Google+ Authentic Parenting: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Parenthood: That state of being better chaperoned than you were before marriage.
~ Marcelene Cox


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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quote Of The Day

"Like a shadow that does not permit us to jump over it, but moves with us to maintain its proper distance, pollution is nature's answer to culture. When we have learned to recycle pollution into potent information, we will have passed over completely into the new cultural ecology."
— William Irwin Thompson


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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quote Of The Day

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
- Walt Disney


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My Daughter's Favorite Youtube Animation

We watch a lot of stuff on Youtube together, my daughter and I, so I thought I'd share her favorite short animation. She's crazy about everything scary, mummies, monsters, ghosts etc, so this is no exception. It's a parody on Indiana Jones, called Tadeo Jones. Enjoy!




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Monday, March 28, 2011

Quote Of The Day

"Everyone knows that childhood is a developmental journey for children. Few realize that guiding, learning from and mentoring children is a developmental process for adults, a transformative practice every bit as demanding and powerful as found in any martial art, monastery, or athletic training camp."
 – Michael Mendizza


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Surf

Audio
A very powerful poem about body image by Holly McNish on BBC

    Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: Adventures of a Thrifty MamaTouchstonezThe New Mommy Files. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
    If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


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    Saturday, March 26, 2011

    10 Tips To Save Even More Money Cloth Diapering


    In this post, I would like to give you some tips on saving even more money cloth diapering.It’s quite clear that using cloth saves you a great deal of money, compared to disposables. Your one-time cost when going cloth is about 600 euro. Taken on account that children take longer to potty train when they’re on disposables, you’re looking at 2,5 to three years of disposables which comes down to 1400 euro. Those 600 euro for the cloth diapers last until your child is fully potty trained and might even serve for a second or even a third child (hey, I even reused my old diapers from the eighties as burp cloths, talking about getting a lot of mileage out of them). Sure, they can wear, but they can often be repaired too.
    TIP 1When your velcro is worn out, simply take it off and replace it. You can even choose to replace velcro with snaps, and you don’t need to be a professional tailor to do so.
    TIP 2Cut up some cotton or sponge towel to use instead of baby whipes. I have a little plant spritzer with water I use to wet the squares and that’s all you need. If you have a tap near your changing space, you can opt for using a washcloth too.
    TIP 3Fabric liners are another easy thing to make. Cut them out of fleece, sponge towel or thick ribbed cotton jersey. Be creative, you can even reuse worn T-shirts if you layer them. You can either make square pads or more ergonomic ones. And again, for this job, you don’t need a lot of experience sewing.
    TIP 4Paper liners can be washed too. I always wash mine if she has only peed on them. They even was two or three times.
    TIP 5When you are making your initial buy, shop around. Google it, nose through webshops, ask your friends. You might find some sales, you might get some handy-downs. Sometimes small mommy-run businesses make good quality diapers for less than the bigger brands. Plus most of the time these are customizable, so all the more fun. Trial packs can also be a good idea. Often they are cheaper and it’s a great way to test out a few brand before sticking with one.
    TIP 6Don’t buy everything at once. If money is short, this is a good way to split the cost. Your child only needs size S the first 5 to 7 months, you can postpone buying size L until later. This will also give you the time to find out if you are happy with the brand you own.
    TIP 7AIO’s (all in one) are a great way to avoid having to result to disposables when you’re out and about and might save you some $$
    TIP 8Buy enough diapers. Now this might seem counterintuitive, but the bigger your stash the less frequently you have to wash, the less they will wear and the less work you have.
    TIP 9Let them run around bare bottom every once in a while. It’s not such a big deal to clean a pee or a poop off the ground (if your flours aren’t carpeted, of course). They also learn a little about themselves this way, and in the end, that’s some less diapers to wash and iron.
    TIP 10Use soap nuts or bio wash ball. I haven’t tried the bio wash ball myself, but I’ve heard some great things about them. I can however vouch for the wash nuts. We’ve been using them for over two years now and our clothes are still squeaky clean. It costs about 14 to 17 euro for one kilo and we only use two bags a year (and I assure you, tropical climate dirties up your laundry like nothing else, and add to that a hubby squeezing himself into narrow oily and dirty shafts half the time for a living and who spends the other half of his time climbing dirt piles...). It also spares you the fabric softener, we only use white vinegar and the odd drop of essential oil.


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    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    As a teenager you are at the last stage in your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you.  
    ~ Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies


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    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    The finest clothing made is a person's skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.
    ~ Mark Twain


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    Binary Underwear

    This is a guest post I did for Arwyn at Raising My Boychick a while back. I thought I would share it here for those who haven't read it (and also because it enables me to slack al little).


    I went shopping yesterday. That doesn’t happen too often. I live in Africa and shops aren’t actually at every street corner. Well, there aren’t too many streets either, so… But I am deviating.

    Now we are in Belgium, we do get to shop. Generally that means we have this huge list to fulfill and we run around like hamsters in a maze. I actually set out to find winter pajamas (living close to the equator, I don’t need any over there), and underwear. I am a breastfeeding mother and my hips have gotten bigger with my daughter’s birth. I like being comfortable without looking too frumpy. So I guess I am quite demanding when it comes to shopping.

    munsy08
    So I went from shop to shop like Christmas Carolers go from door to door and with the trillionth shop I visited, I started noticing a pattern: in nightwear and underwear, women have only two choices. Either we’re reduced to mere objects of pleasure, there and ready whenever it would please our male counterpart, because indeed — and every woman’s magazine will agree on this — the key to feeling confident is wearing sexy lingerie. Because what could better boost a woman’s self esteem than her sexuality? Her openness toward sexual encounters? Her eagerness to be taken by any predatory man at large? The other option is to be completely infantilized, teddy bears on the breast and buttocks and all. There is nothing in between. Unless you go to a discount shop and buy white cotton grannywear (which I have nothing against if that’s what tickles your fancy, but it doesn’t apply to all the criteria I am looking for in my underwear).

