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Five Keys to Creating Margin in Your Overloaded Life

Our culture pressures us to keep working and consuming. It takes a conscious effort to step back, take a breather and re-prioritise, but doing so is really worth it for good health and peace of mind.

“We have more ‘things per person’ than any other nation in history. Closets are full, storage space is used up, and cars can’t fit into garages, having first imprisoned us with debt. Possessions then take over our houses and occupy our time. This begins to sound like an invasion. Everything I own, owns me. Why would I want more?” This is a gripping quote from a book by Dr Richard Swenson called Margin.

The subtitle of the book says it all, “Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.”Margins

Richard A. Swenson, M.D. is a futurist, physician-researcher and bestselling author who received his B.S. in physics and then became a general practitioner. In 1982, Dr Swenson became an Associate Clinical Professor within the University of Wisconsin Medical School. As a physician, his focus is “cultural medicine,” researching the intersection of health and culture. As a futurist, his emphasis is fourfold: the future of the world system, western culture, faith, and healthcare.

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Restoration

Life in modern-day Australia is essentially devoid of time and space. Chronic overloading is the culprit: margin is the cure. (Note: I borrowed some of these words from the promo.)

This best-seller explains what margin is, why it is important, how it disappeared, and steps to get it back. Margin is the space between our load and our limits and is related to our reserves and resilience.

It is a buffer, a leeway, a gap; the place we go to heal, to relate, to reflect, to recharge our batteries, to focus on the things that matter most.

Margin offers seventy-five practical prescriptions for restoring margin in the essential areas of emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances. Margin restores what culture has taken away: time to listen, strength to care, space to love.

I read the book some time ago. My wife got it for me as a cure for my Type A personality. It did not cure me, but it certainly mediated my extremes. I recommend it highly!

Larry Stockstill in his blog post, How to Implement Margin and Change Your Year, boils creating margin down to five key principles.

TRY CHANGING THESE 5 THINGS:

1. “Quality over quantity”

This one statement will help you slow down. It’s not how MUCH food or how FAST a human can eat, but how good it tastes going down.

Look at your work. Is it quality? Are you too hurried to look at the details? Do your projects end up as a hot mess in your lack of systems and rush to accomplish? Who wants a car they rushed to put together in order to meet a production quota?

2. “Stretch, don’t pop”

I saw a guy blow up a hot water bottle into a huge balloon. Suddenly, it reached its maximum limits and “BOOM.” Dr Swenson said it is a scientific fact that a camel carries such heavy loads that one added straw can break his back!

Grow, increase, and stretch… just don’t pop! Determine your limits and stay well inside of them. If the hot water bottle pops, it is of no use to anyone.

3. “Measure, don’t guess”

Ask anyone and they will tell you they are a “little busy.” Analyse their hours per week and you will see a totally different picture.

Margin operates on measurements. Check your physical performance (blood pressure, heart recovery after exercise, etc.). Look at your finances and how vulnerable you are to going broke. It will immediately help you get out of the “red zone” in any area.

4. “Relationships over resources”

Don’t miss your life trying to pay for it. If you live above your means, you will never have time to be with the ones you are providing for! The question is: “Three jobs… or three kids?”

Build in white space like the margins on this page. Don’t cram every space with something that makes money. If you do, you will have no time left for when your child tugs your shirt to go out and shoot basketball.

5. “Plan your margins with your spouse”

Don’t get defensive. Let your spouse speak into your life about the margins they see you running past. Implement their observations. The life you save could be your own!

Slowing Down

So why am I talking to you about Margin?

Last week I was chatting to a high-level training executive who spends his life working with people. He told me yesterday, “Warwick, I am going to start walking the dog.”

I said, “What do you mean?”

“Well, I am trying to do too much all the time. The people I work with are demanding my time. The projects I am working on are requiring more of my time. I am running out of time, so I have decided that I am going to start walking the dog more.”

I asked him how that is going to help. He said,

“African people say about us in the west, ‘You white people have watches but you have no time.’ So, I’m going to create time for me to walk my dog with my wife or even with my kids or even just on my own. This is going to help me slow down. I will do less, but that will create margin for myself and my family, because that’s what we need at the moment.”

Does anyone have a dog for sale?

Lovework

“It is good to go on strike occasionally. Try!” These are the words of Richard Swenson that we should all heed from time to time.

Your homework? Have a crack at applying those five things outlined by Larry Stockstill to create margin.

Yours for More Margin,
Warwick Marsh

PS: Final invitation to join us at the Men’s Leadership Summit, Tops Conference Centre, on the weekend of 26-28 August 2022.

