Category Archives: Parenthood

Barbie vs. lego: Giving our daughters a real choice

So I realised something this holiday. Everyday this week, we made our way to the different art galleries, literature festivals and museums, taking advantage of London’s amazing culture. Growing up in a family that spent its holidays outdoors hiking, walking outside and sightseeing mostly in the beautiful landscapes of North America, I can say that these are things that would not come naturally to me.

I make a deliberate effort in the holidays to ensure my kids are exposed to as much science and culture as possible. And true enough, even I was surprised and excited by the result. Art and science can be exciting for a child – given the right teachers and exposure.

It made me think. Unless we deliberately expose our children to new and different things from what we as parents enjoyed as children, will they ever organically discover interests other than our own? I have my doubts. Should we only pay attention to what our Children show an interest in?

Barbie vs Lego: Giving our Daughters a Real Choice
Barbie vs Lego: Giving our Daughters a Real Choice

Partly because of my experience. Music wasn’t big in our family, hence none of my siblings nor I, am really into it. My parents weren’t interested and thus neither were we. We  never really had the choice. To hear the radio blearing loudly in the car (even today), I find uncomfortable, preferring silence to unwanted background noise.

On the other hand though, we are all pretty sporty and outdoorsy because, growing up in Canada, that was what we were exposed to. (Mum and Dad, if you’re reading this, I’m not knocking you).

Recently, I’ve been busy looking at interesting and educational gifts for my daughter who turns 7 next month. Typing into google “gifts for 7 year olds” without specifying gender, I get a whole list of ‘science-ey’ activities and toys that I perhaps wouldn’t have thought of before. Shamefully, even with all my consciousness around the issue of gendered-toys, I assumed she’ll be less interested in them.

She’s a girly-girl, loves dressing up, role-playing, singing and dancing. But as she gets older, her tastes will change and why shouldn’t they evolve to include lego, hot wheels or magna-tiles (look them up, they’re super cool). Why shouldn’t we encourage our children to like other things?

gender-specific toys
Discovering nature

Watching her at a classmate’s (a boy) birthday party recently, I saw her flock to toys she may never have played with or thought that she liked because she, just as I do, gets sucked into what she thinks she should be playing with. Truth be told, she loves magnets and building and ran over to me on more than one occasion to show me what she’d built or what she’d discovered.

At the science museum too, we happened upon a show that was 75% filled with little boys (the other 25% made up from what I could tell were sisters) called “The Rocket Show”. It was full of big bangs and explosions and all things we might typically associate with boys.  

I didn’t tell the girls beforehand what the show was about- thinking perhaps my oldest would protest that it was for boys. But as soon as we got in, my girls were captivated- right down to the explanations of Newton’s laws of motion and gravity. How many little girls missed out on that show because they thought it wasn’t for them, or it sounded like a ‘boy show’? And how many parents agreed?

Fast forward to secondary school, then university when girls are all choosing their majors. How likely are they to choose engineering having had so little exposure to building and motors and science because neither they nor their parents thought it was something they were interested in.

My 3 year old making a structure out of magna tiles.

Ironically, my previous career was developing policy to encourage women into STEM (Science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects in higher education. I now have first-hand experience of the sad reality of gender-based subjects and I genuinely fear its future impact.

So What to do about it?

If we expose our children to a variety of interests and activities and we are deliberate about seeking out things that they may not think they are interested in, you might find your child finds a new interest- something they are good at but would never have tried before.

 What’s the consequence if we don’t? Well, maybe nothing. But it can’t hurt to try. Parents who enrol their sons in dance classes just because they’d like them to try it. It could go either way, either the boy will hate it or love it but at least he’s had the chance. Others who seek out out-of-the-ordinary type activities like circus skills or cricket for girls. How would you know unless you try?

It worries me, what my husband and I are missing in our interests and exposure. I know we’re very different so we’ve got a lot covered in terms of our interests but art and culture don’t really feature. It’s no coincidence that the offspring of two maths professors is most likely to be interested in maths.

