My, how Mothers’ groups have changed! When I joined my first mothers’ group with baby number one – nine years ago – the conversation was all about nappy contents and BPA-free bottles. Fast forward nine years and my second-time-mums mothers’ group are more likely to be discussing their Netflix binges and what the other mum’s recommend watching next!
This was the revelation during my introduction to the group. They’d all already met the previous week, done the pleasantries and lost their inhibitions. I was the ‘new girl’ arriving with 3 hours sleep, no picnic blanket to sit on and no hat for Louis (and of course the sun was shining straight on us!). ‘Incompetent’ probably best sums up how I was feeling.
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As the home baked goodies were passed around (I took no food, of course!) and the Netflix binge sessions revealed, I was fairly certain I’d somehow ended up in the Upside Down or some other parallel universe.
“I binge watched House of Cards and The Good Wife for five hours while breastfeeding Teddy,” laughed Hannah, who also has a 3-year-old. “I guess he was cluster feeding, but he’d stay on the boob for ages so I had a lot of couch time and become addicted to Netflix!”
Wow, I thought. How on earth did she get anything else done – and wrangle the toddler!
She must have a nanny or mum or sister who helps her, I thought. But no, she was home alone. Hmm, maybe she’s an excellent multi-tasker… “When Teddy dozed off to sleep, I was too nervous to pause the show in case he woke up, so I’d keep it running as he liked the noise. I’d quickly do the housework or make dinner and then when he’d wake, I’d rewind the series, pop him back on the boob and pick up where I left of again.”
Gosh. That’s efficient! I was lucky to have a shower before 3pm school pick-up let alone binge on TV and bake during my first two months with little Louis. In fact, I don’t think I prepared a family dinner for the first eight weeks, at least! Mind you Louis does have reflux and colic – aka abdominal pains that strike the second I feed him and affect his feeds and sleep, and gobble up large chunks of the day, so I know I’m trying not to be too hard on myself.
“Isn’t Teddy distracted by the TV lights and sounds?” I asked. “There’s no way Louis would feed with all that distraction! I can’t even check my phone messages without him trying to read them!”
“No,” she said. “He likes the noise. He wakes up if I turn the TV off.”
Nerida had a similar story. “I watched a lot of Netflix in the early breast-feeding-all-day or asleep-on-me-all-day weeks with little Piper!” she said. “Stranger Things, The OA, Downton Abby, The Good Wife, The IT Crowd, Suits, Orange is the New Black… they are all great! Piper wasn’t bothered at all by the screen.”
I looked around at the other mums.
“Do any of your babies get distracted by the lights and sound? Or am I the only one condemned to a room of silence?!” I asked.
“Oh I don’t Netflix binge while feeding,” Sarah piped in reassuringly. “I binge at night when my 4-year-old toddler is in bed and after feeding Oscar. I watched Captive For 18 Years: The Jaycee Lee Story and The Keepers, which is about a serial killer. I love real life crime. Can any mum’s recommend anything?”
“I need some recommendations too!” asked Emily, mum to 4 month-old Juniper and 3-year-old Olive. “My husband and I have almost finished Season 3 of Stranger Things and need something new.”
“Aww,” I said. “That’s really nice that you make couple time during this crazy newborn phase.”
“Oh, we don’t talk to each other!” she laughed. “We just sit on the sofa together, watch two episodes at a time then go to bed about 1pm! Then the next day I’m deliriously tired and wonder why I keep staying up so late – but it’s so addictive!”
That made me feel better. Not. I basically crash and burn after my parenting responsibilities finish at 9pm. And before the night time feeds begin!
I left the group wondering if I was the only mum who wasn’t part of this secret Netflix binging society. Weird, given I’m actually a Netflix Ambassador. Although, not that weird as I was invited to be an ambassador based on the countless Netflix kids shows I’ve watched with my son during our weekend ‘movies and cuddles on the couch mummy-son time’. Ask me about the kids’ shows – I’m a pro’! Adult stuff? Not so great!
