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On having a slow year

As I lay in bed last night listening to the pop of fireworks I thought back to the year that was 2018. Of course, no New Year’s Eve is complete without a reflection back to the events of that year, and usually I write an entry in my diary, processing all that happened and looking forward to the new year with new perspectives and goals.

I didn’t do that this year. In fact, I don’t think I’ve done it for the past few years because… kids (a most convenient excuse for everything I “can’t” do anymore). Instead, my yearly reflection was spurred by watching other people’s IG stories sharing their “best moments” or achievements throughout the year. Welcome to the new age right?

What watching these stories did for me though was ponder on what I myself had achieved through the year. What were my “best moments”? I didn’t travel extensively as others did, I didn’t start a new job, I didn’t complete my degree. We started homeschooling but I struggled to establish a routine or any consistency due to my efforts of juggling three young children, one of whom was breastfeeding for most of the year.

This year, I felt like I was constantly on the cusp of something happening, but I couldn’t quite get there. It was endless days spent overwhelmingly alone at home navigating the world of motherhood and raising my young children. It was me, constantly grappling with myself, my frustrations of not being able to do all the things I wanted to do in the way I envisioned myself doing them and trying to come to terms with my sense of disappointment and ultimately, a sense of failure. It was the year of some hurts settling and easing and making their way out of my heart, to experiencing new griefs and losses. I turned 30 this year, entering a new decade of my life and wondering if I was the person I had envisioned myself to be at this age. It was the year that my children pushed me to question my perceptions of who I was, of what my character was made up of and what my values truly were. Was I a worthy example for my children to imitate? Were my actions reflective of the values I proclaimed I ascribed to? It was a year of constant mistakes… every single day was as full of mistakes as an egg is filled with yolk. I made mistakes up until the very last day of the year…

This year could be described with one word: slow. It was slow, but it dawned on me that it was not stagnant. I may have not taken great strides in a worldly (shareable) sense, but all the struggles I just described have set me on the path of progress. Progress in the form of self actualisation, of inward growth and for the first time in my life, a deep understanding of who I am.

Because staying at home with my three young children grounded me to one physical place which became our battleground, our haven, our fertile plain for growth. Sometimes it may have seemed like we were stagnating in the four walls of our home, unable to step out into the wider world, becoming too comfortable in our safe space, but on the contrary we were breaking comfort zones. Being forced to spend every single minute of every single day together ultimately resulted in a deeper understanding of each other, of our characters, of our weaknesses, of our faults, of our strengths and therefore, of how to love and nurture one another in a way that was sensitive of the other’s unique personality. It forced us (parents AND children) to learn how to put our self aside and prioritise the other.

When day by day I found the reality of life reshaping my former dreams of what life would look like, of what homeschooling would look like, of what I would look like as a parent, even as a person, I felt keenly the paradox of choice and destiny. Of not being the One who has ultimate control. I learnt to recognise signs, to respond to them and allow them to shift my perspectives. And that doing things differently to what I had envisioned was not failure, but a sign of growth, of being flexible and responsive to my reality.

I learnt that navigating loss and grief and hurt demands to be talked about. With the right people. With people who will listen without judgement and offer the right advice at the right time. I learnt that hurt is a prerequisite for growth. It takes time for the lessons after loss, anger and betrayal to be learnt, and therefore, we should afford ourselves that time. Sometimes though, some hurts are so great that we, in our limited capacity as human beings simply cannot understand the wisdom behind that hurt. Such as having a miscarriage, or witnessing practically your entire race be thrown into concentration camps, ahem “re-education camps”.  And sometimes we are not supposed to know the wisdom behind such things. They are beyond our capacity as humans to fathom. We leave it to God, and our faith in Him and His Wisdom carries us through the hurt. I was reminded that hurt is universal. That suffering a miscarriage for example is not unique to one person. Even witnessing the genocide of your people is not unique. And it helps in those times to remember that you are not alone in your suffering. It may not take the hurt away, but not feeling alone in your hurt helps.

