a quick party, then back to work

Ladies and Gentlegeeks,

Just like President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, I am celebrating a milestone. Theirs is the upending of Team Orange, mine is much less earth-shattering but nonetheless important. It’s been ten days since I submitted my Master’s thesis for marking (whoop, whoop!).

Some key findings … may I?

  • Today’s adults are likely to use smartphones, which are pervasive in their abundance and persuasive in their design. Using a smartphone while caring for infants is associated with suboptimal outcomes for the parent/child relationship, and therefore child development.
  • There has been an absence of empirical information about the extent to which mothers’ smartphone use reflects an understanding of potential harm, and whether their smartphone perceptions, intentions and behaviours change at the transition to parenthood. So … we ran a study …
  • Pre- and post-partum, matched-controlled observational design, in which first time mothers (n=65) and their nominated (childless) “research buddies (RB)” (n=29) were surveyed and used a screen-time tracking app (Moment) for seven days
  • Data were gathered during the final trimester of pregnancy, and again at 6-8 weeks postpartum
  • Pregnant women and RB had mean phone use of 205 and 198 minutes/day (range: 37-562 mins/day, 61-660 minutes/day), respectively.
  • Pregnant women and RB had mean daily phone pickups of 53 and 54 (range: 2-223 pickups/day, 5-142 pickups/day) respectively
  • After child birth, both groups saw increases in both measures, the new mothers’ time on device increase was statistically significant (p<0.001), as was the RB pickup increase (p=0.04).
  • These measured increases are in contrast to a reduction in both groups’ scores on the Mobile Phone Problem Use Scale, 10 question version (MPPUS-10), a self-report scale designed to assess problematic use or overuse of the smartphone.
  • This suggests that women’s perceptions of their smartphone differed from their objectively measured use.
  • These findings, along with other results from the survey, reinforce calls by other researchers regarding the need for guidelines for new parents about limiting smartphone use in the presence of infants.
  • This thesis includes this call for guidelines as part of a suite of recommendations to support new mothers in enjoying the benefits of smartphone use while minimising the potential for harm to the parent/infant relationship, and therefore to child development.

It was early last Friday morning that I clicked “SEND” on the project I’ve been working so hard on for years, and I felt a luscious sense of relief … for all of 15 minutes. Then the 7am news bulletin reminded me that I gotta get back to work, ASAP. Y’see, last Friday morn saw the release of some results of a study being run between UC and Auckland uni, examining the school readiness of NZ’s five year olds. Spoiler alert: things are not fab for our littles, especially with regard to their language abilities.

I’ve been interested in transition to school since way back (HERE is a link to an article I wrote for OHbaby! mag about “rethinking school readiness, years ago!) and so I was most interested in the extended interview with one of the lead researchers and a school principal who had supported the study. (OH and how gratifying to hear the principal namechecking our man Bruce Perry and the relevance of teachers becoming trauma-informed. Especially in Christchurch, eh friends?).

SO: yes, children are the canaries in our societal coalmine. The school readiness standards of the past are showing wobbly chinks. So … do we change expectations in classrooms? This would mean that we all accept that relationships and play may need to BE the curriculum, that we might need the back up of evidence based classroom based supports like Nurture Groups and Roots of Empathy.

AND/OR this might emphasise the need for support for families – let us never forget Bronfenbrenner and his reminder that we ought consider children as members of the nest of their whānau/family, who are themselves members of a community, a society, a species. What’s more, that research reminds us of the need for children to have rich conversations. Kids have gotta be sung to enthusiastically, and bathed in language daily (some might say: Talking Matters!). Of course.

May I suggest … we do both? Can we keep a watchful eye on children’s needs and their achievements even as we keep a gentle grasp on those education standards? Can we wrap around individual children & families as we advocate for broader change? With excessive screen time being implicated for distracting parents and children, we could insist that Big Tech be broken up … or at least better regulated. We could demand design solutions that avoid Human Downgrading and support real-life connection: ESPECIALLY when children are in the room.