So I asked my other mummy friends with older children: “Do you guys binge on Netflix? And I’m not talking about The Clone Wars series…”
“Of course Franks!” answered Nadean, mum of two girls, Harper, 3 and Gizelle, 5. “I actually secretly watch it in the toilet. The girls follow me literally everywhere – there is no escaping them. They even exercise next to me in the lounge room! My partner isn’t into Glow’s ‘80s fashion and girl wrestlers or January Jones, so I just lock the bathroom door and steal some mummy time in the loo! Or I stream it and watch it on the bus on the way to work. It’s hilarious when someone looks over your shoulder and then comments on the show because they’re watching the same series!”
Caroline, mum to 1-year-old Xavier has also made Netflix a part of her nightly ‘me time’ wind down.
“Once bub goes to bed, I’ll cook the dinner then turn on my fave show at the time and get in an episode before I hit the pillow. I’m currently obsessed with The Handsmaid’s Tale. Being a mum, it’s hard to watch, but I can’t stop.”
Nicole, mum to 3-year-old twins Elijah and Kade says her binges are more ‘edu-tainment-escapism’. “I love Julie Andrews Julie’s Greenroom and the breathing space she gives me while she entertains my boys, but I’m lacking in adult conversation in my house! I need downtime that makes me feel like I’m learning something new. And I’m not adverse to the odd drug cartel story either! Narcos, which is about the ‘80s Colombian drug trade, was great. I mainly watch documentaries and ‘based on real life’ stories. I highly recommend World War II in Colour, Conspiracies and Secrets of Underground London (I am English!). You learn a lot!”
Louise, mum to 13-year-old Dusty and 17-year-old Brooke, turned out to be the biggest Netflixer of all. “Every night!” she laughed. “It’s my downtime – with a glass of red wine! I loved Grace and Frankie, Sense8 and The OA. I’ve just started watching the third season of Bloodline. Jessica Jones is probably next on my list.”
Wow. There really is a secret society of mummy Netflix binges.
Even my brother is Netflix bingeing!
“You have to watch Stranger Things,” he said.
“No way,” I quipped back. “I’ll have nightmares!”
He almost laughed his head off.
“It’s no scarier than Harry Potter!” he said. “And anyway, it’s worth watching just for the ‘80s music, clothes, video arcades, cars and other iconic references. It’s awesome.”
This, coming from a guy who doesn’t watch anything other than sport, shocked me. Although he is a ‘80s child…
So that night when Louis, Maxwell and my step-son Daniel went to sleep, I turned off the lights and my partner, Josh and I watched Stranger Things. Two whole addictive episodes – that’s 90 minutes of TV time! That’s a record for me! I poured a glass or two of wine, folded a few towels (multi-tasking alleviates the guilt of watching TV) and even managed to Google a few of those familiar ‘80s tunes and artists (Should I Stay or Should I Go, ‘The Clash’, was playing in my head for days!). I was sh** scared and addicted. It’s scarier than Harry Potter, believe me! The next day I was so tired that I continuously asked myself why I stayed up so late. Then Josh and I did it all again … until we’d devoured both season one and two. And no, we didn’t talk to each other for the entire 90 minutes. Aaah, modern couple time!
I think it’s fairly safe to say I’ve moved on from Puss in Boots and graduated to the adult’s profile.
So what’s next on my Netflix binge list? Here’s what mums recommend. For ease, I’ve included the mum’s quote and a brief Netflix blurb explaining each, since I haven’t seen them myself.
Netflix Binge List – Recommended By Mums!
Mums say: “Very addictive. Oh, and Meghan Markle is in it!”
Netflix says: Mike Ross, a brilliant college-dropout, finds himself on the run after a drug deal goes bad. Then lands himself a job working with Harvey Specter, one of New York City’s best lawyers.
Mums say: “Very interesting. I was Googling Royal references constantly!”
Netflix says: The Crown tells the inside story of two of the most famous addresses in the world — Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street – and the intrigues, love lives and machinations behind the great events that shaped the second half of the 20th century. Two houses, two courts, one Crown.
