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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pushing Through - What Kyriarchy has Taught Us About Our Periods

On Monday, I had a bit of a girl's moment with an Amerikan woman working here in Mulanje with Peace Corps. She's running a cloth pad program for the girls in the local school and so that was the topic of conversation. In Africa very few girls go to school, and statistics drop massively as soon as they hit puberty. During their periods, girls tend to stay at home, leading them to get behind on the boys and eventually drop out. 
One of the reasons girls don't go to school while they're on their period is shame. Easy period options like pads or tampons or cups are simply not available. The horror of being called out, having it known that they are on their period is just as predominant as in the West, except that here, leaking and bloodstains are much more of a reality.
wasbaar maandverband
Insert: cloth pads. Leaking is avoided and girls can just go to school while on their period
Or can they?
Below her breath, my friend whispers that the girls here just haven't learned to 'push through' like we have. They experience their period as an ordeal, they feel squeamish and sick. So they don't go to school. Teachers tend to think the girls are just lazy. My feminine solicitude tingles.   
Pushing through is indeed something we have learned in the West, because we don't want to be less than a man, do we? The culture of 'equality for all' has been translated as 'everyone the same', which even was a goal for the first feminist wave. We have learned to ignore and underestimate our clear biological differences. Yet it is unmistakeable that there are differences between man and woman. 
wasbaar maandverbandOne of them is the fact that women have their period about once every month. 
Traditional cultures hold a time of separation for women while they are on their period. Our dominant views in the West have translated this as a sexist seclusion from society for something as trivial as a period. We read it as women being unclean, shunned. However, during the separation period, women get a time of rest, healing and restoration. Something much needed during the flow. 
If you ask the majority of Western women if they'd rather spend time in seclusion, taking care of themselves and their body while on their period, I figure you get a wholehearted "yes". 
That's why the Red Tent movement is gaining such momentum. 
So, instead of forcing girls to deny themselves, their feelings, their physical sensations and making their bodies subjects of kyriarchy, let's validate women! Let's all recognise each other and search for a different way of existing in society as a woman. Without lagging behind on the men, but without ignoring our true selves. 


Monday, September 14, 2015

Unschooling: What if I Don't Have the Right Answer?

Recently, I was confronted with this question by a parent who was interested in unschooling her child: "What if I don't have the right answer?". She continued by highlighting children's inquisitive nature and her limited knowledge of things in general.
"I am highly passionate about my field," she said, "but what about the things I don't know? What if my child asks me about history, which I know very little about?"

The notion of the One Right Answer and the Summit of Knowledge is very much part of the school paradigm. In a school setting, the teacher holds the Right Answers, all of them, and each question just has one. This is possible because the information seen in the span of a lesson is controlled and pre-established.

There is no such thing in unschooling.

First of all, we break through the notion that there is just one answer. Sometimes there are none, sometimes there are many.
In unschooling, there is also no top down transfer of knowledge such as is attempted in a school setting, so sometimes the answer comes from the parent sometimes the answer comes from the child but it can just as easily come from a third party a book or the internet.

What is important is the process, the stimulation of seeking the answers. The feeding of the mind.

Whenever I don't have the answer, I will ask my child what she thinks. You will be surprised at the vast array of answers that come up. They might not al be 'true' but they will stimulate learning. Stimulating the way of finding answers is also much more important than just handing a clean cut answer to your child. And before you object to this method of learning, it's actually an established method of learning, called the Socratic method. After Socrates, who would entice his students to learning by answering each question with a question. Though I must admit I'm not as good as he was, I have to remind myself not to just answer the question every time. Then again, I was conventionally schooled.
Showing your child how to discern scientific information from hearsay, how to find the right references, discerning fiction from fact, that is what is important, and that is something you don't have when you're concerned of always offering the 'right' answer.

Furthermore, it is important that your child sees that you don't hold all the knowledge that you too are learning all the time. This may be a most stimulating notion. Monkey see, monkey do, also works when learning is concerned. If an unschooled child is confronted with an eternally learning parent, he too will wonder about the world, and seek out knowledge about the things that grasp his interest.

