Motherhood – Emily Writes & Hollie McNish: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

There was a welcome number of baby bumps and wee ones in the audience for the WORD Christchurch session on Motherhood with Kiwi blogger and The Spinoff Parents editor Emily Writes – who has recently launched her second book on parenting – Is It Bedtime Yet?  – and British superstar poet Hollie McNish, known for her poetry and writings on the lesser talked about aspects of pregnancy, birth and parenting, collated in Nobody Told Me.

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Emily Writes and Hollie McNish, at WORD Christchurch, September 2018

When Emily wasn’t sure whether to sit or stand to start off the session with a reading from her book, moderator Catherine Robertson jokingly suggested she just pretend that the audience are all in bed and that Emily is reading to us at our bedside. By the size of the sold-out audience, it’s evident even adults love being read to.

CoverIn the anthology Is It Bedtime Yet? Emily has edited together different perspectives of parenthood, be they single parenting, parenting from a Māori perspective, parenting a child with a disability or learning needs, older mothers, queer parents conceiving, stay-at-home dads and more. The variety of experiences shows that there are so many versions of normal parenting. Emily has said there is a danger in a single story or narrative of parenting so by sharing multiple variations of parenting it fosters empathy and the reassurance that actually, we’re doing it okay. Here, mothers are both equally ordinary and extraordinary.

This is most certainly not an advice book – just personal situations, reflections or a snippet in time on a parenting continuum. You can dip into the book anywhere – there are 50 short vignettes with half of them written by Emily herself and interspersed throughout the book. The stories range from poignant to the comedic. In interviews for this book, Emily has said: “We are all so different in the way we parent but that can be a thing that unites us.” She hopes these stories “make us change just a little bit in our day-to-day interaction with each other as parents – or to parents.”

The personal stories shared in Is It Bedtime Yet? are from both never before published writers as well as established authors, some of whom also regularly write for the The Spinoff Parents website. Humorous highlights from the book include musings on “competi-parents” – even those unwittingly being competitive without meaning to; the myth of the magical creature known as ‘the relaxed mother’; the anti-glitter brigade and the realisation that we’re not just mothers, we’re sudden experts in palaeontology to our dinosaur mad kids. The confessions chapter was especially funny! And after reading one dad’s vasectomy story, I will never see The Wiggles the same again!

CoverThere are plenty of WTF? moments in parenting shared in the book. And there’s no holding back on the use of the F word but unfortunately for the parents contributing, there’s not a lot of the Zzzzz word (which may have something to do with the former?) Ironically it was Emily’s lack of sleep after having babies that meant she had plenty of time (albiet in the wee hours) to write and we are benefiting from that with her books like Rants in the Dark: From one tired mama to another. “I’ve always been someone who writes to work out my feelings.” She hopes her books are like “a friend in the dark” as they offer realistic views of parenting versus idealistic notions. Judging by the 15,000+ emails she says she got right after her initial sleep-deprived parenting post (“I am grateful, now f*** off!”) went viral in 2015, there’s a few friends out there in the dark indeed. One mother in the audience said perhaps if she had been given books like Emily’s when she had her babies – instead of just Gina Ford parenting books – then she might have been a lot better off.

There’s one chapter which is just a literal recording of what Emily says to her wee son one day, starting from 5:00am. We don’t get to hear the child’s replies but the one-sided conversation of “put your shoes on” is oh so familiar. I read this transcription to my young son and he thought it was hilarious and spot-on, just change a few words and it could be any parent repetitively saying the same basic instructions to their kid and then amplifying their pleas with hollow threats.

There’s a few piss-takes in the book too and Emily read to the audience her humorous chapter on parenting styles. Move over ‘helicopter parenting’ and make way for the ‘cucumber’ style of parenting which consists of just giving your kid the only food they’ll happily eat. In this case, cucumber! Someone needs to invent a word for laughter crying because there was a lot of it coming from both the audience and guest speakers. In fact, before doing her reading, poet Hollie McNish shared her bemusement at Emily’s cucumber parenting description since she herself has pictures of her own child sharing a pram with a whole cucumber. (My first child too was so obsessed with cucumber to the point that he can be seen wielding one in the birth photos of his sibling). But Emily has ultimately decided on the style of parenting she got from growing up with the Cub Scout motto of ‘We will do our best’ – not ‘do THE best’ she clarifies – just YOUR best! And as Emily inscribed in her book at the author signing afterwards, “Hang in there!” – perhaps that’s a parenting style too?

