Toys for Boys and Toys for Girls – Edukits

I just love it when a toy company gets it right!

I got an email in my inbox this week and I thought I should share it. (see the bottom of this blog post)

Not only do Edukits make really awesome toys and various kits to stimulate imaginative play but also they have an ethos I can really get behind. Basically they say that there are no “girl” toys and “boy” toys and all kids should be given a wide variety of toys to play trucks in the dirt and clean the house regardless of the gender stereotypes enforced by society and toy companies.

 

Try telling him that dolls are for girls, Lion-cub is taking the dollies to go slide.

Here are a couple of their products that I really like:

 

They have a wide variety of awesome toys and kits which are very reasonably priced. I especially like the Dr Seuss book bundles for R300 (for 5 books) and the Duplo community people showing characters of mixed races and genders in various jobs.

Then for people who couldn’t be bothered with being Pintrest Parent Of The Year (While Making My Kids’ Edible Play Dough and Paint)… they even have edible finger paint and edible play dough kits ready made and ready to be played with.

Then they also have a very novel Monthly Kit Club that comes with a variety of 4 – 5 kits so that you have an array of activities to do with your kids whether you are looking for stuff to keep them occupied over the weekend or are homeschooling your kids.

Lovely hey?

 

Toys for Boys and Toys for Girls

I often get queries on recommended activity kits, books and toys for either girls or boys.  But if you look at my website you will notice that I don’t divide anything between genders.  Many people ask why it’s such a big deal and it certainly seems to be that in different ways all over the world at the moment, parents, schools and even kids themselves are generating a lot of noise about gender differences, equality and so forth. 

Perhaps the real question should be – how can we raise our children to view each other and themselves with respect, courtesy and kindness?  And sadly, it really does come back down (on some level) to the toys we provide our little ones with.  Traditionally, dolls are for girls, trucks are for boys.  Pink is for girls and blue is for boys.  Construction toys are for boys and household toys are for girls.  On the surface that seems benign.  But consider for a moment the messages this divisive attitude sends to our little ones. 

Did you know that 70% of girls toys are to do with playing house? And that 80% of girl’s toys are only in Pink and Red? 

Although it is becoming more acceptable to give our daughters LEGO and cars and trucks, it is still not quite acceptable to a large part of society to ensure our sons have dolls and toy brooms or that our daughters have access to science experiments and equipment.  The message silently being sent is that there are still specific fields we want to shut off to each of the genders.  By extension we are teaching our kids that they will have very specific roles to play in their own homes one day as well as in society and the work place.

We need to consider the impact that we have on our children’s views of the world and this is started within our own homes.  Let your sons play with toy brooms, let your daughters extend their scientific wonderings.  Encourage your son to play at being a dad with his own doll and let your daughter have her own tool kit.

And how does this carry into learning?  Most pre-teen and teenage girls when asked believe that they are bad at maths and the sciences.  Likewise most boys believe that languages, art, and creative subjects are things that girls should do.  Of course, this sort of gender stereotyping not only narrows each child’s career possibilities, it may also lead to them forgoing their own innate talents and abilities!  Encourage your daughter to enjoy science and numeracy along with her other interests and encourage your son to write stories, create artistically and enjoy learning languages and reading.

As parents, we also need to be aware of the language we are using to describe the activities and toys on offer.  Avoid using gender or colour to describe things – rather use their names or purposes.  Encouraging sharing of toys and activities between siblings and visitors is also a great way to show the benefits for both genders, and getting mom and dad to play with activities traditionally designed for opposite genders will go a long way to breaking through this invisible barrier.  Moms can enjoy LEGO and construction as much as dads can enjoy baking and playing house!

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving girls pink dolls and ensuring your boy has a big truck to play with – just ensure there is a balance, a variety of items on offer to create an inspirational and accessible learning environment for your child – whatever their interests.

If you are unsure how to create an environment that is balanced across subjects, abilities, gender and interests please drop me an e-mail, let’s discuss it.

Kind regards,

Lauryan

Edukits: Build, Mould, Play, Explore!
www.edukits.co.za
082 331 5273
lauryan@edukits.co.za

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Potty training – Pampers vs Huggies

Lion-cub showing his baba how it’s done.

 

We are in the thick of potty training. It is going well and the boys are really getting good at going to the loo when prompted.

