Six months and beyond – Being five without school.

It’s June (Winter) here in New Zealand and we are halfway through our year without school. I have to say it really has been the most extraordinary journey and best decision we have made for Alex and our family. It definitely wasn’t without a lot of worries in the beginning, wondering if we had done the right thing. I know many people would have loved to see me regret it and fail, but we pushed on through the comments and judgment and followed our hearts.

It can be a lonely old time doing life differently, I wanted to write this for parents and caregivers who are looking at delaying school for their child because I understand that lonely feeling. I understand you feel challenged by everyone, from your family, to the person you meet in the park, that asks your child how old they are and instantly says “off to school soon then” when they proudly state they are nearly five years old. You get questioning looks when your child says they are not going to school until they are six, or you get looks of concern that your child is behind in some way. When you are tossing and turning at night wondering if it will all work out, this blog is for you. It’s to highlight the positives of extending your child’s time at Kindergarten and home without the academic and social pressures that school life brings. This is our journey but one that will be similar to all those parents who have gone before us and those that will follow along in all our footsteps.

To change the world, start with one step. However small, the first step is the hardest of all. Dave Mathews

Before we made a decision, I did countless hours of research. Because Alex has never been pushed to learn something I saw that he was developing naturally just as the research stated he would. Homeschoolers and Unschoolers have been on at us for years and we are only now starting to see this research in the mainstream media.

Children are amazing learners, they grasp a concept so quickly when they are ready to learn it. When children are given the freedom of uninterrupted play, learning on their own terms, at their own pace, you will see amazing things happen. You don’t need to teach something before it needs to be taught, because a child will naturally inquire and want to learn in their own time. It just takes patience from the adult to let this happen.

As Alex has grown in the past six months, his confidence has soared. In the past, he was one of those children that would happily plod along in the background, he would let the louder or more confident children talk ahead of him. He is a great thinker and sometimes you may assume that he is off in dreamland, but he is actually taking it all in, this will later be translated through his imaginative and creative play.

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Everyone Wonders about Reading and Writing

It was interesting to read in an article written by an occupational therapist that children are often not developmentally ready for writing or mark making before the age of 5 years and three months going by the (Beery Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (Beery VMI). The article also goes on to talk about how children may learn to write their name at four years of age but this can lead to what’s called a ‘Splinter Skill’. The child doesn’t understand the fundamentals of what they are actually doing apart from copying a familiar picture. Parents do get very excited if their child is writing their name before their 4th Birthday, but by pushing children too early, you may be doing them more harm than good, when frustration starts and they end up disliking something we really want them to enjoy and love.

Around the age of 5 years and 4 months, Alex started to want to write letters and numbers. We have never pushed his letter and number writing and it’s been completely on his own terms. Some evenings he will sit at the kitchen table as I make dinner and ask me to tell him what individual numbers he needs, to write down a large number, such as 1 million 4 hundred and twenty-three. He often writes letters together to form words, sometimes he will ask for me to write something and he will copy and other times he will just write letters and ask what words they make. The same article I mentioned above also talks about how sometimes it can be confusing for children to use upper and lower cases together. This was definitely something that Alex communicated and when he writes letters he will write in capitals, or ask for it to be written in capitals when he copies it. I know that once his brain is ready to unscramble this, it will come naturally.

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I love this quote from the Heart School.

What I most enjoy, is watching Alex’s urges and interests immerge. Because his days are not filled with schedule and bussiness he is able to potter and tinker. He is very interested in the outdoors, hunting and gathering with his Dad. He has an interest in bugs and plants and he is always creating something whether its a hut, a hideout, making something for his bike, wooden rifle, or building random things like a drone. He has a mechanical mind and grasps concepts readily. The urge to transform is seen through everything he does.

I feel quite privileged to see this all unfold as I don’t believe his imagination and inquiry would be at the same level had he been attending school. Free play with loose parts is our philosophy for our children, there are a few other factors that go along with this, but having loose parts available, adding to them when you see the play progress and not having an expectation of where their play is going to take them is such an important part of watching and letting them grow.