And finally, I felt that this was the year that I learnt to stop falling back on excuses and to simply act. If I felt lonely and unable to find a community that I felt comfortable in, then instead of waiting for one to fall in my lap, I should go out and make my own community. Instead of railing at the lack of a village, I should form a village of people around me by making the effort to be in contact and be a support for them. Instead of constantly thinking “I can’t do this or that because of kids etc.” I should do what I can within my confines for my health, for my spirituality, and that ultimately, working on bettering myself as a person will naturally make me a better parent and result in healthy, happy children.

It’s impossible of course to fully explore all that I have learnt this year. And no doubt every year will serve to teach me more with new experiences, losses, hardships and hurts. Before I used to fear future challenges, uncertain of whether I could face them with strength. Now I am comfortable with the idea of meeting challenges, knowing that challenges and mistakes and failures are inevitable, that the lessons to come from them take time, but that ultimately, this is what growth looks like, that having the freedom to experience mistakes and lessons is a treasure in and of itself and that this is living…

If you are scrolling through Instagram watching other people’s highlights of their year and feeling inadequate because you have nothing to share, know that you are not alone. If you have had a great and successful year, hats off to you. I am truly happy for your success and achievements. But know that some years are slow, some years you feel stuck in the same place, seemingly unable to move forward. And that’s ok. It’s a long life (insha Allah) and there will be many many years ahead of you, all different to one another. And sometimes, those “slow” years (that actually whipped right on past and left you behind) are sometimes the years that sow the seeds of true growth and progress.

So that’s the recap of my year. Not exactly something I can share on an IG Stories Highlights Reel, but necessary for me to put on digital paper, so to speak. After all, we do live in the new age right?

 

The List: Islamic Children’s Books

Hi everyone! I know it has been a long long time since I’ve written over here. I’ve been more active over on the Instagram account because let’s be honest, it’s just easier. But, I shared some of my favourite Islamic children’s books over on my stories and decided to follow it up with a blog post with the links to the books included. So here goes, my first proper blog post in months.

There are certain things I think make a great children’s book. It has to be beautifully illustrated, with thought and attention given to the presentation and images that inspire wonder in the child. It should also be well written, either in rhyme or in prose, with words chosen carefully to best relay the intended message to the child.

Here are some Islamic books that I think meet such standards and that my children have enjoyed…

  1. The Boy and the Owl by Siraj Mowjood & Aisha Changezi

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This book is a staple for the Muslim home. It explores the basics of our creed (Aqeedah) through a story and beautiful illustrations. The wording is simple and concise and it ends  with a profound message. Available here.

2. Montmorency’s Book of Rhymes by T. J. Winter & Anne Yvonne Gilbert

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Written by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, this collection of nursery rhymes range from playful stories and silly rhymes to poignant reminders and short stories which aim to teach children about basic vices such as greed and obstinance. Available here.

3. Painting Heaven: Polishing the Mirror of the Heart by Demi Hunt & Coleman Barks

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Drawing on Imam Al-Ghazzali’s “Marvels of the Heart” this book explores what is required to purify the heart through a story and accompanied by Demi’s characteristic illustrations. My children are always left in awe when we read this book, and I think its one that is just as relevant to the adults too. Available here.

4. Muhammad (pbuh) by Demi

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No list of Islamic children’s books is complete with a biography of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This one by Demi is my favourite for its stunning illustrations of course, but also for its narration of the main events in the Prophet’s (pbuh)  life. Available here.

5. The Genius of Islam by Bryn Barnard 

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This one is a non-fiction text that explores the major contributions and inventions that stem from Muslims. I’d say its aimed at older children, but the illustrations and facts can dazzle younger children as well. Available here.

6. Golden domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan

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This one ticks all the boxes for me. The illustrations are stunning and the premise of the book simple and accessible. Available here.

