Kratts
Image: PBS Kids/Amazon Prime Video

8/10 :'Wild Kratts'

If you’ve ever met a parent who knows way more about zoology than is socially normal, she probably has a kid who loves PBS Kids’ Wild Kratts. Real-life brothers Chris and Martin Kratt blend live-action scenes with animated rescue missions to introduce viewers to some of the most fascinating wild animals in the world (along with a crash course in their habitats, diets, behaviors and unique abilities). The show emphasizes the idea that knowledge about the animal kingdom is power: The Kratts are successful in their missions because they make an effort to learn about and respect wildlife (and the villains are defeated because the villains don’t).

9 /10: 'Tumble Leaf'

Tumble Leaf
Image: Amazon Prime Video

9/10 :'Tumble Leaf'

Fair warning: Once your kids watch Amazon’s original series Tumble Leaf, they will want to live in a shipwrecked houseboat just like the main character, Fig the Fox. Even better, they might start looking at everything a little more closely. The show’s quiet, unobtrusive format encourages preschoolers to discover, question and learn about their world through simple play and exploration. Moms and kids alike will be unable to resist the colorful stop-motion animation, offbeat laughs, charming cast of characters and whimsical music. Basically, you will all wish you could go live in Tumble Leaf (if only).

10 /10: 'The Magic School Bus Rides Again'

The Magic School Bus Rides Again
Image: Netflix

10/10 :'The Magic School Bus Rides Again'

Fans of both the book series and the original 1994 TV show will be happy to know that the Magic School Bus is back... with a new Miss Frizzle and a fresh set of adventures. On a host of impossible field trips, the kids in Miss Frizzle’s class learn about the science behind things like ecosystems, the properties of water, the nervous system and alternative energy sources. As an added bonus to moms, many of the characters are voiced by grown-up favorites like Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon, Will Arnett and Sandra Oh, with Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda performing the theme song.