With the added time that Alex has been able to spend at home, we have built a great relationship. I feel quite lucky to get to know Alex as a Five-year-old because obviously, it is very different from being four. We have the most amazing conversations about the world and how something works, we can also laugh about farts and poo. He has a day each week with me while Frankie is at in-home care and for me, that is really special.

I feel like this is only an introduction to how wonderful an extra year at home or at Kindergarten can be. No parent will ever regret spending more time with their children. My advice – If you are sitting on the fence about it, do some research to back up your decision, because you will be challenged, A LOT. Find a supportive Kindergarten that is very open to children staying beyond the age of five. This is a huge part of your journey and these teachers may be your biggest supporters. It’s sad but so many Daycares and Kindergartens make a big song and dance about turning five. But really the celebration should be about the child’s next step, not about turning five. Take heed, if we ever really want real change, this is definitely one area that needs changing!

Most importantly though, follow your gut instincts, you will know in your heart if your child is ready to embark on their next journey. Learning isn’t about ticking the ‘milestone’ boxes, it’s about your child following their own path in their own time which is usually different to our adult agendas.

It starts with us – Be the change you want to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi

Becks.

I have some commonly asked questions that I will continue with a follow-up question and answer blog. But for now, if you are wanting to know more or have any questions feel free to ask them in the comment section below.

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Fruit Fingers, a Sugar Bowl and the Kitchen Table

One of my early childhood memories is sitting at the kitchen table in my Nana’s house having morning tea or ‘smoko’ was what we called it then. We would have scones with jam, a homemade biscuit or if we were lucky, a store bought biscuit, my favourites being fruit fingers which looked like little pillows or a fly trap biscuit. I always remember she set the table with jam in a little jam dish, a slice of butter also in a little dish, the sugar bowl with the crocheted cover and milk was always in the milk jug.

I spent a lot of time with my Nana while my Mum and Dad worked on the farm. Nana and I would make the scones each morning, I would sit on the bench next to her so I could see. Nana had one of those old fashion sifters and I was able to sift the flour into the bowl for her and then I would watch her crumb the butter and flour together. At the end, I would make my own little scone.

When my Nana passed away I helped my aunts clean her house. Some of the little items I kept were things like the sugar bowl, a gravy jug she always used at Christmas and when all the family was staying. A spatula I made for her when I was 11 years and other little tidbits that were part of our everyday activities.

Since having children I see the importance of creating these memories for my own two children. It wasn’t until Alex started Kindergarten and that I listened to Kimberley Crisp speak about rituals that I really understood the importance of creating rituals in our everyday. Everyday rituals done with care and love create a feeling of safety for children and in ‘our’ world of busyness, this is so important for them.

These days, life for so many people is always on the run, running from one thing to the next, eating in cars, at the work desk or in front of the tv, screen or while playing on their phone. Many families no longer have together time at the table, many children find it a foreign concept to sit at the table to eat. I really think that many of us have lost the art of sitting together at the table conversing without a screen to distract us.

We have all heard dinner battle stories from parents who can’t get their children to eat or stay at the table. Although I will probably jinx myself by writing this, but by creating a beautiful table, including our children in the preparation and sitting together as a family at dinner time, I can truly say that generally, our evening meals are a really lovely time that we all enjoy together.

The Table Setting:

When we moved into our own home when Alex was just shy of one year old, Mum gave us her old kitchen table. I grew up with this table in our kitchen so it has always been special to me. I love wooden furniture and the blemishes from years of use, I imagine the stories they could tell if only they could speak. As time has gone by we have simplified our dinners to fit with our growing family. This is a time we share our daily news and plans and remember holidays or days at the beach and this seems to be a time that both Alex and Frankie enjoy with us.

Even though our children are young they use adult utensils, plates, and glasses. For my birthday this year, I asked for a new dinner set, the Churchill Blue Willow set which I have always loved, it’s not hidden away just for visitors or birthdays, we use it every day. We have glass water tumblers, (the sturdy cafe water glasses which can handle the odd bump or knock). I like to have a bottle of water at the table so we don’t have to get up to refill from the tap. I find that when you give children something beautiful that they tend to treasure it and take care than if I was to give them a worn plastic cup.