7. Ramadan Moon by Na’ima Roberts

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We take this book out every Ramadan (with numerous readings beforehand) and the girls just love every page. In a time when we lack community and therefore exposure to Islamic customs in real time, such books aid to fill that void. Available here.

8. It’s Ramadan, Curious George by Hena Khan

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Universally loved Curious George goes on a Ramadan adventure. It’s fantastic for the kids to see a well-known character engaging in Ramadan activities as well. Available here.

9. The 99 Names of God by Daniel Thomas Dyer

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A recent favourite of ours, this book goes through each of the 99 names of God through activities, stories and illustrations. As part of our homeschooling program we are currently going through each name, creating an illustration of a sign of the name and reflecting on how we can see His Name present around us. Available here.

10. TURKISH BOOK “Daha da küçükler için allah’ı merak ediyorum”

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This is a Turkish book, but it is so good that I had to share it with you all. If you are Turkish, then this series is a must in the home. It explores difficult concepts related to Allah (Swt) through narrative. The stories are beautifully written and convey the message clearly. Not sure if this site delivers internationally but it seems to be available here.

I’m sure there are plenty more books out there, so if you know any please do share them in the comments below.

Our Ramadan set-up

We are very excited about Ramadan this year, simply because we are more prepared than ever before, and yet we still have a million things to do, so that should give you an indication of how NOT prepared we were in previous years.

To be honest, it is REALLY hard to prepare everything for Ramadan. Making sure the house is in order, cleaning out the fridge and pantry, meal planning for THIRTY DAYS, doing the grocery shopping, organising activities for the kids… phew…

And that’s just the physical, tangible, material things.

Ramadan is supposed to be about the spiritual… and let me tell you, I am definitely not spiritually prepared. But I am looking forward to making the time to work on it this Ramadan day because boy, do I need this opportunity.

So, let’s dive straight into the Ramadan set-up for the kids this year. I knew that I wanted to keep things neutral with pops of gold and black, with wooden elements. Because obviously it still needs to match my home right???? I also wanted to incorporate the house bookshelf we purchased recently, which we’ve designated as our ‘seasons’ set up (kind of a Waldorf inspired thing). I had to source a new Ramadan calendar, and although I really wanted to purchase one from Handmade beginnings, I didn’t get onto it in time and totally missed out. So instead, I DIY-ed this one with drawstring bags (which I very fortuitously found at Typo for $1 each, and the money goes to charity, sooo they were PERFECT) attached by fishing wire to a branch (which we used for our calendar last year). I still need to fill it up with gifts and activities, but I’ve got “daily good deed cards” in there from And then she said. I’ve been following Pepper and Pine on Instagram/Youtube and watched her “20 Candy free ideas for a Ramadan Calendar” post. I’m totally inspired to pop some seeds in every second one and having the children plant them in one big pot so that over the course of Ramadan they can see the seeds grow. They’ll be responsible for watering them and nurturing them, a great metaphor I think for what we do in Ramadan, which is to nourish our souls and connection to Allah (swt).

The Tent. Oh how much I love that tent. I really wanted an Itikaf tent, or a “Reflection Tent” and was thinking of DIY-ing it. And then I remembered how much I suck at DIY projects, especially ones on a bigger scale and I went and bought this one from Mocka instead. It was more affordable than other teepees on the internet and very easy to set up. Plus that “natural” colour was perfect. I added the string lights (from Kmart) and it’s just magical…

In the house bookcase there are a lot of books related to Ramadan. I don’t have the time to list them all now, but I’ll update this post in the next few days with the complete list. And finally of course, there is the Play Masjid from ZedandQ, which we all love.

All in all, the kids and I are very happy with the whole set up. I worked on it bit by bit over two weeks, mostly with things we already had at home, except for the tent and the calendar. I’m most pleased with the calendar, as I know that this is a design I can use year after year, until we feel the need to upgrade it. And the teepee is something we can continue to use after Ramadan. The kids are incredibly excited about Ramadan through all this preparation and I’m looking forward to a month of learning, reading and reflection all done in the spirit of togetherness.

