DESIGN

Design Inspo: Uzbekistan

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Dildora Kasimova || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

After a particularly draining day last week, I tucked up onto our sofa and scrolled my social media feeds in blissful silence. I don’t know about you, but the algorithms for my feed skew towards political activism, current affairs and satire. But in that moment, I wished something beautiful and new would appear under my thumb – I wasn’t in the mood to go search my bookshelves or the internet for it, I just wanted something with a bit more style and a bit less stress.

And with that thought, this video magically appeared (h/t to the lovely Sirajunmunira)! It features  the textiles, clothing and traditional fashion of women from fourteen different regions of Uzbekistan.  Obviously this video was made for a modern audience but it showcases everything I love about Central Asian style. The sumptuous colour, clashing prints, oversized florals, long lines, layers, silk, accessories… for a modern modest maximalist like me, it’s the ultimate look.  Which got me thinking, I don’t have enough ikat in my closet and perhaps it’s time to retire some of those ‘muted’ tones and led directly to a weekend long browse of Uzbek fashion designers, instagrammers and shops.

I love the way these young designers and boutiques have taken one of their strongest and most specialised traditional industries (textiles in the form of silk production, ikat weaving and embroidery, most well known as suzani) and paired them with modern silhouettes to create looks which are both elegant and compelling and are definitely inspiring my latest wardrobe update.  Even if you tend to more pared down looks, there are elements and textures here which all tastes can appreciate – so feast your eyes and, as always, give us your take in the comments.

 

Dildora Kasimova

The first Uzbek designer I stumbled across on instagram, Dildora Kasimova founded her eponymous brand in 2006. Growing up, her mother worked in a textile factory and her long-standing love of traditional textiles and tailoring shines through. Working with those same traditional artisans, she creates her own textiles and accessories, giving us designs which exude an easy glamour. All images from dildorakasimova.com.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Dildora Kasimova || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Dildora Kasimova || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Dildora Kasimova || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Dildora Kasimova || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Dildora Kasimova || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

 

Moel Bosh

Founded in 2012 by textile designer Zuhra Inat and her three daughters, Moel Bosh clothes are a bit quirky, vibrant and fun. Dedicated to natural fabrics and showcasing their self-designed textiles, they note that their patterns are inspired by those observed in the great, ancient city of Samarkand.  All images from moelbosh.com.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Moel Bosh || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Moel Bosh || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Moel Bosh || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Moel Bosh || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Moel Bosh || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

 

Zulfiya Sulton

Be still my colour-loving, pattern adoring heart! Another amazing young Uzbek designer whose clothing I couldn’t stop admiring. Award-winning Sulton founded her line around 2013 and is dedicated to creating ultra-feminine haute couture collections. Dedicated to continuing traditional craftmanship, the elegant lines of her designs not only highlight the marvellous and unique textiles of Uzbekistan but transform them into wearable (and covetable), works of art. All images from Zulfiya Sulton.

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Zulfiya Sulton || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Zulfiya Sulton || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Zulfiya Sulton || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Zulfiya Sulton || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Zulfiya Sulton || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || Zulfiya Sulton || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

 

Bonus

For even more inspiration, visit the absolutely stunning LALI Fashion House – gorgeous and accessible ready-to-wear fashion inspired by the heritage of Uzbekistan. Now if only there was a way to purchase online…

MAMANUSHKA.com || Design Inspiration || Uzbekistan || LALI Fashion House || Ikat || Fashion || Modest Style

 

 

Feature image by Kareva Margarita, dress by Dildora Kasimova.

 

 

 

 

 

MOTHERHOOD

Is Your Heart Shining?

MAMANUSHKA.com || Your Heart Is Shining || Original Painting by Ausma Malik

Some months ago, my adorable five year old nephew taught our children that if they share and do good things, their hearts will be shining and full of light.* Our eldest was skeptical about this assertion as she wasn’t sure it could be verified but my just turned three year old not only accepted this “fact” but held it close and built it into an all-encompassing new worldview.

So these days, whenever he offers me a sip of his water, he follows it with the grave observation that his heart is now shining. While watching two children fight in the supermarket I hear him remark that their hearts are not shining. When the flight attendant handed him half a cup of watery juice? Thank you, now your heart is shining. And right before bed comes the ultimate question, Mama, when you turn the lights off,  can you see how my heart is shining?