I can’t begin to describe the joy I feel at the idea that poopy nappies will soon be a thing of the past. That said, I am also less than enchanted by the number of poopy underpants I find myself washing out.

The boys don’t wear nappies during the day and go to the loo as they need to. We still have a couple accidents every now and then but they are getting fewer. Poor Monkey boy gets really upset when he has accidents so we try pre-empt them by taking the boys to the loo regularly.

Pull ups are a godsend for when we are driving in the car or in a very busy environment (like when we go visit Ouma and Oupa) where the boys are distracted and less likely to take notice of the urge to go to the loo.

 

I have always used a combination of Pampers and Huggies depending on which are on special. Usually, it was Pampers Active in the day and Huggies for boys at night. We had way too many leaks at night with Pampers and Huggies worked better. Only problem with Huggies were they were much more expensive and hardly ever on special at Dischem which limited me buying them exclusively.

Imagine my surprise when I realised that Huggies Gold Slip on Pants were actually cheaper than Pampers Active Pants for boys.

I went on to Twitter and asked other moms which they were using and the results were overwhelmingly in favour of Huggies. Even better was Huggies (@Huggies_SA) contacting me directly and couriering me a couple samples of their Slip on Pants. (Well done Huggies on social media done right, you have a devoted fan in me now!)

 

So here is the breakdown of my experience of the different nappies.

 

Pampers Active Boy Pants

Huggies Slip on Pants

     

Size

5 (12kg-18kg)

5 (14kg-18kg)

Price (per nappy)

R3.73 (takealot) R4.16 (dischem)

R3.39 (takealot & dischem)

Print

Go Diego Go

Winnie the Pooh

Fit

One size fits all

Adjustable sides

Re-sealable

No

Yes

Absorption

Good – specific boy front panel

Good – unisex

Toddler pull up

Ok

Easy

     
     

 

My experience so far is that the Huggies are a better fit. Although my boys are both 15kgs they have skinny hips and the re-sealable side panels mean I can fit it snugly and it stops the front panel from folding down inside the nappy. The re-sealable side panels also mean that you don’t have to remove shoes and pants to change a nappy, nor tear the side panels to change a poopy nappy.

The downside? My boys are Go Diego Go OBSESSED and keep asking for Diego pants. I might have to go find Diego underpants somewhere before I have a riot on my hands.

Finally, it also comes down to the cost of the nappies. I have twins… this means everything is paid for x 2. There are no hand me downs from an older sibling, no 3 year gap between having to add new expenses for a second child. Cost matters! I am very happy with the quality of Huggies and look forward to using them, it is an added bonus that they are cheaper than Pampers.

 

 

Play dough recipe

IMG_20131015_133444

I adapted this fabulous play dough recipe from The Deliberate Mom my first attempt was a little too dry so I added an extra half a cup of water which gave a much better consistency.

Aromatherapy Play Dough

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 Tbsp. cream of tartar
2 Tbsp. mineral oil (or baby oil)
2.5 cups water
Food colouring (for vivid colour use about 1/3 to 1/2 a bottle)
10 drops of essential oil in either lavender or chamomile

Mix dry ingredients in a large pot.
Mix water, oil and food colouring thoroughly and stir into the dry
ingredients.
Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens.
When you find it difficult to turn your wooden spoon, it is done. I found that it formed a ball around the spoon.
Remove from heat.
Cool slightly, then knead.
And essential oil to the dough while kneeding.
Store in a covered container or in a sealed plastic bag.

Don’t put this dough in the refrigerator!

Bubbles, bubbles, BUBBLES!

One of my favourite things about the boys turning one and being able to play in the bath is BUBBLE BATHS!

I am an unashamed bubble bath addict and being able to share the joy with kids is without a doubt one of the best awesome moments in parenting.

Here is a little review of some of the different bubble baths I’ve tried.

 

The best and definite winner:

Pure Beginnings Fun Time Bubble Bath

 

What I love about pure beginnings is that it is 100% natural, not tested on animals, and it smells amazing. Something that is really important to me with two very busy boys in the bath is that it doesn’t leave the bath slippery and the boys can play without slipping and falling. Trying to keep the boys seated in the bath is a battle and I tell them to sit easily 20 times each at every bath. Then there is the added awesomeness that the bubbles don’t all disappear when you put soap in the water. These bubbles just last and last and last!