    Image: 3 Suisses
    Now donʼt get me wrong, I donʼt mind women wearing sexy clothes or sexy lingerie; I’ve worn my share of both. And if you like wearing teddy bears, cartoon figures and the like, you are completely free to do so. However, I feel that we — women — should have a choice when it comes to our underwear and nightgowns, and that choice should not be limited to two options.

    It is completely possible to design underwear and nightwear that is comfortable and looks good, and isn’t inspired by childhood themes. Just as it is possible to design underwear that isn’t good for the wardrobe of ‘Burlesque’. Seriously! I do not want to run around with Hello Kitty on my ass. And as much as I can appreciate silks and lace and ruffles and ribbons, they are hardly practical when you’re running after a two and a half year old.

    So to underwear designers all over, if you read this:
    1. women don’t only wear underwear to please the opposite sex.
    2. sometimes burlesque doesn’t even light the spark with our significant other
    3. women like options and two options isn’t much of a choice
    4. underwear should first and foremost be comfortable
    5. and seriously? What’s with the bears and pussycats and cartoon figures. We’re adult women for freezing snowflakes’ sake!

    So – for the time being – no new underwear for me, and I guess Iʼll have to continue wearing my lounge pants and husbandʼs T-shirt to bed.


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    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own.
    ~ Logan Pearsall Smith, "Age and Death," Afterthoughts, 1931


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    Kids Say the Darnedest Things

    I went to get a pap smear and colposcopy last week. When we arrived at the hospital, my daughter was asleep in the car. We didn't have someone to watch her, so I decided to go in alone, and have my husband wait with her in the car. I figured the colposcopy wouldn't be right for her to be around.
    When she got up, she asked my husband where I was. My husband told her that I was at the doctor's getting a  check up. B then they're were walking the halls of the hospital to wait for me.
    Of course she had to know what kind of check-up I was getting, so my husband told her that the doctor was checking my vagina.

    So as they were walking passed a crowded waiting room, my daughter said - in her loud toddler voice - that she wanted to go see the doctor to tell him that he had to be gentle inside mommy's vagina... Can you imagine my husband's embarrassment and the other patient's faces?


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    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.
    ~ Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints, 1966


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    Spring Clean: Air out Your Cyberspace

    As the first rays of sunshine of the year peep through the window, I'm getting this uncontrollable urge to clean out stuff. As I am not in my own home and I can't be bothered to clean up someone else's mess, I thought I'd just go ahead and clean up my cyberspace, as that's where I spend most of my free time anyway. And why not write about it while I'm at it?
    Cluttered cyberspace does the same thing to your mood clutter IRL does: it frustrates and tires you.

    Image: Adam Selwood
    Twitter
    Go through your wall and figure out if there are any of the tweets you follow that bother you more than you enjoy it. Throw them out. Everything that makes your existance lighter is one point for the home team.

    Facebook
    Throw out all the contacts you added just because you were being nice, throw out those you have on there only to spy on. Throw out the ones you will never need or want to talk to. Your Facebook account is your space, you don't have to have people on there just to be nice or just because you went to school with them 15 years ago, or just because you met them at a drunken soirée one night. You control your friend's list. If you don't want someone on there, delete them. If there are people on there that inhibit you from saying what you'd like to be saying, get rid of them. It's not a popularity contest. And while you're at it, take a look at your security settings and make them so that you are comfortable with them.
    Go through your pages and unlike all those that you're not getting anything useful off. If things are clogging up your feed, but you don't want to unlike, hide them.

    Reader
    Follow blogs just to be nice? Enough, unfollow. Don't feel bad about that. Just read what uplifts you, what brings you the info you need. Anything that's on there just to be scrolled through every time is clutter. If it's a good blog, they won't notice you are missing and your space will be filled fast enough, if it's not, then what are you doing there.

    Mail
    Go through your email and throw out everything that is outdated or useless. Do the same with your contact list.

    PC or laptop
    Clean up your desktop and only put the things you use every day on there. Documents go in folders and there is such a thing as subfolders. Make everything clean and organized so you don't loose time looking for things. Back up your pictures and your videos and everything else important (ebooks, music...)

    You control your cyberspace. The reason you are on there is to gain information, not to loose time or get frustrated. Make your cyber life a place of love and light. If like me, you spend way too much time on there, it will be highly beneficial for your life in general.
    Think of anything I've forgotten? Got the cybercleaning vibe yourself? Share your ideas in the comments below


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    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    Our house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.
    ~ Author Unknown


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    Casting: Looking For Dedicated & Active Parents

    Hi all,
    this is a message I got in my inbox, so I thought I would post it if anyone was interested:

    Brand new documentary series is currently looking for passionate and dedicated PTA, PTO & Parent Group Members.

        *   Do you believe that parent volunteers have the power to make a positive difference in the life of the children in your community?
        *  Is your PTA or parent group made up of colorful, opinionated characters that aren’t afraid to confront issues head on – even if it causes conflict within the group?
        *  Does it feel as though your organization is frequently struggling to find a middle ground on day-to-day issues, even though both sides feel they have the group’s best interests at heart?
        *  Would your group do whatever it takes to advocate for the well-being of your kids?

     If so, we want to hear from you!

    We will be looking to document the relationship dynamics within a PTA, PTO or parent group – the ups and downs, the internal struggles and external conflicts, and everything in between!  We are looking for a lively group that is packed with big personalities and a lot of passion.

