My household along with a lot of other households with children is going through a Pokemon craze. It started with the cards last year, then the cartoons. It’s so bad that even my 2 year old is obsessed. It’s all about Pokemon and Pikachu! Showing my age now – but honestly what is this show about??
Recently though, a Pokemon App is taking the world by storm – Pokemon Go. Some people are saying how great it is to have children play this game because it encourages kids to get out – even if it is in an alternative reality of catching Pikachu. At least they’re not inside.
My son, like many boys his age wants to play this, but I have to say a clear ‘sorry’ to my son. I am not one of those mums that will allow their young child to play this game. I’m afraid my dear son, I am never going to be a ‘cool’ mum. You my son will likely miss out on being ‘cool’ like your friends for years to come, because after Pokemon Go, there will be many more silly fads which will come and add nothing to your development intellectually, emotionally or physically. You’ll likely ‘hate’ me and ridicule me to your friends and roll your eyes at me (he’s already started doing this!), but I’m willing to wear that.
My husband says that I have to ‘ease up’ and that I can’t keep him away from these sorts of games and devices forever. To that, I say maybe not, but he’s 8 years old and I would rather have him read, draw, ride a bike, than walk around staring at a phone trying to catch Pikachu.
While this App may help to get kids out, I find it sad to see young kids out, mobiles in hand staring at their screens. While there are many brains working right now on how to harness Pokemon Go for the greater good of protecting nature, I think having a love of nature yourself is the best way to create these values in your children. Get out yourself and get into nature. Talk about it and feel connected to it. Even if you don’t live near bushland or a beach – find a pocket of trees, grass, a communal area, plaza – whatever it is, get out there and have fun with it yourself, despite the limited time you might have.
The connection to nature is disappearing. With more people living in cities and cities becoming denser and nature being taken out of cities – it is harder to get to nature and hard to feel connected to it. With the earth facing the next mass extinction episode, we need to get back to nature. Nature provides everything to us – water, air, materials. Even the ones that fuel our lights, the materials that go into our devices, the materials that we wear and build with – it originates from the earth.
I am often saying to my husband to get out into the garden and potter around, because if he does, my son eventually leaves his room and follows. It is their personal preference to be inside with toys, but getting both boys in my life outside is my mission and I hope not to rely on Pikachu to do that!
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Am I being too tough?
As I sit here resting after another school holiday day, I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve been doing with my children during these holidays. Usually school holiday time seems to be the perfect opportunity for prices to go up – double or triple. So holidays away always seem to be quite pricey, as do most activities.
But one thing that I have done for the last two holidays has been cheap and fun. Essentially I take my kids on what I call a ‘treasure hunt’ through the City. I work in the CBD of Sydney, so before the ‘treasure hunt’ I usually scout for some ‘clues’ to help us on the way to funding our treasure.
The day starts with a bus ride, which for my children is the ‘most fun ever’! We get to sit on the bus as it goes across the Harbour Bridge and see the Opera House.
Once in the City, the treasure hunt begins. I print them off a table with various landmarks and points of interest which I hope to see. Usually I have a route or destination in mind and along the way as we see our ‘clues’ they get a stamp once they’ve spotted the clue.
This time around ‘Art n About’ was on in Sydney, so there were a few more fun things to see like giant snails. My route usually takes me from the bus stop in Wynyard, to Hyde Park where we eat a home packed lunch. then on the way back to the bus stop we stop at David Jones’ where we go and get chocolate dipped fruit. This is about the only thing I spend on the day and after a few hours of walking, the kids are more than happy to get the bus back home.
This is an idea which I think can work on so many levels. Already I’m thinking of doing this at an art gallery, bushwalk or overseas ‘cultural’ holiday.
I hope you enjoy your treasure hunt with your children as you point out things that they would have otherwise missed.
I have been enjoying a glorious autumn in Sydney. The weather has been beautiful and I have taken this opportunity before winter to get out into the bush.
I have been trying to encourage my children to enjoy nature. A few weeks ago, we decided to go on a bushwalk in a local national park: Lane Cove National Park. My son who is now nearly 5 was super excited. He donned his hat, backpack filled with snacks and his binoculars. My daughter also was excited, as she seems to be excited about anything that her brother may be into. She just turned 2. The walk we chose is ran along Lane Cove River, along the mangroves.
We chose to take the pram with us (yes strange to take a pram on a bushwalk, but my guidebook told me that there would be boardwalks there).
Once we found the track, we got walking. My son decided he wanted to take photos of spider’s webs which was great, as last year the sight of them scared him. I suppose the Abu Dhabi is slowly leaving him and he is getting more used to the abundant creepy crawlies that call Australia home.
The walk is pretty easy actually, but there is strange part to it when you hit Chatswood Golf Course and you have to walk through it, but then the path dips back along the river with beautiful views. Overall the kids enjoyed the walk and the snacks they got along the way (the best part of a walk no?!) and my daughter even walked most of the way. While the success had me excited, I did feel a little pang of sadness at the realization that they are no longer my little babies….now they are bush walking children!
