Our family has a wonderful annual tradition that connects the women/girls of the family. Every year we head off to the big Craft and Quilt Fair in Sydney. It's a beautiful mix of generations - grandma, aunt, nieces, cousins and even a 'baby' cousin this year! Our girls have been going with us since they were babies, and this year, they were just at the age (nearly 11 years old) where it was a day they seemed to have grown into. The interactions between the younger girls and the older women were something special to be a part of. We saw our girls acting as caregiver and babysitter to a younger cousin, they were inspired by the various crafts and skills they saw demonstrated (and got to have a go at), chats over lunch and a morning cuppa, the long train ride there and back home ... I walked away feeling like it had been a day where relationships were deepened, not just a day of inspiration!
So, what was so great about all of that?
1 Deepening relationships - After reading Steve Biddulph's facebook post from 24 May 2014, I was reminded that my role as an aunt is very important. Here he noted two main factors in the deterioration of young girls' mental health were the over-sexualisation girls are bombarded with, and the disappearance of adult women in their lives. Today's girls spend 80% LESS time with older women in their families, than previous generations!! Do you remember all the time you spent with your aunt, grandma, older cousins? I do! And I look back at those with great fondness, and the women who spent that time with me, are still significant in my life today! I want that for my daughter, and my nieces! In fact, I'd decided that these holidays, despite all I felt I needed to do to catch up on life, I would make an effort to do more 'auntie' stuff. My nephews are having a sleep over. Of course, there was the craft fair, too.
2 Sharing time over the skills you enjoy - Out of the craft fair, grew something I wasn't expecting. I've done sewing with nieces before. I spend time doing crafty things with my daughter. But, at the craft fair, I realised how important it was to the little girls, that I was interested in sharing my skills and passions with them. We saw beautiful handbags all through the craft fair, so I suggested that we buy a few small treasures, and then spend a day making a bag each during the holidays. The following day my niece asked her mum if she could have the day off school to come to my place to sew her bag! Do you have skills or passions you could share with a niece or young girl in your life? It may seem even mundane to you, but the sheer fact of taking time out to be with them speaks volumes of the value you place on them being part of your life. And one thing I've found as a Home Ec teacher, is that kids open up and share while their hands are quietly busy. This is a chance to discuss those really important life topics, and you'd be surprised at how easily it is the children who open up these conversations when they are quietly working by your side!
3 Glimpses into the inner beauty of your girls - I loved watching my daughter and niece throughout the day. How often do we get a chance to just be observers of our children? My heart was warmed to see their manners in action, their kindness and generosity with each other and with their young cousin, their excitement and enthusiasm over simple things (cute dolls, crafts they'd like to try, even the jellyfish they saw in the harbour as we walked past!), their imaginations ticking away as to the possibilities they could see (along with that attitude of - 'I can do it'). And to not just see these, but to speak to the girls about how I loved seeing their inner beauty.
So, what might you do these holidays to spend time with the young girls in your life?
Here are some ideas:
- Visit a local historical house - great opportunities to look at beautiful china, dresses, old-fashioned anything! And, chat about what it was like being a girl growing up back then, how it is different now ..
- Bake at home - go through recipe books together and pick out your baking (and it could even be part of the fun, to go to the shops for any special ingredients that might be needed), and spend a day inside baking.
- Window shop at your local handcraft markets, or a 'funky' mall - enjoy the moments of dreaming together of what you'd like to buy, the inspiration you have of how you could decorate your room, or even ideas of what you could go home and make!
- Do an op-shop crawl - set a budget - it might only be a few dollars each, and see what treasures you can find at a few different op-shops.
- Take a train trip or a ferry ride - not just to get to a destination, but for that to be the main purpose of the trip! On a cold winter's day, it can be fun to rug up and be outside. You could even stop at a café at the other end for a hot cuppa, before making your way back home. There's bound to be interesting sights and quiet moments for conversation. In NSW with the Family Sunday Funday train tickets, this can be reasonably cheap, and a great option for the whole family to be a part of!
Do you have any other great ideas? You might even want to plan ahead for some of them, so you're not distracted by washing that needs doing, or rooms that need tidying! We hope your holidays are full of wonderful connectedness with the women in your family and social network!