Between us, our kids have a good chance to like books, language, urban life, history, music, sports and nature. Hubby’s view is that if they’re interested in it, one window of exposure is enough for us to know if it’s something we should pursue for her. But I’m not so sure. She never went on about dance after just one dance class. It’s been continual and cumulative- building up over time so that now our little ones are dancing and singing at every opportunity. Buying her a karaoke set is a no brainer.

My daughter is naturally good at English, reading, and writing stories. She struggles more with her maths. But is that perhaps because we, her parents, are both writers? Because we weren’t good at maths?

We have to do something differently though if we are to give our daughters a real chance to discover what they’re genuinely good at and love. She’ll love to sing because she (and us) believe it’s what she’s good at. But that science kit is something we need to make an effort to buy.

We owe it to all of our daughters that if they decide science or art is not for them, it’s not because they weren’t encouraged or exposed to it at every opportunity. It’s because they genuinely chose to do something else…

While I’ve written this with my daughters in mind, all of this can apply to sons. Whatever the gender, we cannot pigeon hole our kids into certain activities and toys just because they show a liking for them.

The Ultimate Guide to Multicultural Toys and Black Dolls with Natural Hair

I’ve banged on before about how much representation matters. From buying dolls to choosing books to the movies your children watch, seeing themselves reflected in their everyday is so important for a child’s self esteem and for their aspirations to believe that they can achieve anything.

So, as part of that series, we are bringing you the ultimate guide to multicultural toys and black dolls with natural hair.  From dolls to figurines to bags, subscriptions, puppets, games and more…  And the best part? You don’t need to order from across the pond! This list should appeal to both boys and girls but if you’d like us to include anything else, just write a comment below! In the run up to Christmas time, this is the perfect Santa list for your little ones.

Lots to Love Bath Time Doll

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8Designed by Berengeuer, these Lots To Love Babies are the perfect bath and playtime doll. Chubby and sturdy – who wouldn’t love these dolls. Perfect for bath or play. Comes with removable nappy. Able to sit independently. Outfits available.

Girls Pink Foldable Umbrella, Kids Umbrella, Cute Umbrella, Personalized Kids Ballerina Rain Gear, Monogrammed Umbrella, Girls Umbrella

GUIDE TO MULTICULTURAL TOYS AND BLACK DOLLS WITH NATURAL HAIRGreat idea! Kids love umbrellas and this one comes personalised! Choose from a variety of images.

North American Bear Little Princess Snowflake/Tan Doll

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8Snowflake Princess is a very soft and cuddly toy. 15 inches or approx 36cm in length. Lightweight and very flexible. Very soft material body with beautiful pale blue princess dress & crown. Light tan complexion.

 

Granny, Black Grandmother, Full Body, Ventriloquist Style Puppet, 65cm

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8I love a good puppet and Granny ventriloquist is a fantastic option! High quality full body ventriloquist style puppet made by Silly Puppets. Easy to move mouth. Hand entry through the back of the puppet. Includes 1 arm control rod which can be clipped to either hand for movement. Height is about 65cm tall. Lightweight at just around 500g. Puppet can be re-dressed in child size 18 month clothes.

 

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Rhino Face-Off by the Mine Toy for Boys and Girls

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8Black Panther… the movie of all time. And it’s great that lego has the toys to keep the play alive. Includes three minifigures: Black Panther, Okoye and Killmonger. Rhino features a minifigure seat, posable head and legs, rhino horn elements and two stud shooters. Mining cart features a tipping function and translucent-blue vibranium nugget elements. Activate the rail track’s explode function to knock over the cart. 

Our Generation 18-Inch Nahla Deluxe Doll with Book

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8This Nahla 18 inch doll is fully pose-able. She comes with 2 outfits and extra accessories including a story book. Eyes open and close. and you can buy lots more great outfits, accessories and accessory sets in the Our Generation range.

 

Ravensburger Doc McStuffins Medicine Bag Game

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8A fun game for Doc McStuffins fans. Help Doc find her missing instruments and fill her. Game play based on the popular pre-school TV show. Perfect for children aged 3 and up, 2 to 4 players. Easy to understand rules combined with a unique and fun game play.

