I can still remember my B.U.M. jacket from 7th grade.
The feel of it going over my head.
The bright, early 90s coloring. (That’s coming back, isn’t it? #scared)
The ridiculous pocket in front under the half zipper that couldn’t have been very flattering for any body type.
And the way I still got teased anyway, even though I thought I had finally – finally! – gotten something the cool kids had.
Something that could make me look popular.
It turned out that B.U.M. jackets were apparently “in” a few months back, so when I got mine, everyone knew it was new – and I was picked on for trying too hard.
It was a tough lesson, and I know my mother still remembers trying in vain to comfort my tears throughout most of junior high as I grieved over one social tragedy or another.
I’m grateful for that stupid jacket now, though, because it was a turning point on my road away from the mainstream.
I learned that no matter how hard I tried, I would never “keep up with the Joneses.”
And that it didn’t really matter.
It wasn’t worth it.
I looked almost this cool…
Thus began a pendulum swing that took me into high school with a jaunt of purple hair, 18 colors on my person in one day, using a baby bottle as my water bottle in Geometry and other odd-but-safe-and-never-permanent actions that I participated in for the sole purpose of being different.
I knew I’d get made fun of, so instead of trying hard to avoid it, I made my own rules.
My philosophy was simple – if I chose to be weird, I was welcoming the jabs, so I was still in control.
The bullies had no power over me.
And I grew into a stronger woman because of them.
Pushing Back as an Adult
I don’t bother with unnatural hair colors or crazy clothing anymore, but that tendency to go against the mainstream, the ability to ignore what other people think – that comes in very handy in my real-food-eating, NFP-using, Catholic-practicing, water-birthing, cloth-diapering, babywearing lifestyle.
I’m well out of the mainstream in just about every area of life, and I’m pretty happy out here. I appreciate now my bent toward minor rebellion.
The culture we live in, however, is becoming increasingly louder about being “good enough” even as alternative lifestyles gain prevalence and acceptance.
There are media battles, Mommy wars, and of course social media influences over just about everything.
Between the ability to view into everyone’s life via Facebook, Instagram and blogs (albeit only the very small, usually ideal slice the person allows you to see); the digital enhancements of images and movies that can skew our perspective of what our bodies should look like; and the massive onslaught of perfect images of “what other people are doing” on Pinterest, the world is quite overwhelming.
It’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of wondering if you’re “doing enough.”
Am I doing enough with my kids?
Am I doing enough for this party?
Am I doing enough to decorate my house?
Am I doing enough to satisfy my spouse?
Am I doing enough …. ??
We’re constantly doing.
And we’re certainly not sleeping enough.
Plus, most of the time, we’re dragging our kids into the mess too.
The Anti-Pinterest Strategy
Let your hair down…but you don’t have to dye it purple to go against the flow.
I’m pretty certain that every neat activity that people pin doesn’t actually get done.
Pinterest is really little more than a wish list that everyone else can see.
But it is difficult to push against the feeling of “I should do more” and “my kids need stimulation and creativity” when Pinterest really does look like it vomited on your child’s classroom during every holiday party.
Yeah, some people really do make it happen.
But it’s not like kids NEED crafts that take parents an hour to prepare the night before and 5 minutes for the child to accomplish.
It’s not like their physiology requires cutesy photo frames, picture-worthy food in cartoon shapes and thematic party decorations.
Kids NEED love.
They need to know that they are cared for, that they have expectations, rules and boundaries, and that their parents will be there for them if they make a mistake or get hurt.
Our human physiology does require nourishment – vegetables, fruits, proteins, fats – but it doesn’t really matter what shape they are.
In fact, don’t tell anyone else but – kids don’t even NEED screens.
They actually survived for decades – nay, centuries! – without computer games, tablets, or social media. << little known fact
They may have said, “I’m bored!” from time to time, but for most of history, children have figured out how to entertain themselves just fine, and the human race has not been obliterated by lack of development.
Give a kid a stick.
A stack of paper and pencils.
Shoot, give them a pile of empty packaging and see what they can do with it.
That’s the premise of my Summer Vacation Survival Kit.
It’s about child agency, independence, creativity, and critical thinking.
The activities allow for lots of exploration, experimentation, and even (don’t tell the kids) some learning.
From building with trash to designing experiments to simple, open-ended crafts, the kit is one way for parents to avoid boredom while also avoiding spending all their time entertaining their progeny.
Do you NEED this kit for your kids to survive the summer?
I just wanted to exaggerate because everyone else was doing it, and that’s the kind of person I am.
Actually, I designed it as a way for parents to guide their kids into making their own fun, with 20 activities that are largely child-centered and take very little adult time after some initial setup.
The kit includes a supply list that you can gather in about half an hour, put all together in one tub, shelf, box, pile – however you roll – and then have everything ready to go for 20 activities (and a few bonuses) at the drop of a hat.
Who Would Use The Summer Vacation Survival Kit?
If your kids have already been impacted by the society that tells them life should be scripted out for them, that their fun ought to be planned by a loving adult with lots of time on their hands, that “nothing to do” isn’t a great gift – they might need something to bridge the gap from Pinterest to “make your own fun.”
The Summer Vacation Survival Kit is the spark, the hands-off method to getting kids going with “something to do” instead of “everything to do.”
It’s perfect for:
- parents who want their kids to spend less time on screens this summer
- kids who could use a little kickstart for their imagination
- kids whose imaginations are as wide as the sky – but who might need some direction so they don’t experiment with gasoline, matches, and your shed
- grandparents who want to have “something to do” for their visiting grandkids
- all children ages 3-12 with a little time on their hands
- busy parents who feel the push to “do more” with their kids but also feel a bit sick to their stomach and overwhelmed when they browse Pinterest
A Silly Example
Here are my kids playing with one of the activities – it took me about 5 minutes to get them started, and then my 3- and 6-year-olds played for over half an hour on their own, creativity oozing from their fingertips (literally). And we still have it around for another day:
If you can’t see the video above, view it on YouTube HERE.
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