Much work to be done, my lovelies. So make your celebrations heartfelt and swift, then get yourselves back to work. In my case, that means prepping for a presentation on Thursday, creating a research summary for the mamas who helped me out (and other interested parties!) and writing a wee 1700 word article. I’d feel sorry for myself, but these are easy goals compared to what Biden & Harris gotta do – defeat a pandemic, reunify a nation, weed out systemic racism etc! My to-do list is a comparative piece of cake! Go well, work hard, be kind x x x

Kia Ora, lovelies

Life is swift in my neck of the woods. Growth galore, deadlines descend, calendar is cranking. I’m trying to stay upright, wrestling to go with the flow. Embracing change as we seek stability. All that.

How are things on your stomping ground? Is your baseline affect as grumpy as mine? Are we all responding to the atmospheric weirdness of modern life: stubborn inequalities, persistent biases, and a flippin’ pandemic to boot? How does an individual little bald monkey stay happy when she knows about the fragility of Papatuanuku, Mama Gaia? Praps it’s too much for our tiny minds. In which case I reckon the best approach is to leap back into our bodies … streeeeetch, make something lovely for dinner, have a laugh.

Now, here is a raft of pressies from Bruce Perry and the gang at the Neurosequential Network, these are resources that use the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics to help children make sense of the pandemic. And they help adults to make sense of children during the pandemic.

This is a pretty groovy resource from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, it’s for parents of teens, written from teenagers’ perspectives. Yikes. It’s not easy.

This piece from the NY Times is about ditching the cellphone and “unbreaking” your brain. (How lucky that author is to have access to Catherine Price, although I guess we all do, via her writing.) Meanwhile, the BBC report here on the issues of YouTube and their disregard for children’s privacy. Same but different from CNN, about the data that apps are gathering about children, and here is another NY Times piece, this one about the high percentage of TikTok users who are underage (and, yes, are having their data harvested).

There is so much more to share, but as I said … I gotta keep my foot on the (imaginary) gas if I’m going to finish this research and get ‘er submitted. So I’ll end by sharing the inventor’s request that we cease gender reveal parties, please. Please!

we can do hard things

Kia Ora ladies and gentlegeeks,

August already. The almond tree outside my office is in bloom already, and I relish standing underneath and basking in the buzzing. I reckon that I have buzzed out about that very phenomenon on this very blog, on previous years. Consistent, or boring?

It’s nice to count the good bits, eh. The bad bits clamour for attention and our poor little prehistoric brains can struggle to deal with the slow burning dread of our multiple crises: global pandemic, voracious inequalities, heating planet – our stress response systems weren’t made for this shizz.

The hard things I’m referring to do include living in the shadows of those aforementioned disasters, but hard things extend even beyond those. My li’l girl is away on her first school camp – we talked about how ‘excited’ and ‘nervous’ can feel like they sit side by side in our bodies. We are both excited by the temporary respite from some of our routines, and we have both been nervous about being separated.

Did you hear about the downturn in premature births during the pandemic? Pretty wild! And it shouldn’t surprise us that children are making sense of the COVID via play – cos that’s how kids make sense of the world.

Multitudes of tech related links … cos … y’know. This one is about the way kids’ tech habits mimic their parents’ (see … they get it “protect developing brains”. YES. (I do love the Hechinger report… check it out, it’s all about reducing inequalities in education) and if you don’t protect those li’l brains, they’ll fail to direct small bodies to adequately move. I’m talking about inactive toddlers. C’mon! Toddlers are designed to be active. It’s right there in their name! They toddle!

now check out this news item from India, sharing their struggles with excessive screen time at the moment.This is a piece from The Conversation in Australia about similar concerns.Jeez, whaddya do? Go to school too soon and risk COVID or succumb to online school and wind up depressed and cross eyed? Oh, for real, I offer my thoughts and angst to all the teachers in the USA … here is a tragically sad piece written by a teacher and published by McSweeneys. Speaking of school – in unrelated news, here is a piece how about how boys bear the brunt of school discipline.