    For more information and to speak with a Casting Producer, please email PARENTCASTING@GMAIL.COM with your name, location, a brief summary of your organization and contact information. We are looking in the entire Continental US, so please feel free to apply!  We look forward to hearing from you!


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    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    Each child is an adventure into a better life - an opportunity to change the old pattern and make it new. 
    - Hubert Humphrey


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    Sunday Surf

    Video
    • This gorgeous video about divergent thinking got shared on Authentic Parenting's Facebook Page
    • This video about education and consumption is spot on

    Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: Fabulous Mama ChroniclesBlacktatingAdventures in Mommyhood, Greener Cleaning Mums. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
    If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


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    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    Culture is not your friend, it's an impediment to understanding what's going on. That's why the words cult and culture have a direct relationship to each other. Culture is an extremely repressive cult that leads to all kinds of humiliation and degradation, and automatic, unquestioned and unthinking behavior.
    — Terence McKenna


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    Choose Your Gods

    To a newborn, it's mother is God. Literally, the creative being, the force of nature in its life. As they grow older, and their world gets bigger, depending on the type of God you impersonated, you will remain as such, or will be overthrown and replaced by other idols. In the latter option, your child may well become an atheist of human relations.
    Are you a Greek God? Cruel but just? Are you a destructive God? Are you a kind God? A god of love and unconditionality? Are you a God of Awareness and Spiritual Awakening?

    Kali, Piyal Kundu
    The one who is cruel and torturous will be resisted, while the one who guides and loves will be loved in return. Unconditionally.

    Think about this and the impact you are making next time your encounter a conflictual situation with your child. Your reaction will be the guide for all his future relationships.



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    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    Always and never are 2 words you should always remember never to use.
    ~ Wendell Johnson via I'm a Full-Time Mommy


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    United Styles Reduction

    United Styles
    A couple days back I did a review of United Styles, an online shop where you can customize clothes for your precious girl. They let me know that for my readers they have a special reduction of 20% with free shipping. All you have to do is enter the promotional code USUKblog1, which is valid until April 30th 2011.
    If you ordered an outfit, feel free to email me a pic or share it on my fanpage on Facebook.


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    Just a Child

    written by Meredith Barth

    We were having a nice, relaxing morning at the library yesterday when I made the mistake of picking up a parenting mag and stumbled across this gem called “25 Manners Kids Should Know.”  I started scoffing out loud, visibly twitching, and I'm pretty sure I felt the beginnings of a rage-induced coronary coming on.

    Some of the highlights:
    "Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking."
    Translation: The things that matter to you are unimportant. Your needs are unimportant. Unless you are dying or in need of a ride to the hospital, you are utterly unimportant. After all, you're just a child.

    "When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later."
    Translation: You are void of discernment, incapable of making safe, respectful choices. Acting on your own judgment will end in disaster. After all, you're just a child.

    "The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults."
    Translation: No one cares what you care about; the things that matter to you are trivial. Your opinions are unimportant. Negative feelings and opinions, warranted or not, are unacceptable. Bottle them up and don't bother anyone with them, especially not a superior adult. No one cares about your real feelings, only how you make them feel. After all, you're just a child.

    "Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best."
    Translation: Don't be authentic. There's no kind way to genuinely express yourself; it’s better to be fake and “nice.” What you think and feel is only okay if it's in line with what everyone around you says is okay. After all, you're just a child.

    "If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say "yes," do so -- you may learn something new."
    Translation: No matter what you're doing, it's unimportant compared to what an adult is doing. Any and all adults' priorities overrule your priorities at all times. You have nothing to offer, only something to learn. After all, you're just a child.

    "When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile."
    Translation: No one cares about what you want or how you feel. You are not capable or worthy of choosing what you do with your time or how you respond to a request. If you are anything other than blindly obedient, you are an inconvenience. After all, you're just a child.

    "When someone helps you, say "thank you." That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!"
    Translation: Manners are a tool for manipulation. Don't express genuine feelings, express expected feelings, and only for the purpose of getting a desired result. Hey, at least this one isn't exclusive to children.

    The fact that this list of “manners” was written by a Ph.D. (in clinical psychology no less) shouldn’t surprise me, I suppose. It seems our most educated on all things children are often our most clueless. But that the editors of Parents magazine published this is quite disturbing. These magazines aren’t in the business of advising people or challenging them to improve as parents. They are strictly out to publish pieces that will resonate with their readership and the parenting population at large in order to sell more magazines. And this is what resonates with parents today.

    Our culture’s utter lack of respect for children is astonishing, and so widespread that Parents magazine felt no need to sugarcoat it. We treat them as property, talk down to them, and teach them they’re not worthy of simple human dignity, then expect them to magically transform into respectful and dignified adults. How can they offer the world something they’ve never experienced? How can they give respect to others when we’ve deprived them of the ability to respect themselves?

    We’ve got it all wrong. Our children don’t owe us; we owe them. It isn’t their responsibility to show us respect; it’s our responsibility to teach them respect. And the only way to teach them is to show them.
    A respected child is a respectful child, and a respectful child becomes a respectful adult. If we want to change the world, we’ve got to start by changing the way our world sees children.

    About the author

    Meredith Barth is a work at home mom to two boys under 3, who is openly and authentically blogging her way through her parenting journey at The Positive Parenting Challenge.. A writer, web editor, leader of her local Holistic Moms Network chapter, and active member of La Leche League, she’s passionate about holistic living, community building, and all things birth, breastfeeding and baby.