“When calls the heart”
Mums say: “Kind of reminds me of Little House on the Prairie.”
Netflix says: Elizabeth Thatcher is a young school teacher from a wealthy Eastern family. Her world changes when she migrates from the big city to teach school in a small coal mining town in the mid-west.
Mums say: “Little sciencey but so good.”
Netflix says: When her doppelganger dies, a con artist assumes her life. The perfect identity theft might just kill her.
Mums say: “Surfers, a crime family, conspiracies and sneaky plotting – what’s not to love?”
Netflix says: He has been welcomed back into the family with welcome arms. He should run away as fast as he can.
Mums say: “Think Breaking Bad but with a family hiding dark secrets.”
Netflix says: How far will the Rayburns go to guard the secrets lurking in their family? Farther than they ever dared to imagine.
Orange is the New Black
Mums say: “Beverly Hills 90210 but in a prison!”
Netflix says: Piper Chapman is sentenced to a year and a half behind bars when she is convicted of a decade old crime of transporting drug money to an ex-girlfriend. Now, the normally law abiding Piper, will face the reality of how life changing prison can really be.
Mums say: “Addictive kitsch ‘80s alien invasion and end of the world story.”
Netflix says: A love letter to the ’80s classics that captivated a generation, Stranger Things is set in 1983 Indiana, where a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.
Mums say: “It’s extremely violent but based on true story. Really interesting.
Netflix says: This raw, gritty series chronicles the gripping real-life stories of the drug kingpins of the late 1980s and the corroborative efforts of law enforcement to meet them head on in brutal, bloody conflict. It details the many, often-conflicting forces – legal, political, police, military and civilian – that clash in the effort to control cocaine, one of the world’s most valuable commodities.
Mums say: “Watch it for Naomi Watts – and her crazy character!”
Netflix says: She’s a caring therapist, a loving wife and a mum. And a thrill seeker caught in the grip of twisted fantasies.
Grace and Frankie
Mums say: “Kind of like the Golden Girls but much, much funnier and contemporary. Lots of laughs.”
Netflix says: In Grace and Frankie, Jane Fonda (“Grace”) and Lily Tomlin (“Frankie”) star as two women whose lives are suddenly turned upside down when their husbands reveal they are gay and leave them for each other. Both sparring partners and partners-in-crime, they form an unlikely bond to face an uncertain future together and discover a new definition of “family,” with laughter, tears and plenty of mood enhancers along the way.
Mums say: “Ozark is amazing! Can’t wait for Season 2.”
Netflix says: A Chicago financial advisor, who has been quietly laundering money for a drug kingpin, must quickly uproot his family and move the operation to The Ozarks, after his partner is caught cheating the business. There, he bumps heads with both a local drug dealer whose business he inadvertently interrupts, and a clan of ruffians, led by their 19-year-old niece, who want his money, all the while avoiding the eye of a tenacious FBI agent. He must complete his laundering, to save the life of his family, as they struggle to find their own path in this seemingly foreign way of life.
The Grand Hotel
Mums say: “If you’re ok with subtitles The Grand Hotel is great (Spanish).”
Netflix says: Posh parties, high-class accommodations. They’re just a front. There’s something fishy about this hotel.
Mums say: “Hilarious.”
Netflix says: Even when he’s upright he can’t walk a straight line. So kids have to make their own way in this world.
American Horror Story
Mums say: “Creepy but weirdly addictive.”
Netflix says: A murder house. An insane asylum. Supernatural fears and everyday horrors exist around every corner.
Mums say: “Stop everything if you haven’t watched this. I binge watched it in two days!”
Netflix says: She murdered a man but she has no idea why. The truth lies in the darkest corners of her mind.
Jane the Virgin
Mums say: “Real fun and easy watching.”
Netflix says: A young woman’s lifelong goal to stay pure is foiled. Now she’s got nine months to come up with a new plan.
This post was first published on FRANKIxo.com. Visit Netflix for the latest series.