How are you preparing for Ramadan? Do your kids get involved with the preparations? Do you think that this kind of set-up is overkill (lol)? If you are not Muslim, what kind of things do you prepare to involve your kids in religious celebrations?

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Mother’s Day Art Prints

We’ve been working on setting up an Etsy shop over here, and the first thing we’ve stocked are some beautiful digital downloads for Mother’s Day, which is this Sunday. So without further ado, here they are!

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A third will be added later this evening, so keep an eye out for it. We were inspired to make these for Mother’s Day and wanted to incorporate quotes that we loved. The first is from J.Piers, and the second is a Hadith (a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad). We think these prints are a perfect accompaniment to a Mother’s Day present.

So head on over to our Etsy store and get downloading!

ALL the thoughts we have about Instagram

A few nights ago I posted on my Instagram stories a few thoughts about the social media platform and the issues around the sponsorship/influencer aspect of it.

Turns out, A LOT of you had A LOT of thoughts about it as well, so I decided to collate those thoughts into one blog post.

In the past few days I’ve been reflecting on it, and looking to other influencer’s opinions (and defences) of what they do, so I’ll add that on here as well.

So here goes…

Influencers and sponsored posts made followers question their sincerity… 

Practically everyone who took the time to engage in this conversation spoke of how frustrated they were when an Instagrammer that they really liked (because of engaging content) suddenly started making every second post a sponsored post. Many commented on how insidious it could be, they didn’t even realise it was a sponsored post until they looked at the hashtags, or they were following along on an IG story and the end of it was neatly wrapped up with a link to a product/service etc. Everyone said that this made them unfollow the account and that it made them feel heartbroken, frustrated and upset. It appeared that many felt they’d been betrayed by a “genuine” Instagrammer, and now all the sponsored posts put this into question. How sincere can one be when they are being paid to push a product? Can we really trust that the influencer genuinely likes the product and would use it themselves had it not been for the money? Many believed it was almost impossible to have sincerity where money/sponsorship was involved. Are we expecting too much from influencers? Shouldn’t we just accept that this is a reality, and that maybe influencers with lots of followers should be entitled to sponsors and freebies?

I don’t know. Sometimes I see parent/family influencers literally take sponsored HOLIDAYS. It actually makes me feel sick to see it. That they have no qualms with being made into marketing tools, and taking their kids along for the ride. And these are families/parents that I actually liked! That I thought were genuine! Whose sincerity I trusted in! Does the fault lie with me though for trusting an online figure in the first place? Maybe the issue is that the basis by which many of these influencers accrue followers is by being “genuine”. By being “real”. By being “honest” about their lives and struggles and so on. So is it really my fault for trusting in them? IS IT?

UGH.

Despite this, a lot of people also acknowledged that Instagram allowed them to find great products that they never would have found without it. So maybe what we need are influencers who are ACTUALLY GENUINE. Who have a strong sense of self and dedication to their values and who sincerely want to share a fantastic and beneficial product with their followers (is this like, hopelessly idealistic/unrealistic/impossible?) This leads us to the next big idea which is that…

Businesses benefit greatly from giving freebies and doing sponsored posts…

Both big and small businesses seem to benefit hugely from giving a freebie to an influencer. It seems to come with the expectation/assumption that a freebie would be shared on the influencer’s page in some way. Many small businesses expressed that it was an important element of their marketing and that it had made a drastic impact on their brand reach and therefore, sales. One particular business owner expressed frustration with Instagram in general (in terms of how time consuming it can be), but conceded that it had given her business the exposure it needed, that sales increased, and that this gave her the opportunity to employ refugees, many of them widows. A free product given to an influencer can make all the difference for a small business and therefore, the employees’ lives.

There were some small businesses who did express uncertainty about how to navigate this new form of marketing, and how they could do it with sincerity, without offending influencers when asking them to do a review of their products, or a sponsored post and so on.

