Parents Are Obsessed with ‘Bluey’ So I Challenged My Husband to Be More Like the Show’s Beloved Dad

Ian Kitt/BBC Studios

The other day, my husband and I were taking an Uber ride with the kids to go visit friends. My 14-month-old daughter was screaming in her car seat and my 3-year-old son was whining next to me as I was frantically digging through the diaper bags for toys and snacks. “It’s such a fun time, right?” the driver said to us. I fake laughed between the shrieking but then realized that he wasn’t joking. The driver proceeded to tell us about his four grown kids and how wonderful it had been to raise them and how much he missed this age. I was mortified. Not because my children were behaving like little terrors in the backseat, but because we had spent all morning (OK, all weekend) scolding them and counting down the hours until bedtime. Fun wasn’t exactly the word that came to mind.

Of course, I blame my husband. I’m a fun parent! And when I’m not it’s because I’m too busy carrying the mental load. If someone needed to step it up in the fun department, it was him. I wracked my brain to think of the most playful parent I could and came up with…Bandit! Everyone’s favorite anthropomorphic blue dog from Down Under, the father in the hit TV series Bluey. Married to Chilli, Bandit Heeler is all the things a modern dad aspires to be—fun-loving, patient and engaged, while seemingly having enough time for his friends, marriage and hobbies.

And so, I challenged my husband to channel Bandit for a day in an effort to make our lives more fun, which in turn would surely make us more connected and bonded as a family. Here’s how it went with our two children, our 3-year-old son A and our 14-month-old daughter N.

5:30 a.m. N is up. I toss a pillow at my husband and tell him to get her before she wakes up the other one. He ignores me. “It’s your Bandit day!” I mumble. “Dogs sleep all the time,” he counters. N’s babbling turns into screaming, I push him out of the bed in a very un-Chilli like fashion. 

5:45 a.m. A comes into our bedroom with crazy hair. He needs a haircut desperately but there’s no time to go to the hairdresser’s before our trip on Thursday. We want more sleep and attempt to parent horizontally, a classic Heeler family move. Sadly, the kids are uninterested in playing doctor or whale games.

6:00 a.m. Husband is stumbling around the kitchen in usual half-asleep manner. Not very Bandit. I decide to get this Bluey train going by making a green smoothie for the kids. So fun!

6:10 a.m. The frozen spinach won’t blend and comes out in lumps of green. Serve up smoothie to the kids, A loves it and drinks five glasses, N screams until we give her bread.

6:30 a.m. I tell husband off for not embracing his inner Bandit. Husband decides to play some music and play at the hair salon with A—success!

6:40 a.m. Turns out husband isn’t playing hair salon but actually cutting A’s hair for real. “Shouldn’t you do this in the bathroom?” I suggest. Husband plays the WWBD (What Would Bandit Do) card and says cutting our son’s hair in the kitchen is much more fun.

6:42 a.m. Husband cuts his finger on scissors, there is a surprising amount of blood on his hand. A looks slightly terrified but still seems game to play.

6:45 a.m. We are totally focused on the super fun and not at all stressful activity of giving our child a haircut. Realize that I haven’t seen the other one in a while.

6:50 a.m. We play a new game called where’s the baby? Turns out she climbed up the rickety staircase all by herself and was hiding in our closet.

7:15 a.m. We attempt to get both kids dressed in our bedroom while A plays “Can of Tuna,” a game he invented where he climbs on top of our pillows and throws his body onto the bed while shouting “can of tuna”. We have no idea where this game came from and roll our eyes at each other. Ohhh, we are totally in sync about how weird our child is! We are just like Chilli and Bandit! When A asks husband if icebergs are slow, he doesn’t opt for a one-worded response but instead channels his most curious, upbeat and involved parent self. Husband answers A while pretending to be an iceberg, both of them are on the bed and A is squealing with laughter. He IS Bandit!