 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8We love crafts in our house and having the option to use different coloured pegs to make a puppet or figurine is such a great idea. Just wrap with fabric to ‘fashion’ an outfit. Decorate with acrylic paint, twirly hair, fabric and yarn (not included. Comes in 5 assorted colours – Dark Brown, Tan, Orange, Peach and Beige.

Just Like Me Book Box!

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8Get a monthly subscription box with 2-3 children’s books featuring characters of color plus fun book swag! Finding the best African American children’s literature can be challenging. We’re here to help! Every month we hand-select books to send to your child. In addition, we include fun and educational activities to enjoy with your family.

Multicultural Kids Around The World Finger Puppets

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8Ever sang the “Daddy Finger” song? I’ve had to many times and love that you can now bring it to life with these 12 Assorted Finger puppets. Made out of vinyl. Fits any size fingers.

 

 

Tidlo Wooden Little Friends Puzzle

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8The Tidlo Little Friends Puzzle features eight little friends who come in pairs – a boy and a girl in each set. The head, body and legs of each character lift out separately, leaving little ones with the task of piecing them back together – working out which piece belongs to which character! A line drawing underneath each piece can be used as a guide to find the correct slot! Or, for a little extra fun, why not mix and match the character pieces to create some funny new characters. The puzzle splits into 24 chunky pieces that are ideal for little hands to lift, grasp, examine and replace. With a bright and colourful design, this wooden puzzle is sure to attract the attention of youngsters and is a great way to improve early shape recognition.

Barbie Baby Doctor

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8Explore the world of medicine with Barbie dolls and medical play sets! Barbie baby doctor doll is ready to see patients with furniture for an exam table and accessories to care for two adorable babies. Details are realistic with colourful touches and office-inspired elements. Teal scrubs and white shoes are a perfect professional look. Barbie baby doctor doll does double duty with an exam station that features two tubs, a moving mobile and storage space. Accessories let young minds care for baby patients with a stethoscope, two baby towels, a bottle and a medical chart. Young doctors will love giving their patients a clean bill of health with baby doctor Barbie doll.

Barbie Robotics Engineer Doll

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8Get your girls and boys dreaming big with Barbie Robotics Engineer doll — this Barbie Career of the Year doll introduces a partnership with Tynker, a game-based platform that teaches kids how to code and inspires them to explore STEM opportunities! Barbie doll comes with a silvery robot and a purple laptop — that shows a screenshot of her robotics project. A career-themed look includes a white t-shirt with rainbow tech-inspired graphic, a denim jacket, black pants, white sneakers and protective goggles. 

Positively Perfect Brianna Doll, 18-Inch

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/627305944/girls-pink-foldable-umbrella-kids?ref=shop_home_active_8Another great 18 inch doll with lovely curly hair radiating confidence and beauty. Soft body with vinyl head, legs and arms.

Mosi Backpack

This delightful, high-quality Mosi™ Backpack is the perfect accessory for boys who are ready to explore…The Ultimate Guide to MULTICULTURAL Toys and Black Dolls with Natural Hair

WWE Big E and Xavier Woods Figure, Multicoloured, Pack of 2

The Ultimate Guide to MULTICULTURAL Toys and Black Dolls with Natural HairHave twice the slamming ideal time with the WWE Battle Pack. No-holds barred personality pack celebrates key rivalries, champions, WWE Women’s Division competitors, manager and talent, tag teams and siblings. With the included iconic accessory and authentic WWE detailing, you can recreate realistic, big event matches with two approximately 6 Inch superstar figures.

Budkins Blue Football Team and Black and White Ball 4 item pack

The Ultimate Guide to MULTICULTURAL Toys and Black Dolls with Natural HairHave lots of fun with these bendy wooden players and a bouncy football. Ps you don’t need to be a Chelsea fan to enjoy these little guys;)

 

 

 


Queens of Africa Dolls

The Ultimate Guide to MULTICULTURAL Toys and Black Dolls with Natural Hair

I love the Queens of Africa range. The Trinity Pack features Azeezah, Nneka and Wuraola. Stylish Outfit and accessories for each doll. Each Doll has a different Afro hairstyle.

