The Sweater That Keeps On Giving: Knitting As A Parenting Tool

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Hello there!  Good Sunday evening.  How has 2015 been for you so far?
I am amazed that I have kept this #YourTurnChallange of posting on this blog 7 days in a row.  It had been in unexpectedly exhilarating week to be able to stick to a promise to myself and following through with this challenge.

Today I want to share with you one of my favourite activity and to me it is also an amazing parenting tool: knitting.

My earliest and fondest memory on knitting was from my kindergarden friend’s mother.  She was a ferocious and prolific knitter.  She would knit a whole kids sized sweater in a day.  My favourite thing to do when I go to play at their house was to sit next to her and just watch her hands and needles go.  I loved and cherished every sweater she made for me and I always felt sad whenever I got too big for them.

Not until after I became a mother, I learned to look at knitting as something outside than just a craft, that it is more than just something to do for grannies and people who have extra time to have a hobby.   Knitting now has become a nurturing and healing activity. I never realize that something seem so trivial can be so powerful.

HOW DO YOU HAVE TIME TO KNIT WHEN YOU ARE TAKING CARE OF YOUNG CHILDREN?

I know right?

After I woke up to the fact that children (as young as from birth) do not need to be “entertained”, I took to knitting as my way to have a little time to sit down in between changing diapers, cleaning the house, manage everyday household chores, feeding and putting the little ones to bed etc.

But mostly I love knitting because actually has these amazing qualities:

1.  To show (especially the in the fast paced first world) that some things are made by hand.
2.  To illustrate that whatever the end result may be, it takes time.
3.  To demonstrate perseverance.
4.  To instill virtues like patience and delayed gratification.
5.  An opportunity to show children that joy is in the process, in the doing of.
6.  And if you are knitting something for your kids, they will feel loved, valued and cherished in ways that buying them a toy can never convey.

KNITTING AND TANTRUMS GO HAND IN HAND

I must say I have knitting to thank during many episodes of toddler tantrums.  It depends on the need of my boys (whether they need to be held or not), when they are expressing their huge feelings, I often sit down beside them and would start knitting.  Instead of trying to talk to them or ask them a ton of questions,  I just keep steady, grounded, knit and wait patiently until they have let it all out.  I would remember to breathe deeply during these episodes while knitting and send out a kind, loving and gentle energies towards the whirlwind beside me.  Knitting would help me stay strong, focus and anchored for my children, which is the what they truly need when they are in despair or confusion.

THE SWEATER THAT KEEPS ON GIVINGIMG_5130

With all that being said, I have this one sweater that I have been knitting over and over again that I want to share with you today.  It is a classic raglan top-down sweater, pattern designed by a wonderful Canadian designer Jane Richmond.  To me it is great for both girl or boy.

This had been the sweater that both my boys have worn day in and day out, in all four seasons (I always use the same wool yarn) in the past 3 years.  When it comes to dressing, especially with children, I like to keep things simple and options minimal.  So both boys have only a few pairs of pants each, a couple of basic wool under layers and 4-5 plain-jane short and long-sleeved T shirts for the rest of the year.

This sweater goes on top of every outfit and we layer up/down with winter jackets, vests, hats and or scarfs according to the seasons.  This pattern is so easy to follow,  it is so rewarding for our whole family.

If you are looking for something more than a scarf or hat, maybe you can try this sweater on for size?

Have a great week.  Until next post.

Much love and warmth,
Grace

 

Birthdays and Parties – A Simplified Outlook Part 1:

Our sweet Leo will be turning 2 next month.

Confession:  I have yet to do birthday “parties” for either one of our boys where invitations were sent, neither via an e-vite nor snail mail.  In today’s parenting culture, from time to time I do feel a bit reluctant to admit that it is actually not something we are very proactive with.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good party, have people over to our house, preparing delicious meals, the sharing and the connection . It is the over-the-top, the more the merrier kind of parties that make me think twice.

Now that I am more aware of my own childhood, as I look back I realize birthdays were not such a big deal in my family.  Partly it is because my birthday is on Christmas Eve (Church and Jesus took center stage) .  Mostly it was because everyone was just too busy.  It was remembered and a family dinner was prepared or dining out was scheduled.  I was not modelled on how a good kids birthday party was thrown.  As I got older, and went to other people’s birthday parties, I didn’t recall having that much of a good time.  It was usually frenzied, chaotic, noisy and rushing to get the candles and cake part done – and then the presents.  It was always tearing out the wrapping and trying to get through the pile before anyone can take a breath.  There was never any order to these parties and it often just felt messy to me.