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    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Product Review: United Styles

    A little while back, I got contacted by United Styles, a brand that does custom made clothes for girls, to test-drive their website and product.
    The concept is this: you go to their site and choose from the different garments they offer (dress, jacket, hoodie, top). Then you get to personalize the design, choosing the different fabrics, adding your child's name and if you would like to, a badge.
    When I used the site, it was still completely under construction, and the small errors that were on there are now fixed, the brand also has a bigger offer now.

    I chose a dress for my daughter (well she did) and then designed it. I was supposed to do it with her, but that was a little difficult. I chose the 4-5y size (my daughter is almost three) and it fits perfectly, so the sizing is on the small side. It has her name on it and a kitty shaped badge. I completely love how it turned out though! See for yourself.
    A great way to get unique clothes for unique people... and not that expensive for something custom made.




    If you and your girl are feeling creative, United Styles offers a 20% reduction and free shipping to my readers. All you have to do is enter the promotional code USUKblog1 in the payment information. The code is valid until April 30th of 2011.


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    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    Growing up, I didn't have a lot of toys, and personal entertainment depended on individual ingenuity and imagination - think up a story and go live it for an afternoon.
    Terry Brooks


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    Toys, Play and a Harmonious Home, Part 3 - Clean Up Time

    written by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama


    This post is the last part of a three peace series about creating a harmonious home through the use of toys. Read about picking toys and creating play spaces around your home in the previous posts.

    Children hate having their play interrupted and who can blame them? No matter how young a child is, if he or she is contentedly playing with a beloved toy, the idea of parting with it to do something mom or dad has in mind is not going to go over well. Tears, protests, and tantrums are a likely outcome. Clean up time will also elicit a similar response. So how can one peacefully parent in this situation?

    I do not think that there is a catch-all method to move your child out of their realm of play but I have incorporated a few methods that seem to help ease the pain of the transition to a new activity (i.e. meal time, bath time, errand running time, etc…). First, I have made up several little jingles that I sing predicating the next activity. They are silly little songs that signal a transition. For example, when I have to disrupt my toddler’s play so that I can take her to get the mail, I sing “mail man, mail man, delivering mail like nobody else can! I wonder what, he brought today, let’s go outside and see hooray!” Totally lame rhyme right? Not to my daughter! For her, it is a consistent signal that we are going to go check the mail and after repeatedly using this method my daughter now jumps right up, grabs the mailbox key, and stands at the door. This has also worked with other rhymes for other activities I need to transition her to. Keep in mind that it took a couple of weeks before she made the connection between the rhyme and what we were about to do.

    Clean up
    A second technique that I have used seems ridiculous in a sense. When I need to disengage my daughter from her play quickly and do not have a transition song, I use “WE and US” instead of “YOU and I/ME”. I also use colorful, descriptive language about what I need my daughter to do instead of giving her a direct order or telling her what we are doing. This word swap has helped ease the pain of ending play immensely. For example, I won’t tell my daughter that I need to go do something and that she needs to come with me now. Instead, I tell her that “WE have to scurry like mice down the hall and out the back door to stop the neighbor’s dog from digging up our garden.” My daughter loves the idea of being a little mouse and she responds much better to the “we” versus “you need to come with me.” The same concept works if I need to quickly assist my elderly neighbor. I tell my daughter that “we need to be bunnies and hop as fast as we can next door to help the friendly grandma rabbit.” Seriously mamas – this word play works! I very rarely get met with resistance.

    Clean-up Time
    Clean up time can be a battle of the wills. Mama is trying to put the toys away and child is pitching a fit and/or taking toys right back out again. I make clean up time a game and something that WE both can do. However, I do not force my toddler to “help” me clean up. Instead I model how I would like her to clean up and if she joins in great. If not, fine too. First, I sing a little clean up song. (Sick of my songs yet?) My favorite is “Here come the cleaning gnomes, cleaning up their messy home. Putting all their toys away, so they can play another day.” I also have a large laundry basket that I use twice a day to collect all of the rogue toys. There is something about this large basket that my daughter very much likes. When she hears the song and sees the basket, my daughter is typically willing to help me collect everything. We then take the big basket and start putting everything away in its place. I do this before nap and before bedtime so it is a consistent routine. Although I am a total type-A neat freak, I will literally sit on my hands when I feel the need to pick up toys before the designated time. I need my daughter to feel confident in her freedom to do her job as a child which is to play and move toys about! She does not need me to scurry around behind her and continually pick everything up which in effect will disrupt her play. Since I also limit the number of toys available for her to play with, there isn’t an overwhelming mess to be dealt with. This helps me avoid feeling anxious over some massive mess left at the day’s end. I can literally have every single toy put away in 5 minutes. This is also manageable for my daughter to help with. Too many toys and other things to put away will be overwhelming for a young child and will it difficult for them engage themselves in the clean up process.

    There are certainly days where my clean up time approach is not working. So guess what – I stop, grab my daughter in a bear hug, give her a little snuggle or tickle to lighten the mood, then physically move her off to bathtime, bedtime, or whatever comes after clean up time. I leave the mess for after she goes to bed. In my opinion, there is no reason to A) force a child to help clean up; B) clean up in front of a child who is having a nervous breakdown over it; C) discipline a child for not helping clean up; D) making a battle over something that eventually the child will earn to do by watching and imitating your methods. Consistent clean up times, consistent clean up routines and methods, and a calm, peaceful approach to any meltdowns will establish a good rhythm around clean up time that your child will embrace more often than not. It takes time and patience but it has worked for my daughter and I.

    Remember mamas – you set the tone in your household. Center yourself, do not assume everything will be a battle, and model the behavior you want your child to learn. Eventually, you will find yourself working side by side with your child during clean up time! And you will both be smiling and enjoying the process!