We hear a crash and realize we’ve lost the baby again. Find her in the bathroom playing with the toilet brush. Am starting to think that it may be possible to channel Bandit for the day but not possible to do so for two children at the same time.

7:55 a.m. Everyone is dressed and we still have 35 minutes before A’s school drop-off. What is something fun that we can do? Playground! Just need to clear up from breakfast and vacuum up all the stray hairs from the floor. Husband gets the bags and stroller ready while I clean. Hairs aren’t getting picked up by the hoover and I find myself wondering if Chili spends a lot of her time crawling on hands and knees tidying up after Bandit’s antics.

8:10 a.m. A decides he doesn’t want to go to the playground after all because it’s too cold. We go to the school instead and wait outside until they let us in. Husband banters with the other dads (very Bandit) while A and N run around, getting in the way of other pedestrians and blocking the building’s driveway. I rush after N as she tries to run into the road. It occurs to me that not only are the Heeler kids older and better behaved than mine, but they also live in the suburbs. 

We take N home and leave her with the nanny. The morning is done! Husband is off the hook until this afternoon.

3:00 p.m. The nanny has gone and N is awake from her nap. Husband takes her downstairs for a snack. Screaming ensues. I peek downstairs and see husband poking baby’s belly with a banana. Briefly wonder if husband has lost his mind, decide that Chilli must contemplate the same thing all the time and decide to leave them to it.

5:00 p.m. I go pick up A from school and meet up with husband and N in the park. Bandit is nothing if not an optimist and so husband suggests we go to a restaurant for dinner. I am full of dread.

5:30 p.m. We sit outside at the restaurant and both kids are miraculously behaving OK. Notice A has a giant rock in his pocket that he insists on putting in his school bag with the rest of his “treasures.” Start to explain yet again why we shouldn’t take things from the park and sneak them into our bag but husband beats me to it. “What if we gave some of your treasures away… like a treasure hunt for your friends?” A loves the idea! And I love that we may finally be able to get rid of the many rocks, beads and various bits of trash weighing down his bag. Husband is a genius!

7 p.m. Back home and we are running behind the bedtime schedule but feel positively giddy after a successful restaurant excursion so when A asks if he can play some more before bath we agree. There’s always time for another game in Bluey’s world!

8:00 p.m. Husband has put N to sleep and I am telling A his bedtime story. Normally I rush through the routine but I am feeling inspired by Bandit’s attentiveness and so I ask A about his day. He proceeds to tell me about something funny that happened (it involves poop, of course) and then tells me about a conflict he had with a friend. I rarely get this much intel into his day and am amazed! Adding more play into our routine clearly aids connection. I vow to make every day filled with joy.

8:45 p.m. Oh God, pushing back A’s bedtime was a mistake and he is now overtired and won’t go to sleep. He insists on sleeping in our bed and is getting increasingly upset. Attempt gentle cajoling and stern words but no dice. Vow to never go out to dinner and play silly games after dark ever again. I am about to lose my mind and send in the husband. Hear him grab A’s dolphin stuffy and make silly dolphin sounds. A is laughing and calming down. After a few minutes and more giggling, husband leaves A in his bedroom and he falls asleep almost immediately.

9:00 p.m. Both kids are asleep. The house is a mess and we are exhausted. Debrief with husband about how the day—and the experiment—went.

“It was fun,” he says, “but it’s not real life.” I have to agree. Real life (an active toddler, busy roads, bedtime routines, etc.) all get in the way of being the laid-back, playful parents we’d both like to be. To state the obvious, parenting is hard. And it’s so much more than coming up with games and being silly, although we both recognize that we could incorporate a little more of that into our lives. But ultimately what makes Bandit great isn’t how fun he is, but rather how present and engaged he is. And that feels like a more achievable goal—for both of us. And so we make a plan to add more Bluey into our day tomorrow… in the form of snuggling together on the couch to watch the show, that is.

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...