HOLLIE McNISH

CoverRight on the back of National Poetry Day last week, we were privileged to have British poet Hollie McNish appearing at the festival at several sessions, including this one. Hollie writes of the shared unspoken experiences of pregnancy and motherhood and read a poem from her book on these themes, Nobody Told Me. The poem, Megatron, was inspired by her first post-birth date-night where her then partner took her to see the movie Transformers and after they had argued about who was the best Transformer, she realised she had become the ultimate transformer herself after giving birth – rib cages moving, hips widening, breasts becoming milk machines. Hollie only read one poem in this session and I would have loved to have heard more. Hollie became well-known for her poem about the stigma of breastfeeding in public, entitled Embarrassed, which got quite a reaction when it was published – both positive thanks as well as hate mail. Hollie wondered where this hate came from in the world – literally – so she checked the analytics on her website and saw a lot of abuse came from the United States – especially places like Texas where in fact, she discovered, there is a secret breastfeeding club of mothers too embarrassed to breastfeed in public or face religious vilification.

Watch the well-directed video for Hollie’s poem Embarrassed:

Hollie has noticed, while touring, that it is easier to be a parent in Europe in places like Sweden or France and that a lot of urban design isn’t made with parenting in mind (eg. don’t put sweets at the checkout counter!) Hollie was jealous that in France mothers get a year’s worth of free physiotherapy to help them regain their pelvic floor strength after birth. Hollie joked that she was doing her pelvic Kegel exercises “right now” in her chair on stage. Hollie and Emily are very open about ‘taboo’ subjects and they touched on things we don’t talk enough about like post-birth prolapse, sex after birth or even resorting to using our children’s nappies for ourselves in dire moments. It was perhaps apt that I accidentally pulled out my ticket for the WORD ‘Mortification’ show instead of my ‘Motherhood’ ticket when I went to enter the session. Sometimes society makes us feels as if these two go hand in hand but Hollie’s point is, they absolutely shouldn’t! Hollie wondered if people found pregnant women or breastfeeding confronting, in part, because people – like her grandparents – “could finally see I had sex.” In her grandmother’s day she said women weren’t allowed to talk about their vaginas or bleeding and sometimes didn’t even know where they had given birth from.

Regarding the disdain directed at mothers, likewise, Emily said that after giving birth she suddenly felt unwelcome in places she used to go, like cafes. Emily suggested we need to do away with the ‘half-human’ view of babies – and that we should view children as active members of society instead of waiting until they are fully-formed or until they become “tax-paying units” to consider them of equal worth in society. She also questioned the double-standard that happens when a guy goes out-and-about with a baby and onlookers are full of praise for what a wonderful dad he is whereas a mother with children is looked at in worry for when her kids might be an annoying disturbance. However, Is it Bedtime Yet? honours dads as well with their perspectives and author Brannavan Gnanalingam joined the session to read his chapter about dads not just being seen as ‘the babysitter.’

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Brannavan Gnanalingam, Catherine Robertson, Emily Writes and Hollie McNish having a laugh.

Q & A

In answer to the moderator’s question to the authors: “If you can change one thing … ” Emily joked/not joked: “Smash the patriarchy and destroy capitalism” – there was plenty of applause at this rally cry (although my spellchecker changed ‘applause’ to ‘applesauce,’ appropriate for parents perhaps). Brannavan wished there was more information given to parents from the start and Hollie specified “more government money into care and support for parents.” Lucky for New Zealand, they concurred, that we have a current government sympathetic to parents. (In fact, at the book launch for Is it Bedtime Yet? in Auckland, Emily said it was heartening to see a certain Prime Minister had popped in with her new baby).

A question from the audience followed on from this theme: “How do we get the government to change?” or as rephrased: “How am I going to go back to work to afford avocados?” For some, becoming a mother immediately politicises them and they become an instant activist wanting to fight for change but as their children grow, their priorities for what they want to fight for the most also changes – eg. do you give stretched energies to supporting midwives or supporting teachers? How do we get traction when needs change as our children grow? Emily said that the only way we can make change is to make heaps of noise! “Protest, hikoi, engage in conscious-raising – talk to people around you about what’s important to you” – like publicly praising why teachers need a raise or the importance of midwives (who saved her life) and just generally “combat bullshit.” Emily closed the session impassioned: “We need to be noisy and use our voice!” At this, there was enough applause from the audience to wake a baby!