    Yours in Peace, Love, and Mothering,

    Jennifer

    About Hybrid Rasta Mama
    Jennifer is a former government recruiter turned stay-at-home mama to a precious daughter brought earthside in early 2009. She believes in the importance of having a strong network of support. She's been active both in my local La Leche League and Attachment Parenting chapters. She's a mentor and contributing blogger with the Natural Parents Network and a contributor on Job Description: Mommy.
    Why Hybrid Rasta Mama?  I take a little of this and a little of that and blend it all together into something that works for me, my daughter, and my husband. I am a voracious reader and researcher and have read an extensive amount of literature about parenting. I consider myself very well informed about the pros and cons of all the different philosophies and approaches out there. Read more on my blog Hybrid Rasta Mama. You can also find me on Facebook. .


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    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
    - Maya Angelou


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    Peeling Away the Labels

    I'm currently reading Shefali Tsabary's book The Conscious Parent (I will do a review when I have reached the end). In the book, Shefali encourages us to accept our children by defining the individual traits we are struggling with. It would look something like: I accept that my daughter has a strong will, I accept that my son is active...
    Whereas I'm not arguing that this is a good tool for people who are just easing into conscious or peaceful parenting, as it makes them define what it is exactly that is causing them trouble, I do have some considerations on this tactic and am unsure if it completely harmless.
    I fear that the exercise further accentuates the paralysis of labeling children.

    I have always refrained from labeling my child as much as possible, so when people ask me "how" she is, or what she is like, I struggle to find an answer.

    My daughter is so many things - and their opposite, and she has yet to become so many other. None of her character traits define her.
    So far the only definition of my daughter, the only 'label' I use, is her Africanness, because that seems to cause so much trouble and confusion when we are in Europe.

    Maybe this lack of definition is because I don't feel like I struggle with her. We do have moments of conflict, but I see that as my struggle with myself, instead of being caused by her.
    This is indeed something that Shefali discusses at length in her book, yet if we have to reach acceptance of our children by labeling what we struggle with, aren't we doing them an ill favor? Labeling is so intrinsically connected with judgement that I struggle to see how it can lead to acceptance.
    We label what we don't understand or resist, and we label what we admire. Everything else falls beyond our line of sight.

    Maybe a better way to reach acceptance would be to recognize the labels we apply to our children and to erase them from our language. To evaluate how we speak those labels and which ones we see as positive and which ones we see as negatives. And to ask ourselves why. Is it because of hopes and aspirations? Fears? Unaccomplished dreams?


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    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    Sunday Surf


    Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: Fabulous Mama ChroniclesBlacktatingAdventures in Mommyhood, Greener Cleaning Mums. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
    If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


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    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Getting Back the Pre-pregnancy Body (re-run)

    If you are looking for quick tips to get back in shape after having a child, this will not be the place. Now I don't meen that I think it's idiocy to try and get back in shape after pregnancy. I do my share of walking, swimming and Zumba... when I feel like it. But I have not 'gotten back' the body I had before I got pregnant.
    I think it's much more important to be healthy and fit than to look like a supermodel. (Which in any case would never be a possibility)
    I don't even see something wrong with looking the part - as a mom. I don't think my body will ever be the same, and I wouldn't want it too.
    I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight (it took me 20 months though), but I am far from being the same. I have a couple of stretch marks, my hips got larger and I have bigger boobs (but I'm not happy about the latter - you get used to living with tiny breasts and then all of a sudden you have to wear a bra ALL THE TIME, WTF), but I feel I am more of a woman now. A big plus from having been pregnant is that my nails and hair are healthier. My hair seems fuller and it's gotten ver very long.
    I'm not saying I don't sometimes wish I was skinnier or taller or ... but on most days, I love this body. It has been home to my daughter for nine months and it has provided food for her tummy. It will hopefully house many more children later on. I love this body for it, even if it's not what society prescribes. I am happy, I am healthy. So why would I fret.

    What about you? Did it take long to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight? Are you unhappy of how you look after becoming a mommy? Has your body changed much? Your comments are very welcome.


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    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    You must love yourself before you love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.
    - Anonymous 


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    Love Yourself

    When you aspire to be an authentic parent, the most important thing is not the great tactics you use to live in harmony with your child, it's not the displays of affection nor is it about how many books or articles you read. In fact, the biggest thing you can do for your child, is to love yourself.
    To accept yourself flaws and all. To be connected to your past, but not be determined by it.
    To value and respect yourself, your strength and your weaknesses. Physical and mental. To come to terms with the errors in your past and not be withheld by them.
    To know that you are worthy, and powerful and unique. That you have the power to change and to transform, but that you also have the right to be who your are.

    Image: Rick
    This may actually prove to be the hardest thing you will ever do.

    Many of us grow up learning that we are worthless, powerless, ugly, stupid, voiceless... There may be a lot to overcome, a lot of tiny voices to silence.

    Loving yourself doesn't mean you're smug or full of yourself. It doesn't mean you're egocentric. It just means that you come as you are, and that is an enormous force to bring to your child.
    If you are truly in touch with who you are, what you represent, and how you were raised - with your true self, not just the mirage you are trying to keep up - parenting obstacles will become obsolete. You will strive to find that same acceptance for your child, and in turn, your child will be attracted to being his true self.
    Most parenting problems are not a struggle of the parent with the child, but a struggle of the parent with himself, his need to control and his lack of resources to be connected.

    Set some time aside today to find strategies for loving yourself. If you would like, you can share them in the comments below. I'll try to find the time to write some ideas down later on.


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    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    “The power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you.” 
    ~Unknown


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    Book Review: Resurrecting Anthony

    It wasn't until I read the last chapter of Resurrecting Anthony that I was sure about doing this review. I only do reviews when they are in tune with my philosophy of life and parenting. I tend to decline books that do not bring anything constructive to this site, but sometimes you just don't know. It has happened that I read a book that was offered to me for reviewing purposes and found it wrong for this blog. I prefer not to do a review than to trash a book because it does not align with my views.