And speaking of benefit to people’s lives, influencers themselves spoke up… 

Influencers expressed the quagmire that sponsored posts and freebies left them in, in terms of businesses preferring to throw a free product at an influencer rather than actually paying them for a post. A lot of time, effort, creativity and skill is invested in producing one image to put on Instagram and influencers were frustrated that (particularly big) businesses did not acknowledge this, nor did they think it was worth paying for. What made it even worse was that these same businesses would then use these images (featuring their products) in their own marketing without asking for permission from the influencer/photographer, or paying them for it.

Despite this, influencers made sure to assert that this platform had given them incredible opportunities to connect with businesses and opportunities that they otherwise could not have come across, and that it gave them an opportunity to use their creativity to support themselves and their families financially.

They did acknowledge though that many, many influencers were not genuine. That the reason why businesses felt that they could simply throw a product at them without having to actually pay for what is effectively advertising, was because for every influencer who asserts their right to get paid fairly, there are ten other influencers willing to take the freebie and feature it on their accounts, whether or not they genuinely liked the product.

Influencers also wanted people to stop criticising Instagram because…

One particular influencer that I follow myself shared an article about the need for people to stop slagging off Instagram (I can’t for the life of me find it anymore) because it was a unique way for creatives to be well, creative! She discussed how it pushed her to see and appreciate the beauty in their everyday lives, and more so, to be able to see and create a story through their photographs. She didn’t agree that capturing it in a photograph and sharing it hindered her ability to appreciate this beauty, and the moment. In fact, she felt that having that intention to share and capture was what made her see the beauty and the running threads between them.

To some extent I do agree. Since I’ve been on Instagram I have felt that opportunity to flex my creative muscles, and the joy in creating a story that was visually appealing but also added value to others’ lives. But I also believe that it comes at a cost. It drains your time and mental energy. And whenever I pick up my phone/camera to capture a moment I am reminded of that scene in the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” where the photographer (Sean O’Connell) spies a snow leopard (which is a feat because they are very rare) and rather than capture it with his camera, he simple watches it. When Ben Stiller’s (Walter Mitty) character asks in disbelief why?!! he didn’t take the picture, the photographer replies:

“Sean O’Connell: Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
Walter Mitty: Stay in it?
Sean O’Connell: Yeah. Right there. Right here… Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.”

Like, whoa. Right? Sometimes I think a moment needs to reside only in our memories, and not in a photograph. The magic of that moment is felt fully and completely, and when our children ask about them later (like the moment they were born) we can relate it to them orally, and allow their imaginations to fill in the gaps. Isn’t that more beautiful then simply handing over a photograph?

What some people mentioned was the impact of all this on the younger generation… 

I think that thus far though, the demographic we are talking about are 25 and over, adults who hadn’t grown up with Instagram, and were generally more mature and had more clarity as to why they used Instagram and what they wanted from it, whether that be the sense of community and connection that it can (and does) provide, to finding great/beneficial products for themselves and their families, and even getting educational/self-help/health/food etc ideas and inspiration.

And how they believed that growing up in this world of insidious marketing and photoshopped lives depicting unrealistic lifestyles and people and physical appearance and material wealth was having a catastrophic impact on our youth. Growing up with something like social media is having a crippling effect on young people whose lives are governed by what people think of them, and the image they present to their peers, along with FOMO, cyber bullying and so on. Constantly having these images of unattainable perfection is creating a crisis amongst our youth, and many studies show that since the creation of Facebook, depression amongst our youth has escalated (this is backed by stats).

Ultimately it is a difficult and messy web to untangle. I myself have tried multiple times to let it go, to delete the app, to stop using it. I’ve shared my struggles on social media. I’ve discussed it with family and friends and other influencers. I’ve read all the analyses of the social, physical, biological, spiritual impacts of social media use on us. And I wholeheartedly agree with them.