With this success under our belt, my husband and I decided to go to the Blue Mountains, a beautiful part of New South Wales, about 1.5 hours west of Sydney. With autumn leaves glistening and the sun shining, we decided to go on a bushwalk. The one suggested to us was Sublime Point walk. I have to say, this time it seemed that my son’s excitement of the bushwalk had waned and I suddenly had a flash forward to a grumbling ‘I don’t wanna’ time. I was hoping that this would not surface at age 4! With some encouragement however we got out and walking and what a sublime view it was. With that short walk under our belt and children in need of their ‘babycinno’ fix (for those not familiar with this, a babycinno is frothed milk with some chocolate sprinkled on top).
After that it was time for our second bushwalk of the day, this time Leura Cascades. This walk was a little bit more challenging, with lots of steps. It is relatively short however (500 m to the cascasdes) and the views were spectacular. The actual walk was beautiful too, as you go along a creek with wet sclerophyll vegetation growing overhead. While walking back up was a little hard for my daughter who was carried back most of the way, my son found it an enjoyable bushwalk altogether.
I think with regular encouragement my kids will grow to love the bush as much as I do.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to a friend’s house for lunch as part of the Dinner Party Project. As some of the people attending were parents, rather than dinner, we arranged lunch (so much easier!). The aim of this lunch was to encourage people around Australia to engage in a dialogue about the issues that are important to us and to provide the powers at be, our ideas on how to make this country a better place (for more information on the Dinner Party Project, go to http://www.thedinnerparty.net.au/about).
The people who gathered at this lunch party were what one could say – left of the mainstream political spectrum. They were intelligent, passionate and great cooks.
As we enjoyed our vegetarian lunch, my friend started to ask questions to get the dialogue started. Firstly we were asked what our ideal society would look like. We responded similarly in saying that it would be a just society where the arts, culture, public healthcare and education were recognised. I added that safety was important, because if you don’t generally feel safe, then it’s hard to engage in society. Another guest added that they felt housing and the lack of affordability was important, so a ‘good society’ would have greater equity in housing.
As the conversation continued, it was apparent that we were all good at identifying problems. These problems ranged from a lack of appreciation for arts and culture, greater emphasis on ‘jobs’ at universities over theory, difficulties in getting real information in the age of information, disengagement from politics and politicians, cynicism at the world at large and the inability to ‘switch off’ from social media. Interestingly, the internet was seen a source of a lot of this evil, by demanding a 24 hour news cycle where we receive snippets of information and more and more sensationalist headlines to get our attention.
Something else that we as lefty, activist people identified was our exhaustion – we simply had no time. No time to get up and do something, no time to get the whole story and too tired to bother with much political engagement. As parents, our children take much of our attention and energy and rightly so. By night time we’re so tired, we’d rather watch something ‘light’, than a serious documentary or ‘depressing news’.
I think this is something that we were struggling with, well it is something that I struggle with. Have my ideals waned? have I become softer?
I am the child of parents who were activists. Even when I was a baby I was going to rallies with my parents who were protesting the Shah of Iran (in the US!) and I remember going to Iran at the time of the revolution. I grew up around politics. We Iranians love to talk politics and having lived through the Iran and Iraq war, there was a lot to talk about!
I remember before I was passionate and pissed off – at a lot of injustices in the world. My friends at school will remember me as the girl who wrote anti-war messages on paper and then sticky taped this to my school shirt (I think to my peers, I was a bit of a ‘weirdo’ at school). I went to rallies with my parents and continued this on until I was in my early 30’s. Stop the Jabiluka Uranium Mine, Stop deforestation, Anti-Nuclear War, Palm Sunday Peace Marches, Refugee rights, Anti-Iraq War…..
Now what? nothin! I see posters for rallies – marriage equality, refugees etc, but I’m no longer attending. I too am tired and after negotiating with my 4 year old all day, I prefer a good comedy over a serious ‘depressing’ film too.
So after this lunch, as I drove home, I thought to myself – what practical things can one do? I mean politicians probably realise the problems too, but it’s very hard to ‘fix’ things. I am a practical person, and these are the ideas I had to remain active, albeit in a different way. You never know, I might start attending rallies again too!
Pick your issue – there are a lot of terrible things going on in this world and it can get very overwhelming. Accept that you can’t fix it all, but pick something that you’re especially passionate about. For me that’s the environment.
Try and find local action groups that you can get involved with. Or just ones you want to be in contact with to see what events, if any they run. There is a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction in getting something done and seeing the fruits of your labour. I think that is where a lot of people get disconnected. They don’t SEE the impacts of their positive actions. I have found that there are so many people and groups through my local Council and community groups that are doing great things, and rather than going it alone and starting from scratch, I try to tap into these existing groups and resources.
Live your life in accordance to your ideals. This is a lot harder than it sounds. It means changing the way you live. Put your money where your mouth is. Don’t just advise or tell others the way it should be done – do it yourself first. If people see that, then they will follow your good example.
Break down the ‘big issue’ into bite size chunks, that way it won’t seem so overwhelming and impossible.
Accept your limitations – whether that is time, finances, whatever it is. You’re less likely to become disengaged if you realise that you only have so many hours or minutes that you can dedicate to your issue.
Share you ideas, ideals and information with your children, family friends and if able, the wider community.
Take care of your health. It is something that we take for granted when we’re healthy. Keep it that way.
Love life and remain positive. It’s very easy to get caught in a negative cycle, but think about the things you have been able to do.
So that’s my checklist. I’d love to hear from anyone with any more ideas and while most of this is not able to be forwarded to the politicians of the world, it is something that I can control in my life and that makes me feel good.