    Resurrecting Anthony is the account of a family who lives through the unimaginable: their 12 year old son Anthony collapses on the playground one day - out of the blue - and ends up in a coma that will change the life of the family forever.
    The account is written by Tony Cole, the father and the book  ends with giving tips on how to live through tragedy such as happened to them (these tips are written by the mother, Linda).

    The Coles aren't natural birthers or peaceful parents and they sure aren't unschoolers. In fact, one of the first thing the father says when he visits his comatose child in the hospital is that they should make sure that they keep up with his school assignments.
    The Coles are an all-American family, in a stereotypical, almost cartoonish way. They are the poster family of mainstream. They have two children, live in a comfortable home, run the family business of sales coaching... it could pretty much be something out of a television show. They are highly invested in the athletic career of their child and every twist of fate is a sports metaphor waiting to happen.

    The tag line of the book is "A True Story Of Courage and Destination". Throughout my lecture I kept wondering why on earth they chose this tag line and what could this book bring to you, my audience. This is the account of a father who is not gentle or authentic, who yells and screams at his handicapped son because he isn't 'performing'! But then I reached the last chapter and it dawned on me. This book is so powerful because they are mainstream, because the father is not gentle. In the end it takes tragedy to bring him to the realization that he needs to accept his son as he is. And that is a truly inspirational message. And it must have taken oodles of courage to write such a raw and true account of the flawed nature of mankind. And to write it as well and fluent as Tony Cole did.

    I hope that many do read this book and not wait until tragedy overcomes their families to accept each other. I hope this book is an inspiration for families all over to treasure life.



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    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself. 
    -Unknown


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    What's Too Young To Get Married?

    When I got married, I was a month shy of 23. It didn't come as a surprise to my environment, we had been together for three years and were a very solid couple, and quite to my surprise, we didn't get any negative comments.
    We had wanted to get married the next year, as I was still studying back then, but since my husband landed the job abroad and marriage would make the paperwork a lot easier, we decided to go ahead with it anyway, since we'd planned on marrying anyway.

    Image: Tammra McCauley
    Marriage at 22 is pretty rare in Belgium, specifically among the higher educated. As of yet, I only have one other friend who got married from back at university, and she's 7 years older than me. The general trend is to get married around 30 and to have kids immediately. To have two and have them close together (but that might be a topic for another post). If you get married at all.

    With our way of life, and because I also actively seek them out, I've been meeting a lot of new people... And lately, I do get some funny faces when I say at what age I got married. I get some "that's pretty young"-remarks.

    Now I forgive those people, because they don't know me and they sure didn't know me back then. I don't know them either, but probably at 22 they themselves weren't very mature. That happens. For some people maturity takes a while longer then for others.

    At 22 I had had my fun, I had been president of a student's union (probably comparable to a sorority, not quite sure, but it's mixed sexes and mostly oriented towards drinking). I had had my share of boyfriends. And I had known for a while that I wanted a big family.
    My husband was the one. And even if he wasn't, he was the one back then.

    Where do we get the idea that we should only get married at around 30, when your fertility is well beyond its peak. When your physical maturity has been reached for over a decade. When you've been an active citizen for years?

    Is it really all about schooling keeping us small and childlike?
    Have we all come to believe in the myth that life ends when you get married? That you become obsolete when you have kids?

    When I ask those people why 22 would be young to get married, why 25 would be young to have kids, they tend to answer that you can't do stuff?
    What stuff I ask?

    I do plenty more stuff then most single people I know, with a husband and a kid.
    I have lived in three (soon four) different countries since I've been married. I have visited several others. I do pretty much everything my heart desires.
    So what exactly is it I am missing out on?
    Drinking? I've done more then my share of that at university and think I can go a lifetime simply to detox.
    Fucking around? Would that really be it? I don't really see how I am missing out here. And if I were, there are ways to come to an arrangement within a marriage that makes it possible to explore new territories.
    General outing? Yes, there are only few of them, I think since my daughter was born we can count our outings on our two hands... but I don't feel like I'm missing out.

    So here we are again. It is all about choice. These are my choices... Simply because they don't relate to yours doesn't make them weird or crazy. Before you judge someone about the choices they made, put yourself in their shoes. Live their life, feel their feelings... Maybe in the end, you are the strange one.


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    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    Don't take your toys inside just because it's raining.
    Cher


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    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    Affirming words from moms and dads are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child's life and it's like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.
    - Gary Smalley


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    Toys, Play and a Harmonious Home, Part 2 – Play Spaces

    written by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama


    This post is part of a three piece series on creating a harmonious home through the use of toys. Read the first part on picking the right toys here and look out for next week's sequel.

    The under five year old crowd are such a fun developmental age to mother. There is so much going on physically, mentally, emotionally, and creatively that not a day goes by where I am not in awe of what my daughter has suddenly done or discovered. Before giving birth, I spent a lot of time envisioning what my home would look like for my daughter, especially when she became mobile and needed a play space of her own. I gave careful consideration to my friends’ homes and their children’s’ play environments. I read many different parenting experts’ thoughts on play and children’s play landscapes. I read all kinds of parenting blogs. I mulled everything over before carefully crafting what I wanted for my daughter. What we have molded our home into has worked tremendously and I believe it has made it a lot easier for me to peacefully parent my daughter.