Each time I take a break from it however I must admit that I begin to feel lonely. Not to mention that it has afforded me personally connections with some incredible people, people I would not have met if not for instagram. More than this though, it has given me to opportunity to reach out and connect with anyone, everyone, mothers, women, youths, and be able to ruminate about life’s challenges and positives, and to even impact them in some way. Positively I’d hope 🙂

So my conclusion essentially is that, I have no answer to this social media mess. In some way I think that it has just become a part of our lives, that this IS what the future looks like so maybe we need to learn the best way to navigate our way through it, that we need to take it back into our own hands and do with it what we want, in the way we want, and for the right reasons, to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

That’s the idealistic part of my thoughts.

Then there’s the cynical/realistic side that thinks maybe it’s just too much of a monster where the harm far outweighs the benefit and we should just stop using it altogether to assert how unhappy we are with it. And to find other better, more real ways to connect with people and make a true impact on their lives.

So, I’m putting it to you… what do you think? Where are you at in terms of how you navigate social media?

Featured image via Andrei Lacatusu

Beautiful & educational posters for the kids

We love posters for kids that function on two levels, they are educational as well as being beautiful art. Creating a home environment for our children that is beautiful and not garish aids in their upbringing, as it teaches them to also appreciate and value beauty.

Here’s a selection of our favourite posters. Check out the other products these great businesses create as well…

  1. Kate Dolamore Insects posteril_570xN.1223125735_oaz1
  2. We are Squared has a range of beautiful but simple posters. Our favourite is the “Know the Solar System” poster. squared_solar_1024x1024
  3. BLINK colours wall chart is next on my wishlist for the kids’ playroom Colours_chart_1_e8d3bff2-2e8e-458a-a50c-7c14971380b1_grande

 

4. Love Mae Dinosaurs Poster

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5. Handmade beginnings Arabic Letters wall hanging

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6. Love Mae Alphabet Poster

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Featured image via Cup of Jo

A birthday present idea for your MIL

It was my mother-in-law’s birthday recently so I put this gift basket of self-care items together for her. It was easy to put together, the process was enjoyable and the end result, quite lovely.

The photos aren’t styled the best as I had to capture this quickly because three kids + had to head to the birthday dinner + trying to get ready + real life isn’t perfectly styled, BUT! it captures the process well enough.

So here goes…

What you need:

Medium/Large sized basket

Various gifts that the MIL will love. I chose self-care items that she could easily use, a baking book (because she loves baking), some beautiful V&A gardening gloves and a calendar/organiser for next year.

Two sheets of cellophane

Newspaper

Ribbon

Faux flower

How to put it together: 

  1. Gather the contents to fill a medium-large sized basket. If you’re going to do this, go big or go home 😀 I got every single item from one store so that I didn’t have to run around curating them from various shops because let’s be real, ain’t nobody got time for that.

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2. Grab basket. I got mine from Target.

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3. Fill the bottom of the basket with newspaper.

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4. Place cellophane in the basket. It was biodegradable folks, don’t shoot me for using plastic. Sometimes the plastic is necessary.

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5. Arrange items in the basket with the biggest items at the back and work your way forward with the smallest items at the front. Throw in a faux flower for extra prettiness.

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6. Place a second cellophane sheet over the top and secure to the basket by tying a ribbon around the front, like so. And voila! You have a beautiful gift basket, with hand-picked items especially for the MIL. It’s bound to earn you brownie points 🙂

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Why conscious consumption is a lie

Off the back of Black Friday, which was incredibly stressful (anyone else feel that it stressed them out?), with every single business handing out discounts like drugs at a concert, even the ethical ones, I’ve come to a realisation about purchasing ethical, organic and sustainable.

If an alternative that ticks all the above boxes exists, I want it. I convince myself that I totally need it, even the ethically made organic wooden plane toy that my son does not give a toss about and will literally throw onto the floor because he’s only 11 months old and cares more for opening every drawer in my kitchen to give me a heart attack over the safety of his fingers.