Special thanks to the the Christchurch Art Gallery for offering free ‘babysitting’ (aka a kid’s art workshop) –  while parents were attending this Motherhood session at WORD. More of this kind of thoughtfulness for parents in society is needed! Check out the art gallery’s monthly Parent & Baby tours (Prams welcome). 


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Podcast – Cyberbullying

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

George Guild (Ara Institute of Canterbury), Nikki Wheeler (Sticks ‘n’ Stones) and Sean Lyons (Netsafe – via phone) join Sally to discuss cyberbullying.
What is it? What are its impacts? What can be done about it? –

  • Part I: What is cyberbullying?; Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015; NetSafe and its role
  • Part II: Stats on cyberbullying in NZ; demographic groups most affected
  • Part III: Examples of cyberbullying; cyberbullying and freedom of expression
  • Part IV: How can people keep safe online?; What can people do if they are victims of cyberbullying?

Transcript – Cyberbullying

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Flip Grater – On food, music and parenting

Singer-songwriter Flip Grater, Christchurch born and raised, is back ‘on stage’ after a hiatus from performing since the birth of her first child. We catch up with Flip to coincide with her gig appearance at Blue Smoke with fellow Cantabrian-bred Andrew Keoghan, as part of his Something Going On Tour promoting his latest album Every Orchid Offering.

Flip Grater (Image supplied)

Flip’s music has been described as sultry, languid, indie, folk and personal. Her albums include Pigalle, While I’m Awake I’m at War, Be All and End All and Cage for a Song produced by her own label, Maiden Records, and she has published a book The Cookbook Tour: Adventures in Food & Music (a tour diary including recipes and a CD).

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She is currently working on an EP of lullabies and a new album of adult material. She says she writes music “to explore certain parts of my brain that don’t tend to appear in conversation.”

Aside from music, Flip has a passion for animal welfare, wholesome foods and cooking, and is a Francophile. And of course there’s the new love in her live, her young daughter.
We flicked some quick questions to Flip about her passions:

You’re an avid cook and vegan, what foodie books are you enjoying that you can recommend?

Currently I love the Yotam Ottolenghi books, Whole: Recipes for Simple Wholefood Eating and Thug Kitchen.

PlentyMorePlentyOttolenghiNopiWholethugkitchenthugkitchen101
What music do you like to listen to when you’re cooking?

If my husband is cooking it’s always gypsy jazz. For daytime summer cooking I prefer (Belgian musician) Stromae or Rokia Traore, for evening or rainy day cooking Leonard Cohen or Gillian Welch.

You have a toddler now. How has parenthood changed your music apparoach?

Well for a start it’s pretty hard to get quality practice time in as my daughter loves to play the guitar with me if I pick it up. It’s all about fitting it in nowadays… trying to find quiet moments to play and be inspired.

You were vegan at 15 and even got your nickname Flipper from your animal rights activism. What form does activism take for you these days?

These days my activism mostly looks like setting a good example – living a vegan lifestyle, reducing plastics in our home, eating and wearing organics etc. but I have written a few pieces on my blog www.ewyum.com about certain food topics I feel passionately about.

You’re from Christchurch (having grown up in Parklands) and spend time here when not living in France. What are some of your current favourite spots in the city?

It’s been great being back seeing the new city coming to life. I miss the old High Street and lanes like Poplar Lane but I’m loving OGB, The Origin, Smash Palace, Mumbaiwala, Pot Sticker and The Cornershop Bistro in Sumner.

What role do libraries play in your life?

I’ve always appreciated libraries but never so much as right now! When we first got back from France we used New Brighton Library for all of our printing and boring officey stuff around my husband’s New Zealand Residency and applying for rental properties etc. Then I was there weekly during pregnancy reading an unhealthy amount of baby-related books. Now I take my daughter to keep her bookshelf rotating (and keep me sane by changing up the bedtime books). It’s truly invaluable.