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We serve the food at the table so everyone can choose how much of something they would like. I have never forced my children to eat something they don’t like, one of them is fairly fussy and the other will eat mostly everything, but arguing with a child over not eating a piece of green vegetable is not something we do.

We will generally have flowers on the table and lately candles going into the cooler months. Both Frankie and Alex love having a candle to blow out the end of the evening meal. (While Chris was away in Fiordland recently we had a treat of roasting a marshmallow over the candle each night, it was a good time to think about Dad in the bush and that he would be making his own dinner next to a campfire).

At times I will ask Alex to help set the table with me, Frankie is beginning to join in and do this too, usually by bringing the tomato sauce bottle to the table. I think by getting them to join in and help set the table it helps transition them from their play, too now we are going to be sitting down to eat dinner.

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Modern Table Etiquette

Back when I was young we were taught table etiquette and we especially had to use it at my Grandparents house in Otaki. There was no leaving the table until everyone had finished, placing your knives and forks together when you had finished, no smacking your lips together or talking with your mouth full and definitely no elbows on the table which is something I hadn’t heard again until recently. I mentioned it to Alex one day and now it is something we try to adhere to when sitting at the table together for dinner otherwise a little voice pipes up. We don’t have phones or the TV on while we eat together so then no one is distracted.

Although many people will think this is ‘old-fashioned’, sitting together at the table, having a conversation and using proper table manners is important for children to learn. It also shows them that dinner time or anytime when eating food is a special time that we all have together and in turn, this creates a ritual that will become part of who they are.

Do you sit together as a family for meal times? Do you have any customs or traditions around meal times?

For more of our stories and adventures, check out our Facebook page or Instagram.

Becks

“Hey Mum, they thought I was the Big Bad Wolf”

A little while ago Alex and I were at a local bike track, this track is near the river, overgrown and wild.   There are two bike tracks next to each other, and this day Alex had decided to ride on the overgrown one.     I was sitting on one of the jumps so I could see him but also relax in the sun.     I watched a group of children and adults walking along the track above us and then turn and head down to towards the adjacent bike track.   It’s not often that we would encounter others at this track during the week.

After a while, I heard giggling and screaming and two girls, sticks in hand lept over the large bank at the end of the track and skidded down our side sending out a huge puff of dirt, they were barefoot and completely oblivious to us. It was quite out of the norm so I sat there watching them.    As they reached the bottom they saw Alex riding his bike, he had also noticed the girls and had come to a stop and stood there staring at them.   The girls had then tucked themselves inside the wall of another dirt bank and sat there for a while peeking out and talking.   Within minutes, they jumped up and ran back up the bank, looking back at Alex and glaring at him like he was a monster.

Alex peddled over to me and said he had heard their conversation. “Mum, they said I was the Big Bad Wolf”!

It then struck me as to what I had just witnessed, and that these two girls, were completely absorbed in their imaginative play and game.

I have often pondered that encounter, it made me so incredibly happy that I was able to experience it in all its beauty, but it also made me very sad because it’s not often that you see children so immersed in their imaginative play while outdoors.   When our children are out at parks they are often there for a specific task, be that a walk, a bike ride, to play on the equipment or with toys. These days our parks are not designed for children to go into their own world and imagination.

When you are able to watch children fully immersed in their imaginative play like the girls above, you start to wonder why we as adults are so quick to entertain our children with fun parks, movies, toys, lessons and STUFF.  As adults we seek things that have a learning outcome, falling to the pressures to extend our children’s worlds every second of the day. Do Children have time to play these days?

Going back to sitting on that jump within the dirt bike track, I ask myself some questions.  How many times have we overlooked the two girls running up and down the bank?  How many times have we made a move and interfered with the situation, by talking or telling the story before it unfolded?

In that single moment,  all three children were learning valuable life skills such as problem-solving, coordinating themselves, cooperating and thinking flexibly?  How many times would’ve we just waved it by as “children just playing?”