My daughters’ room is starting to look cluttered again after I decluttered it a few months ago because I purchased them dolls from Vinnies (which they have forgotten all about as they sit perched up on a wicker doll’s chair because wicker/rattan is #trending right now and of course I need it so their room looks Insta-worthy) and ethically made girl’s dresses in pretty florals are taking up space in their closets. And on their floor. And on their beds.

I got my keep cups in my kitchen cupboards, and my glass drink bottles to use instead of buying plastic bottles (but I keep buying bottled water whilst out because I keep forgetting to take the glass drink bottle with me).

With all this spending, I’ve had an epiphany, also aided by watching depressing apocalyptic videos of 50% of the world’s animals going extinct and how our children are basically facing a future of wars over food, land, water, ALL THE NECESSITIES OF SURVIVAL AND FML WHY DID I HAVE THREE KIDS?!! and the fact that my house is being cluttered by stuff all over again and I feel guilty every time the postman delivers something to my door and my HUSBAND IS HOME AND IS TOTALLY JUDGING ME as I try to justify the eco-friendly, ethical, organic purchase I’ve just made for the 100th time…

You guys, we’re all being jibbed. Conscious consumption is a lie.

There.

I said it.

It’s a lie because it is still based on consuming. It still requires us to keep spending on stuff. Stuff we don’t actually need. Stuff that is actually very expensive.

This article here argues why conscious consumption is failing. It also outlines what we can do instead.

And the solution is brilliant.

In short, spend your money on supporting organisations, politicians and movements that are trying to make the big changes. Changes in the way businesses trade, and use resources.

It also suggests that we should be giving our time to volunteering, rather than giving our money to companies “who are getting it right”.

Personally, I think it is still important to make ethical buying decisions, where you can.

But I have the increasing sense that what we need more than seeking out these ethical companies to purchase from, is a shift in our paradigms. We need to tackle our consumerist mind frames, our need, our urges, our desire to spend, to buy new things, to accumulate things, before we start seeking out ethical companies to purchase things from.

And most importantly, we need to recognise that giving our time in service, in volunteering and in activism is the most effective way to make our voices heard.

We need to make our voices heard in a way that goes beyond the constrains of money, because let’s face it, this is about the future of our children and our children are worth the struggle to change our consumerist paradigms… aren’t they?

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Photos by Z by Zahrah. Not to be used without permission.

Four great children’s books

What makes a great children’s book?

To me, it needs beautiful illustrations, an engaging story, fantastical facts and interactive activities.

I picked up the following four books recently which have all of the above and they have been on high rotation with the girls lately…

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“Women who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, adventurers & rebels” 

This one had me at the title. It’s the second book I’ve bought for the girls about women who have dared to achieve their dreams. We haven’t gotten through it yet, but we have loved reading stories of strong and courageous women, and the illustrations are just lovely.

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Day of the Dinosaurs

My daughters are obsessed with dinsaurs, thanks in part to watching marathon sessions of Dinosaur Train whilst I clean the house, or put baby to sleep. I love how this book is interactive, jam-packed with facts and beautifully illustrated.

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Nature’s Day: Out and About

To be honest, I picked this one up because of the pretty front cover. Don’t judge a book by its cover? I’d have to disagree in this instance. Once we brought it home and opened it up, I realised just how brilliant this book is. It’s a companion to the book “Nature’s Day”, which we happen to have… in Turkish… we bought it from Turkey whilst holidaying there last year.

This one takes the reader through each season and has colouring pages, activities and craft ideas. A must for every child. Seriously.

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The Anti-Boredom Book of Brilliant Outdoor Things to Do

I think the title sums this one up.

It. Is. Brilliant.

My kids have been making paper planes, and paper frisbees, and… that’s all we’ve done so far lol. BUT! There are some solid ideas for outdoor activities, for all ages.

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What do you think makes a great children’s book? Which books are on high rotation at your house?