The past few weeks have been spent sharing time with family and friends, being extra kind to ourselves and those who depend upon us and generally being grateful –  but guys did we ever miss you! We couldn’t wait to return here and find out what you’ve all been up to and share what we’ve been doing – and we come back with our hearts definitively shining for one big reason and that is because the latest, newest Mini-nushka went from being here:

MAMANUSHKA.com || Hearts Are Shining || New Baby Announcement || Mininushka

 

to being here:

MAMANUSHKA.com || Hearts Are Shining || New Baby Announcement || Mininushka

Alhamdulillah, this adorable baby arrived safely and in good health and Sumaya and him are totally and completely in love – and so are we!

Welcome to the world little one. May you grow in peace and faith,  fill each space with love and joy and may your heart always and forever be shining.

 

* Am editing to add that the lovely lady from whom my nephew learned this phrase first pulled the concept from the excellent Ghazali Children’s Project by Fons Vitae. Here is a short but charming video they made referencing “The Shining Heart”.

 

Also, How to Introduce a New Sibling To Your Muslim Child.

Art Credit: Original Painting by Ausma Malik

DESIGN

Refresh, Renew, Rejoice

Can you believe Mamanushka just turned six months old? Well six months and 7 days but who’s counting? What an absolutely wonderful 24 weeks it’s been getting to know you all and sharing the Mamanushka magic – and yes, you know we’re mothers when we measure things in weeks…

As we write this we are finally in the same time zone again. One of us has travelled across the ocean and is nestled in the corner of a squishy sofa, basking in the glow of a crackling fire and the other is typing away while the baby in her belly is doing acrobatics and the apartment is filled with family all ready to help with the impending arrival (due any day now!). For both of us, it feels the best it has in a good long while and, dare we say it, merry and bright.

It’s coming up to holiday/vacation  period for a lot of countries in the western hemisphere right now and even if you don’t partake in Christmas isn’t it just the best time of year to unwind and reflect upon the past year?  The privilege of being able to ease into the holiday season in this idyllic way is not lost on us – with family,  friends and blessings abundant – it is one we hope that you will all be able to have.  After the recent weeks and months we’ve had, nothing seems more called for than to gather in, stay close and reconnect with others and with our own best selves.

So,  with this in mind, we are making the best of the season and taking a winter break.

How will you be spending this time of the year? We’d love to know if there are any topics you’d like to hear/ talk / read about when we come back. Ever had any questions about Mamanushka that you’d like to ask? Please do so! Let us know in the comments or email us directly.

Thank you, as always for visiting and reading – InshAllah (God -Willing)  we are looking forward to returning in the New Year with some lovely new content and ideas.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to revisit old favourites (or find new ones in the midst of them!) – here are some posts from the archives:

‘How To’s’ With Our Children:

And Two ‘How To’s’ For Ourselves

Relationships

  • “This past summer, between juggling international travel schedules, school holidays and family commitments, Sumaya and I finally did what most people do first – we met! And it was so good”.   How we met
  • “Is there any being spiritually closer to God the Creator (al-Khaliq) and God the Bestower of Life (al-Muhyi) than a woman carrying and giving birth to a baby?” Celebrating the feminine attributes of God
  • “Not for me the things that everybody else liked. Not for me a routine boring existence. No. My life would be fresh and amazing, with experiences unlike any other! It had to be offbeat, it had to be new. It was all that mattered.”  The one observation that changed everything 
  • “At a mosque gathering, I once referred to moving house with my Partner and was met by several bewildered looks to which I didn’t pay any mind until we were leaving and one lady caught my sleeve and exclaimed “By partner you mean Husband, right?!? A MAN?”.  Oh boy.”  What do you call your spouse?
  • “Initially I remember being  pretty blase about moving…Friends would say – ‘Wow’ New York! Some would say ‘How will you adjust?’ Secretly I thought ‘What’s the big deal? Surely it wouldn’t be that different from the UK. I mean, they all speak English right?”  Mama before Me 
  • “Just today my three year old put her ‘baby’ to bed, covered the doll with a blanket and lay down next to her only to proceed to ‘pretend’ to use her ‘phone’. To my horror I realised she was doing what she sees me do. It made me feel terrible. And it’s hard for me to actually write this and admit to you that yes, sometimes (okay – often) after bedtime cuddles, prayers and stories I lay next to my child and work from my phone. Whether it be catching up on reading or working on the blog, what my three year old sees before falling asleep is her mother engrossed in a screen.” Teens Tweens and Screens : Screenagers, the Movie
  • ” Is this the same moon, Mama? That the Prophet looked at with his own eyes?” On Promising the Moon
  • “… They are the quintessential Fairy Godmothers of Aunthood….Younger, more fun versions of their mother. Forever ready to listen to them, feed them jelly sweets in secret, buy them the coolest gifts, send them the best postcards from travels around the world. They are Readers of the best stories and Writers of the best letters…”  The one first I experienced last
  • ” … at one time or another, we’ve all made that face – the Judgey Judgeface.”  Don’t be a Judgey Judge Face
  • “Without missing a beat she whipped out her phone ordered an über, gave the bewildered über driver her address and the takeout bag of food – and slid straight back into the conversation. I was in awe! Did you just über the food to your husband?!”  Fun times
  • ” … And wow, do those kids play! They play and play and play. There is no learning letters. No learning numbers. No academic tasks to complete. There is a lot of movement and building and making and baking in a classroom held by strong rhythms and teachers engaged in work worthy of imitation.”  Honouring The End of Our Kindergarten Years

