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Socialising for the under age

Posted by Mum About Town
Mum About Town
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on Monday, 21 September 2015
As London Fashion Week rears its pointed toe, most of us in the digital fashion world will have our cameras and iphones at the ready in every effort to snap, post and share those most likable instagram pictures. But is our world in squares, along with the other social platforms, a suitable place for our Smalls to play? When, where, how and WHY I'm asked repeatedly – perhaps because my day job – should we allow the underage into our mindless playground?

But it's not as easy as that. In fact, it's a debatable topic that none of us are knowledgeable enough to give any proper advice on. Many of us can see the advantage of children understanding how social media works and there is always the argument that – by denying access – you are over hyping it and therefore provoking the naughties to go behind your back... perahps one dark day.

The truth is that a great deal of what's out there being shared by closed communities (those with privacy settings) is harmless and therefore very dull for the Under 13s (the recommended age). But there are of course those ugly bits. From what I hear, children mostly stumble across these on YouTube and mine have been given this strict advice: if it's horrid, turn it off immediately and tell an adult.

For better or for worse, my Mini loves Instagram. She loved scrolling through my feed for more than a year before I conceded (read: fought Him) and allowed her to open her own account. With 20 followers and a passion for taking and editing her photos, it all feels pretty harmless. My logic is that when the rest of her peers are allowed access, she'll behave like a normal social media freak rather than one feeling the need to push boundaries and behave inappropriately. The novelty is here and now.

But, as I said, there's no right or wrong answer to this debate. It's highly personal and with a close eye, privacy settings to keep out the baddies and limited screen time, I think she might just survive.

Our sense of humour

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Monday, 07 September 2015
What really tickles you? And your Smalls? Do you laugh at one and the same - or are you mostly amused by each other's presence? I only ask because, after 8 weeks of living in close quarters, I'm a little overly finely tuned into our family sense of humour ... as well as (occasional) lack of...

My first observation is that only the most curious will make us all laugh simultaneously. This could be an air steward with a high-pitched voice, any food ordering miscommunication and absolutely includes any cheeky queue barge.

More often than perhaps we should, the three of us tend to find Him pretty amusing. Over zealous sun cream application, temporarily hiding his 'precious' sunglasses and the way he deal with intense heat can have us rolling in the aisles.

Small, in contrast, isn't so keen to be the butt of any joke, which brings me conveniently onto the geek that is Mr Bean. One of the most successful British cultural exports ever, this character is a real divider in our family. The males find him sidesplittingly hilarious, particular Small whose uncontrollable laughter can be heard in the next street. Mini and I feel utterly stressed out by this hapless, awkward, self-conscious, childlike, disaster-prone weirdo.

Last weekend we tried our hand at Mrs Doubtfire. I'd actually forgotten just how funny Robin Williams is when his first-time boobs ignite. Again, the Smalls were divided. Mini couldn't quite see past the male-female conversion to find any of the film the least bit amusing. Small is still giggling in his bedroom when he remembers certain episodes.

The bottom line is that finding life amusing is more important than I think we all realize. It binds and reassures us to know that we were, at that moment, on exactly the same page. Bearing in mind the strains, stresses and lack of comic moments in everyday life, I think we ought to take laughter that bit more seriously.

Power of calmness

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Friday, 24 April 2015
Why is keeping calm one of the hardest things to do? If only there was a special vitamin pill we could pop each morning to (non-synthetically) adopt our brains to think of open fields, pools of still water and perfect sunsets. Just think how much more effective (not to say happier and more pleasant) we would all be.

And, of course, the knock-on effect would be dramatic on those around us. Having recently spent a very calm go-slow weekend with some ridiculously calm friends, I decided to try a little experiment at home. NO screaming on the stairs to encourage the Smalls to hurry up. NO manic multi-tasking. NO rushing. NO stress. Just for one day.

I won't lie. It really did take some incredible self-control and most definitely didn't feel very me. But... the results were dramatic. At first my fellow housemates looked at me curiously, as if I had been embodied by a half-absent soul. Before long though they too picked up on my calmness.

A psychotherapist might suggest that I was 'deconstructing the ritual'. Personally, I'd just say I was less of mad woman.

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