“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn”        –  O Fred Donaldson

Becks

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Going Against the Grain

Over the past few weeks, my newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram has been flooded with photos of five-year-olds in their slightly too big school uniforms, smiling for the camera as their parents eagerly celebrate their child’s first day of school.

Before I had children I heard a colleague speaking about a friend who was sending their son to a Kindergarten that children ‘Just Played At’.  I remember quite vividly scoffing at the idea and thinking to myself, well I would never do that, why would you disadvantage a child like that.   It’s interesting how much our thinking changes when we have children and what comes naturally to us as parents changes our thoughts and views of the world around us.  However, I do know that many people think exactly like my pre-children thinking.  My hope and dream is that one day that will change.

I’m not going to lie, it’s not been an easy decision to make, even though I am comfortable with our decision that Alex will not start school at five, I am still human and it can be very hard to just switch off from what is “normal”.    Along with the various children on my Facebook feed, it’s been harder to see a number of Alex’s friends heading off to school, although I do have to remember that these children are in fact 6-12 months older than Alex, so we are very lucky that starting school later is quite normal in our lives.

I have been asked many times over if I will change my mind and send Alex to school when he turns five.   I think the hardest part of this is actually explaining myself over and over.  The other difficulty is having to listen to people justify their own choices to send their children to school at five when I think they would have preferred to keep them in Kindergarten.   I actually wonder if many people would choose to wait if there were more Kindergartens that were open and supportive of having children stay on past their fifth birthday.   Although many places say they do allow children to stay on, this is only lip service.    To really be supportive of children staying on after they turn five, there needs to be a culture within the kindergarten that needs to be nurtured, not just some words on a sign or the enrolment booklet.

Thankfully for us, Alex started at a Kindergarten that was fully supportive of children staying until they were six years of age and they encourage this.  At the time he started I wasn’t quite aware that we would go down that road, all I knew is that I wanted Alex to be able to Play in a beautiful and rich natural environment.    I think when people hear about a Kindergarten where children ‘play all day’, they think that the children run ruckus and the teachers sit back in a chair talking and drinking coffee.   This is far from what it is like.

Alex’s teachers are present all the time, they just aren’t crowding the children, commentating on their play, fixing their problems or putting in them up in the tree when they can’t climb it but are desperate to be up there with their friends.

The teachers work at a respectful distance, not too far and are available whenever a child needs support.   They talk to the children like they are real people, not with funny voices and childish words.    Instead of strict routines or low and behold no routines, they have beautiful rituals around morning tea, exercise, and stories at the end of the day.  Birthdays are celebrated with love and care, not fast food and mums trying to outdo each other with cakes and treats.  When the time comes for them to go to school, they don’t graduate in some fake celebration intended for university and training institutes.  The child is celebrated in a way that they know they are ready to fly into life having had these special years of childhood to grow their roots.

Many people will ask “but won’t Alex be disadvantaged with his school learning, how will he learn to count, read and write”.    For us these things are done in our daily lives already.   Alex learns his colours and numbers from play, from spending time with us in the kitchen, in his dad’s shed, with his grandparents, his teachers, his aunt, and uncle, his cousin, and friends.     Through play, building huts, climbing trees, making swords and creations he learns mathematical concepts and physical laws.  Every day he learns information that will be used in school and throughout his life.

He also learns many skills through play that you don’t learn by reading a book or by sitting still on the mat.   Through free play with other children he learns how to communicate, he learns empathy for others, for animals, insects, and plants.    He learns how to self-regulate, he learns about grit and resilence when things don’t always go his way.   He learns that adults in his world can’t and won’t always sweep in and make it better when he is sad or fix it when it is broken and give in when he is angry.

Having an extra year learning all these skills through play and nurturing the roots to make solid foundations is important.  In my opinion at the age of five children are only just starting to secure those roots, why would you stop this and put them in an environment which they are generally just not quite ready for.

