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What is “off-grid” parenting?

18 Jul

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Off-grid parenting is a term I coined to describe a style of unconventional parenting which seeks to embrace the wild spirit in the child by immersing them in nature, recognising their innate intelligence and fostering autonomous, respectful relationships.

Off-grid parents adopt a natural, sustainable, and intuitive approach to all aspects of child rearing. Off-grid parents step outside the system when it comes to their children’s health care and education and opt for alternative health care as well as alternative education such as unschooling.  Off-grid parents don’t vaccinate or medicate their children routinely using artificial drugs and medicines but may use fasting, food, herbs and other alternative forms of medicine. Off-grid mums oftern choose to manage their pregnancy independently of a doctor and usually birth outside of the conventional hospital system. Conventional parenting practices such as baby sleep training  and cry-it-out method as well as punitive (authoritarian) discipline are shunned in favour of attachment parenting and child-led methods such as co-sleeping, on-demand, full-term breastfeeding and  positive discipline. Off-grid parenting should not be confused with permissive parenting. Off-grid parents do not adhere to a ‘one diet fits all’ philosophy but do seek to eat whole, natural and ethically produced foods to maintain good health.

 

Coming soon…off-grid parenting documentary, watch this space!

Documentary

Forget Brexit: Ten reasons why British mums want to exit the UK.

5 Jul

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With the latest EU referendum edging on a leave vote for the UK to exit the European Union, here’s ten reasons why British mums are in despair at the thought of raising a family in not-so-Great Britain:

1. Stay-at-home mums in the UK are now being denied any state pension if they haven’t worked at least ten years and a reduced pension if they haven’t worked at least 35 years in the work force. This kind of system that does not recognise the value of carers, encouraging parents to have fewer children, with smaller age gaps between siblings which can be restrictive and stressful for the whole family unit.

2. Due to mothers at home not being recognised as contributing to society, Britain has an unfair family taxation system which penalises those who earn only one family income.

3. Single mums reliant on benefits are now being forced back into work as soon as their child reaches three years old, before they are lawfully expected to be in full-time education. These moms are supposed to do the work of two parents plus that of the bread winner, an unfair expectation.

4. Government will not provide help with childcare unless it is an Ofsted recognised educational setting. This setup fails to recognise that not all kids are suited to such environments and need home-based parental or relation care.

5. UK kids rank amongst the unhappiest in the world and are the unhappiest in Europe. The Children’s Society report, which looked at 15 diverse countries, ranked England 14th for life satisfaction of its young people, ahead of South Korea.

6. Brexit has won the EU referendum and with Britain coming out of Europe this means the citizens are likely to become isolated from other cultures as freedom of movement of the people is compromised, with an increase in racism and xenophobia. Britain leaving the EU means our kids may have restricted freedoms when it comes to travelling, working and living abroad.

7. The government wants to institutionalise our kids younger and younger, robbing them of their right to a playful childhood. The education system is failing more and more children, especially boys and those with special educational needs. As a result more and more families are turning to home education but this option is made tough for many as home educated kids are not financially supported in any way, even though these parents still have to contribute into the tax system.

8. The United Nations has recognised that the UK Government is not putting children at the heart of its policies or as Native Americans put it, ‘at the centre of the fire’. Children are seen as an economic inconvenience in society.

9. Austerity measures have created a huge increase in children living in poverty, 1 in 4 British children are now living in poverty according to the child poverty action group. This is an unacceptable standard for a so-called ‘developed’ country.

10. According to a survey by ‘dirt is good’ campaign by Persil, 3/4 of all children in the UK are now spending less time outdoors than the average prison inmate (At least one hour). This is likely due to lack of green spaces, extortionate rents; contributing towards a lack of garden space and increased sardine-style living conditions. In 2013 the RSPB published a three-year study, which concluded that four out of five children in the UK were not adequately “connected to nature”.

So while the political world gets anxious about the state of immigration, British mums turn their thoughts to the option of emigration. We are asking ourselves how can mums like us stay in this situation and do we want our children to be raised in a society that is more distracted by worldly capitalist gains than the welfare of future generations? Maybe it’s change that’s needed, change of awareness, perception and policies that promote family values and community growth.

Model Graciousness

28 Dec

Visible Child

stubbornchildThere’s a parenting question that comes up perhaps more frequently than any other. We seem to be able to wrap our heads around how to respectfully set limits, offer choices, acknowledge their feelings, understand the differences between natural and logical consequences, even calmly support them through tantrums. But when push comes to shove, there is one thing that stumps us:

“What do I do when they simply refuse to do what I am asking them to do?”

I would reword the question, actually.  Don’t get me wrong, I hear you.  You’re asking what to do when your kids refuse to pick up their toys, put their clothes on, brush their teeth, clean up a mess they made.  I know.  i would still reword it.  I hear the words that you are asking.  And after they go through the filter that is oh-so-handily inside my ears, the question…

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Ten Common Toddler Parenting Myths You Likely Believe (and Why you Shouldn’t!).

26 Jan

Toddler myths busted by a gentle parenting guru….

What Rod? Our Experience of BedSharing to Age 4.

13 Jan

Five Things I Learned in the First Year – Raising My Highly Sensitive Son

16 Jun

Is television a wise idea for younger children?