 

 

 

Lela Backpack

The Ultimate Guide to MULTICULTURAL Toys and Black Dolls with Natural Hair

The name Lela is of Swahili origin, meaning black beauty. Lela loves to be creative and express herself in everything she does. She is confident and full of enthusiasm and loves all things pink and sparkly. Welcome to the wonderful world of Lela, a place where kids can feel good about themselves. Lela products are appropriate for many gift-giving occasions, from birthdays to Christmas’s and more. This back pack is beautifully made with lovely detail making this a bag any little girl would love to take with her everywhere.

Nia Ballerina Musical Jewellery Box – Dressing Table

The Ultimate Guide to MULTICULTURAL Toys and Black Dolls with Natural HairFinally, a musical jewellery box with a black ballerina, which is the perfect keepsake gift a little girl will treasure for years!  Wind the key and lift the lid to see the beautiful ballerina turning to a melody.  Illustrated in a colourful image with Nia Ballerina sitting at a dressing table getting ready makes this music box ideal for little girls to keep their jewellery and special memorable items safe.

Hape Happy Family-African American

The Ultimate Guide to MULTICULTURAL Toys and Black Dolls with Natural HairA Happy African-American Family including Grandma, Grandpa, Mum, Dad, sister and brother. Perfect idea for any kids’ doll house. The family is also fun to play with on its own. Beautifully crafted dolls made from friendly fabric and quality hardwood. Helps develop role play and dexterity as well as playful storytelling.

African American Custom Selfie doll, personalized doll, custom doll, character doll, rag doll, art doll, made by photo, artist cloth doll

The Ultimate Guide to MULTICULTURAL Toys and Black Dolls with Natural HairI love this idea but beware it’s not cheap and it takes 6 weeks to arrive. But, these replica dolls can be custom made designed after you or your loved ones! Features, hair style, colour, clothing and all! The base price includes one 30 cm (12 inch) tall doll, with clothing (max. 2 garment) that you can specify in detail.

Black Boy Hoodie Sweatshirt Men’s hooded African American Black Boy Joy Hoody Sweatshirts Multiple Colors

The Ultimate Guide to MULTICULTURAL Toys and Black Dolls with Natural HairEvery boy loves a good hoodie and this one featuring a black superhero is a great one for your little men.

 

 

 

 

For more ideas for afro dolls and black dolls with natural hair, visit our exclusive list of the best dolls available…

*****This post contains affiliate links. It’s how I pay for this site but each and every one of these items was fully researched to bring you the best and most creative ideas for your mixed kids. Get buying!****

 

A Step by Step Guide to Raising Race Conscious Children

Raising Race Conscious Children: Talking about Racism

My oldest daughter, aged 7, recently learned about Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. But not from me. In school, with her teacher and amongst her classmates who are majority white.

For her, I knew this was her first introduction to the concept of racism. Not only that, but injustice, discrimination and hatred based on skin colour- not in a playground but rather, played out in the adult world causing pain, violence and in some cases, death.

Some heavy lessons in there I’m sure. And though I’m glad she learned about some of the bravest and most heroic names of our time, I’m also sad that she’s had to take this in at such an early age.

My fear? That her belief and naivety in a world where everyone is treated equal was shattered. In her world, bullying doesn’t and shouldn’t happen to grown ups. Ashamedly, I hadn’t actually thought that raising race conscious children was possible at her age.

It’s worse than that. It’s not just bullying, it’s actually denying people the same things for reasons that she’s been taught thus far, don’t matter. Things that make no difference and shouldn’t feature in how you judge a person’s character.

Raising Race Conscious Kids

Do Children Actually Understand Racism?

It’s good that her teacher is talking to children about racism and as part of this, she performed an experiment (you may have heard of it). Half the class were let out for playtime early, that same group were given chocolate treats, iPads and new markers while the other group were told to get on with what they had or were given old markers and broken toys.