Reminders 

Style & Design

Baby Fever

Food To Make & Share

Drinks To Mix & Enjoy 

  • “When you’re ready to make up a drink, pour a tablespoon or two into a glass and top up with cool still or sparkling water. Adjust the proportions of cordial and water to your liking and savour the taste of summer. Enjoy.” Elderflower Cordial 
  • “Now my kids love pink milk but theirs comes out of a yellow plastic box. This one comes from real strawberries … that are in your kitchen, strawberries that your kids may even have picked themselves.”   Strawberry Syrup 
  • ‘…My Date and Orange Blossom Milk came in a cold hammered steel mug, smelling sweet and fragrant. I took a sip. Everything stopped.”  Fassian Milk
  • “…The dinner party was going seemingly well, when my husband surprised us all – including me. He would, he declared – ‘make some kehwa’  and ‘would everyone like to try some?’  Saffron Kehwa 

Picture Books To Discover

One of my favourite childhood activities during the winter holidays was to traipse to the local library with my mum and sisters and borrow books that we would read at home under cozy blankets and then swap with each other. Some of our suggestions:

Two ‘Whys’

And Finally, Something to Listen To

 

Image Credit: Illustration by Zarina Teli, inspired by Kris Atomic

MOTHERHOOD

What Do You Like To Pack In Your Hospital Bag?

(In Preparation For Giving Birth)

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Hospital Bag Inspiration || Birth

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Hospital Bag Inspiration || Birth

I actually quite like going for a ‘hospital birth’. I’ve always been well looked after and I love that feeling of ‘coming home with the baby’. For those of you who choose to have hospital births the question of what to put in your hospital bag can be kind of confusing but also exciting right? You’d think this being my third time I would have it sorted by now, but what can I say? I had basically forgotten everything and the only thing I remember taking with me for sure, the first two times is my eyeliner!

So I asked my sister, because  there is no mother like a first time mother to do her research on every single thing one might need (and not need! Ha! I mean who actually reads that book while in labour or lights that scented candle?)

I also asked some fellow more ‘experienced’ mamas about the things they loved to bring with them to the hospital. My friend Alice told me she took a pair of elegant pyjamas that her lovely Italian grandmother had bought her especially for the occasion! What a sweet idea esp for the photos after the birth!

Here are some other suggestions if you’d like to read;

One thing I appreciated having was slippers, even though you may be able to get socks from the hospital I preferred slippers for after a hot shower… ~ Reem

Red Raspberry leaf tea! I didn’t drink it while pregnant but loved it after I delivered. Any herbal tea to relax you and increase your fluids for milk supply. I also loved my new pj’s! ~ Vanessa

A ‘robe like’ abaya (the kind that closes by buttons in the front) so when people would come in (whether they were visiting  in laws or doctors ) and I wanted to be a bit more presentable, I would throw that over my pj’s. Also, sounds silly but I took my hair products so when I took my shower at the hospital I felt good when I looked in the mirror. My hair is finicky though and that was something I had overlooked the first two times. Lastly if you will be getting a breast pump ask if they can deliver it to the hospital before you leave so you don’t need to pick it up another day. ~ Leila

I’d suggest a print out of any duas you want to read while in labour as well as a date if you are comfortable giving a taste to the baby (tahneek) and I liked having a nursing cover handy ready to throw on if anyone came in. ~ Artina

I took some of my favourite sweets and chocolate snacks because I craved for sugar. And I took mascara and a lipstick to put on after showering. ~ Fatima

(obviously a girl after my own heart!)

