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Q&A with author, Heather Shumaker, on why it’s OK to go up the slide

Easy rules for raising creative and confident children.

Q&A with author, Heather Shumaker, on why it’s OK to go up the slide

Heather Shumaker is an advocate of free play and unstructured learning at home and in school for children. As a mother, she was inspired to conceive a set of “renegade rules” for children to thrive as young individuals. One of our faves? “It’s okay not to kiss grandma.”


Her new book, It’s OK to Go Up the Slide, teaches parents how to use these rules to instill independent thinking and self-confidence in their little ones.

We had a chance to ask Heather a few questions about her new book and her thoughts on why it really is okay for kids to go up the slide.

Sometimes, as parents, we get so caught up in daily

life that we forget to implement our well-intentioned parenting philosophy and

rules. Do you have any quick tips for incorporating (and remembering) “renegade

rules” throughout the day with our little ones?

If we keep the most important renegade rule in

mind – “It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property” – that makes

in-the-moment life much easier. 

This rule, the one I call the “Renegade Golden Rule,” is easy to remember and applies to so many daily situations.

The other catch-all rule that helps throughout daily life is this: “All feelings are OK; All behavior isn’t.”

My memory is like a sieve, so I designed the book for busy, somewhat forgetful, well-intentioned folks. There are summaries and phrases to pull out at the end of each chapter just for that reason. Go ahead and post these around the house.

For mamas who are trying to teach kindness and

consideration in their young children, the notion of “going up the slide” may

seem counter-intuitive. What advice could you offer these mamas for

raising confident (but kind) kiddos? Is it ever not okay to go up the

slide—literally or metaphorically speaking?

Going up the slide is certainly counter-intuitive

for most adults. But, it’s a no-brainer for children.

The child going up and the child coming down are not necessarily being unkind.

They may be starting a game. They may be learning how to set limits and negotiate with a peer.

Learning consideration can mean noticing someone wants to come down—and figuring out how to make that happen.

Adults have a certain view of kindness and consideration, but a child’s view is much broader. As adults, we need to remember that stopping children’s play may actually be the most inconsiderate act of all.

Is it ever not okay to go up a slide? I’ve seen slides that would be frightening to go up. In this case, you could say, “the red slide is OK, but the blue slide is too dangerous for climbing.”

Use common sense.

The same goes metaphorically—pick your battles.

Celebrate the times you can stand up and buck the culture for the good of children, but don’t berate yourself when you can’t.

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How might mothers of infants and toddlers incorporate

a few renegade rules early in their children’s lives to start raising “creative

and confident” kids from the very beginning?

Keep the flashcards away. Value playtime and joy

in learning. Don’t quiz your child about the color of her blocks. 

Trust your children – their play ideas, their desire to take healthy risks and gain independence.

Above all, start to get comfortable with uncomfortable feelings. Yours and your child’s.

Children – even babies – have a wide range of human feelings. We need to accept all these feelings, and learn to put calm limits on behavior. “You’re mad, but I won’t let you hit me.”

Your new book discusses the controversial topic of

skipping kindergarten. The old adage, “Everything I needed to know, I learned

in kindergarten” comes to mind. In what cases might it be a good idea for a

child to skip this reputedly crucial year?

Ah, yes. It’s good to remember that All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten was written

about the type of kindergarten that existed decades ago.

A kindergarten that included nap time and imaginary play.

That’s exactly the point of my kindergarten chapter in my new book. Children need this “old-fashioned” type of play-based kindergarten to develop the life skills that will carry them through the years ahead.

Most kindergartens today fill the time with other things, like worksheets. If the kindergarten program isn’t worthwhile, it’s a waste of children’s time.

It’s not so much skipping a year, it’s finding an alternative way to spend that year. If you’re lucky, that might mean the local kindergarten. If not, we need to find other ways for 5-year-olds to thrive.

For more refreshing advice on raising your little one, check out It’s OK to Go Up the Slide and It’s OK Not to Share.

Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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In Montessori schools, parents are periodically invited to observe their children at work in the classroom. I have heard many parents express shock to see their 3- or 4-year-old putting away their own work when they finish—without even being asked!

"You should see his room at home!" or, "I ask him to put his toys away every day, and it's a battle every single time" were frequent comments.

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