Over the last few months, I’ve come up with more activities to entertain my 5- and 6-and-a-half-year-old than I did in the first few years of their lives combined. We’ve done virtual school, gone on scavenger hunts, played board games and, yes, watched a lot of television.
From re-watching classics like Beauty and the Beast to renting new movies like Trolls World Tour, my family, and all families I know with young kids, are loosening up on screen time rules and taking residence in front of the tube. And while I do find those movies mentioned entertaining, I found my attention drifting between the TV screen and my phone screen.
It wasn’t until we discovered The Babysitters Club remake I found, for the first time, a show both my girls and I excitedly wanted to watch.
The Babysitters Club isn’t new; in fact, I too grew up with Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne and Dawn. But I didn’t connect to any of the characters the way my daughters and their friends have since watching the latest remake, which premiered on Netflix over the summer, introducing a whole new generation to the club.
Each character in the show has her own identity; Kristy, a confident leader, Claudia, an artistic soul, Stacey a kind-hearted fashionista, Mary Anne, an empathetic friend and Dawn, a unique free spirit.
When my two daughters, their cousin and close friend decided to dress as the Babysitters Club for Halloween, I worried about arguments over who would be who, and figured everyone would want to be Kristy, who I saw as the main character. But no arguments ensued, and no one wanted to be Kristy. Instead, each girl knew exactly who they wanted to be and the characters they chose fit their personalities to a tee.
My older daughter was Stacey, fitting for my sweet and sensitive 6-year-old who loves sporting a sparkled skirt and my younger daughter was Mary Anne, perfect for my caring kid who makes sure everyone feels included. My niece, who beats to her own drum, quickly claimed Dawn and my daughters’ close friend was Claudia, the clear choice for the little girl who prefers art class over dance class.
And for me, the character I saw myself in was Kristy’s mom Elizabeth, who allowed her children to express their feelings and make mistakes but was always there to pick up the pieces, doing the best she could to raise her kids.
But the show provided my daughters with more than just a group of characters to relate to, it managed to take complicated, yet relevant social matters and naturally intertwine them into the storylines in a way that we all understood. It didn’t faze my kids when Mary Anne babysat for a character born a boy but who identified as a girl, when Dawn shared her dad was gay or when Kristy’s mom remarried, creating a new, blended family.
And when Claudia’s grandmother got sick, a scenario that could scare young kids, my daughters didn’t ask a single question because it was presented in a comforting manner—with Claudia and her sister supporting one another, the doctors taking great care of the grandmother and eventually the grandmother getting better enough to head home.
Written in 1982, The Babysitters Club novels, movies and television shows always brought to light real-life subject matters and taught real-life lessons like honesty, loyalty and standing up for what’s right. The very title of the series implies the importance of responsibility—babysitting is a job and you have to commit to the jobs you take. And each member of The Babysitter’s Club takes that commitment seriously.
We see it when Kristy puts aside her feelings towards her soon-to-be stepfather (who she grows to accept) to babysit or when Mary Anne steps up to take on the added responsibility of caring for multiple kids after a boy breaks Stacey’s heart.
But perhaps the most stunning lesson taken from The Babysitters Club is that friends should always have each other’s backs. The group of girls in this series demonstrate that time and time again, like when they stand up for Stacey even if it means losing their club after she’s bullied by a group of older girls or when they come together help Mary Anne feel comfortable and confident in her own skin.
Don’t get me wrong, there are disagreements amongst the group, but there is no cattiness. Not once, in the entire series, do we witness these girls do anything malicious to one another, they care for and support each other. And as a mom raising two girls, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a show that celebrates friendships, promotes responsibility and focuses on kindness.