I’ve been loving introducing Anais (my daughter) to classic English books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Peepo and her favourite book – Avocado Baby. And it’s great to find some brilliant newer books and New Zealand books in Te Reo like Kanohi and the Reo Pepi series. At the moment I’m loving reading her Little One by Jo Weaver and Lucy Ladybird by Sharon King-Chai.

KanohiLittleOnePeepoLucyLadybirdVeryHungryCaterpillar

Some of Flip’s Favourite Reads – on Music, Food and Parenting

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Flip Grater’s Bio
Listen:
Flip Grater CDs in our catalogue
Read: Flip’s parenting and food blog: ewyum
Follow: Find Flip Grater on Facebook

Check out other local musicians: New Zealand Music Month in May at Christchurch City Libraries

Podcast – Discussing Autism

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

Broadcast during Autism Awareness Week, this panel discussion touches on the following topics –

  • Part I: What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? What do we know about the causes?
  • Part II: Challenges for people with ASD and their families: school, funding, stigma
  • Part III: Positives of ASD including strong personal interests
  • Part IV: Supports available, key messages for educators, parents and society, increasing awareness through media and other means

Sally Carlton, co-host Mallory Quail (Autism NZ) and guests Bridget Carter (mother of two children on the ASD spectrum), Robyn Young (Regional Educator, Autism NZ) and Dean Sutherland (Department of Communication Disorders, University of Canterbury)

 

Transcript – Discussing Autism

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Emily Writes talks

Emily Writes is a Wellington-based writer whose blog posts have a habit of going viral. She is mother to two year-old Ronnie and four year-old Eddie and over the last couple of years I have chatted with her online quite a bit.

With a three year-old myself our online conversations have covered the full range of parental indignities from pregnancy and childbirth to toddler tantrums and terrible things that have happened to our soft furnishings. But also moments of delight… and Alexander Skarsgård gifs.

Emily’s new book, Rants in the dark, is proving a hit with parents across the country. Ahead of the Christchurch launch event at Scorpio Books next week, Emily chatted to me about her book, how she writes, and shared some favourite reads of her own.

Emily Writes
Emily Writes. Image credit: Christopher Tse.

So you started out blogging about parenting stuff, segued into somewhat tipsy movie reviews, have become the parenting editor at The Spinoff and now you have a book out. The next inevitable step is the biopic of your life, so the real question is… who will play you?

Oh my gosh, that is so hilarious. Alexander Skarsgård would need to be my husband in a movie and we would need to have many off-camera dress rehearsals and practice runs.

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Emily’s twin and future bestie, Beyoncé.

I would really like it if Beyoncé could be me… I love her… My inspiration is Beyoncé so I would like to meet her. Because if she played me in a movie I could meet her and then maybe we would become best friends.

I’m now thinking about this a lot. Because it would probably be like a Shortland Street actor, right? Or someone who could do a believeable Kiwi accent, so maybe it could be… Nicole Kidman in a fat suit or something? Or… Cate Blanchett’s very good at accents.

What were you aiming for in writing “Rants in the dark”?

I hope that it is kind of a friend in the night to mums and new mums. If they’re awake at 3am or something like that – I wrote it at 3am. So I hope that it feels like somewhere they can turn in the night when they’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Or during the day, or any time. I hope that it’s a different kind of parenting book.

It’s not a place for advice, or judgment or “I know what I’m doing” because I definitely don’t know what I’m doing. I hope that it just makes mums feel good about themselves but not in a “yoga” way.

Do you feel like there is a niche that parenting books weren’t quite hitting and that that’s where “Rants in the dark” sits?

I guess, yeah. I got What to expect when you’re expecting when I was pregnant and it kind of terrified me, and it’s also a bit like reading a dictionary. It’s quite a full-on book and I looked but I couldn’t find anything that properly prepared me – and I know that you can’t properly be prepared [for parenthood] – but I guess I wanted something like “hey, this might not be every single second of incredible delight. It will be amazing and the best thing ever but there will also be some really hard times”. That’s a really hard message to get across and maybe that’s why there aren’t books like that.

I just really felt like because we had tried so hard [to have a baby] that I would be ecstatic every second. And it’s that whole thing where, any parent talking about the hard times, you feel like you have to justify straight away – I am really happy…  And that’s why it’s such a difficult thing to talk about but I think we really do need to talk about… the realness of parenting, I guess.

