Family · Feminism · Kids · Parenting

How Gender Normative Attitiudes are Damaging Our Kids

I’ve written before about how we don’t believe in gendered toys and that we encourage the girls to forget gender conformity when it comes to pursuing their interests, and for the most part it’s worked well. BB plays just as happily with toy cars and Nerf guns as she does with her Barbies, and Sausage goes to a martial arts class where she’s often the only girl. A phrase often uttered by me is “as long as you don’t need a penis to operate it, it’s not just for boys!” and despite the cringe caused by the word “penis” the girls are happy with this rule.

However, just recently, BB has run into some issues. It started a while back when she asked for some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles underwear, and we discovered that they didn’t make them for girls. We did, however, find some stretchy boxers on the boy’s section of H&M which had TMNT print on them and decided that they were just as good as knickers and would probably be quite comfy. BB has worn them, happily, for months.

A couple of weeks ago, she was getting dressed for school and I’d laid out her TMNT boxers for her to wear, and she got a bit upset and said she didn’t want to wear them that day. I asked why and she said that it was P.E. day, so she’d have to get changed in front of her classmates, and she didn’t want anyone to see her in her boxers. It transpired that a few kids in her class had been taking the mikey and telling her that she shouldn’t be wearing that underwear because it was for boys. She told the girl who was mocking her that “Mummy couldn’t find any others for me to wear today”, but she shouldn’t have to feel like she needs to make an excuse.

She’s quite a resilliant kid, our BB, but it was clear that it was bothering her to have her classmates telling her that she was doing something “wrong”. I started trying to ensure that I gave her girly underwear on the days she had swimming or PE, but the whole thing sat really uncomfortably with me.

It gets worse.

BB’s school, like the rest of the country, offers free school meals in key stage one, but they recently got rid of their cold food provision, so if a child wants a cold lunch instead of a hot meal, they can now take a packed lunch. BB was super excited about this as she’s a little fussy with food AND wanted to show off her new lunch box. Her new Spiderman lunch box.

She’s used it twice, and BOTH times been told by some of her peers that her lunchbox is for boys.

The problem I’m having is this – what want her to do is to tell them all off about their gender normative attitudes and carry on using whatever she wants to cover her ass and carry her lunch. However, it’s not me who has to fight the battle, it’s her. I can encourage her to stick up for herself and tell her classmates where to shove it all I like, but at the end of the day, she’s the one who has to do it. Part of me wants to protect her feelings, buy her the pink knickers, buy her the LOL lunchbox and let her conform, but a MUCH bigger part of me wants to encourage her to stick to her guns and wear whatever she damn-well wants. We don’t raise kids to be compliant.

The whole thing has really stuck in my throat. The saddest part is, I’m not surprised. I still see posts on things like Facebook Marketplace on an almost daily basis of people looking for “toys for boys” or a “pushchair suitable for a girl”. We’re STILL, in 2019, so hung up on the outdated rules we’ve had drummed into us about what is for girls and what is for boys and it’s being passed onto the next generations.

We’ve given BB a pep talk and told her that the opinions of others are not important, and that she should carry on liking Spiderman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without worrying about what people think, and I’m hoping it sticks but there’s a chance that the damage has already been done. Daddy also made sure she had undies she felt comfortable in for PE days and bought her some in pastel colours. NOT that we should have needed to…

If you’re reading this and still teach your kids that toys and charachters are only for a specific gender, please join us in the 21st century and update what you’re teaching your kids, because I will NOT be teaching mine to tolerate that kind of bullshit.

(Also, is it any wonder we’re still having these problems when THIS is what comes up when you Google “TMNT girls”…because obviously, no ninja goes anywhere without their handbag and fucking stripper heels. EYEROLL)

DIY

Sausage’s Bedroom Makeover

It’s got to that point where Sausage wants her own space. She’s starting senior school in September, so instead of being surrounded by her sisters toys and games, she wants a proper grown up space where she can chill, watch her own programmes and do her homework in peace. As we’re in a three bedroom house, Husband will be giving up his office space and moving his desk into the dining room, and we’re planning a bit of a makeover of the room so that it feels more like Sausage’s own.

The first thing we’ll do is replace the floor; there’s carpet in there at the moment, and while it’s good quality, we want something a bit more modern for Sausage, so we’ll opt for Quick-Step Impressive laminate flooring (https://lifestyleflooringuk.co.uk/laminate-flooring/quick-step-laminate/quick-step-impressive) as it’s so versatile, easy to fit and simple to keep clean. You can find it at  Lifestyle Flooring UK.

She’s also requested a change of colour – the walls are a plain magnolia at the moment, but we’re planning to replace that with three walls of light lilac, plus one wall of a darker purple colour. It’s a nice colour scheme for a kid of Sausage’s age, but one which I think will grow with her and won’t feel horribly young when she’s in her teens.

Another thing I’m planning is a multi-functional space which will double up as both a dressing table and a desk so that she can use it for doing her homework and then use it for doing her hair and make up at other times (she doesn’t go out in make-up, by the way, she just loves to practice at home!).

She currently sleeps in a single bunk beds that she shares with her sister, but we’ve decided to give her our king size bed so that she has more space and can have friends sleeping over when she wants, without needing to find extra sleeping space! Our bed is currently a neutral wooden colour, but we’re planning to give this it’s own mini makeover with some nice chalk paint.