Let’s be as informed as we can manage, lovelies. Try this piece from Common Sense Media about Tweens, Teens, Tech and Mental Health … worth a look … and HOLY DING DONG listen to this episode of the Being Well podcast: an interview with Stephen Porges.

Look for the Helpers – here is a strong piece of work by ARACY – the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth – it’s about Building Children’s Potential. Here’s a bit by our man Rick Hanson about looking after mothers (or, as I like to yell at my family, periodically: “MUMS RULE!”) THIS is a funny bit of satire from McSweeneys, here is a link to some kiwi made masks, and here is a collection of lessons from the great Brain Pickings. ENJOY x x x

PS: shout out to Glennon Doyle, whose book Untamed brought “you can do hard things” into lovely, crispy focus x x x

trust the experts, already.

Kia Ora friends.

So, I’ve overheard a few comments and had enough conversations to make me want to share this notion publicly … it’s about racism, and political correctness, and adapting behaviour. It’s also about white ladies thinking they can decide what racism is, what an appropriate accommodation might be to facilitate goodness for all, or whether it even exists in NZ (*It DOES).

(I’m sure white dudes do it too, but my analogy works best with ladies, so bear with)

To those nice white ladies I say:”Honey. I’m a nice white lady too. And I gotta tell you, you are not the best person to decide when protests have gone on long enough or what is an acceptable level of outrage about issues of race. Here’s the thing: y’know how some blokes will stare at your boobs when they’re talking to you? Hell, some blokes will stare at your boobs even when they’re not talking to you. You know what that’s like? To have dudes just stare at your boobs? “

Yes, yes. The ladies will say. For boob-starers are everyhwere.

Now, if I was to ask many men to assess whether they think women experience frequent boob staring, or if boob-staring is a problem, indeed if an individual friend of theirs is a boob-starer, those men would be likely to downplay or deny the issue. Because THEY ARE NOT THE ONES HAVING THEIR BOOBS STARED AT.

So, my dear white lady, for you to question a person’s experience of racism (or their expression of outrage at the existence of racism) just because you have not tasted the foul effects of that racism yourself, is as idiotic as inviting a man to decide whether boob staring is real, or problematic, or how annoyed women should be by it.

Trust women. Our boobs are frequently stared at. We are the experts here.

Trust people of colour. They experience racism. They are the experts about this.

I’m not trying to be glib or silly, I am truly trying to find an analogy that my people – the nice white ladies – can understand.

While we are trusting the experts in the respective fields, can we have a moment of silence for the death of sanity in the USA? Ay yi yi.

I’ll go back to my Results chapter in a jiff. Very challenging/humbling, as I am not a fluent speaker of Statistics, or a terribly proficient writer of code. Baby steps, snail’s pace.

Meanwhile, a few links to enjoy, if you’re still with me!

This is a wonderful website called “our words matter”, which is a collection of useful ideas and writing about what’s afoot in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Also homegrown, here is the reaction from Sensible Screen Use to the Reboot report I posted a while back.

Looks like Facebook are FINALLY getting served a tiny amount of comeuppance following their years of divisive nonsense. Here is a piece about resignations within the company, and just within the last 24 hours, more and more companies are pulling advertising. About time.

This is a li’l something from Harvard about a silver lining in the pandemic cloud: closer relationships between dads and their kids, which is good news, because elsewhere we have learned that increased parental stress points to less effective safeguards around screen use.

Some satire here, from the good folk at McSweeney’s … all parents of toddlers (past or present) will relate to this. THIS is a link to an article I wrote for OHbaby! about doing more by doing less, and this link to the Plum Village whānau will give you opportunities to join meditation practice with experts, which will help with … everything.

compassion and social distancing

For a while there, the public health professionals were trying to amend the term “social distancing” and replace it with “physical distancing”. This was an acknowledgement of the fact that we are inherently social l’il mammals and we needed to prioritise our emotional bonds even as we severed physical ones.