I felt, with Eddie’s illness… how did this ever happen? And that’s a really hard thing when you start motherhood with something that you never expected that turns your whole life upside down. So I wanted to write something that maybe resonated with those mums that didn’t have this super smooth run into motherhood.

Sometimes I felt, when Eddie was really sick, that all these mums around me just had these perfect lives, and I know that that’s not true… but I felt very weird, alone and kind of “othered”… And I know that a lot of mums who have babies that have health conditions or are prem or that type of thing, they feel that too. So I hope that in that way it serves the community.

Emily Writes is not your real name, is it? Why did you feel the need to work under a pseudonym?

I guess the pseudonym is about the fact that I want to protect the privacy of my children. Every step of the way I’ve had boundaries and wanted to respect their privacy, and not only privacy but for me it’s about respecting them as people. …We talk a lot about what I’m writing, in terms of respecting the boys, but there’s a lot of trust there that I’m never going to do something that hurts them.

But I guess I don’t want them to spend their lives with people saying things like “oh, is your mum blah, blah, blah”. And I don’t want them to be Google-able, if that’s a word. I don’t want them to feel like they are characters or anything like that and I want to respect my husband’s privacy. He’s a really shy person.

… It also allows me a little bit of separation… I want to be able to come home and I walk through the door and I’m with my kids. …I find this is sort of a way to remind myself that I am a mum first to my kids and a wife and that is really important to me that I prioritise that and this allows me to not get too far up my own a*** or something.

With two small kids, it must be a struggle to write sometimes.

It’s hard to get it good. I write heaps. My drafts folder is like a phonebook… but it’s all s***. It’s easy to write lots but trying to find something good enough to publish is hard.

What I did was all at 3am, 4am because my kid is just intense. Every time he woke up, if I had an idea, I would note it down during the night and the book is like lots of little blog posts in a book. So I didn’t have to change my way of writing or anything [from blogging]. So I feel like I was pretty lucky. I think writers who write actual books are amazing.

Cover of Rants in the dark[I remind Emily that she has written an actual book]

Oh yeah, I have written an actual book. I forgot.

You just feel so lucky to have a book that you just feel very weird, and lucky and how did this happen? And it just doesn’t feel like it was hard because it’s so exciting. And also I didn’t do the grind like other writers did. I feel like I’ve been shot up the a*** with a rainbow, basically. I’ve just been very lucky.

What authors or writers do you yourself enjoy reading?

That’s a great question. I love Bunmi Laditan. I discovered her after I had started writing because someone said “you remind me of Bunmi” and then I went on her Facebook page and she’s just amazing in the way she talks about anxiety and mental health –  just so powerful. I love Bunmi.

I love Clementine Ford. I just read Fight like a girl. I think that was really brave. It’s kind of like Feminism 101, a really nice sort of entry into intersectional feminism…

I really love Emma Neale whose book Billy Bird – I just cried the whole way through it – it was such a powerful metaphor for parenting.

Cover of Mansfield and MeI love Sarah Laing’s Katherine Mansfield book, Mansfield and Me. I love that book. It’s amazing. I wanted to read it because I really like her as a person. She seems super nice and lovely. I don’t know her but that’s how she seems. So I thought “I’ll just buy it because she seems really nice and I want to support New Zealand authors” and then I loved it. You know when you just don’t know if you’re going to like a book or not, and then it’s everything? And I never thought I’d be into a Katherine Mansfield book but I loved it.

You’re coming down to Christchurch and doing a book launch event at Scorpio Books soon.

Yes, I’m so excited to come to Christchurch and that Scorpio Books wants to host me. And I think someone is running around trying to organise a day event so that we don’t exclude mums who can’t go out during the “witching hour” because their children are tyrants. Which is my children. I don’t mean that to insult anybody’s children.

I’m quite nervous about the Unity launch in Wellington because my kids will be there but I feel like if they absolutely crack it, I’ll just be like “See? I told you. Everything in the book is true”.

Hear Emily Writes talk at Scorpio Books BNZ Centre, 120 Hereford Street, Thursday, 6-7.30pm, 16 March.

The New Zealand Book Council are giving away one copy of Rants in the dark. To enter the draw, email reception@bookcouncil.org.nz with “Rants” in the subject line by Thurs 16 March. (Remember to include your postal address!)

Guilt and parenting: can you have one without the other?