In terms of finishing touches, we’ll be adding shelves for books and nick-nacks, plus colour co-ordinated curtains, lamp shade and other little touches to make it feel like Sausage’s own little haven of peace and tranquillity! I’m really excited to do this for her, and I know she’s going to love the end result. I’ll be sure to share pictures with you all when it’s done!

Gift Ideas · Kids

Alternative Christmas Gifts for Tweens

There are members of our family who are easier to buy for each year, and then there are some who are just flat-out difficult every bloody year! This year, much to my surprise, one of the toughest people to buy for has been Sausage. Every other year, she’s been a doddle, but every time someone asks me for ideas of what to get her I struggle, and asking her is usually met with “I’m not really sure”. I guess it’s good that she’s either not a covetous kid, or feels like she has everything she needs, but it doesn’t make it very easy for the whole family to buy for her, so I’ve been trying to think outside the box for gift ideas for her. Here’s some stuff I’ve come up with:

Experience Days

Obviously she’s a bit small for supercar track days or afternoon tea, but there’s been a pretty big surge in experience days for kids, with things like kids paintball taking off. Sausage loves doing crafts and art, so a voucher for a ceramics studio would be the perfect gift for her as it would give her an afternoon of doing something she loves, with something to show as a keepsake at the end of it.

Band T-Shirts

Sausage seems to be one of the only 9-year-old girls on the planet who isn’t obsessed with unicorns this year, but she is finding her identity through music at the moment (her David Meowie t-shirt is probably her most prized possession!) so indulging her self-discovery with some cool band t-shirts would be much appreciated by Sausage.  

Books

Sausage has always had books for Christmas (last year it was Pokemon graphic novels!) and she’s at an age where books are still a cool Christmas gift, as long as we opt for the right ones! I’m thinking of getting her a set of The Hunger Games trilogy as I reckon she’s at an age where she’d really enjoy them.

Stationery

Sausage is 100% my kid when it comes to her love of all things pen-and-paper related. Rarely a day goes by when she can’t be found either drawing pictures or writing stories, and I know she’d love a proper hard-back journal for all of her writing, so we’re planning to find her something really funky.

Jewellery

Last summer, Husband and I bought Sausage a Pandora bracelet for her birthday, which means that charms are always a good option for gifts. She also had her second lobe piercing done and has a bit of a reputation amongst her classmates for wearing some really individual and cool earrings (I think today’s earings were BMO from Adventure Time!), so jewellery is always a really good option for us, even if it’s cheaper stuff which can be used as stocking fillers.

What are you buying your tweens this year?

Baby · Fashion and Style · Kids · Shopping

Kids Autumn/Winter with Petit Bateau

Something that I love about shopping online is that I can source things which are a little bit different to what you’d normally find on the High Street. This is especially great for finding clothes for Sausage and Burrito Baby as I do love dressing them to accentuate their unique personalities, which is why I was happy when Petit Bateau asked me to put together an outfit for each of them from their new Autumn/Winter range.

Sausage is pushing boundaries with her fashion choices at the moment. She loves to be a little bit different (hence the pink hair during the holidays!) and relishes bucking against what girls in her class would be wearing. BB likes to wear things that look “pweety” (yep, that’s how she says it!) but which also allow her to charge around and don’t impede her running/climbing/dog riding. Here’s what I chose for them:

 

Petit Bateau

 

Grey is one of my favourite colours for clothing at the moment and I think the grey jeans make such a nice alternative to blue or black, which is what you see on most people. Sausage and BB both look amazing in most colours, but Sausage looks especially fantastic in autumn/winter palates because of her wild red hair, while BB looks great in more neautral shades because of her blond locks and pink cheeks.

I actually wnjoy shopping for the girls SO much more than shopping for myself, so spending an afternoon scouring a site and choosing things for them is a real treat! Have you shopped with Petit Bateau before? Do you enjoy shopping for your kids? What would you choose from the Petit Bateau ranges? Leave me a comment below!

Family · Fashion and Style

Dressing Girls for a Rubbish Summer

One thing that I’ve found quite tricky these last few weeks is getting the balance right when dressing the girls. The appallingly bad “summer” weather means that the usual dresses and sandals have been completely out of the question, but it’s also not quite cold enough for coats and jumpers, so it’s been a case of finding some middle ground.

Husband is a big fan of layering because it means that you can adjust what you’re wearing if your environment changes and we’ve been trying to adopt this for the girls, too. Instead of thick coats, we’ll give them a fleece and a shower-proof layer, and they can still wear dresses, but often wear a t-shirt and leggings underneath.

Recently, House of Fraser asked us to take a look at their Kids Clothing range and pick a few things for each girl that would make it onto a summer outfit wishlist, so we thoguht we’d put together a little board for each of them to show how we cope with dressing for any weather:

 

Layering for Summer

 


The items on the left are what we chose for BB and the stuff on the right are for Sausage…what do you think of your choices? I think they’d be perfect for a day out while the weather is so unpredictable. What would you choose? Do you have boys or girls? Do you find it easier to shop for one gender than another at this time of year? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.