Anyway, I’m very physically distanced from the pain in the USA and simultaneously socially tied and connected. My husband was born there, my daughters are hybrid citizens. One of my dearest mama friends is Minnesotan, we danced and laughed in Minneapolis when I was 23. I had no idea, then, how advantageous my fair complexion was as I moved through the world. I wouldn’t hear the phrase “white privilege” until 1999, which was years later.

Party over, oops … out of time.

As a sidenote, all hail the Program for Infant Toddler Care in California. I was lucky enough to do their training in the late 90s. I remember a photocopied handout, “unpacking the invisible backpack of white privilege”, a solid 10-15 years before the concept began to be explored in the wider world. Early childhood teachers have long been the avant garde practitioners of that which will prove to be even more important than we could have quantified.

Anyway, so I”m rambling on because I’m in pain and a bit muddled.

Here’s what I think we could do. And by “we” I mean the work-from-home mums, the mums on the opposite side of the world to the protests.

If we can afford it, we can chip in a few bucks to help one of the organisations supporting those making a stand for justice in the USA. Here is a link to fundraising campaigns supporting bail for protestors in these various cities. This is the Action Center on Race & the Economy, they highlight issues of racial injustice, highlighting the need for wall st. accountability. Just a couple of options.

And if you are someone who works with kids (or if you have kids), be even more ready than usual to have some conversations with them about race. This is an awesome resource from the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and here’s some more ideas, … um … y’know … that’s us.

Then we gotta surf that line between staying informed about the world’s events, (even if via satirical works that are brilliant and hilarious and tragic … like THIS heartbreaking, knee-slapping McSweeney’s gem. Or THIS one)(or, for flip’s sake, THIS ONE) and keeping a lid on telly, internet, smartphone for reasons of self preservation. If no news is good news, how much time should we really devote to the news?

(not to mention the fact that we are still having our data mined, pandemic or no, race riots nonewithstanding. The world might be on fire, but too much time on devices is still messing with kids’ minds. In fact, it’s arguably worse, because so many kids are online even more during lockdowns all over the world – homeschooling or recreating. This has led to a terrifying increase in online sexual exploitation of children , among other ills. And we cannot really trust them (tech companies), because they keep proving themselves to be such snakes. ) Sigh.

Mind our influences. Listen to beautiful music, watch some stand up comedy, go for a blimmin walk. Support your favourite online physical (& therefore mental!) health expert. I love this local gal, and I love this local gal, and this one, all of whom have made switches to some kind of online delivery to support their communities. AND I love this international practitioner of strength, who has always had an online community! Thanks to all the people helping people to keep moving! You too, Adriene!

But yeah, if you can, donate.

on mites, lice, and COVID-19

Kia Ora lovelies. What a time to be alive, eh? Lessons a-plenty, as seen here in this bit of deliciousness showcasing the work of the awesome Bagshaws. (And Lyndon Puffin, no less!)

I’ve been putting my faith in Dr Bloomfield and Ms Adern, which was easy when we were on full on lockdown (I heart home) but it’s been a test today … sending kids back to school … YIKES.

Part of the reason for my trepidation is my first hand experience with what happens when one gets too lax, too fast, about controlling a vile outbreak. During lockdown, I had to sort lice from a child’s head and mites in my henhouse. Lemme tell you: you gotta keep your foot on the gas or outbreaks return without regard. Ya hear me, Ministry of Education? Did you SEE this proposed future, laid out by NZ Geographic? We gotta be careful!

Trusting you, Dr Bloomfield. Trusting you …

Some more links now, some COVID resources from Bruce Perry & pals, and this article from Reuters is about the need for green solutions in the rebooting of economies. There is lots we can do as individuals, too … like these inspiring ideas from Retrosuburbia.