Childcare and childbirth have long been topics that create debate. Any parent can relate to making a decision that others might not agree with, whether it is vaccination, natural childbirth, intervention and pain relief – or breast vs bottle.  Do you leave your child to cry or have them in your bed? The list is endless.

CoverGuilt always seems to go hand in hand with raising children and in a new book Push Back : Guilt in the age of natural parenting the author Amy Tuteur has taken the natural parenting “industry” as she calls it and shakes it to bits. She argues that most of the movements devoted to natural birth or attachment parenting were created and promulgated by elderly white men and that they put forward a pro-women agenda but are in fact quite the opposite – relegating women to the role of primary caregiver where they are required to perform round the clock childcare with little options for work or free time outside of the home. Tuteur wants to “release women from the guilt trap created by the natural parenting industry “.

9781451618006If you want to balance this against the opposite view then have a look at Beyond the sling : a real-life guide to raising confident, loving children the attachment parenting way by Mayim Bialik.

As with most things there is probably a middle ground, but judging by the huge and varying amount parenting titles published each year this is an area where the debate on right and wrong will never diminish.

Lactivism

CoverThere’s always been plenty of people out there who project their parenting preferences onto others – self-appointed citizens who prey on earnest mothers and fathers simply trying to do their best. There are a lot of different parenting styles and approaches out there. And some people are adamant theirs is best. Right?

That’s why politicization of parenting can be so potent. It can cut across ideological lines, with all sorts of aggressive individuals crawling out of the woodwork and sometimes becoming allies – like America’s fundamentalist Christians and ardent feminists who rally together to promote breast feeding, with the chorus of their common cause being “breast is best’.

We might find it bizarre that such movements, which are traditionally and (and for the most part) ideologically opposed, would share a common political interest. However author, mother and political scientist Courtney Jung is all too familiar with the nature of political lobbying and what it produces.  In her book Lactivism she exposes the way in which various interest groups (businesses, lobby groups, health officials and politicians) have hijacked the sensitive issues of breastfeeding as a ploy to either push their own ideological message(s) or make money. Or, conveniently, both.

This is not a book which is anti-breast feeding. It is a book which discusses the fact that some women, for a variety of legitimate reasons, can’t/won’t breast feed. Yet, they are often shamed by the aforementioned interest groups who have hijacked the general discourse to create public health hysteria. “A good mother will ALWAYS breast feed” is a phrase which has been twisted to become a guilt-laden sentiment to drive public health policies and messages. Jung manages to dissect and unravel this as misleading, and in many cases, unscientific collection of notions.

Jung sheds light on the poor science surrounding this issue, and how science is misconstrued further by lobby groups to deliver their desired outcomes and misinform the public. Which leads to a form of persecution for anyone bottle feeding, for example. The poor, and often women of colour, are the most affected by the misinformation layered upon society by officials and the (lobby influenced) media. Many women in poorer societies and communities simply cant feed due to health issues (HIV for example). Despite this, this issue is framed as it being a “mother’s duty” to breast feed. Always. Sometimes to the detriment of children.

Jung’s exposure of this blatant “bottle shaming” is insightful. She lifts the lid on the coercive tactics used to promote one system of feeding to the physical and psychological detriment of mothers and kids, and how this ties into other health problems and initiatives. What is really great about this book is that it clears the fog away from political processes. As a political scientist (don’t be put off by the label), Jung examines the evolution of these discussions and how they determine public health policy formulation around the world, and particularly America.

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The Parents’ Holiday Survival Guide

Christmas can be a stressful time of year and whether you’re heading away on holiday next week, or staying in town if you’ve got children you’ll be looking for ways to keep them happy and entertained over the school break.

Christchurch City Libraries has heaps of resources and recommendations to help out frazzled parents and caregivers this festive season.

Have kids, will travel

Going on a trip out of town? Long road trips (or air travel) can be a strain as boredom easily sets in. Get organised ahead of time with a range of activities and reading material to keep everyone occupied.

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  • In a rush and choosing’s just too time consuming? Pick up a Stories To Go Bag. Each one has age-appropriate fiction and non-fiction books, a DVD, a music or story CD, and a toy or puzzle and come in a sturdy bag that’s ready to travel.