Below I have listed some links to articles and further reading in regards to the importance of Play in the early years.  These articles along with many conversations with teachers, fellow parents, professionals and watching my children I was able to make a very informed decision about keeping Alex in Kindergarten.     In this day and age it is to easy to go with the flow of societal norms, sometimes we don’t question something until it’s too late.   By sharing my experiences I hope that I can reach many parents who might be questioning the current schooling systems here in New Zealand and across the world.

Feel free to make contact if you have any questions or feedback.

Becks

Further reading and Podcasts:

Books:

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood. Fred Rodgers

Free to Learn – Peter Gray

The Sacred Urge to Play – Pennie Brownlee and Kimberley Crisp.

Podcasts:

“Research shows that the majority of children are disadvantaged by starting school at age 5 and the children’s brains need them to be physically active as the neuro science shows that movement and learning go together.” – Nathan Mikaere-Wallis

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2595176/what-3-to-7-year-olds-need-to-learn-nathan-mikaere-wallis

https://www.ted.com/speakers/sir_ken_robinson

Facebook Pages to follow:

https://www.facebook.com/KimberleyCrisp.ProfessionalDevelopment/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week

This week is World Breastfeeding Week.   Two years ago when I was pregnant I would not have even begun to imagine that I would be celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in 2017 while still breastfeeding Frankie.  What an amazing feat! Breastfeeding for nearly two years!  I am celebrating because breastfeeding isn’t an easy journey, and these two years haven’t always been picture perfect.   It can be tough, challenging and very tiring but those are all things worth celebrating when you know you have supported a little person through the most important growing years.

(The feature photo is of me with Alex when he would have been roughly eight weeks old.  This is while staying at the beach, Summer 2013, I look very tired!). 

Throughout these two years I have definitely become more pro breastfeeding, but more than that I have become pro breastfeeding education and support.   Sadly there is so much inaccurate information out there, whether is from old school doctors and nurses, outdated Plunket advice or just regurgitated information from other mothers it really needs to stop. Oh, the stories and old wives tales I have heard, it’s not helpful and it is not supportive of mothers and their babies.

Breastfeeding can be hard in this day and age of ‘INSTANT’.  Babies don’t always do instant, they work on their own time and it doesn’t often align with adults schedules.   But in saying that breastfeeding can also be very, very easy and incredibly enjoyable given you have the right support.   Both my children have been different to breastfeed.  Alex was so hungry that he cluster fed for hours in the first weeks, this is one of the things I found very difficult. However we made it through, but I know it would have been easier if I was aware of the support that was out there, and if advice and information given to me before having a baby was more realistic.

 

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Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2016.  Frankie at 10 months.

 

Frankie had a tongue tie that was thankfully noticed while I was in the maternity ward but because it was not suggested that we follow this up and I was not aware of what else I should do, we had some ongoing issues that may have been sorted sooner than the nine months later when we self-referred ourselves to a chiropractor that specialised in newborns and infants.

Over past few years, I have found many online support groups and lactation advice. These groups have been my saviour many times over and I know that they have helped so many other mums out there throughout the western world.  I have also read a number of books that have also helped me understand what is perfectly normal for newborns and young babies and children. (Note that these are not your usual mainstream parenting books)!

So my advice for anyone mum who wants a positive and supportive breastfeeding journey.   Seek the right support.  Don’t read old school or mainstream parenting books, they are not helpful.   Seek out support groups either local or online.  Online groups can be especially good for late at night and when your family may be busy working.  Always follow your gut feelings, if something doesn’t seem right ask for help.

Below are my go to online support pages.

The Milk Meg – Meg is a lactation consultant who blogs about breastfeeding.  She is also the author of the best selling book  Boobin all day Boobin all night.   She has a Facebook page and website site with loads of information.

Pinky McKay – Pinky specializes in gentle parenting styles that honour mothers’ natural instincts to respond to their babies and empower a positive response from infants and toddlers without what Pinky terms ‘normalised abuse’. She says, “babies and toddlers are people too and they deserve empathy and respect, not ‘training’ through techniques such as rigid routines, controlled crying or spanking. This allows children to respond positively to their environment and to develop appropriate boundaries through mutual respect and strong family relationships.”