3 Mar

P1020855Recently a popular unschooling facebook group had posted on their wall a homeschooler’s article on ditching the tv and the dangers of screen time. This piece stirred up quite an emotional response in defence of tv from the group members, much to my surprise as I have always understood unschooling to be a way of raising and educating children which engages children in learning through exploration in ‘real life experiences’.

I began my parenting journey with a ‘No TV’ ideal and managed to follow this through well at the beginning at least. Up until Ulysses reached 18 months old our family ditched pretty much all screen time including tv, computer games and visual online media. At this time we introduced a few Disney films such as ‘Tangled’ and we also began to watch YouTube videos online as a guide to help us in the kitchen with learning about juicing. To our surprise, Ulysses became fascinated to watching these juicing videos repetitively. At the time we reasoned that as this skill was being transferred practically in the kitchen in real time, it was not a problem and served as an educational tool. The problems then occurred as he grew older and one video and film lead on to many more. It gradually crept in and encroached upon much of the time he use to spend exploring outside in the real world. Behavioural changes including increased aggression, reduced attention span and increased hyperactivity also became more and more apparent as he transferred from watching screen time to other activities in a slower paced, real time.

Ulysses is now over three years old and the addiction has continued on and off since that time. At points he will be glued to the screen for hours on end if I do not set boundaries, resulting in walking away in a groggy mood, rubbing his eyes. Before screen time came into his existence he was never reluctant to go outside and play like he oftern is now. Some people have suggested that these changes could be due to normal developmental stages. In my experience this has not been the case as during the periods we have managed to have with very little or no screen time, the behaviour reverts back to a more balanced state.

TV and screen time can be used for different purposes for example, as an electronic babysitter for those struggling with lack of support and time to themselves. It has also been claimed that TV need not be harmful and may be used as a useful educational resource. This point does have some truth in I agree however, in ny experience I have found that during times when our Internet and screen time was inaccessible, either because it wasn’t working or we were visiting family, Ulysses was more likely to step back outdoors or into playing by using his imagination and connecting with others.

Through movement and active play children’s learning capacity is enhanced much more than when they sit sedentary such as at a desk or in front of a TV or computer. Yes of course we can access materials and information via a screen that we might not otherwise be able to but is all this really necessary for young children, especially below age seven when there is such a rich variety of other learning opportunities such as museums, farms, libraries ect.

It’s a bit of an old fashioned statement but one that definitely still rings true that before TV kids use to have to use their imagination to entertain themselves and their learning did not suffer, rather their creativity was improved as a result.

Here are some more great reasons to beware of unlimited screen time:

  • It can interfere with your child’s sleep/wake cycle and leave them tired.

‘several research groups have shown that applying a magnetic field (EMF) of a half a gauss or less, ….will increase or decrease production of pineal melatonin and serotonin ( sleep hormones). Other groups have observed physical changes in glands (pineal) cells in response to such fields, These experiments were controlled for illumination…’ (The Body Electric by M.D Robert Becker. P249)

  • EMF exposure from devices such as wifi, TV and computer games can negatively impact your child’s immune system, especially alongside other factors which accompany screen time such as sitting sedentary for too many hours in succession without exercising the body in between.

‘Most city dwellers continuously get more than a tenth of a microwatt from television microwaves alone. This may be especially significant, because of the human body’s resonant frequency. This is the wavelength to which the body responds “as an antenna”. Next to ELF (extremely low frequency) range, it’s perhaps the region of the spectrum in which the strongest bioeffects may be expected. The peak human resonant frequency lies right in the middle of the VHF television band.’ (The Body Electric by M.D. Robert Becker. P311).

‘Nowadays, the first thing a kid will do in the morning is put on his or her shoes and the last thing at night is take them off. So they are ungrounded pretty much all the time, and this constitutes, I believe to a lot of the new health and emotional problems that kids have today, and it’s another factor to add to the list of causes such as junk foods, lack of exercise, and being exposed to EMF pollution from long hours of television, computers and video games.’ (Earthing by Clint Ober, p112).

  • Watching media can influence how a child’s brain will develop and create such issues as hyperactivity and possibly even language delay. Watch for the following video link to find out more:

The truth of the matter is that many parents, like myself have become reliant on these technologies to supplement missing ‘needs’ in their lives. This could involve substituting wildlife documentaries for a disconnection with nature, soap operas for a disconnection from a true community and emotional support and perhaps watching comedies to reduce stress levels caused by our un-family friendly, work orientated culture.

So could there be a healthy balance for kids watching screen time? Perhaps for older children but not likely in the younger first five years of life when the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred and needs and wants often cannot be differentiated. Through experience I have found that adverts are not the only part of TV with subliminal messages. Thomas the tank engine comes to mind as one example when children are encouraged  to accept authority without question.

With grace and truth we can learn to recognise and accept the true costs of allowing kids to reside in a virtual world and let go of what is not serving their long term health and well being. I am certainly not an advocate of controlling children by making something forbidden as this only serves in making that something even more alluring as well as conveying the message that you do not trust them, harming their self image.

I do however, believe in setting safe boundaries rather than being totally permissive. In the case of limiting TV and/or screen time this will serve to both protect the developing brain and minimise electromagnetic stress on their mind and body which can negatively impact the immune system. By encouraging kids to engage in real play through movement, human interaction and using their imagination, we can begin to release screen time gracefully by crowding out the old with new endeavours. Until we reach point all we can do is the best you can to balance screen time with real living and being the change you want to see in your child by reducing or eliminating your own screen time.