Bookings have been extended to now close midnight, this coming Monday 15 August 2022.

See video promo here, or watch below.

Download Summit flyer here.

Register here.

___

First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Anna Shvets.

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10 Reasons to Home-school Your Children

Deciding to home-school can feel like a massive undertaking, but it is worth it. Here are some gems from a father’s firsthand experience. As the primary educators of their children, stable parents are best-placed to form their offspring, and have access to many resources today.

Merriam-Webster’s base definition for homeschooling is “to teach one’s child at home.”

Whether you’re a parent who is new to homeschooling or you’re a parent against homeschooling, chances are you’ve engaged in homeschooling at some point in your child’s life without knowing it.

Homeschooling is a legitimate life-giving education pathway that has here-and-now as well as eternal rewards.

While the homeschool education pathway is as simple as pointing kids in the right direction and showing them the way forward, the long-term benefits of going deeper with this parent-involved approach to education often outweigh the costs.

Here’s why homeschooling is an attractive option for the parents of the 26,000+ students currently being homeschooled in Australia:

1. Opportunity

The number 1 reason to homeschool is opportunity.

Crosswalk called homeschooling the ability to give kids ‘a top-notch education, without the budget cuts.’

They were then right to assert, ‘the educational limits of homeschooling are simple: you and your children are limited only by what you choose to do (or not do).’

It is home education’s flexibility that powers this point. Flexibility offers homeschooling families an opportunity to bond, create, and do life together, in a way that formal schooling’s segregated halls disallow.

This is why Business Insider, when discussing the types of freedom homeschoolers enjoy, noted:

‘Without formal curricula to guide their education, homeschoolers get the chance to explore a range of topics that might not be normally offered until high school or college.’

In sum, any healthy activity is a learning opportunity. Education is not limited to meeting the requirements of standardised tests.

As Maths Australia recalled, flexibility gave them the opportunity to travel, care for others and assimilate education into their family’s lifestyle.

Simple tasks like preparing lunches and dinners, for instance, are potential homeschool lessons in serving others, food safety, and healthy eating.

Homeschooling empowers opportunity, argued Sam Sorbo — wife of actor Kevin Sorbo (Hercules; Andromeda), adding,

“Education is not about downloading information into the child. Education should focus on how to learn, not what […] We need elasticity in our abilities and that comes from being able to teach ourselves.”

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2. Better Curricula

Having access to a wide range of better curricula is another great reason.

Homeschooling, by definition, dictates that parents have a greater say and involvement in what their children are taught.

Therefore, the curriculum (or what a child learns) is in the hands of parents, not the government or a surrogate. Parents can vet ABCD education from other acronym indoctrination, utilising a curriculum that hasn’t been tainted by agenda-bending activists.

A better curriculum means that homeschooled kids have more time to learn from the world’s best, unhindered by political conformity.

Also, the homeschooler’s world forms the backbone of their education. As they get older, homeschooled kids learn to love learning by helping to choose the curriculum they might want to explore.

The homeschooler’s curricula choices are not limited to agreeing with whatever ideological fad the government or its tenured teachers are pushing.

New York City’s Department of Education explained this independence well:

‘[Homeschooling parents] choose the subjects to be taught (based on a child’s age and ability) as well as the curriculum and methods of teaching, plan the schedule, and teach or facilitate instruction.’

For example: As a homeschooling parent, I bring the best of both worlds together. I join Australia’s focus for English on phonics and text types with curricula from the United States, which focus more on sentence structure and classical conventions.

3. Time Efficiency

Reason number three for why you should homeschool is time efficiency. Homeschooling translates into more quality time with family.

For instance, homeschooling families don’t usually have homework to drag themselves through at the end of a tiring work day. This alone creates a healthier home.

Homeschooling requires little to no homework. This minimises afternoon lag, and the nagging, which often brings the entire house down with it. This energy and time can then be better spent working on dinner, or afternoon sport.

If done right, most of the lesson (or chapter) can be covered during the day. Homeschooled kids are consumed by a social need to impress friends or teachers — they’re busy learning.

To defer back to Crosswalk,

‘Precious family time does not last forever. While playing teacher can certainly be vexing at times, nothing beats being there to experience your children’s successes and help them overcome any setbacks.’

For homeschool veteran Jeanne Faulconer, homeschooling ends time wasted waiting in school pick-up lines, on the bus, or during lunch breaks — where some kids end up standing around idle, wandering around aimlessly trying to fit in.