Meanwhile, here is a post from Sensible Screen Use which reminds us that all this online education is experimental, this is an important portal to thinking about digital use and wellbeing at the mo, thanks be to the Center for Humane Tech, because let’s not forget: too much tech isn’t great for kids. It’s like the mites: they don’t care if there’s a pandemic on. It’s like the potential for damage to my dear wee liver because of excessive alcohol consumption … it still counts, pandemic or no.

Finally, here is an article from the NY Times which explains how and why Zoom can feel so unsatisfactory.

I mean, thank you Zoom, you’ve been helpful, but y’ain’t face to face. You can’t help it.

OH … by the way … today’s picture shows the latest issue of OHbaby!, which features an article I wrote. It’s about Growing Great Flatmates, and i hope you will enjoy it 😉

OldTryCovidPosters-01Kia Ora e hoa ma, g’day mates. Here is another lovely image from the talented folk at The Old Try.  Free to download!  If you’ve a printer, put one on your fridge!

We have at-home schooling starting in NZ today – I’ve tried to put some reasonable guardrails in place for my two. Sorry to say, but there are still a great many reasons to be cautious about tech.  I know people are all jazz-hands about online learning, but let’s not forget that kids’ data is still being harvested, that children need our protection from online sexual predation (MORE THAN EVER), or that we learn best hands-on, pen & paper, face to face.  And we gotta get outside to play!

Not to be all Captain Bringdown … just speaking truths that are STILL TRUE.

Here’s some lovely stuff, to counteract the grimness … some beautiful tips from a zen master for staying sane in challenging times are here, and this is a cool little video clip about making it out of lockdown without murdering anyone in one’s bubble. Here are some cool ideas for families from the excellent Sparklers website, and darlings: make space for your grief.

Another tech caution is HERE, in an article I wrote for OHbaby!, and here is a lil’l something from the brilliant Bruce Perry about responses to trauma (which I suspect an unprecedented number of people will be relating to, right now!) and if that all has you feeling a little verklempt try moving your body! Take it away Sam Shorkey!

Or try a little meditation, thank you Adriene 😉

Love y’all x xx take care x x x arohanui x x x

 

look for the helpers

flatten curveKia Ora my friends.The beautiful image to the left is one of the series of free, lovely downloads from the awesome people at The Old Try.

You know what awesome Fred Rogers is quoted as saying? “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.””

Oh, bless you Mr. Rogers.

Look for the helpers, my friends.

Like here: in Singapore. And here: Yoga with Adriene.

 

And look for the beauty – like those aforementioned prints, like these phenomenal cross stitch patterns, and like this bit of amazing news about the return of swans and dolphins to the canals of Venice.  And how lovely to witness adults being playful, as in this collection of lockdown vids from Huff Po. I know … it’s confusing.  The ‘net is both blessing and curse.

A couple of COVID specific screen time resources here, for all the kids spending extra time at home …there is a well-timed webinar coming right up from our friends at the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, and Common Sense Media will help you tread a little more carefully in the digital world, and I humbly offer an article I wrote some months (years!) ago, with some info about offline play for little ‘uns. 

Also: cut yourself a little slack, in the meantime! Good enough parenting, darlingsFeel those feels and let the kidlets feel theirs too!  

We still gotta be careful about all the time online, pals. This is an article from the Guardian about how YouTube is an agent of radicalisation (if you didn’t hear this episode of the Undivided Attention podcast interviewing Guillaume Chaslot, it explains this notion v. well).

What else? Gotta bring it on home so I can go meet little girl off school bus.  Yup, still running in NZ.

Here is a guest post I wrote, about screen free week in NZ.  

And finally: RIP Ron Lally.  He was a tireless advocate for children and he helped change my professional trajectory.  He was kind and decent to me, we hung out both here and in Cali, and we in the field have lost a giant.

I only recently learned of his death, and I wept.

many links for geeky friends

Kia Ora e hoa ma,

Many amazing things for you to read, coming right up.

