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BLOOMCHILD BLOG

Entries in mothering (8)

Wednesday
Apr032013

No Purchase Necessary

I recently attended the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood summit.  Interestingly enough, Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids, opened the event by talking not about marketing to kids, but instead about the effects of marketing and media on parents.  While marketers know that sex sells nearly everything, they also know fear and insecurity sell just about everything else.  They know how to get our attention - make us think for a second that our children might not be living to their full potential or heaven forbid might be falling behind or in actual danger and of course, they have our rapt attention.  The problem is, it is often, well...b.s.

Lenore said (I’m paraphrasing, forgive me) parents become convinced, before their child is even born, that when their baby comes out it will be this lump with which they have this very limited window to mold into The David. They are pressured into believing that if they don't frantically cram as much adult directed 'learning' as possible into their child during this critical time, their child will always just be a lump. Little Johnny needs to take a crawling class so he will learn how to crawl, otherwise he may just never learn.

The fear begins, perhaps while our baby is still a tiny seed of a being, and with each increasing belly centimeter our anxiety grows about whether we will give our children the right tools to be something special.  But you know what, these little people don’t need us to do as much, buy as much, prepare as much as we think they do (and, by the way, the reason we think it is because that is what is sold to us everywhere we look).  The truth is, researchers have discovered time and again that the real innovators and creative minds of our time were, as children, given less "stuff' and "entertainment" and more free play and exploration.  

We need to remember that it is the advertising industry’s job to undermine our confidence as parents in order to sell us products (that we just don’t need).  As an example, Lenore broke out a toddler “walking harness” which, it is professed, will help your baby “develop motor skills, balance and coordination.”  Really? Have human beings not been learning to do just that for hundreds of thousands of years, unaided by this groundbreaking contraption? Not to be too metaphorical here, but don’t we all know that if you don’t ever fall down, you will never learn to pick yourself up, to balance yourself...to fail (gasp!) and carry on? 

In this sea of advertising, media and marketing, we need to find our natural footing as parents.  We need to begin to follow our own instincts, and allow our children to follow theirs.  Frankly, we need to remember to simply get out of the way and let our children move, play, explore, experiment and FAIL, and then allow them the gift of learning to pick themselves up again.  

{Oh, and the best part is...no purchase necessary.}


Sunday
Feb172013

Will the Real Dr. Suess Please Stand Up?

Yesterday I went into Barnes & Noble.  Maybe it had been a while, or maybe I am looking at things through a different lens these days.  Maybe it was the Michaels/B&N combo that did me in.  You can call me a snob or a royal pain in the ass, but  I am going to say it anyway - what is this load of commercialized crap that is being passed off as “children’s literature”?  (Not to mention all of the crappy, commercialized toys you now have to walk by to even get to the children’s books).  

I would love to know what percentage of children’s books they had to offer that are not tied in to a television show or movie series.  Sadly, no matter how much you limit a child’s exposure to television, they are still going to go straight for Dora the darned Explorer.  I feel sad for the innovative storytellers and gifted illustrators whose quality books get hidden behind the mountains of Doras, Disney Princesses and Super heroes.  

Here’s what I think (for what its worth)...

  1. We are killing creativity by surrounding children (suffocating them?) with the same crap  everywhere they go.  Only they don’t know it.  We are the ones who are supposed to know better.
  2. We are turning our children into buying machines (hoarders?), wanting, needing, obsessing over having every single thing from band-aids to soup to underpants with that “amazing” character on them.  It is reinforced by television, by friends, by well meaning adults who want to make the child happy.  We know that anything with Bob the Builder on it will make Johnny squeal with delight, so we buy it.    The industry knows this, so they keep cranking it out.  
  3. When someone does come up with something really innovative and creative we kill it by turning it into a vehicle to sell, sell, sell more crap, crap, crap.

Where does all of this commercialized crap that we don’t need go when we are done with it?  How many resources are used to produce it?  

On that note - just think about this for a minute...  

Think about the sick, laughable irony of what has been done to Dr. Suess.  Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Suess) was way ahead of his time.  This man was able to delight children while slipping in some pretty important messages (aimed as much, or perhaps more so, at parents as they were at children). They are messages about greed, selfishness, boasting, karma, redemption and environmentalism.  In his book, The Lorax, he tried to “speak for the trees.” Are you familiar with the story?  I think most people are, but just in case, I will give you a synopsis -

The environment is completely ruined because a man chopped down all the trees and polluted the air and the water by mass producing a product in his factory that “everyone needs.”

Hmm.

I will leave you with these words by Geisel himself:

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Feb142013

Don't Forget the Tutu

Years ago, when I was a teacher at Little Friends, I can remember having a good laugh one day when we looked in a little boy’s bag for spare clothing and found nothing but a pink tutu.  The parents were good natured and had a good laugh along with us, but I know there was a certain amount of judgement there on my part.  I’m sure I was thinking something like...

“A tutu?  Really?  That's what this poor boy has for spare clothes? What goes on in that house?”  

Because, after all, what’s so hard about sending your child to school every day with everything you’re asked to bring?  How hard could this parenting or this parenting plus career thing be?

To those parents, and to all parents that I, in my ignorant bliss, judged, I sincerely apologize.   

Here’s a quick list of things I thought I’d never do...

Forget my child’s lunchbox at home.

Check.

Send my child with her lunch in a huge cooler because I ordered the pretty flowered lunchboxes too late.

Check.

Arrive at school with no spare clothing for my child (not even a pink tutu).