It is also organic and made in SA!

Since we bought this I haven’t used any other bubble bath and the other bottles are left half full.

 

Woolworths Bubble Trouble

 

The smell of this bubble bath takes me back to my childhood. The label says tropical but really it is the perfect mix of nostalgia; Chappies bubblegum and cocopine. I swear I could leave the bottle open just for the smell. It is a good bubble bath and makes lots of bubbles that last long enough for the boys to get pruney. This bubble bath cleans while they play so you don’t even need to soap them down they just get clean magically.

 

Elizabeth Anne’s Not A Baby Bubble Bath

 

I bought this because it is made especially for toddlers and I love Elizabeth Anne’s but it was disappointing. The granadilla scent was very sharp and the bubbles disappear quickly. You really have to use a lot of the product to get any sort of bubbling and then 2 minutes later the bubbles are gone.

 

Therific Kiddy-Calm

These bath salts are sold as foaming bath crystals and on the foaming front it creates hardly any bubbles, but (and this is a huge BUT) this is without a doubt one of my absolute favourite kiddy bath products ever. I use it every night! So although it strikes out on the bubble front it is definitely a 5 star product. Kiddy Calm has single-handedly helped my boys almost sleep through. While using Kiddy-Calm I noticed a huge improvement in the boys’ sleeping patterns. They went from waking 2-3 times a night each to each having slept through (not at the same time yet) and me having to go help a crying baby maybe once or twice a night. I feel like a new person. I thought it might be coincidence so i stopped using it for a couple nights and the difference was undeniable.

Also the apple scent is delicious! Kiddy-Calm comes in lots of different flavours and they make adult bath crystals too.

We’re not so different… are we?

I don’t really write about the fact that we are a different family. Same-sex, lesbian, gay… whatever label you want to give us doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day we really are just another normal family. Ninety percent of the time I’m not even aware of the fact that we are “other” however since the boys have been born it has become more and more obvious.

A friend of ours, who is also a married lesbian with twin boys, made an observation: Having children outs you on a daily basis. You have no choice in who you want to share this information with anymore.

It doesn’t matter where you are or with whom you’re speaking, if they make an assumption about the kids “father” you have to correct them. Why you ask? Well there are a couple reasons:

Firstly I don’t want my boys to ever think that our family is less than or that the fact that they have two moms is something to be ashamed of. We have to be so careful of the unspoken signals that we send our boys in what we allow to be left unsaid or unacknowledged. This means that if the cashier at the local Spar asks about their father I have to correct them, the plumber who comes into our house will see our family photos on the walls, their school and teachers need to be coached on how to deal with sensitive issues like what to do on father’s day and bullying.

Secondly it is also important to normalise same-sex relationships in the greater community. I often say it is easy to hate what you don’t know, what is unfamiliar and what is removed from you. Homophobia is very difficult to maintain if you are in constant contact with a normal, well adjusted, happy same sex family especially when you get to know them. It is our job to make the future better for our kids by bearing the brunt of some of the social stigma associated with homosexuality so that by the time our kids are older they will be able to look back and laugh at how backwards society was. I think this might also be a bit of my idealism showing through because truly each one of us will agree that racism and sexism is wrong and very backward behaviour but unfortunately it is still rampant in our society even after liberation and all the various social reform movements. African Americans still live in largely segregated areas 60 years later, SA has racism and xenophobia bubbling dangerously close to the surface, and lesbians are still raped and murdered in townships across the country (continent even).

It means our sexuality is open to scrutiny and judgement by everyone. Doesn’t it seem silly that what we do in our bedroom is the business of anyone else? How would you feel if your proclivities were laid bare to the public? If you had to admit your perchant for kinky sex to the cashier at Spar, or your fertility issues to the plumber, or your love of sex toys with your kids’ teachers?

I have equal parts of me that are intensely private and outspoken activist. Some days I find it immensely exhausting being constantly vulnerable to people’s disapproving grimaces or discomfort at not knowing how to react.

We are also blessed to have a large and loving support system of family and friends who happily recognise and embrace us, our sons, our relationship and all that it entails. It is a blessing to have a safe place where we can just be without having to be on guard, without being rubbed raw by stigma.

So my question is… are we really so different? Is our family so different from yours?