Faulconer added that homeschoolers can work ‘at their best time of day. You don’t have to work against a child’s natural body clock, so you can get more done in a shorter time.’

Hence, Calvert Education asserts,

‘Homeschooling allows you to take all the time you need to ensure learning is taking place.’

4. Sharpened Professional & Personal Development

‘To teach is to learn,’ said Søren Kierkegaard.

While many homeschoolers put their career on hold, their professional development doesn’t have to stop.

If asked, a majority of homeschooling mums and dads would quickly testify to how much they also learn.

Rather than shutting off potential, homeschooling presents a whole new horizon of possibilities, bringing new skill sets, networking, and experiences.

Education publisher Scholastic agrees. It encourages homeschooling parents to ‘learn as they go, and adjust to the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling.’

Scholastic also notes:

‘There are so many ways to approach your task. Remember that you’ll be defining — and constantly redefining — yourself as you go.’

The other benefit to this feature is parents learning with their children.

As online short course provider Udemy stated in Abby Banks’ 101 on how to homeschool: right from the start, homeschooling parents are learning, adapting, and revising the process.

Homeschooling parents are often homeschooled themselves along the way. They bring to their children existing knowledge and skills, while matching those with new knowledge and skills as they homeschool together.

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5. No Deadlines. No Demands.

Wherever homeschooling is legal, the general rule is that homeschoolers are free from following the formal school year calendar.

There are no deadlines, school bell times, or set exams. For this reason, homeschoolers enjoy a better quality of life. They don’t have to deal with stress and anxiety from proving their intellectual worth by sitting for tests.

This is one of the best reasons to homeschool. Simply because when a homeschooler is given timed tasks to evaluate their knowledge, any gaps in their knowledge can be identified and corrected.

This contrasts with formal schooling, where the class moves on, and the failing student can be too easily left behind.

As author, YouTuber, and Australian homeschool mum Rebecca Devitt wrote,

‘Homeschoolers can avoid unnecessary tests, and if testing is needed, it can be done in a gentler style. (i.e. instead of sitting kids down for a stressful test, narration is a great way to test comprehension after a passage has been read).’

The how-to-homeschool legend then added,

‘Children don’t have to endure and feel discouraged by critical peers. This is less stressful and, therefore, a better learning environment.’

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6. Resilience

The accusation “lack of socialisation” is a whip statement often only deployed to discount homeschooling.

Rarely, if ever, is the charge made against the schooling system, which allows 60-minutes+ of sparsely supervised play each day.

What is meant by socialisation is usually whether or not a child can conform to the rules set by their peers in the playground, or submit to, rather than resist, the peer pressure associated with it.

Given the wide range of ages homeschoolers engage with, and the unique learning opportunities they are given, homeschoolers are often better socialised, because they’re resilient. They lack the social anxiety induced by class uniformity, and the impossible “fit in, but stand-out” paradox of modern society.

Most homeschoolers are better socialised because they’re raised by their parents, not left to be raised by the meta culture, or their peers.

It is good parents, not peers, nor the education system, who instil in their child the ability to relate to the world and those around them. It doesn’t take a village. It takes wise parents and teachable students.

Big Bang Theory and Blossom star Miyam Balik homeschools her children. Here was her response to the “socialisation” whip:

“I would argue that we are oversocialized. We have soccer four nights a week, taekwondo two nights a week, my older son is in violin quartet and orchestra, my younger son has taken art classes. Oh, they both like Shakespeare classes. Name it, and homeschooled kids do it too.”

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7. Homeschoolers Become Thinkers and Doers

Tutelage was the stuff of privileged pre-20th century aristocrats. Some taught their own children, others outsourced the teaching, employing a personal tutor.

Of those who were taught at home in the past, many are celebrated as achievers today.

The information age brings the library of a tutor into the living room, free of charge.

The abundance of options means easier access to reliable teaching aids and programmes that surpass government-sponsored ones.

Homeschooled kids have more potential to fine-tune independent thought through engaging with subjects like classics, civics, logic and theology.

One-on-one tuition also allows homeschoolers to learn at a pace different to that of the outdated, rubber stamp, industrial-age education mills.

Homeschoolers tend to have a good work ethic. This healthy approach to work is instilled in them by the natural process of applying themselves to learning about subjects, even if they’re not all that fond of them.

8. Greater Family Unity

Those who learn to love learning together, often stay together. This is because homeschooling fosters greater family participation.

The old teach the young, and sometimes the young get the chance to teach the old. There’s a mutual reciprocity that can also bring different families together through outdoors extra-curricular activities.