Put some guilty pleasures in your hospital bag! ~ Aminah

Doula. Take a doula with you to the hospital! ~ Artina

I’m planning to take a special shawl or blanket with me to wrap baby in for photos, (sensing a theme here of where my priorities lie!), my special ‘baby product’ and these  leather slippers my adorable Mother in law gifted me from Kashmir. 

Also I will be popping a cute little blank card and some luxury chocolates into my hospital bag : so I can easily write the card out to the hospital team and give them the chocolates as a thank you gift before I leave instead of scrambling and having to buy these things at the last minute or even worse – going home and forgetting to send anything at all!

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Hospital Bag Inspiration || Birth

 

What about you? I’d love to hear what little things made you feel special? You can see my full hospital bag list here.

 

RELATIONSHIPS

‘Like’ A Mother

The One ‘First’ I Experienced ‘Last’ 

Being the eldest of four sisters, I suppose I mostly experienced all the firsts …well… First. I was the first to go to school, drive, move out of home, go to university, graduate, get married, first to have kids. The Sisters followed suit of course, but as is the bane of every eldest child, I had the challenge of going through many firsts with my parents learning beside me too! (The first to buy teen magazines and have them banned from the house, the first to not be allowed on sleepovers – so the Sisters knew never to even bother asking). 

But there is this one ‘first’ I could only experience after all three of them. The one ‘life event’ they all experienced before me. That of being a Khala, meaning  ‘Aunt’, or more specifically Khala means ‘Maternal Aunt – your mother’s sister’. 

Exactly three weeks ago one of my sisters became a first time Mama and along with that her beautiful baby made me a first time Khala!

Throughout her pregnancy, I was secretly worried about having a Nephew or Niece. I have kids already and a third one on the way. Will I love her baby the way she loves both my kids? Will I see the baby’s photo and just see another baby or like my sisters will I see a child I will never tire of hearing each and every detail about?

Now when it comes to being ‘Aunts’ my sisters are are hard act to follow. They are the quintessential Fairy Godmothers of Aunthood. In the Kashmiri language we say ‘M’aas’ a word connoting ‘like a mother’  and indeed there is a saying of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) :

‘A mother’s sister is equivalent to a (real) mother (in status)’.

For my kids – YES! Younger, more fun versions of their mother. Forever ready to listen to them, feed them jelly sweets in secret, buy them the coolest gifts, send them the best postcards from travels around the world. They are Readers of the best stories and Writers of the best letters (complete with hand drawn illustrations).

And in my earliest Mothering days it was the Sisters who travelled across the Atlantic to be with me in the final weeks of pregnancy. One of them held my hands through labour. When she couldn’t make it for the birth of my second baby another one made sure she would be there. They gave me respite by whisking the kids off to sleep or to adventures I was just too tired for – to a circus,  a fire-station even to meals out with their friends. My then 4 year old would feel so special being taken by a Khala to a grown up restaurant with her grown up friends.  

So when my sister was calling me from across the Atlantic, asking advice about contractions and such … and in the midst of labour and dua’s and waiting … Came the news of the birth and a photo! This gorgeous perfect precious child. Who made my baby sister into a Mama and who as soon as I saw, wasn’t just ‘her’ baby anymore. She felt like mine already. All the khala hormones kicked in. It’s actually quite inexplicable … it’s just … like another of my sisters described so perfectly: SUCH HEART SQUEEZING PYAAR* AT HER LITTLE FACE

If I wasn’t in the third trimester of my own third pregnancy, I would be there right next to my sister as she was with me when I gave birth to my first child.

A few days after she was born, feeling jealous of the fact that there were all there in the same country being able to hold our new niece, squeeze her cheeks, share baby kisses.  I messaged my sisters on our group chat asking them if they had sent me ‘…every single photo you have of her on your phone?’

‘Ah! So You do know how we feel!’ came the reply.

