Me and Wee: Style of Living

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Style of Living

Hi friends!
A while back, I read this article in NY Social Diary about the home set up and philosophies of Lisa Mahar. (She's the owner of Kid-O toy boutique, etc.) Go take a gander if you'd like; as I'm about to discuss it.
Here's a picture of part of her childrens' play room from the article:
ny social diary

So organized and sleek, right?
As Paige grows, I find that I am taking lots of time to think about how I want to set up the house to accomodate her needs; especially now that she's walking. I'm also pondering how to teach her the things she needs to learn...educational kinds of stuff. I'm really trying to get to know her and what will work best for her.

The article I mention above is inspirational for me but not necessarily aspirational. I like how she has pared the toy chaos down to just their favorites and has everything available for them. I also like how she doesn't just give them baby toys to play with, rather, actual materials that adults use. I believe when children are ready they can rise to any occasion with a little guidance. Emphasis on when children are ready. I also believe that children must have the chance to let their imaginations take flight and too much exposure to commercialization can cloud things a bit.
But, I also feel that she takes these ideals to the extreme (and that's fine for her)...I couldn't go so far with all the ideals she discusses in the article. I'm a little more "live and let live" about things when it comes to toys and household set up. I'm a little more "let kids be kids and if they want Elmo then give it to them" (within reason of course). Some of the viewpoints expressed came off as judgmental, snobby, and rigid. That said, I really respect and admire her resolve and that she cares so much about her family. Not enough people have thought any of these issues through to have a viewpoint. Good for her! I found some nuggets of inspiration there in terms of organization of household clutter and chaos as well as future educational experiences.
What did YOU think of the article? Did it inspire you or turn you off? (For me it did a little of both in equal measure).


Kristi said...

i completely agree with you! living with a three year old who does an equal amount of arts and crafts and playing with a dora doll, i can see how easy it is to let her imagination grow and still give her the stuff she wants. some things that lisa takes away from her kids can be beneficial, as long as you do it carefully. for example, some children shows teaches them anything from counting and letters (dora, sesame street) to feelings and emotions (ni hao kai lan). dora and kai lan even teach about different cultures and languages (spanish/chinese). i am a firm believer that too much of a good thing is a bad thing, and that can go with either side.

i might steal this blog idea from you actually, if you dont mind?

Home Sweet Home Place said...

I haven't read the article and I'm sure there are nuggets of good ideas in there like you say. To me however there is no love in that room. It looks sterile. Sterile of fun, sterile of imagination and sterile of passion. Things every kid needs more than a cool, sleek, modern looking room. I agree with you whole heartedly that kids can rise to the occasion when they are ready, too much commercialization is bad, etc and that every kid needs to be a kid. They need to eat dirt, play in the mud, make a mess, etc. We grow up to fast and many kids have the weight of the world on their shoulders as they try to master piano, soccer, AP Physics, etc. Why not let a 5 year old be a 5 year old? And as a mother, why not enjoy your child being JUST a 5 year old?

Sorry if this is harsh. I don't mean to be. I thought you provided a thought invoking blog post. In fact, I'm working on one now called To Barbie or Not to Barbie? As Grace is into everything these days and I'm 7 months pregnant, it's taking me longer and longer to get a post posted! But it's coming! Stay tuned!

Megan said...

I don't think it's harsh at all and I totally agree with you. I have to say, I don't like a totally modern design aesthetic. I like bits of modern design mixed with other can look so sterile otherwise. I DO like how everything has a place and it seems so easy to find things which leaves room for doing art projects and playing. And I agree...there's a sense of not allowing a 5 year old to just be a 5 year old rampant in the media these days. Reading the article, she seems to let him be himself, etc. which is nice. Completely cutting out characters from our culture because they seem "pointless" or "harmful" seems extreme. The fact is, one day her son is going to adopt a role model; isn't it the human condition? But it's all stuff to think about and consider. I'll be interested in your Barbie post!

Tyggereye said...

I think that her home is lovely. I wish I could get to that point, but unfortuately all I see having a 2 1/2 yr old who is not "gentle" is those shells would be toast, those pencils would be spread all over Hades. All I would be doing all day is "putting things in their place". I aspire to get somewhere there in the next few years.

As for her article she came off a little... I don't want to use the wrong adjective, but she I think could have came off a little less extreme. Maybe thats just me though. Or the way the article reads. said...

I've too been debating on the toy issue. Not so much what the article you linked to discussed but more about the types of toys I introduce to my 10 month old. Right now, he seems to be drawn more toward crawling around exploring the house. He opens and closes things, pushes and pulls, stacks and demolishes. While making sure he's safe, we spend most of our time playing with everything except his toys.

I agree with your viewpoint here. There is a fine line we must walk as parents. I do think there are too many kids who are Dora or Thomas the Train obsessed. I don't think either extreme is healthy.

P.S. Someone gave him an Elmo doll that laughs when you shake him. He loves it. And I'm okay with that.

Thanks for the sharing!

Anonymous said...

Turn off. Her house is gorgeous (I'm sure she has a cleaning staff along with her nanny), but there's more to life and having kids then having "perfect" spaces etc.

To each his own, but I happen to like Fisher Price:)


Suzanne said...

I don't know if I should be weighing in since I don't have kids, but I found her to be very pretentious. "I was just reading Charles Darwin to my 5-year old...". Give me a break. I think kids need a certain amount of exposure to pop culture in order to have a common language with their peers. What is this child going to talk to his little preschool friends about? The theory of evolution? I do agree that too much of anything is bad (everything in moderation). Also, I think it is very easy for someone to set up this kind of space when they have unlimited help, money, etc. but it's just not feasible for the majority of us. Do 2 year olds really need a designer table and chairs set? I think most people probably get that stuff at Target!

Meg, you're doing a great job with Paige! I think back when our moms were raising us there weren't all of these books on parenting philosophies and such...they just did what worked and what felt right. Keep doing what you are doing! Make sure she is happy and healthy, those are the important things!

Rambling Renovators said...

I've read that article before and reading it again, now as the mother of a toddler, I have a different perspective. Seeing my daughter evolve over the last few months, I see how freedom to make and learn from her mistakes, to explore, to make a mess, try things out, test boundaries, is so important to her development. So when the mother in the article says things like she takes toys away if the children leave them out (equating the fact they left them out to mean that those toys are unwanted), it strikes me as very rigid, controlling, and unsympathetic. Has she forgotten already what it means to be a child? Sometimes you leave your toy cars lying around because - well, because you just forget to put them away! Children are easily distracted. They get into things and just as easily move onto something else. I would hate to be a child who had to stress about their toys being taken away if they forgot to put them away. Best then to never take out your favourite toys. I would never want my kids to feel like that.

koop said...

While reading the article I thought that she had interesting perspectives on how she was raising and educating her children, granted she seemed somewhat cold and overly strict. However all credibility went out the window after being asked:

"You must spend a lot of time with your children?
I run a business, I work from nine to six, my kids go to bed at seven. I have a nanny on the weekends, I have other help …

So let me get this straight you spend an hour a day with your kids on the weekdays and then have a nanny on the weekends, plus other help?
What these kids need are their parents not some ridged routine that their nanny's implement, where is the father in all of this?
I also found it quite strange that there were no pics of the children in the images?

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