Grubby Mummy and the Grubby Bubbies – This is a supportive blog and facebook page for breastfeeding and gentle parenting.  Carley also runs a group that is supportive of normalising baby and infant sleep.  This is a safe place for mums who don’t want to sleep train.

The Natural Parenting Magazine – This magazine is the only baby/parenting magazine your will ever need to read.

Breastfeeding Support – La Leche League New Zealand – New Zealand support page.  You will be able to find local groups via this page in your own region.

Breastfeeding Support – La Leche League Hawke’s Bay – La Leche League support group for Hawkes Bay.  This is an active and supportive group and will direct you to the right information.

Happy World Breastfeeding week mums, whether you have breastfed in the past or a still breastfeeding now, let show some support, normalise breastfeeding and keep on Boobin.

To celebrate World Breastfeeding week on Friday and Saturday there will be events across the country for The Big Latch On.   Please check the poster below if you are in Hawkes Bay and Check out your local La Leche League pages for events in your area The Big Latch On.

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Might see you there!

Becks xx

 

When To Start School

About the time I started writing my Kidsplaynz blog, I was also starting on a journey of finding out about alternatives to starting school at five years of age.  The idea of children still starting school at five years has plagued me for so long, and especially since I have discovered the wonderful world of play, loose parts, homeschooling and unschooling.   It’s led me down paths I would have never even thought about; it has made question everything I have previously learnt about learning and it has opened me up to a whole new world of ideas and peoples philosophies.

However, although I have changed and my mind has been opened, I forget that the rest of the world has not and New Zealanders are still very much programmed to think the day our children turn five they should be off to school.  So much so that some children will have their birthday on a Tuesday at Kindergarten and Wednesday they are sitting in the school classroom.  Do parents not think that maybe it would be good to give their children a week off to transition?  As adults, most of us do that when we change jobs or go on maternity leave etc.  It’s a big transition going from usually a very nurturing environment to the school system.

One of the things I have learnt very quickly is that going against society makes others upset.  I have never really been a person to conform, but I think I have always gone about it quietly, I have never made loud statements, or dressed differently, had blue hair, tattoos and piercing that “say hey look at me, I think differently to the rest of you”. So in a way to feel judged all the time or have people think you are judging them because you are going against the grain is a new experience and it gets tiring.  But also it makes me question myself and my beliefs constantly.   Conversations will usually start with someone asking us “What school are you sending Alex to?” and then me saying “I don’t think I will start Alex in school until he is 6 years old” and generally people will give you that look…”Oh, you are one of those people!”   they then quickly go on to say how they could never hold their child back and that they are quite ready for school and how they have been able to say their ABC’s since they were 3.5 and they can write their name backwards, you get where I am going with this.

The thing is I don’t question that Alex would fit into school at 5 years of age and follow along like every other 5 years old.  What I question is, while he would sit in school for 6 hours a day, what is he missing out on?   What is he missing by not being able to play all day at Kindy and what would he be missing out on at home with us his family?   Answering that question makes the decision easier, I know well and truly he will be learning more life skills in an extra year out of school than in school.

 

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Quote – Flow Issue 18

 

I am writing this blog this week because I have cemented my decision in myself, it has been a hard one as you see above, going against the grain of society is way up there, but I found that talking to a few people who have been there and done that and had no regrets, has confirmed that parenting with your heart is alway the best option.

I also wanted to write this in case one other person who reads this is struggling with the idea and is lost and needs to have their thoughts confirmed may do so.

I am fairly blessed to have a supportive family, who I have been able to openly talk through the process, they have read the books and the research, they have asked questions and made me think about the pros and cons.  I have a supportive Kindy environment who encourage parents to keep their children in Kindergarten until they are 6 years of age, so I know Alex will be happy in that environment after his 5th Birthday.

I think as parents and teachers we need to get past the competition and pressure we place on our children in all aspects of life from education to extra curricular activities, learning is not a race nor a competition with the next person.  Learning is a personal journey and one you want your children to enjoy.

