21.8.14

how do you handle "favourites"?

Early on in my parenting career (does it count as a career? I think yes.), I had a hunch that I didn't want my kids to have many FAVOURITE things. Don't worry American friends, I'm not spelling that word wrong. We love our U's in Canada. Anyway, favourite things. With kids, it just seemed dangerous to me from the get go, and I still basically feel the same.

Before I go any further, let me point out that my older two kids both have lovies. A plush toy and a blanket respectively. And they each have favourite shows. And colours. So even though I don't like the concept, I'm kind of living it anyway.


But here's the lie I believed and still believe. Oh, it's so great that she really really loves this one thing! That he has chosen something to really attach to. But then, that one thing isn't available, or in the wash, or Netflix takes it off the air, and I realize, NO. Favourites are kind of the worst.thing.ever.

Because then the kids refuse what's not their favourite. And suddenly it's not the one thing they prefer, it's the THOUSANDS OF OTHER THINGS they can't live with. Won't try. Don't want.

So what can a parent do? I have always consciously avoided favourite colours with the kids. When Lily was a baby I was really adamant about her not wearing pink all the time. Not because I hate pink - I actually love many shades of pink. But because I didn't want her to grow up believing that just because she was a girl, she had to love pink. Or purple. Same with Oli, with blue. And that worked really well for a while. The day Lily announced that her favourite colour was blue I probably shed a tear of joy and pride. But that was short lived, and now she is a pink girl despite my best efforts. And anyone on my instagram feed knows Oli has an unusual obsession with orange.

And though my kids don't watch much television at all, and have still never seen a franchise movie (or anything Disney, I know, I'm that mom, please don't hate me), they already have their favourite characters. Thomas, Dora, Madeline. It's like it was literally love at first sight.

One thing I did recently was clear out the plastic IKEA dishes set which was every colour of the rainbow and replace it with simple, white dishes. I was just so tired of the disappointment when the orange plate wasn't clean or trying to convince them that they still like turquoise or yellow. I gave them all away, picked up four of these side plates, bought these jars for glasses, and employed some vintage shallow bowls I'd had forever and now that's the kid's dishes. White, basic, cheap, simple, and no options for favourites.

I think choosing preferences it part of our natural instincts, but how can we tone it down so that a kid's favourites aren't so strong that they can't enjoy other things? Thoughts?

4.8.14

on shared spaces

I spent a week at my parents house this summer which is in a small town that's slowly starting to feel like a suburb as it grows). I loved my time with them and in their backyard pool! Definitely something we don't have here in the city. But when the kids asked to go to the park we were surprised at how limited we were. There is one near my parents, but the next closest one is a good walk away, and the next closest even further. And NONE had splash pads, which have become the uncontested favourite summer activity amongst our littles.


It got me thinking about dynamics in cities versus small towns or 'burbs. Population density is so high in cities that even if they seem to not be family friendly, there are more parks than in small towns! I think this accounts for the assumption that in suburbs and small towns each family has a back yard and possibly a pool, so the need for public shared space is less necessary.


Here, we need parks and in the summer we need splash pads and public pools, because no one has their own. We rely on these shared spaces.


We typically frequent four parks, all within easy toddler walking distance. Another four are within my walking distance (they'd need bikes or the stroller). And over half of them have splash pads in the summer months.


The best part is the community feel of these shared spaces. We're all together. We might have no other choice, but it's not dreaded, it's celebrated. It's all we know, this life amongst one another.



For locals interested, this is the splash pad/ public wading pool at Parc Westmount. We were there on a rainy day so it wasn't too crowded but generally there is a good crowd but still loads of space to roam and play :)

26.7.14

that time we went to europe

I'm breaking my blogging silence, if only for a quick photo dump. True, my baby is sleeping through the night (all three of them share a room now!) and I am less exhausted than I was six months ago. But fitting blogging into my current schedule/life will continue to prove difficult. But I have missed having a place to share things from time to time. Back when I was a blogging lady, I'd post 3-5 A WEEK. Wild. And never happening again. But here, enjoy some pictures!

 We're smiling here because the 16 hour day of travel was just starting.

This is about 1/3 of the way through the day...

people always say, "oh hey! you guys are incredible for traveling with kids! I'd never do that!" to which I say yes. I hear you. At this point I had my doubts too.

But then we arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark. Land of milk and honey.

 And by milk I mean modern Danish design, and by honey I mean cleanest city ever.

Scandinavian people are seriously the least pretentious lot you could come across. Even the palace guards smiled at our kids!

Yes, I said palace. How did I not know Denmark was a monarchy? Unbridled. Joy.

Scandinavia was also INSANELY family/child-friendly. All of the museums and airports had strollers just there. For people to use. For free. Also incredibly modern. elevators were literally everywhere, probably to accommodate said strollers.

It was so wonderful to have Brad to ourselves for three whole weeks! 
Thank you Quebec, for his paternity leave!
 

We took the kids everywhere. Museums, castles, you name it. Everything was so easy with the free strollers and elevators and there was so much to see.



One day we rented a car and drove to a small town outside of Copenhagen. It was beautiful but we missed the city. Go figure.

European playgrounds. I can't even. 

Castle touring. Side note: I came home slightly obsessed with the Danish royal family.

And with Danish china. Royal Copenhagen tea cups, normally over $100 in Canada found for $20 at a vintage store in Copenhagen. #souvenir

Every day we had lunch, dinner, or both outside. Picnic style.

Copenhagen was our favourite of the two cities we stayed in. Nothing compared.
 

Family Selfies!

After Copenhagen we flew to Amsterdam, Holland. For free. More on that later.

Amsterdam was essentially the immature rebellious brother of Copenhagen. Absolutely gorgeous, rich history, but really scummy. I'll let the hash tags do the talking.  
#legalizedprostitution #legalizedmarijuana #sextourism #drugtourism 

 

Such quality time with the kids though. The kind that you have to be away from your job and your home and your distractions and basically your life to achieve.
 

Yes, I carried Lily in the carrier! And then we forgot it in Amsterdam. Boo.

Another day trip, this time, ironically, to FLEE the city. We needed some fresh air. Literally, everywhere in Amsterdam smells like pot.

What a priceless way to spend Brad's paternity leave.

Now, if you're thinking, "gee, must be nice to travel the world, but I'm not made of money or patience" I have two things to say:

1) Our trip was *almost* free because my husband is a budgeting/air miles collecting/saving fiend with many a trick up his sleeve and yes I'll be sharing all about how you can do the same sometime soon

and

2) Our mentality during the hard times (i.e. THE FLIGHTS) was that whatever difficulties we came across, they were worth it to see the world and experience it with our kids. And there were major difficulties, make no mistake. Jet lag and 8 hour long flights and insanely long layovers in inhospitable airports and delayed flights and ill-equipped rental apartments made for some funny memories and also, lets be honest, hard times. But oh, the good times! What an incredible experience.
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