Now I am officially part of the Aunt club. And now I just ‘get it’. All you ladies who can’t help but show everyone photos of your nephews and neices – I hear you!

I am so excited and happy to be your Khala little one! I don’t think I could ever be one as fun and cool as your mama but her example is one of the most amazing and I only needed your existence to teach me that it was all there. All the love. Already there already loving you like my own.

 

Photo of my daughter with one of her Khalas

*PYAAR means ‘Love’ in Urdu/Hindi

FAITH, RELATIONSHIPS

People We Lost In 2016 

To God Is The Return

2016, more than any other year in recent memory, seemed marked by “high profile” deaths. From saints to inspirations,  humanitarians to poets to cultural icons – every month brought news of another passing. People we knew of but really didn’t know and yet still felt the world changed by their absence.

And more poignantly, in and around these headlines, everyday, people we know and love bid farewell to their own parents, children, spouses and friends. Each a radiant star at the centre of their own constellation – to be missed even more than the sun would be, were it to go out.

We are fortunate to be part of an online community of Muslim mothers which is far reaching and diverse. It is a safe space which is often hilarious in its commentary, useful in practical matters and more than anything else, supportive and generous when there is mother who is struggling on any level.

Today we learned that a member of our online community lost her intense battle with cancer. A mother in her 20s, she leaves behind a family which includes her loving husband and toddler son. Throughout the past year, her thoughtful words, sense of humour and honest reflections reached out from the screen and into our hearts. We loved her so hard.

Of all the passings this year of people who we didn’t know, never met, locked eyes with or hugged, this is the saddest. There was another blog post intended for today but we just can’t seem to write it. Sometimes it’s okay just to be sad and say so. Sometimes there isn’t anything else.

Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji’un
To God we belong and to God we return

Image: Detail of Chapter 36 of the Qur’an,  Surah Ya Sin

READS

Library Finds: Rufus The Writer

Book By Elizabeth Bram Illustrated By Chuck Groenink

library-finds-rufus-writer-book-review-via-mamanushka-blog

Reading is one of the easiest ways to inspire writing, and this wonderful book about a boy who sets up a ‘story’ stand in lieu of a ‘lemonade stand’, is certain to do just that.

I read this to my then 5 and 2 year old a few months back the summer just gone, and it’s definitely a library favourite because months later he chose the same book again, even remembering one of the stories that had made us laugh together the first time round.

Rufus sets up his stand and in no time, he has customers. The book features four of Rufus’s stories each written in that perfectly child centeric way along with adorable illustrations that we loved pouring over together. One of the stories is particularly giggle inducing and we read it about 5 times collapsing into fits of laughter each time.  I’m sure you and your little ones will enjoy them just as much. 

library-finds-rufus-writer-book-review-inside-via-mamanushka-blog

library-finds-rufus-writer-book-review-drawing-via-mamanushka-blog

This is one of the best and simplest books I have come across to encourage your child to write creatively. My son has always loved to use his imagination in drawing, truly enjoys being read to –  but is a reluctant writer. A few days after this book I found him attempting to write a  ‘recipe’ for macaroons (the boy loves macaroons)!

library-finds-rufus-writer-book-review-story-via-mamanushka-blog

And better still, Rufus the Writer had given him the brilliant idea of gifting his Khala (one of my sisters) a story for her birthday. Written and illustrated by her favourite (and only!)  nephew!

Even if your child is not confident at writing encourage them to ‘narrate’ a story to you, while you write it down for them! This is such a lovely way to preserve that quirky tale without putting the pressure on letter formation ect if your child is not ready for that. The story Ismail ‘wrote’ (he narrated, I transcribed) to go along with his drawing was one that he titled ‘London’s Night’. It included ‘a moon that was shining on a little mini house’, ‘a road that someone had painted silver and gold’  ‘a flower that was pretty weird’ and ‘a shadow that was there all night and still there in the morning’ … all the ingredients of a sinister little tale that his Khala was absolutely delighted to receive!

library-finds-activity-illustration-by-ismail-via-mamanushka-blog

That was in June, but we have another Khala’s birthday coming up this month and we know exactly what to send her!

Just like in a past Library Finds post, my son was willing to do a little mini Q&A session on the book if you’d like to read!

Describe what the book was about?  This book is about a Boy who made a story stand in summer instead of a lemonade stand.