The kids without were outraged and the kids given everything understood it was unfair. The experiment showed that kids do get injustice. But did they truly understand the power context behind racism? Racism is not simply denying group x, it’s about actually creating and maintaining a system of power to maintain it.

It raised the question, could I have had a chat with my daughter earlier so that her first introduction to the subject would be with us, her parents? And was I naive to think she wasn’t already seeing signs of how privilege and prejudice work and who benefits? If I want to be raising race conscious children, should I have been trying to talk to them about racism a lot earlier?

The answer is yes. Our children are never too young to have these discussions if we want to be raising race conscious children. Because they are noticing difference no matter how much you want to sugar coat it. And if it’s you who first broaches a discussion, your child will most likely feel comfortable later on to discuss the more complex aspects of race that inevitably need exploring.

So if you want to have an open door about topics such as race and racism,  here’s a guide to get you started,

Raising Race Conscious Children: Kids are never too young to begin talking about race

If you think your children don’t see colour and that racial differences are taught and not noticed by children, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Children as young as two or three start asking about differences, such as disabilities, gender, skin colour and physical characteristics like hair and body shape. Surely you’ve been out with your children and they’ve loudly and rather unininhibitedly asked about the woman with the limp, the man dressed up as a woman or even as mundane (as in my daughter’s case) as the man with “hair all over his face!”

These moments are opportunities. And that’s just it. Opportunities to introduce difference, to explore how we’re all made in different shapes, genders and sizes. Use other differences and topics to start talking to children about racism. Start a discussion reminding them how some of us may have parts of us that work differently or look slightly different but  what’s important is how we act and behave towards others.

If you don’t live in a diverse area, use books, magazines, tv shows and ads to introduce diverse characters. Be intentional about seeking out diversity- not the books that talk about difference as its main subject but diverse characters doing everyday things.  So kids can see that these differences aren’t that important.

Point out all the similarities, like the fact they both like playing football or wearing pink. The differences are there but they’re not more important than what brings people together.

Raising Race Conscious Children: The Early years

Somewhere around 4 or 5 years old, children begin to make conscious decisions about who they play with based on things as arbitrary as ‘he wears glasses’ or ‘she funny hair’.

These are based on what we call unconscious bias which they would have already begun to have absorb. They’re based on their idea of what is ‘normal’ in the world around them and unconscious characteristics that they assign to certain things.

So, brown skin can be perceived as ‘dirty’ or a child with brown skin born to a white mother (as was the case with my daughter’s friend at this age) was not possible.

It’s important in these discussions not to scold or shush a child who questions but rather, ask them why they might think this and gently explain why that is not the case. Talking to children about racism is never going to be comfortable. And though I was initially alarmed by the child who told me I couldn’t be my daughter’s Mum because I didn’t have the same skin colour, I realised it was just not in her consciousness that families could look so different.

We talked about how each child is a mixture of both their parents and that DD1’s Dad was black and I’m white so our children came out a light brown colour. With that, she was off. She got it. Made sense in her world: colour mixing. We can be raising race conscious children positively. It doesn’t always have to be the negative aspects of race.

Don’t feel alarmed when children voice such assertions about the world but again, try to look at them as opportunities to ask them why they think this. And explore whether there is more you can be doing to show them why their assertion was not true.

I spoke to the teacher about possibly looking at how families look different and that this could be an opportunity to explore more than just race but single parent families, same sex parents or adoption.

Raising Race Conscious Children: The School Years

Like a lot of things at this age, the fairytales about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy have become just that- tales. Children have started becoming more discerning about the world around them and questioning why things are the way they are.

Part of this shift includes absorbing the not-so-subtle messages of power and privilege surrounding them. You could choose to ignore it or you could use their questions to spur in depth discussions about privilege.

To start a discussion, try talking to them about some of the subtle messages we get in our everyday lives. Are there particular people who never seem to be the superhero or princess in your books or movies? Who always seems to ‘save the day’? And who is often the one who needs to be ‘saved?’ Who is considered ‘pretty’?