Becks

Further reading and Pod casts:

Free to Learn – Peter Gray

The Sacred Urge to Play – Pennie Brownlee and Kimberley Crisp.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2595176/what-3-to-7-year-olds-need-to-learn-nathan-mikaere-wallis

https://www.ted.com/speakers/sir_ken_robinson

 

 

 

One Bag at a Time – Plastic Free July

Today is the Start of Plastic Free July. Yes, another month to give up something!   However, with the effects that plastic is having on our oceans, it’s a really good reason to start using reusable alternatives instead of throw away one-time use plastic items.

Did you know?

‘Every minute, the equivalent of a rubbish truckload of plastic goes into our oceans, it never decomposes and will remain there forever. If nothing changes, by 2050 all the plastic in the ocean could weigh more than all the fish. Plastic impacts on an entire ecosystem, marine life get caught up in it, eat it and live in it. It also has a direct impact on our health, acting as a sponge for toxins which can end up in our food.’  Quote – Ocean Rescue

Next time you are out walking in a park or the beach just take note and see how much rubbish and plastic is just left on the ground or has blown there in the wind.   It really is quite phenomenal.     Now that my children are a little bit older, I made the decision that if I want my grandchildren to enjoy a beautiful planet to explore and have adventures, I really need to start taking some action and reducing my plastic footprint and while I am doing this, hopefully, my children will learn by watching and doing, and it will become normal to them to not use throw away plastic items.

My personal challenge started a month ago when I took on the challenge to stop using plastic bags as part of a competition through a Facebook Page I follow, I thought it would be a good start on Plastic Free July too.  My goal was to start changing the way I shop, thinking about my purchases and making sure I always take my reusable bags.

With a few hiccups along the way I can honestly say my month has gone fairly well, I never set out to be perfect, but to change the way I do things so that it becomes a normal way of life and not something I just did for a few weeks or months.  We really have to change our thinking and that is a process, not something that just happens overnight.

A Few Points To Think About When Going Plastic Bag Free:

  • Get a good stash of reusable bags, the best bags are the ones that can be thrown in the wash when they need a bit of a scrub.  Put them back in the car when you have put away your groceries.
  • Always carry a small reusable bag in your handbag. Then you will never be short of a bag
  • Get some courage, you will be tested.   Plastic Bags are so part of our everyday culture that you have to stand up and say “No Plastic Bag thanks”.   Generally, retailers will pop your items in a bag, even if you just have one item!
  • Ask for meat to be wrapped in newspaper.   Even when using reusable bags, check out staff will still bag your items up in plastic.  You need to ask!
  • Produce Bags – I don’t often buy vegetables and fruit at the supermarket but when I did, I needed produce bags.   I bought some from both Onatah and Rethink Produce Bags online, perfect for potatoes and Kumara, right through to Apples or a Cabbage.
  • Find other ways to reduce your plastic consumption.

 

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Rethink Reusable Fresh Produce Bags

In my opinion, I think the only way we are going to combat this problem is governments and councils need to push going plastic bag free or putting a plastic bag tax on retailers, this would then will be passed on to consumers, this should be made more expensive every year.  Sounds tough, but it needs to be made costly because many people will just keep blindly using plastic bags.

My next challenge is to tackle my coffee addiction and to not use take away coffee cups.  Last week I made a purchase of a Keep Cup – Brew Glass Coffee Cup.   I thought if I was going to use a reusable cup I needed something that I was going to enjoy drinking out of, so a little bit more expensive than your average reusable cup, but well worth it because it is really nice to drink from.  So over the next month, I will be taking on the Coffee Cup Challenge and hopefully, over time it will become normal and just part of my everyday life.

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My Glass KeepCup #salutetheuser

There are plenty of ways you can reduce plastic in your everyday life, it’s just thinking about what you can do differently. Over the next month, I thought I will post some different ideas for making changes and showing you how easy it is to make the switch.  If I can make the switch I know plenty of others can as well.

What do you do to help reduce your plastic footprint, I would love to know your hints, tricks, and ideas. Thanks for reading and if you want to see more of our adventures check out Facebook or Instagram.

Becks ♻️