What was your favourite part of the book? I like the part Rufus the writer wrote a ‘button’ story. it was SO funny and made me and my mom laugh I asked her to read it again and again and again! 

 

library-finds-rufus-writer-book-review-buttons-story-via-mamanushka-blog

library-finds-rufus-writer-book-review-buttons-via-mamanushka-blog-jpg

How did the book make you feel? Happy. And Silly. It gave me an idea to make a story into a present for my Khali.

Who would you recommend this book for ?  Mama and Baba and my friends. 

 

 

Put this book on your next Library Finds list!

DESIGN, FAITH

The One Reminder We All Need

MAMANUSHKA.com || One Reminder We All Need || Timeless Advice || Wisdom || Boat || Sunshine || Hope

I came across a passage in a book when I was sixteen years old – just finishing high school and readying myself for a big city university adventure. Standing at the precipice of perceived “adulthood” I thought it a lovely piece of writing, in both form and message, but I didn’t know then how through challenges and celebrations, soul-searching and separations, it would be the best reminder I would ever have. The one that, no matter the circumstance or the emotion, would point me first in the right direction before gently nudging me forward.

MAMANUSHKA.com || One Reminder We All Need || Timeless Advice || Wisdom || Boat || Sunshine || Hope

In the twenty odd years since that first encounter, I have carried these words around the world  with me –  written out in notebooks, stuffed into backpacks, blu-tacked up on walls and committed to memory in my heart. I share them here now in the hope that they will be for you – as they have been for me – a shaft of light to shine through the moments of your life, urging always, whatever the situation and with a straightforward eloquence, to turn back to the Ultimate Source:

All praise belongs to God, who never disappoints those who hope in Him, never refuses those who ask of Him, never ignores those who quest for Him, never underpays those who act for Him, never deprives those who thank Him, never fails those who battle for Him, never allows those whose comfort is in His remembrance to be estranged, never surrenders to others those who surrender to His might, never abandons to others those who depend on Him, and never forsakes those who trust and commit themselves to Him. Those who firmly hold to His Book shall never err, and those who take refuge in His Presence shall never find disgrace.

Taken from Gifts For The Seeker by Imam Abdullah Ibn Alawi Al-Haddad, originally written in the 18th century, translated by Dr. Mostafa Al-Badawi and published by Fons Vitae, 1992.  

Also Thank God It’s Friday!

DESIGN, MOTHERHOOD

‘SCREENAGERS’ – A Thought Provoking Take On Tweens, Teens & Their Screens

screenagers-movie-review-via-mamanushka-blog

Battles over screen time? Tears over phones? Rage when devices are switched off?  And that’s just your three year old.

Can you even imagine the situation with a teenager? Maybe you have teens of your own. I know mine are six and three, but I hold no illusions that navigating screen time will get any easier as they grow older.

That’s why when our first grader’s school sponsored a public free for all screening of the movie documentary titled  ‘Screenagers: Growing Up In The Digital Age’ I knew I had to make it. On an awful rainy night the auditorium was packed with parents, caregivers and teachers and for 68 minutes we entered into the world of ‘Screenagers’. What a brilliant title, I’ll definitely give it that, I thought as the movie started.

Delany Ruston is a mother of two teenagers  and a primary care physician living in Seattle USA, who somehow made time to direct this, more than just a great title of a film. She herself is one of the ‘main characters’. In her we see the parent in us who is having to figure out the very real dilemma of whether or not to let her 12 year old daughter have a phone. Of course by ‘phone’ we all know what that means. This mother is having to consider letting her daughter have an online presence. Ruston invites us to follow through with her on this journey of  how she, along with her husband,  eventually decide to handle the challenge of rules and boundary setting while also learning to communicate in the digital language of their daughter and her peers.

How would you convince me? she asks her daughter in one of the earliest shots of the movie

‘All my friends have it?’ comes the reply, in that typically American way of tilting up the end of a sentence making it sound like a question.

The movie tries to address the extent of how ‘screen time’ can affect different families. From the despondent grandmother acting as a guardian who needs professional counselling and advice on how to create boundaries for her grandson, to a well adjusted, intelligent young man who dropped out of a good college due to the very real problem of video game addiction.

Video games are given a fair bit of airtime in the film, One expert ‘voice’ tells us that violent video games were initially developed to desensitise soldiers in the army to real war. However interestingly enough whether they are responsible for encouraging acts of violence is something that not many experts are willing to make a solid statement on.