My middle daughter recently expressed a dislike towards a doll we had that happened to have darker skin. The instant she told me she didn’t like her anymore, I knew why.

For all the work and positive images we try to surround her with, we know we’re up against it with all of the ads, images and messages she gets in her school and around. For her, it amounted to one kid in her class that was consistently bothering her and who happened to have darker skin. She had reconciled it in her head that perhaps that was why he was unkind- because of the colour of his skin.

When we talked about it however, she realised that people behave in all sorts of ways, and it doesn’t have to do with their skin colour. Luckily she has enough positive black role models around her that we could reinforce this message. The door is now open for further discussion because I know this is likely only the beginning of what she’ll take in. She will become more race conscious and that is a good thing. My hope is that she can express it positively.

Sometimes these discussions can stir a lot of empathy and emotion so it’s important not to leave your children with that sunken feeling of helplessness. Talk about the heroes of our time who have worked to influence change and what kinds of things they can do if they see someone being treated unfairly. Talking to children about racism doesn’t have to be a depressing discussion, try to let it end in hope.

Our children don’t have the luxury or privilege to ignore race. So what other choice is there?

What Happens Next?

If we don’t talk to our children about race and racism, they will go elsewhere to get answers.

In the end, I’m glad my daughter’s teacher introduced the subject because it has spurred ongoing discussions that have branched into gender and class. I don’t always have it spot on and I’m certain these discussions will get more difficult over the years but our children don’t have the luxury or privilege to ignore race. So what other choice is there?


For more from Mixed.Up.Mama about talking to children about race and privilege, read on… 

10 Things to Consider Before Having Children in an Interracial Relationship10 Things Every Parent Should Do When Raising Mixed Race Kids

Raising Mixed Kids in a Colourism WorldInterracial Relationship

Mummy, I’m Bored!: Why Boredom is Good for Children

Why Boredom is Good For Children

The end of the school year has been amazing with a flurry of end of year activities: sports days, end of year shows, global fairs, summer fairs, and endless activities showcasing the work my children have been doing all year long.

It’s been tiresome but fun. And sometimes, me being a stickler for structure, I forget it all gets a bit gruelling- even for my most organised of daughters.

We finished sports day yesterday and I was exhausted. I thought the kids would be too. But afterwards, the request was- “can we just go and play a little bit?”

“What??”, I asked, incredulous. “You’ve been playing all day!”.

But what they wanted to do wasn’t structured. It wasn’t organised. They wanted to be silly and laugh and spontaneously splash into the nearby pool fully clothed.

I got it. Because  like other parents out there, I get lost in that mode of desperately wanting them to have fun in a contained environment where we can predict the results. Being spontaneous and silly are moments we lose.

Plans for summer?

With the summer coming up, my instinct was to make a list of all the activities we’d like to do this summer. A lot of these require organising, booking, scheduling and ticket buying.

But I’m hesitating this year. Because deep down I know they just want to relax. And really, I should be giving them a chance to be bored.

This summer I want my girls to experience boredom. To have days upon days of unstructured, no-entertainment-pleasure.

What? No Entertainment?!

If we were to just not schedule anything… what might happen? They’d eventually get bored, right? Why does that prospect fill us with dread? 

Boredom is uncomfortable and our instinct is to ensure constant stimulation. Let’s be honest, how many of us have thought about ensuring our kids do homework everyday so they don’t slow down?

When I’ve let my children just be, they’ve come up with some of their most memorable moments- pillow fights, pretend sports days, forts, and creative art projects. I look back and realise why wouldn’t we want them to have this time?

Okay, so it’s in our human nature to see a vacuum and try to fill it.  Most of the time, when children have nothing to do, they rely on the tele, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. Even we, as parents are guilty of it. Our go-to if we don’t have some sort of entertainment planned for them or can’t gather enough energy to entertain them 
ourselves, is screen time. 

So what might happen if our kids are ‘bored’?

Studies have shown that when people don’t have anything to do, their minds wander, they daydream. Creativity happens.

