reading, writing, thinking … a wee bit of stressing out.

Kia ora te whānau,

What’s up, lovelies? This picture shows me in my office, reading the latest OHbaby! magazine. There is an article in there I wrote about Joyful Routines, and I hope it will be of service to all those who read it!

If you could see the state of my office you’d encourage me to take a bit of my own advice, and get some joyful tidying/filing routines going on my desk. Sheesh! The paperwork piles are precarious!

Meanwhile, here are a few interesting links for the enjoyment of the geekily inclined. THIS is from our pals at the Center for the Developing Child @ Harvard. It’s a deep dive into childhood mental health, and it includes this doozy of a quote: “Most potential mental health problems will not become mental health problems if we respond to them early.”

Speaking of deep dives, HERE is a link to the Center for Humane Tech’s explanation of the importance of the “Facebook Files”, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, and HERE is coverage of the same from CNBC.

Different but connected (aren’t we all?) is this report from Professor Sir Peter Gluckman and colleagues, about the impact of screen use on children’s development. I was stoked that their summary included a reminder to new parents to monitor their own screen use and its impact on interaction. Vital! One more wee thing, about considering the role of Affective Neuroscience Theory in our convos about kids’n’screens, especially in these coronavirus days.

This is a lovely piece written by one of my faves, Keryn at the Brainwave Trust. It’s about using this pandemic as an opportunity to support resilience in our children. Good idea, especially cos it’d seem that this COVID scene is here to stay (WAH!) … all the more reason to share this funny bit of satire from McSweeneys. Or maybe you would prefer this utterly profane, hilarious, and relevant piece!!! (Brace yourself, its cussy).

What else? A bit of seed raising, some orphan lamb feeding, and a bit of research about wicker mending. Thinking, and then not thinking. Mindfulness … and sometimes mindlessness.

Happy Spring, y’all x x x

listlessness

Kia ora friends,

I asked someone I love “How are you going?” and they replied “Listless”. It hit me like a ton of bricks … feeling listless? Write a list! Had you ever noticed that? That listlessness is a literal translation of “that state of unfocused apathy that can accompany NOT HAVING A LIST”.

Me, I love a list.

Anyway, remember a while back I talked about chatting to a reporter for a Stuff article? Yes’m. Here is a link to that. Also from Stuff is this write up about a study happening via the University of Auckland which included the finding that one in 10 toddlers in NZ has 3 hours of screen time per day.

How I wish this gorgeous resource from School of Life was widely disseminated … it’s a book of screen free fun and I am covetous. And here’s another handy resource – a brochure from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network written for new parents and giving solid advice about tech use.

Speaking of the Network, I attended an excellent (online) talk by Dr.Jenny Radesky and Dr. Roberta Golinkoff and there is a recorded version of it here. It was about making wise choices if selecting tech for young ‘uns to use. The next one looks good, too, about Green Time.

Another video, this one from the Evolved Nest … please check it out. It’s just six minutes and SO GOOD. A summary of Darcia Narvaez’ amazing book Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality. Very much my cup of tea!

Something that is NOT my cuppa is described here in a piece by Fast Company … it’s about AI in the classroom and I say BACK OFF, GOOGLE. Surely that’s technochauvinism at its worst? Hey, speaking of Back Off Google … the most recent (and rather bloody gorgeous) issue of OHbaby! has an article I wrote … called “Google Strike”.

What else? Here is a gift from Common Sense Media about 10 steps to a better YouTube, this is a link to a piece from the Conversation about teen girls’ rates of depression being higher than boys’, and here’s Dr. Gabor Mate on why attachment is everything.

Take a moment to bask in the glow of Italian Library Music (I KNOW! Thanks, NY Times!), here is a Washington Post piece by Jean Twenge (y’know … wrote iGen) … about gaming disorder being the tip o’ the iceberg and this is a Canadian news source reporting on sexism in academia. Gross.

Things I want to re-introduce to the world include THIS important report from the 5rights foundation in the UK, about the influence of persuasive tech in the lives of children. It’s called Disrupted Childhood and I wish everyone would read it.

I have a couple of McSweeneys pieces to share: both hilarious and tragic at the same time. Beyond bittersweet! This one is about women returning to offices, post-pandemic, and this one is a “to do list” for your baby’s 15 minute nap – frankly this is a moment for listlessness.

on holidaying like you mean it: zozo and zozi, babies!

Kia Ora New Year newbies and lovely friends. Sitting down at last to share some bits and pieces on the dear ol’ blog.

Like … here I am drinking tea (you can’t tell, but trust me) and enjoying the latest OHbaby! magazine. Yup, happy to have an article in there .. it’s about routines v. go with the flow … what Dan Siegel would call “the river of integration”, but kinda from the baby’s point of view. Anyway, shout out to the visionary new editor Kristina for a great issue, and mad love to outgoing marvel Marianne as she works on nesting with her next baby x xx

Meanwhile: what else? I have been inching an academic article over the finish line for a v. flash journal – I will report back once complete. Like most, we have had a busy time of Christmas and New Year’s malarkey, lots of delicious feasting and loving gifting and a fair bit of grateful hanging out with our friendlies. Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am for New Zealand’s privileged position during this global pandemic? “Go hard, go early” said Jacinda. And so far the borders are holding steady.

We do not take these freedoms for granted – our bi-cultural family hosted a Thanksgiving meal, we had a lovely afternoon of celebrating the groovy mark I got for my Master’s thesis ( as the late Julia Child would say “a party without cake is just a meeting”) and there have been a couple of house parties in there, to boot. Busy, happy, joyful, messy, busy, exhausting, wonderful life.

Meanwhile, here are a few links before I sign off … a refreshingly solutions-focused emphasis to some of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) stuff, courtesy of NPR. It’s about the stress buffering impact of positive experiences in children’s lives. Speaking of a positive spin on things, here is a gorgeous little cartoony representation of some important behavioural concepts – I first heard this method of framing things from Stuart Ablon, who is quite the business.

Here is a family friendly collection of episodes from the legends at Radiolab, and while we are in a podcast state of mind, behold the latest episode of Your Undivided Attention, which is dazzling. And it references the legendary Fred Rogers. And yes, it is solution focused, with Eli Pariser making such smart analogies between the design of public spaces and online fora. I said fora. Having done a bit of playground design (and having learned at the feet of legendary teachers) I feel like I can dig this metaphor. Oh, and I own this book. Am I a town planner, or just kidding?

More from me later … lots of thinking going on in between trashy novels and domesticity.

Arohanui x x x

PS! Important announcement! In response to my daughter’s scrawling penmanship, I read her “2020” as ‘zozo’, and it occurs to me that this year must be zozi, next year will be zozz, and then I think it’s zoze, and 2024 could be zoza. At a stretch, we could follow that with zozs, zozg, (which, admittedly are a bit lame) but then you round out the decade with zozy, zate (best I could do) and perhaps zozg to finish.

No? Just an idea.

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

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.