For Kids in Christchurch

There are a bunch of activities, places to go, and things to see for families staying in town over the holidays. As well as the music, books, and DVDs mentioned above you might like –

  • Our Summertime Reading Club for kids 0-16 years, which starts today. Keep a tally of the minutes spent reading over the summer and go in the draw for prizes.
  • Summertime Stories in libraries begin in early January, with sessions for both babies and older children.
  • Our Learning Centre Holiday Programmes start mid-January. Check out our calendar for Holiday Programme classes.

For more information and links to kids’ activities and organisations in Christchurch read our Holiday programmes, events, and activities page.

Coming soon to Central Christchurch

Christchurch Art Gallery opens tomorrow and the Margaret Mahy Family Playground opens next week, both offering free, interesting diversions for the younger members of the family.

Have you got any tips or recommendations for entertaining kids over the holidays? If so, please share.

 

Parenting Week 2015

Children and parentsWhen it comes to raising children, sometimes you need some help and support.

This year, Neighbourhood Trust will be running Parenting Week from 24 to 30 August at various locations around Christchurch. A week of guest speakers, workshops, seminars and activities: there is bound to be something for you.

The programme includes sessions on:

  • healthy eating, with suggestions for healthy lunch boxes;
  • How to respond to children’s emotions and get them to do what they are told‘ with counsellor, family therapist, speaker and author Diane Levy;
  • brain development from infancy through adolescence with Director of Training for the Brainwave Trust Nathan Wallis;
  • strategies to deal with post-quake anxieties;
  • parenting teenagers by Toughlove;
  • how to stay on top of family finances, and how to improve relationships between couples.

Children are not left out. On Wednesday, 26 August, our wonderful Families Outreach Librarian Lynette Griffiths will be at the Richmond Mothers and Bubs Group. On Thursday, 27 August, parents and children can learn to weave at Te Pauwaitanga Ki Otautahi Trust or visit the Migrants Parenting Expo. There will also be a special Young Parents Expo.

The week concludes with The First Ever Parenting Week Dinner. Enjoy dinner while listening to guest speaker John Cowan, from The Parenting Place in Auckland, and host of Newstalk ZB’s programme ‘Real Life’, speak on ‘The tricky bits of parenting: Parenting styles that help build resilience in difficult times.’

Parenting resources

For more information about events for families and services for parents available at our libraries, check our Parenting Week page.

A few of my favourite things

“Mum,” said Miss Missy, “I’ve never eaten a croissant. They look delicious, I’d like to try one.”

The Sweet Life in ParisI was shocked because, 1: she never asks to try new food, and 2: I love sharing my favourite things with my kids, so how could it be that in all her 12 years of existence, I had never suggested she try a croissant??

Sharing my favourite is one of the best things about being a parent. I love making pancakes for them on Saturday mornings (no lemon juice for Miss Missy, the gastronomic neophobe). The Young Lad and I love building Lego together.  I loved listening to him when, at age 3, he recited The Very Hungry Caterpillar as he turned the pages of my very own book.

I love watching Project Runway and Star Trek with Miss Missy. Together, she and I have read our way through The Ordinary PrincessMilly Molly Mandy, and the Little House books. Now that she is too grown up to want to be read to by Mum, I’ve started suggesting old favourites, like the Jinny at Finmory series (which she loved) and Anne of Green Gables (which she didn’t!!*).

Cover of Children's Book of CinemaWhen I saw that the library has Bugsy Malone on DVD, I just had to bring it home to watch with her. I was in a production of Bugsy when I was at high school, and loved the movie (perhaps partly because it stars Scott Baio). Miss Missy wasn’t too keen at first, but once I finally persuaded her to give it a try, she loved it. The same thing happened with My Fair Lady (I had a bit part in that too). In fact, she enjoyed that so much that she didn’t want to have to go to bed, and couldn’t wait to watch the other half the next night.

And so began our Mum and Daughter Movie Nights, complete with a yummy treat — and yes, croissants have featured on the treat menu! We very quickly (ok, instantly) ran out of high-school-productions-Mum-was-in-that-are-also-movies, and so we branched out to old favourites of mine like Back to the Future, and classics like The Sound of Music and National Velvet.

But now I’m starting to run out of ideas .  So, I’d love to know what your favourite (pre-teen appropriate) movies are? Or if you’d like some ideas of great movies to watch with the young’uns, you could check out my Movie Night List.

*I know!  I couldn’t believe it either!