In a grown-up world where creativity is perhaps the only skill machines cannot replace, it’s an important skill our kids need to develop. Boredom lets our kids see the world through their own eyes and pursue that train of thought. Ever heard another parent (or yourself) say, “my kids are all so different”. Isn’t it great to see how they create something through their own lens? Letting them pursue that thought process is part of leaving them alone- bored or not.

When our children grow up, we won’t be there every moment of every day. We won’t be able to entertain them or fill their schedules with educational camps and activities. In fact, research has shown there is no link between how much time we spend with our children and how they turn out.  At some point, we have to let go and hope for the best. They need to learn how to handle different situations themselves. And that means leaving them alone. 

Learning to motivate themselves is part of growing up.  And letting them be bored helps them build up that skill.  Searching their environment to find things to do and make key decisions about what to do next is a great thing. 

Top tip: Make up new games

Take an example from our everyday lives. We were in the line at the store and it was quite long. The kids started to get bored and restless. Instead of trying to contain them, I encouraged them to think of new games they could play in line to entertain themselves. First, we started with the obvious eye-spy but eventually they thought up a game that involved counting all the chocolate bars, pink sweets and chewing gum. Not hugely complicated but self-motivated nonetheless.

How can we cope with Boredom?

Although we all double-down when we hear the ubiquitous “I’m bored” from our children, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can actually be a motivator for kids to find a goal- to focus themselves.

Parents shouldn’t present the solution, like suggesting exactly what they should do next. It’s not our role to be providing that constant stimulation. Instead, we should be encouraging children to find ways to entertain themselves, to learn to deal with it and escape it. A lifelong skill.

Top tip: Instead of suggesting “why don’t you play UNO?”, why not just suggest a game and let them run with that idea?

Don’t set the bar too high. Sure, go to museums and organise days out to circumvent the days when there’s nothing going on. But this summer, encourage your children to know what it’s like to just be. To use their imaginations, run around in the garden, be creative and just be.


changing schools
A Parent’s Guide to Changing Schools

WHEN IS IT OKAY TO TURN DOWN A KIDS BIRTHDAY INVITE?

It’s birthday party season again. That time when kids (and their parents) are invited to countless parties eating into every weekend and spare minute of family time you have.

I shouldn’t say that. Parties are wonderful for the kids. A time to get together with their friends outside of school, where they can play, eat and generally be on a two hour sugar high. Great, huh?

It’s just that the end of the summer somehow warrants those born in both July AND August to schedule their parties just at the point where life is beginning its frenzied scheduled chaos. So, for some reason, it feels like a lot after a spring that was relatively party-free.

But seeing as the kids look forward to it and many of the kids are my daughters’ good friends, when is it okay to turn down a party invitation?

  1. First, ask yourself how close are they really? If dd1 was invited because the whole class was invited and you know your kids don’t really hang out, take that as a free pass to turn it down.
  1. How busy are you? If it means you’ll have to go from dance class to picking up dd2 from football to your hair appointment and then to the party, I think it’s safe to say that you’re busy. Don’t stress yourself to the point that you’ll resent being there the whole time.
  1. Check if you can share the pick up/drop off with another Mum/parent. Even better, if your kids are at the age when you can just drop them off, this is definitely the best option. It gets more complicated when you’re expected to stay and help supervise but still worth a shot to take it in turns.
  1. Family time always trumps birthday parties. If weekends are your only days to spend as a family and this is at a premium, it’s okay to turn it down. Spending time as a family is important and children crave that time (more than time with their friends-despite what they might say). Otherwise the weekend can just fly by. Alternatively, make it a family event. Enquire whether siblings are welcome and come with your whole brood!
  1. What’s the activity and is it difficult to get there? Again, check how convenient it is for you and whether your child will actually enjoy it. If your child hates heights and they’re headed to GoApe!, it’s probably a miss for her.
  1. Make it enjoyable for you! Yes it’s a party for the kids but heck, you’ve given up your afternoon as well so if beer or alcohol is on offer, take it! You deserve it!

Hopefully this list helps to reassure you there are legit excuses to turning down a party invitation… Send me your ideas and what’s worked for you! Good luck!


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