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Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 5 years ago

Nine ways to be an artisanal parent in Sarasota

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by: Amy Nance

Let's say you have a kid under the age of 10, which means the earliest he or she could've been born was 2003, so basically five minutes ago. All things being equal—and they are — modern parenting is like an iPhone whose design gets meaninglessly tweaked, repackaged and then re-introduced every few months. You're probably familiar with the notion of a parenting style; you may have consciously adopted one and be self-identified in it, or you may just recognize your approach to parenting in the endless mom blogs, books and news pieces covering parenting methods.

But if you don't have a kid and are reading this, let's pretend that one is about to get dropped into your lap in a basket tomorrow, and it's an infant. Among many other, far more important questions you may ask yourself, there's this one: What's the parenting scene like these days?

These days, parenting and kid culture is its own entity. And I know this, because I'm a parent of two under-10s, and because I solipsistically pay attention to anything related to child-rearing (a habit I will likely abandon once it becomes irrelevant to me). Which means, I read all the blogs, I'm at least semi-aware of all the trends, and I'm essentially well-versed in the latest parenting approaches. And I've concluded that I am, for all intents and purposes, an artisanal parent.

What's an artisanal parent? If I were doing a family tree, I'd make it a descendant of the Park Slope parent — the Zeus of hip, modern parenting. It's when you think of child-raising as a craft, applying the same mindful, intentional, well-styled principles to your family-making as you did to your adult life before kids, regardless of convention, good taste or popular notions of success. Which makes you twee, precious and hyper-conscious, but every parenting method has its drawbacks.

What follows here is an artisanal parenting hack. Each item in the list can be easily pulled off in Sarasota—and possibly just at the farmer's market alone.

  1. Select your parenting method. Here are your choices: RIE, Gender-Neutral, Teacup, Free-Range, Tiger, Snowplough or CTFD.
  2. Select your educational method. Here are your choices: Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio-Emilia, homeschooling and unschooling. Suggested add-ons: second-language-immersion instruction, edible schoolyards and having "feelings" about common core.
  3. Sign your kid up for: Elimination communication, knitting classes, Capoeira, rock band program, waterman training, 3D drawing, flying trapeze, glass fusing, plein aire painting, the anime/manga club, Irish dance, Aikido, parkour, multi-generational and experiential travel opportunities and Lego communities.
  4. Make lunches with: Pastured eggs, almond milk, nut butter, quinoa, chia, avocado, tofu, kale chips, probiotics, hydroponic berries, kids tea, Popcraft, Greek yogurt and spelt. Suggested modifiers: Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, dye-free, locavore, Honest Company.
  5. Make liberal use of: infant sacral-cranial massage, psychotherapy, gifted/talented testing, acupuncture, birth charts, family yoga, allergy testing, an immunization schedule, feeding therapy, chiro, a family photographer who shares your aesthetics, playspaces (not to be confused with playgrounds), waitlists, Etsy, meditation, conscious uncoupling.
  6. At birthday parties, do the following: have guests donate to the charity of your child's choice in lieu of gifts, offer a gluten-free dessert option, forgo cake and serve ice cream sandwiches, make a sign pointing the way to the compost bin, DIY a photo booth with felt funny faces and/or vinyl backdrop, erect a teepee, dispense green juice from an old-school jug into Mason jars, wrap presents in cloth and/or your child's artwork, go outré-theme (Minecraft, Hunger Games, the Olympics, vintage airline, woodland creatures, tie-dye) or eschew traditional planning altogether and gather everyone for a celebration at the drum circle. Distribute personalized tambourines instead of loot bags (do not refer to them as 'gift bags').
  7. These are acceptable gifts: Ergo carriers, amber teething necklaces, bento lunch boxes, safe sunblock (tangerine or vanilla scented), open-ended toys, wood-crafting kits, homemade hair chalk, scented Play-Doh, printables, backpack zipper pulls, chessboards, a skateboard, Aiden & Anais blankets, Jane Austen temporary tattoos, Swiss/French glitter deco kits, action figures for girls, real books, art supplies, a tree. Suggested modifiers: Non-toxic, BPA-free, PVC-free, phthalate-free, paraben-free, eco-friendly, green, recyclable, domestically made, not tested on animals, fair-trade, Honest Company.
  8. Use technology: Reserve your child's vanity handles now, make family selfies a Sunday-night ritual, listen to educational podcasts like Ted Talks Kids, download "A is for Artisanal: An Alphabet Book for the Hip, Modern Baby," regularly update your Artkive, study the latest texting acronym guidebooks, know how to use the slow-mo feature on iPhone, know how to use the speed-up feature on Instagram (Hyperlapse), pre-order the Owelet if you are expecting.
  9. Dress your child for school in: boy buns, moccasins, a neckerchief, homemade cut-offs, tank tops (boys only), mismatched costume parts, pajamas, chunky black eyewear, mohawks, combat boots, beanies/slouchy hats, Babiators, ombre/batik, infinity scarves, nail art, fake mustaches, Bauhaus dresses, black, pajamas, popped collars, their brother's/sister's clothing.

Amy Nance is a writer and editor based in Sarasota. She is the editor of Mommy Magazine and mom to Willa and Jude. You can find more of her work at amyshepherdnance.com.

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