Unschooling requires a change of paradigm. If you can accept that answers will be found in due time, if you can grow that trust, then you're almost there.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How to Maintain and Improve Your Garden

Gardening is a great way to spend time together as a family, and it can also be an important part of improving your health and your quality of life. One of the best ways to turn gardening into a relaxing and enjoyable pastime is by making your garden a peaceful and beautiful place where you enjoy spending your time. So if you’re looking to improve your garden, here are a few tips to get you on your way.

Start composting

Composting is not only an environmentally friendly practice and a great thing to teach children about conservation, but it is also a fantastic way to provide your garden with important nutrients that plants need to flourish and very easy to set up. You will also find that composting cuts down on the costs of buying soil-enriching products, as the compost provides your soil nutrients in a natural and organic way, plus without any nasty chemicals your garden is safer for any inquisitive children or pets.

Utilise household objects

Household waste or unwanted object can be great ways to spruce up the look of your garden. Old mirrors can be used to create fun visual effects, colanders make for great and stylish plant pots or hanging baskets, and even things like hanging shoe racks can be used to create your own small herb garden. Before throwing something out, always think if it has a use in the garden.

Save rainwater

Another great way to conserve resources and to make your garden a more environmentally friendly place is to purchase a few rain buckets that you can use to collect water for your garden. This is another task that will not only help reduce your carbon footprint but will also reduce the cost of maintaining a beautiful and verdant space.


The decorative aspect of a garden is a very personal one, some people enjoy perfectly manicured spaces while others like to feel a little more in the wild when they enter their gardens. Either way, some great options for sprucing up your garden’s look include laying a dry creek bed of rocks, which is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functions as a way to divide up your garden, as well as setting out at a pathway, which functions similarly to the creek-bed, but allows you and visitors to stroll through and admire your work.

However you decide to go about creating your perfect outdoor space, remember that if you get stuck check out Tesco’s garden guide for some helpful hints and tips.

Image by DncnH used under the Creative Commons License.


Friday, July 10, 2015

How to Properly Approach Co-Parenting After a Divorce

A divorce is not easy on anyone. No matter if it is a clean breakup, or a messy one, it is especially
hard on the kids. Trying to be a good parent during a divorce is difficult, but it is also essential. How you handle the divorce will impact your child for a long time to come. If you are about to go through a divorce, or have recently gone through one, the advice below should help you when it comes to co-parenting.

The first thing to remember is that the divorce is between you and your spouse – the child should not be involved. If you are having any issues with your ex, you need to keep these between the two of you. Involving your child in the issues, or arguing where they can hear you, will be rough on the child. You can talk to your child about what is going on when they are old enough, but keep the dirty laundry stuff to yourselves.

Along these lines, don't ask your child to choose sides or try to turn them against your ex. Just because things did not end well between the two of you, does not mean your child should have a bad opinion of them. Even if, in your mind, your ex is not a good person or a good role model, it is important to not project this onto your child. You can explain to them in more detail when they are older, but for now, let them keep the good image of their parent.

During a divorce, chances are you are going to feel frustrated, upset, angry, or any number of other unpleasant feelings. When this happens, you need to keep them to yourself and let out your emotions somewhere else. If your child sees you crying or getting angry, they are not going to be able to handle it well. Go to the gym if you need to relieve some stress, or talk to a therapist if you need to let off some steam. You don't have to bottle up your emotions, just try to keep in them in check for the time being if you have children around.

Lastly, as long as your ex is not a danger to the child, be sure that both parents get enough time with them. Even if you are mad at your ex, taking time away with their child is not the solution. Set schedules in which each parent will see them, and split up holidays. Make sure that the schedule works for both parties, and that you stick to it. Also be sure that both parents have time to do fun activities with the child, so that no one gets preferential treatment. This will make everything run smoother, and make your child happier.

While many divorces are amicable, some are not. Issues may arise, and the child may become involved. If you need help dealing with the legal issues, it is recommended that you hire an attorney. Getting yourself a family lawyer will make everything run more smoothly, and as a result you'll be less stressed. Too much stress can have an impact on you, and your child will be able to tell. For everyone's sake, let an expert handle it. For those of you on a budget who think you can't afford a family lawyer, trying looking for one on an average tier. This means they may not have went to the most prestigious law school, but they still know what they are doing and they will charge less for it.

We hope that these few tips will help out you and your family. Just remember that divorce is hard on everyone, not just the child. Put as much thought as you can into how they might be feeling, and try to keep the divorce between you and your ex. If you can do this, then you and your family should be just fine.