Our son’s school had a post-screening discussion facilitated by Dr Barry Schneider, Professor of Psychology at Boston College, who led a brief question and answer session. On that  unanswered question from the film  “Do video games promote violence” he was confidently able to state:  ‘Yes they do’ and as follow on from that he posed another question most experts are reluctant to comment on “Does that mean violent video games cause aggression?” His short answer: ‘Probably’. 

One fascinating fact that is highlighted is this evidence based research done on the difference between what teen Girls and Boys like to do with their ‘screen time’. Apparently ‘Girls like to relate’ (they spend more time on social media). At one point Ruston’s daughter clearly explains to her parents that she can not get dressed in the morning without the aid of her phone. And Boys it seems, ‘like to shoot guns, crash cars and blow things up’ (they spend more time on video games).

Another story we get insight into is that of a high school girl persuaded by a classmate to text him a selfie in her bra. The same boy proceeded to share the text with others until it eventually spread through the entire student body. Unfortunately,  this is an increasingly common  scenario and one we often think ‘won’t happen to me or my daughter’ but if you haven’t made any precautions against it happening, how can you be so sure?

This example made me particularly think – as one of the experts in the film also states that asserting authority without justifying is never the way to go. “When your daughter is not with you do you want her to just do what someone asks her to (without question)?

Then don’t expect her to be the same with you.

Our children will and should be questioning us. They will ask why and why not. Commit to TALKING about technology with your children – both sons and daughters,  as the dangers are very real for both of them. In between these stories of families we get to hear from educators and students themselves.

One group candidly talk about the rules their parents have on screen time. Most of them describe themselves as being ‘addicted’ to their devices and all agree overwhelmingly on the fact that they are glad they have boundaries otherwise they would, they say, get nothing else done at all. This confirmed something I had been pondering for a while. I remember as a teenager myself, being in a situation where I wanted my parents to take charge. I had been invited to a sleepover by a friend and I was secretly relieved when my parents categorically said ‘No’. Even when it doesn’t seem like it, your teenager needs boundaries and rules from you, rest assured you are definitely doing the right thing by asserting them.

And wait, before we all start feeling like it’s a generational gap thing between us and our children, the documentary really brings it back to you and I – the parents who are using our devices in front of our children everyday. Many of our kids have grown up seeing us with our face in front of a screen.  I joked about it once with my girlfriends that the renaissance paintings of the past had mothers gazing adoringly at their babes on the breast and the ‘modern’ version of that is mothers gazing at their smart phones while the babe is on the breast.

Why is it SO HARD to put down that device, and how can we expect our children to do so, while modelling the opposite behaviour? Just today my three year old put her ‘baby’ to bed, covered the doll with a blanket and lay down next to her only to proceed to ‘pretend’ to use her ‘phone’. To my horror I realised she was doing what she sees me do. It made me feel terrible. And it’s hard for me to actually write this and admit to you that yes, sometimes (okay – often) after bedtime cuddles, prayers and stories I lay next to my child and work from my phone. Whether it be catching up on reading or working on the blog, what my three year old sees before falling asleep is her mother engrossed in a screen.

One of the other soundbites from the movie I felt important to note was that ‘self control’ is a better indicator of success in several studies than intelligence. Remember that famous marshmallow test? Well it turns out that given the right guidance Kids CAN LEARN self control. The key is to set CLEAR guidelines. The takeaway message is that clear CONSISTENT  rules and boundaries given with LOVE and CARE promotes better everything. And that adults trying to set limits for their kids, without setting any for  themselves are setting both parties up for digital failure.

In the end all media is ‘educational’. It depends what it is you want your child to learn.

I was surprised to find that the issue of pornography exposure was not addressed at all. However this is a huge topic in itself and by the end of the film there was a lot to think about even without this. My husband and I often talk about technology and how we could/should control it in our household. After this movie, I realised we need to start involving our children in these conversations too. No they are not too young. A six year old can be involved in talking about healthy technology consumption instead of brushing it off for later when he is older. Recently to try to give him some perspective on why we have not allowed him to have a Playstation yet,  I tried this analogy: ‘some games and apps are like junk food for your brain, fun in small doses but not so healthy and too much can make you sick.