Check.

Carry my child into school kicking and screaming.

Check.

Carry my child out of school kicking and screaming.

Check.

Have two people arrive separately to pick up my child from school because my husband and I didn’t coordinate our plans (by the way, her school is 40 minutes away.  Ouch.)

Check.

Send the wrong lunch with the wrong child, inadvertently smuggling a peanut butter grenade into a nut free zone.

Check.

Remember the store bought Christmas gifts for my kindergartner’s teachers, but misplace the gifts that were actually made for them by my daughter.

Check.

Find aforementioned handmade gifts in February and enthusiastically present them to my daughter to give to her teachers as Valentine’s Day gifts.

Check.

Accept that I am not the perfect mom, but I am the perfect mom for my girls.

Check.


Thursday
Feb142013

Dream a Little Dream with Me

I was blessed to become a mother nearly seven years ago.  Nurturing my daughters has come naturally to me.  However, like many moms I have struggled with the important task of nurturing myself.  We make sure our children eat healthy, square meals while we get by on the discarded crusts or a candy bar nibbled in stolen moments from the high cupboard (I can’t be the only one).  We make sure our children get enough sleep, while we often feel like we could use some toothpicks to prop our own eyelids open.   We make sure our children are seen regularly for check ups, and we pause at their every cough, sniffle or wheeze but often overlook our own health.  We make sure they get lots of fresh air and exercise so their bodies will grow strong and healthy, while  we make a hefty monthly “donation” to the local health club.  We nurture their interests but leave little time to explore our own.  And you know what?  For the most part we don’t mind!  Our children are amazing little beings, and they are only little for that magical window of time.  I always rationalized my self-neglect with this thought - my children are the most important thing in the world to me.  They come first.  Then when I was at my most depleted, a very wise woman said to me,

“The mother is the well from which the whole family drinks.  Having an empty well helps no one.” 

Oh boy, was my well empty.

As powerful as this truth was to me, things did not change overnight.  It continues to be a challenge for me, finding the balance between one who nurtures and one who is nurtured.  

Part of my dream for Bloom is for it to not only be a magical, nurturing place for little ones, but also for their parents.  I want to support the whole family.  Families with young children need and deserve an incredible amount of community, love and support.  It is hard work nurturing these tiny beings, and it is the most important work we will ever do.  What deserves more support than that?  

So with that in mind, I want to hear from you, moms and dads, about what kind of support and nurturing you desire.   What do you want to do, see, hear, participate in? 

Prepared to-go dinners to take home at pick up time?  

Classes or workshops?  On what? Parenting?  Self care? Healthy living? Yoga or Meditation?

Handwork (crafts - knitting, felting...)?

Parent-child events?

Personal laundry service? (Okay, I think I’m kidding on this one but seriously, think outside the box!)

Please know that your input is valued regardless of whether or not your child attends Bloom.  I would like to open things up to the community as a whole whenever possible.  xoxox

Wednesday
Feb062013

What's on YOUR list?

You can justify just about anything, but you can’t fool yourself (try as you might). 

When something feels wrong, you can’t shake that feeling despite trying to tell yourself its no big deal or that everyone is doing it.  I have been brushing off that sinking feeling for a while now, and as is often the case, my six year old illuminated things for me.  It was 6am.  I was on the couch alone with my phone when my daughters woke up and joined me.  I tucked the iphone aside.  After having a snuggle, I asked my daughter if she would please bring me my glasses.  When she returned from my bedroom with my glasses and my slippers (dear, sweet thing) I again had my phone in hand....just for "two seconds" while I finished a Facebook post (ironically, a post about my children).  She sat down next to me and began to draw.  Inspired by her efforts to bring me what I needed to start my day, she said she was drawing, “What Mama needs when she gets up in the morning.” Glasses, coffee, slippers, bathrobe, phone.  Ugh. She looked at me, smiling, proud of her drawings.  

This is what she thinks is important to me first thing in the morning. 

I can only imagine my expression.  I felt horrified. “How about snuggling?” I asked (no doubt with pleading eyes).  “That’s something I need every morning.”  So she added snuggling.  Sensing my sadness (she is so wise that way) she began to add “things Mama likes to do” to her picture...smiling, laughing, picking her up from school.  We both smiled.  She was trying to make me feel better, though I’m sure she didn’t really understand why a cloud had passed across my face.

I am connected with so many people via my phone - texting, emailing, social Facebooking, business Facebooking, an app that connects me to my website, Scrabble.  But the people I should be most connected with, the people who matter more to me than anything, don’t deserve the distracted-ness that all of this connectedness creates.  I am disheartened by what I am missing while I am behind my screen, by the example I am setting for my children, and by what I might be doing to their self esteem when they feel like they need to compete with my phone for my attention. Do I really want my phone to be on my daughters list of things she thinks are most important to me?  How did this happen?

As a business owner I have convinced myself that I need to be in constant contact.  The truth is, this is a bit of a pretext.  Certainly, not all of the “contact” I have relates to business.   I need to find a way to be accessible without my phone becoming an extension of my hand.  I need to set some rules and stick to them.  I can lessen the barrage of bells, chimes and beeps currently set to go off on my phone by turning off some of my myriad of notifications. I can check my phone periodically when I am with the children, but I don’t need to respond to everything immediately.   Scrabble can wait, as can Facebook, for when my children are not with me.  

The fact that this seems like it is going to be really hard to do is exactly why I need to do it. If I haven’t convinced you to join me, I dare you to read this post by Hands Free Mama.