The Purpose of Childhood

What is the purpose of childhood?

It’s an interesting question and, counterintuitively, one that us parents sometimes forget to ask. Sure, we ask questions centered around our purpose as parents — and those are incredibly important to think about — but the kid-centric question is equally important.

From an evolutionary standpoint, human beings have exceptionally long childhoods.  Most species on Planet Earth accelerate to adulthood within a matter of a few short years (or less), but not so for us humans.

Instead, human children remain children for prolonged periods, dependent upon their loving families to nurture them during the baby, toddler, youth, and adolescent years. Our relationship with our children undergoes a profound metamorphosis several times over the course of two decades. We adjust our parenting to meet the growing needs, and independence, of our children.

But again, what is the purpose of this prolonged childhood? Its very length denotes its importance and, yet, we often feel the temptation to race ahead, to accelerate our kids on the path to adulthood. And certainly, one of our roles as parents is to prepare our kids for adulthood. 

But, in our view, this role requires a patient reverence for childhood and an embrace of its slow pace. We believe the purpose of childhood is to play; to create; to experiment and take risks within reason and without judgment; to let curiosity spark learning; to test the boundaries of our children’s will, hearts, and minds.

These purposeful pieces of childhood, we hope, will allow our kids to grow in confidence, in compassion, and in love. Rather than short-changing childhood, we lean into it, trust it, and cherish its length.

Because, someday, our kids will be adults. The strong roots of their extended childhood will enable them stand upright in the face of life’s storms; to be strong, resilient, and adaptable during life’s unpredictable journey; and to shine and contribute confidently to this beautiful world.

Embracing the Natural Pace of Childhood

For a long stretch, whenever you gave our little boy crayons or colored pencils, he’d busy himself drawing designs. Multi-colored, layered, creative designs.

Meanwhile, if you gave his twin sister crayons or colored pencils, she was likely to draw whatever she saw in the world — a smiling face, clouds, flowers, rainbows.

And then, seemingly overnight, our little boy started drawing rocket ships with intricate details, fire jetting out the back, control panels onboard, a moon in the distance. Faces emerged next for him — smiley faces, silly faces. And yes, he still draws designs too.

Evolving and maturing at his own pace, our little boy is unearthing his own unique mode of artistic expression. We never told him to draw a rocket, and we certainly did not pick the day when he jumped from designs to detailed rocket ships. That was up to him. As it should be.

As parents, we joyfully await these leaps, when we see our children maturing before our eyes, learning new skills, testing new boundaries, seemingly all of the sudden.

But these leaps happen in their own time. They cannot be demanded. For kids, there is no command performance.

We provide the loving environment for our children to grow, but like Mother Nature’s nurturing of a springtime flower, we cannot force this sudden burst of becoming. By holding childhood in reverence, we trust that each child’s journey of self-discovery and consciousness will unfold in its own time.

In Waldorf classrooms, teachers practice “holding the question”— that is, holding off on definitively answering the question: “who is this child?” Rather than labeling individual children as the “smart kid,” the “athlete,” the “mischievous kid,” the “artist,” and so on, Waldorf philosophy counsels its educators against putting kids into a defined box too soon.

As parents, we desperately want to answer this question. We lay awake at night, dreaming about who our children will become, dreaming about our adventures together, dreaming about their role in this world. We can dream, of course, but we must also be patient and flexible in our dreams.

Our children will surprise us in ways we cannot foresee, in ways big and small.

For now, it’s enough that our little boy loves to draw designs and rocket ships. He’ll share his next leap when he’s ready. We’ll be waiting, patiently and lovingly. 

winter shipping break

Our shop is on a winter shipping break through January 2nd, as we take a chance to soak up the goodness of the holidays with our family.  So what does that mean for you all?

USPS First-Class/Standard shipping is on us for all domestic orders during placed during our shipping break (December 21 - January 2).  All U.S. orders will ship out, via USPS First-Class/Standard, on January 3.

And for our international friends, you'll save $5.00 off of your usual shipping costs during the winter shipping break too. A little something for everyone.

To save on shipping during this break, use promo code: HOLIDAY

We hope you and yours are enjoying the holiday season too!  And good news — we're also working on a restock of our thermal long johns in windmill prints, to be released in January…so stay tuned!

With gratitude,

Sarah & JP (Co-Founders)

The Spontaneous Joy of Play

“Will you play with me?” It’s perhaps the most quintessential question of childhood. And it’s the question our little boy asked his uncle during a recent family gathering. 

“Sure! What do you want to play?” came the reply.

An expression spread over our little guy’s face, as if to say, “Oh, wow, I have no idea. I hadn’t got that far yet.” After a pause, he said, “Just run around and play!”

And so they did. Our little girl joined in the fun too, as their uncle chased our kids with bursts of laughter ensuing. Evidently, they decided to roam around and mimic the roars of prehistoric animals, including sabertooth cats and woolly mammoths. They loved every second of it.

Watching my kids chase their uncle, it struck me: this joy just happened spontaneously. It was not planned, researched, or analyzed. It just started with a simple decision: let’s play.

Kids don’t feel the need to have all the answers. Life washes over them, and joy flows naturally.

As grownups, we sometimes forget the wisdom of our youth. We fall into the trap of thinking that, for life to be fruitful, we must plan every hour of every day. Our overreaching minds tell us that we must have all the answers before taking the first step.

To a certain degree, we are right. We have to plan for work and home responsibilities. After all, dinner has never prepared itself.

But we can also embrace the wisdom of our children too. There are moments, everyday, when we can simply play, when we can embrace the present without knowing the future, when we can take the first step in a journey without a specific destination in mind.