Before you go off to find this documentary on your favourite online streaming service, it is actually not available on any. The producer’s aim is to facilitate conversations between the viewers, many of whom will be parents and guardians, therefore it is only viewable at community screenings in public spaces. Watch the trailer here. You can inquire about bringing Screenagers  to your school, Mosque or community here.

Also while we are on the topic this brilliant step by step on how to help your child confront the p-word online.

And another great resource to keep you ‘woke’ when it comes to your kids and being online – Parents who fight blog 

 

DESIGN

A Shared Gender Neutral Space For My 6 & 3 Yr Old

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My favorite rooms in our apartment are the ones my children use most! Surprised? Read on to find out how I created a shared gender neutral space for a 6 year old and a 3 year old that is not only their ‘happy place’ but mine too!

Ever since our daughter was born, her and her brother have shared a room. From our tiny New York space where there was no choice to a slightly bigger space in Boston Mass, where even though we had the option of separate rooms for them, we decided sharing, (at least for now while they are so young) would be more fun.

Here is a ‘Before’ shot, if you’d like to see. When we moved, the kids room was the first one we wanted to get up and running so to speak, in order that they would have their familiar things around them. The idea was that they would leave us alone to work on unpacking the rest of the place!

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The room is not big at all and we finally decided to go for the ubiquitous kubra bed. Using Montessori principles of the floor bed, this was the ideal choice for our then not quite two year old and of course exciting for the then 5 year old as it was to be his first ‘big boy bed’ un-shared by mama or baby sister.

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I love that this bed has been  a safe, non restrictive option for this little one, where she can lie down at ease when ever she feels like it and there is enough room for Mama or Baba when the need arises.

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Of course my son wanted superhero bedding. So we set about looking for one with no faces or eyes on the design. This lovely ‘Captain America-esque’ duvet was a lovely gift from one of his Khalas (aunties). The astrology inspired wall stickers are a really easy and fun addition.

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This home-made bunting is so special to me. Its made out of the remnants of an old Macy’s bag! My sisters and I made it together the night before they threw me my first ever baby shower. It still makes me smile to see it hanging above my first ever ‘baby’ s bed who is 6 years old now mashallah!  The ‘Boys & Balloon’ prints were made by the amazing Zarina, who also happens to be my sister!

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The perfect place and height for this cheerful child safe mirror, next to this ‘baby bookshelf’ (which is actually one of those trays used for hanging plants or storing small gardening equipment!) The portability of this book storage idea is the best thing about it. My daughter used it SO MUCH when she was younger. Sitting next to it, choosing her own books putting them away herself… the size is ideal for those baby board books and we look forward to it getting much use again with the new baby (35 weeks and counting now!)

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I know it’s not for everyone, but I love the mismatched / mixed up look. Here I wasn’t afraid of mixing wood, metal, plastic and rattan . The boxes are storage for, dinosaurs, animals, small super-hero figures, large super-hero figures, doll house furniture, wooden blocks and ‘traffic toys’ aka vehicles. These groupings of toys are always stored separately this way. Makes tidying up much more manageable as both kids know the ‘right’ place for all the items.

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Aaaaand… here’s to keeping it ‘real’ !

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One of my absolute favourite corners of the room. This miniature village is from a set that I bought for the kids years ago, I just hand picked a few buildings and put them on top of one of the  window sills. And I mean the top, top.

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‘Sunshine’ means more than jut sunshine to us, as ‘sunshine face’ is one of the names I call my children.

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Here’s the view from the door, for some perspective…

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We are renting so painting walls is not an option. This never bothered me though – even if we could paint I would probably choose a bright white wall anyway, preferring to accessorise with bright textiles and items on hand. And wall art. Always wall art. Always bright and beautiful. The kids both have a ‘painting’ they have done that I framed and put in a trio along with another great print from their Khala (aunt)

‘ladybird’ finger painting by Ismail aged 3!

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‘Guest Of Nature’ paper cut art by Zarina aged 17!

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Hand print ‘hand painting’ by Ayesha aged 2!

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Another way to add dramatic colour is by strategically only giving your child certain paint colours to work with and letting them go all out on a blank white canvas. Voila. (As opposed to giving them free reign of all paints and ending up with a brown mush). These three bears are part of some vintage wooden wall hooks and were a $3 thrift store find!

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Hope you have enjoyed this peek into a corner of my home. What your home’s ‘happy place’ ?

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