    The play space available in your home is of great importance. There is nothing that makes me want to lose my mind more than walking into someone’s home and seeing oodles of toys everywhere! Homes where toys are strew from one end of the house to the other are overwhelming for me to see and are even more overwhelming for the poor mother who is trying to keep everything organized and clean. Seeing disorder that verges on chaos can lead to a chaotic, frenzied approach to parenting. I am equally bothered by a home where there is no obvious sign that a child lives there other than the child themselves. There are no toys, books, craft supplies, etc… anywhere. Everything is tucked neatly away in the child’s room. There needs to be a balance between these two extremes. Finding this balance will allow for a calmer mother who can enjoy warmly mothering her children while still being able to tend to daily household duties.

    My suggestion (and what I have incorporated in my home) is this – create a play area for your child that is in the most central or commonly used area of your home. The under five set wants to be near mama, where all the action is, and who can blame them? If you relegate your child to play in their room and only keep their toys there, then you will undoubtedly have the proverbial leach hanging around your legs and ankles wherever you happen to be. This of course leads mama to feel frustrated and unnerved at having a child constantly around her ankles. If you set up a play area in the living room where you can interact with your child while cooking, folding laundry, etc... your child will undoubtedly play more contentedly by themselves, with some verbal interaction from mama. Toys will also stay more contained to the main play area and hopefully will not find themselves in every corner of your home!

    I have set up a four panel cube and a wooden play kitchen along one wall of the living room. Along the wall closest to our dining space, I have set up a little wooden table and chairs. The play kitchen has a few pots/pans, cooking utensils, repurposed spice containers, felt food, and little canisters. The cube has baskets with natural tree branch blocks, play silks, assorted natural fiber balls, and other little natural treasures. I also have several small baskets with handles set nearby so my daughter can “collect” things as well as move her play things in and out of different spaces. I have several other baskets of different toys hidden away and I switch these out every couple of weeks. My daughter is always thrilled when her little wood animals reappear and doesn’t notice that her little work bench has gone on hiatus. Rotating toys keeps things fresh. It keeps your child engaged.

    Having a small wooden table and chairs either in the main living area or close to it will allow you to keep a mindful eye on your child while he or she works on crafts, art endeavors, or enjoys a snack. It gives them a child sized place where they feel secure working on their “projects” while knowing that mama and other family members are close by. I also suggest that you have a small play space available to your child in the kitchen. Children LOVE to imitate mama while she busily prepares the family meals. I set up a small rug away from the stove where my daughter can play. I also have made two drawers available to her and have stocked them with my unused kitchen tools, dishes and gadgets. I can sing, talk, and engage my daughter in simple play while at the same time actually preparing healthy meals!

    An important note - make sure that you get your children outside to play each and every day, rain or shine! Fresh air does wonders for the blood, the mind, and the soul. It reinvigorates and refreshes. A mama and child(ren) who are cooped up inside will eventually end up having more adversarial moments together than you would like. So get outside and renew your energy! Children do not need much in an outdoor environment. The natural landscape, the sights, the smells, and the sounds will draw them into many adventures without the need for fancy play equipment. The great outdoors is the best playscape available and best of all, it’s free!

    Take baby steps now to help create a better play environment for your child(ren) so that you can enjoy mothering them even more than you already do!
    Yours in Peace, Love, and Mothering,

    Jennifer

    About Hybrid Rasta Mama
    Jennifer is a former government recruiter turned stay-at-home mama to a precious daughter brought earthside in early 2009. She believes in the importance of having a strong network of support. She's been active both in my local La Leche League and Attachment Parenting chapters. She's a mentor and contributing blogger with the Natural Parents Network and a contributor on Job Description: Mommy.
    Why Hybrid Rasta Mama?  I take a little of this and a little of that and blend it all together into something that works for me, my daughter, and my husband. I am a voracious reader and researcher and have read an extensive amount of literature about parenting. I consider myself very well informed about the pros and cons of all the different philosophies and approaches out there. Read more on my blog Hybrid Rasta Mama. You can also find me on Facebook. .


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    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Sunday Surf


    For more Sunday Surfing, visit Greener Cleaning MumsChild OrganicsI Thought I knew MamaMonkey Butt JunctionMotherhood MomentsWife, Mom And MoreMama and Baby LoveGems of DelightEnjoy BirthBreastfeeding Moms Unite, Domesticated Women, This Adventure Life, Maman A Droit, Hobo Mama and Baby Dust Diaries.
    If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab.


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    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Dirty, naked and barefoot

    Dirty, naked and barefoot. That’s how my child prefers to be (except her hands, they must remain clean at all time... she has a very strange obsession about that and it has been going on from birth) and that is how she is about 75% of time. If we get lucky we can put a diaper on her, but she would be just as happy to pee in the garden, the way her dog does.
    I used to get a lot of comments about this: Don’t you ever dress your child? Haven’t you got the money to buy her clothes? How can she not be wearing a diaper?
    But most of those commenters have now seen the light and let their child run naked, just as our little girl does. The next question was what we do when she pees on the ground. LOL Well, we clean it up, of course. It’s not like it’s that different from cleaning it off a diaper or off their bum.
    Honestly, what is better then to run in the grass or on the beach the way nature made you? (or the way God created you, if you wish) Why bother with clothes if they will just get dirty? If you get some dirt on your skin, you can just rinse it off... that in itself is even a whole lot of fun!
    I admit, we do live in a climate which particularly ask for minimalism of dress. But even when we are in Belgium in the winter, most of the time my child is running around naked, at least when she’s in the house.
    Image: Jason Anfinsen
    Let your children enjoy their bodies. Don’t be to bothered with clothes. The less they wear them, the less work for you, right? Think of all the ironing and washing you’ll save. They’ll be covering up soon enough. 


    What I wouldn’t give to run around naked only half the time my daughter does. But sadly, inhibition got to me. 