First, from the World Health Organisation, about the needs of li’l kids.  I love how they cut through the dross and tell it like it is!  Here is a gift from the folks at New Dream, about being an effective change maker in 2020.

And now … a bunch of tech links.  Cos I gotta.  The first comes from MIT, the prestigious technology based university.  I highlight that source, because you cannot accuse them of being anti tech!  And if they are concerned about use of tech in the classroom, we oughta be concerned. From NZ, now, a summary of research that led to some recommendations for classrooms. Thanks, Sensible Screen Use!

 

(I wrote this piece a few years back: for OHbaby! about school readiness … might have to pitch another one with an emphasis on countering the over-technification of too many of our classrooms!)  I would begin by sharing the NEW ACTION KIT from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network. 

Outside the classroom: here’s a write up of an initiative to get kids to put down their phones, and here is a link to that initiative (“Look Up”). Kids can function just fine without phones, enjoy this story from the NY Times as evidence!

We do need to be a little more nuanced in our thinking about all this … the Human Screenome Project is one interesting example. 

From a speech language perspective, this is for parents about their own tech use, and this is about the need for sharing books with babies … books made of paper, not digital ones.

Children in NZ also need us to pay attention to the fact that so many of them are living in poverty, they need our support in getting outdoors and being a little free range, and let’s not forget the emotional development or the magical glial cells!

Finally, cos I gotta go drive a carload of kids to some swimming sports … I am coveting this.  Is that shallow or WHAT?

a love letter to my wrinkles

Photo on 27-01-20 at 1.52 PM #4Dear Wrinkles,

I like how when I gently separate the smile lines around my eyes, it reveals little pale stripes. This tells me that the summer (and my life!) has involved so much laughter and amusement that it has altered our landscape, creating little white valley floors.  Cute!

And as for that monstrous chasm between my eyebrows (aka my “MacGyver line“), I kinda love you too.  You exist like a sheer cliff face because you reflect the depth of my care, my concern, my outrage. With so much trouble in the world, none of us oughta have an unfurrowed brow.

Babies in cages? Languages dying? Planet heating?  …Until we can sort out a thing or two, there is too much to frown about.

Yikes, just today I have learned about the untimely death of poor Kobe Bryant & his little girl. Consider their surviving family … right there is grounds for a compassionate frown!

Other things that are frown-worthy: the increasing concerns surrounding smartphone use in the presence of our babies, that previous link from the NZ Herald, and over here in a professional setting from the good folk at The Conversation: same, same.

Anyway, Just letting a couple of things off my chest before January runs away on me.

And she’s a big one, e hoa ma. January 2020. New decade.

Oh, George Michael sang it beautifully back in the day:

Now everybody’s talking about this
New decade
Like you say the magic numbers
Then just say goodbye to
The stupid mistakes you made
Oh my memory serves me far too well

That was released in 1990, which does not seem that long ago to me! I still think that album sounds totally relevant. Current. But realistically, heaps of things have changed. It was 30 frickin years ago. I was 15. Now I’m a motherless mother of 2, a wife and homeowner. I can still dance to George Michael but let’s make it snappy cos I’ve got to get dinner ready.

Life changes. Which brings me back to the love letter to my wrinkles. …

My vestige of valleys. The creasy crew, the liney lot. You are a series of stories on my face, and I wouldn’t be without any of you. The longer I live, the more of you there shall be.  So, while I’ll continue to wear sunscreen everyday and slather on the moisturiser at night, I’ll welcome each of your entrenchments as evidence of a life lived fully.

Love,

mm x x x

PS, In other news, here is an article I wrote for OHbaby! a while ago about looking after our beautiful bodies, this is an article from Scientific American about the brain’s penchant for our bodies being exercised, and – similarly – HOLLER to the other peeps who are enjoying Adriene’s 30 day yoga programme = HOME. I’m about to do day 24! No frowning there.