As our youngest boy will be turning 2 in a month, the idea of “to have or not to have” a birthday party has been circling my thoughts.  The first thing I always ask myself is:

“If we are going to have a birthday party, is it going to be a party for me (the adults) or is it going to be for the little ones?”

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For Leland’s first birthday 3 years ago, I made a rich dark chocolate cake for just us (the grandparents and the two of us) to enjoy.  We did have candles and I did put his name on the cake and we even took photos of him watching us blow out the candle.  It was truly simple and sweet.  We knew that Leland would not remember this particular birthday but the photos will show him that it was important, acknowledged and celebrated.  We didn’t at all feel the pressure of having a big shindig, in fact we felt it was quite authentic to our own (developing) family culture.

Leo1stBdayCake

For Leo’s first birthday last summer, it was a bit different.  Since the older brother was 3 and much more aware, we decided to do a simple birthday breakfast with just the 4 of us.  We made a blueberry pancake tower and sang a few songs.  It felt as though it was Leland that enjoyed the experience the most.  For him, it was all about the candles, lighting them and blowing them out.  There were no presents, except for a birthday ring that had photos of Leo throughout the year and ONE wood decoration on the ring.

So far my goal it still trying to keep birthdays and celebrations as genuine and simple as we can.  While they grow to become more aware of their own birthdays, so will I in regards to how I will be carving out our own kind of birthday traditions.  My goal is to be part of developing with them a healthy, meaningful and heartfelt outlook with their own birthdays as well as the birthdays of their loved ones.

Speaking Less as More

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Parenting with less words.

One of the main shift in paradigm for me after becoming a parent is to truly understand the importance of not talking too much to a young child.

I was under the impression that I will need to “teach” many things to my child and tell them all about their world and surroundings.  It is such a common thing in our society when talking to very young persons is to ask about what is their favourite,  ask them to name an object or colour and mostly sentences will start is the word “What”.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite animal?

What would you like to eat?

What would you like? This? or That?

This is usually how we adults think to engage in a conversation with kids.

My husband and I don’t do that anymore.  It was not an easy habit to break but after understanding how questions can actually stress and pressure a young child’s development, we simply cannot  continue as “normal”.  The normal in our household now is to listen and observe more.  We comment and ask much less.  Ever since we’ve become conscience of this, we have noticed a significant change in the overall energy in our environment.  It is much more peaceful and the day goes by with more harmony.

Some days, I get commented on the gentle and calmness of  our little boys’ dispositions.  Our society’s expectation of the behaviour of boys is usually loud, physical and rambunctious to name a few.  As if gentleness and calm are something so rarely “natural” in children (especially boys) and that we must have won the lottery (twice!).   Most people are in awe at how observant and engaging they are.

Since I usually do not talk about parenting unless when asked, I just make a mental note to myself that I know I have found one of the secrets to parenting that will result in overall serenity:

In speaking less to your child, they will blossom (even more) before your eyes.

I’m sure I will be writing more on this topic…

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Reset Days

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Today was a day of utmost simplicity.  After a wonderful 3 day weekend filled with quality family gatherings and outings, hosting out -of-town guests, and closing it with a birthday party at a friend’s house, we are all over played.

I was so looking forward to today where I know will be a day of tranquility and I am so glad it turned out to be just that.  Both our boys (4 and 1.5 years old) woke up to a day of reset and we were all delighted to know that there was no agenda to abide to except for our simple yet solid rhythm of meals, free play and rest.

I wanted to set the tone by not speaking too much, not asking questions and keeping requests, tasks and activities to a minimum.  Both boys took to this quiet energy like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day.  They just nestled into their imagery worlds with a knowing that they will not be interrupted.  I was just a facilitator and a recorder of their unconscious little selves, being as free and as relaxed as they needed to be.

These are the days I feel so good about choosing to be at home with them.   The quietness of today allowed me to witness the unfolding special-ness of a childhood.  It makes me breathe deeper and cherish my role as a stay-at-home mother that much more.