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    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    A person soon learns how little he knows when a child begins to ask questions.
    - Richard L. Evans


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    The Most Effective Tool you’ve Never Used to Tame your Temper

    written by Meredith Barth

    I thought I was teaching my timid little boy to stand up for himself against other toy-stealing, body-pushing tots. Turns out I was giving myself the best tool imaginable to stop my parental anger dead in its tracks.

    Jackson is the most sensitive and inclusive little soul I’ve ever met. At two and a half he has maturity so far beyond his years it’s staggering. And part of helping him navigate life with these beautiful traits is teaching him when to be assertive.

    To protect him from becoming everyone’s doormat, I’ve given him phrases like “It’s not okay to take things from me” and “I’m going to keep this. You can have a turn when I’m done.” And in cases of physical attack, minor as they may be among two year olds, he has learned how to throw his red-light hand out in front of him with a strong “Stop! You can’t touch me like that.”

    These tools have allowed him to approach peer play with confidence. Where he once shied away and preferred to play on his own, he now jumps in, knowing he’s capable of handling conflict should it arise. It was as if his power was lying dormant and those phrases helped him access it.

    Image: Floyd Brown
    Then one day, after an especially destructive episode of can’t-control-my-child rage, he was explaining how sad and scared he felt when I yelled. As I pondered what I could do to help him manage those feelings, it dawned on me that the same tools I’d offered to protect him from others could protect him from me.

    So I gave him some new phrases: Mommy, please talk to me more respectfully; Mommy, it’s not okay to talk to me like that; Mommy, I feel sad/scared when you say that.

    I told him that no one, not even Mommy, was allowed to treat him with disrespect. I gave him permission to stand up to me and the tools to make it possible, even at his young age.

    I wanted to give back the power my anger was stealing from him through intimidation. And it worked. Instead of becoming a puddle in front of me or retreating, he stood tall and confronted me with these phrases. And let me tell you, nothing will bring your anger to a screeching halt like those words from the mouth of your precious child.

    I would love to ditch my desire for control and communicate respectfully at all times. It’s my dream to be an always-patient, always-loving mother to him. But that’s not our reality right now, and, quite honestly, it probably never will be.

    I can’t give him an ideal mother, but I can give him the tools to cope with an imperfect one.

    Meredith Barth is a work at home AP mom to two boys. She’s a writer and web editor, leader of her local Holistic Moms Network chapter, and active member of La Leche League. She’s passionate about holistic living and community building, and is openly and authentically blogging her way through parenting struggles one day at a time.


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    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Quote Of The Day

    ”It takes force, mighty force, to restrain an instinctual animal in the moment of performing a bodily function, especially birth. Have we successfully used intellectual fear to overpower the instinctual fear of a birthing human, so she will now submit to actions that otherwise would make her bite and kick and run for the hills?”
    – Sister Morningstar (in Midwifery Today)


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    Don't Talk To Me About These Topics Three - Part III

    This post is part of a three piece series, find the first part about my daughter's hair here and about me not driving here.

    At seems as if lately, everywhere I am going, people only have three topics when talking to me... And they are all equally irritating.

    1. My daughter's hair
    2. Me not having a driver's license
    3. Schooling

    It doesn't matter if these are people I know intimately or vaguely, if I see them often or not, these three topics seem to pop up in just about any conversation I am having! And it seriously pisses me off, because people's attitudes about any of them tend to be very narrow minded and the goal of each of these conversations always turns out that they want to make me (or my daughter) do something, because obviously they know best!
    So, you are warned. If you start about one of these topics, I may very well blow one day!

    Schooling
    As my daughter has passed 'school-age' here in Belgium, more and more people obviously notice she is not in school and start wondering "how we do things" when we're over in Africa. It is generally known that schooling is a problem in Sub-Saharan Africa and that we live in very remote parts of the world.
    People's worries are spread over these topics

    • are you going to be teaching her
    • how is she ever going to learn anything
    • what about social contact
    • what about high school, university...
    With a lot of people, I don't bother specifying that we'll be unschooling, because, frankly, for many people it is too scary a concept and it would require too much explaining. I do not always have the energy to take up that discussion. Hence, depending on who I have in front of me, I reply that "we're going to do it ourselves". They can make up for themselves what that means, so I am not actually lying.
    I have already discussed at large the many concerns people have with unschooling, so I won't repeat myself here.
    I have already discussed a thing or two about social skills too. 

    What bothers me most is that the majority of people who think she really "needs" to go to school, say so because she is so very sociable.
    They'll say: "oh she likes kids so much, it's a petty she can't go to school", "how will she ever make friends" and so on.
    It never comes to their mind that she has become 'so very sociable' without ever going to school. Why would we change a winning team. It also never comes to their mind that you *can* meet children outside of school. Congo is a country with one of the highest birthrates, so there are plenty of kids around, and they don't all go to school. Yet when I say that there are lots and lots of kids around, people tend to frown, to discuss this, as if hanging around with the local kids isn't social or something? So am I to understand that this is a race question? Are they concerned that she won't get to play with white kids? I'm not even going to address this because it's so far out it makes my stomach turn.
    People also seem to forget that interaction with adults is also social. 

    We are all so brainwashed by the idea of our age-segregated hierarchical school system, that we don't even consider social relations to be able to exist outside of it.

    So the schooling thing... I understand that it is a concern for people, but please... think outside the box before you start bothering me with these preconceptions that have nothing to do with the reality and nature of mankind. 
    I don't blame them. Homeschooling is close to non-existent in Belgium, so it is very *strange*. ANd unschooling is simple something people have never ever heard of.
    It is just so sad to see how very very confined we all our by our (very recent) culture.



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