If only for a few moments, we too can discover the joy and freedom that our children cherish.

summer shipping break

Our shop is on a summer shipping break through August 14th, as we take a chance to soak up the goodness of summer with our family.  So what does that mean for you all?

USPS First-Class/Standard shipping is on us for all domestic orders during placed during our shipping break (August 7-14).  All U.S. orders will ship out, via USPS First-Class/Standard, on August 15.

And for our international friends, you'll save $5.00 off of your usual shipping costs during the summer shipping break too. A little something for everyone.

There's no promo code necessary (the shipping costs are zeroed out for our US customers and discounted for our international customers at checkout).

Hope you and yours are enjoying the summer too!  Oh, and stay tuned...we're also working on some new styles, including our thermal long johns, to be released this Fall!

With gratitude,

Sarah & JP (Co-Founders)

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Our tradition the past 3 years has been to celebrate the start of spring with our naturally dyed flower imprinted Easter eggs. There's something to be said when you can appreciate each step of the process just as much as the end result. From the gathering of the first blooms in our yard, to the tying of the eggs, to the fishing out from the dye baths- each step generates so many "ohhh it's so beautiful!"s and "oh my goodness how precious!"s, reminding me to find comfort and contentment in this sweet journey of life. I thought I'd share our process for making ours in case you have yet to make your springtime eggs!

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What You Need:

-  12-18 hard-boiled eggs (for instructions on hard boiling, here's a basic recipe!)
-  old pantyhose (finally found a use for those old things in the back of your drawer!)
-  string
-  small fresh flowers and leaves
-  vegetables for dyes (I used beets and red cabbage)
-  white vinegar

Instructions:

-  Prepare hard boil eggs and cut the old pantyhose into approximately 4 inch pieces. Since the whole process of flower imprinted eggs can be a bit more time consuming, I try and prep what I can without the kids so that when they are ready to dive in, I can have the materials all ready to go. This is an easy step that I can do the night before.
-  Collect small flowers and leaves. This is one of my 5 year old twins' favorite part. We love walking our yard together and seeing what is popping up, and it's a little celebration of spring in itself. Usually not much is blooming yet, but the tiny flowers we find are just the perfect size for the eggs. Fern-shaped leaves also turn out beautifully.
-  Prepare dye baths. Since the wrapping of the eggs can take a bit of time, I always get the dye baths going so they can boil while we wrap. I used this tutorial for preparing the dyes.

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-  While the dye baths are boiling, we wrap our eggs. The actual wrapping is difficult for children, so they help me with picking what they want to put on the egg and laying it on for me. Most flowers we put face down as it is easier to get flat that way.
-  I then take a piece of the nylons and stretch it across the top of the flower and it press down and around the egg and gather it all in the back and twist it. Now that my kids know how to tie knots, they help me take the string and wrap it around tightly in the back while I hold the pantyhose in place (so I don't have to use my teeth to help me anymore to do it all myself ;)

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-  Enjoy the beauty of the flower pressed eggs in itself while the dye baths cool to room temperature :)

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-  Slowly drop the eggs into the dye bath jars. Usually, I keep it simple with just two dye colors. And in a 3rd jar I mix the two colors together to see what happens! Refrigerate until desired color is reached- we soaked ours overnight. This also teaches delayed gratification since you have to wait quite a bit!

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-  Fish out the eggs with a spoon and carefully cut the nylons open and remove from egg. Gently pat dry with a cloth and enjoy each unwrapping as your children squeal in delight!

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The left ones were the beet and red cabbage dyes mixed- I expected them to turn more purple-y but perhaps I had more cabbage dye than beet! The middle ones were the red cabbage and were my favorite. The right were the ones soaked in the beet dye, which didn't come out as intensely pink as they had in years past but I love the subtle nature of them!

Thanks to Michelle @danceypantsdisco for inspiring me years ago to try this with my kids. I love that it is now our own little tradition.

A Day Without Being Plugged In

It’s only by keeping a distance from the world that I can begin to see its proportions and begin to try to sift the essential from the fleeting. I feel that so many of us now have the sensation of standing about two inches away from this very crowded, noisy, constantly shifting big screen, and that screen is our lives. It’s only by stepping back that we can see what the screen is communicating.” - Pico Iyer, on his TedTalk "The Art of Stillness.”

This past Sunday, we tried something new. From sunup to sundown, we treated our iPhones as, well, just phones and nothing else. We did not check email, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or browse the Internet.

At first, it felt a little strange not to wake up in the morning, check email, check the news, check the weather, and check social media. As the morning wore on, we both felt the urge to unlock our iPhones and “connect” with the digital world out there.

But then, something unexpected happened. As the day continued, our desire to check our iPhones began to fade. We felt liberated from being plugged in. We didn’t sneak away to check email, monitor new orders coming in, or see what’s happening politically.

At the end of the day, I suspected that I would be excited to catch up on the day’s news and reengage in social media. But truth be told, my urge to plug back-in diminished as nighttime approached.

In our own small way, we practiced what Pico Iyer would call the “art of stillness,” helping us to re-focus our attention and re-establish our intentions by taking a break. We chatted with friends after church while our kids played on the playground; we sat around a gathered table as a family to enjoy a good meal; and we just slowed down—a refresh we needed as we headed into the week.

Importantly, we discovered that just one day is enough to start disrupting unconscious habits and impulses to check our phones. As a small business, we rely upon technology—and heavily on our iPhones—to connect with mamas and papas around the world. We are grateful for this digital community, which has even blossomed into friendships outside the digital realm.

We do not want to disengage from technology. Rather, we want to engage in our digital lives more deliberately. To us, it’s just as important to step back, if only for a day, to help us re-focus on the truth, beauty, and goodness all around us.