Having the freedom to spend precious time together fosters unity. For instance, thanks to flexibility, homeschoolers are free to travel. As homeschool curriculum publisher EUKA explains,

‘Many [of their] students are Athletes, and have rigorous travel schedules. Others are in fine arts, music, and theatre, and have rehearsal, work, and performance schedules that make mainstream school impossible.’

Homeschooling ‘allows parents to better manage their kid’s schedules.’

Likewise, said Lonely Planet, ‘Travel doesn’t have to stop after having kids.’

Highlighting the examples of the Larmour and Jacobis families, Lonely Planet described life on the road as ‘practical learning, that brings learning to life.’ Something that could not happen without organisation and families working well together.

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9. Self-Discipline

A key complaint I encountered during orientation day at college was that universities were increasingly faced with students who were not self-motivated to learn. They expected the work to be done for them.

Unlike institutionalised kids, homeschooled kids play an important role in their own education.

Much like university students, a homeschooler’s education isn’t spoonfed to them. A homeschooler’s education is facilitated.

This fathers self-discipline and individual responsibility. This is because for a homeschooler to progress, they have to take part ownership of the education process.

Being able to adapt to last-minute activities, changes in routine, and show initiative in helping maintain the daily grind, make the self-discipline home-educated kids acquire another great reason to homeschool.

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10. Raising Well-Grounded Adults

There is no better fruit to testify to the truth of “in raising up others, we ourselves are raised,” than when good parents nurture their child through a holistic, classical approach to education.

Whether homeschooling or not, having a mother and a father involved in a child’s life is paramount to that child becoming a well-rounded adult.

Concerned about the downgrade of culture, homeschool advocate and childhood television star Kirk Cameron began homeschooling his six kids after sixth grade.

Although he was apprehensive at first, he now believes no one is better suited to set their kids up for success than their parents.

Talking with the Daily Signal about his film Homeschool Awakening, Cameran said,

“Parents are waking up to the fact that you only have so much time with them to shape their little hearts and minds. No one loves [your kids] more than you do as a mom and dad, and no one’s better positioned to teach them. You’ve been doing it since Day One. You taught them how to walk. You taught them how to talk.”

Cameron added: “Homeschooling is a fantastic option.”

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Opportunity, better curriculum, time efficiency, personal development, no deadlines, resilience, work ethic, family unity, self-discipline, and well-adjusted adults, are solid reasons to consider the homeschool pathway.

While I am firmly convinced parents are the first port of call in the education of their children, I’m conscious of the fact that homeschooling is not for everyone.

For some, if the foundations of the home are not stable enough to support the homeschool life, homeschooling won’t just be difficult, it will be harmful.

The good news is that seasons pass. If the foundations at home are right, you’re more than ready to homeschool.

If kids have a joy-filled stable home environment with mum and dad at the helm, you’ve already met one of the main requirements for being homeschool parents.

Assuming this joy-filled stability exists in the home, homeschool where you can, when you can, if you can.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko.

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What Will Your Children Say About You?

As fathers, we will leave a legacy for our children, whether good or ill. Start working on your legacy today, that your children may have a brighter tomorrow.

I can remember, as if it were yesterday, the last day I spent with my Dad. We had an enjoyable day together meeting with business leaders in the Sydney CBD. Three days later, the police knocked on my door to notify me of my father’s passing.

I was shocked at my own expression of grief and how long I took to get over his death. I wrote about it in an article titled, “You Are Never Ready to Lose Your Father.”

My dad was 74 years of age when he passed, which was the average age of death for a man in 1984, so arguably a good innings, but still a shock. It is 38 years down the track, and I still miss my Dad.

My Dad was a massive inspiration to me. Thankfully, I have been able to pass some of that inspiration on to my own children.

As Shannon Alder wisely said,

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

My daughter-in-law lost her Dad in March 2019. She misses her Dad so much. He was a salt-of-the-earth man with some colourful language to boot. He was a brickie, so he always got straight to the point.

As a fellow tradesman, I wrote a tribute piece to his passing titled, “A Man Called Mick.” At his funeral, this is what my daughter-in-law said about her Dad.

“Even though we were loved, Dad always made it really clear to us that Mum was his favourite, he called her his sweetheart. They were like two peas in a pod.

  • Cuppa every afternoon (beer in summer). Mum put it in the freezer 30min before Dad got home. If we came out the front, we were told to go away. It was their time to chat and catch up.
  • Every Valentine’s Day, Dad would pick Mum a rose from the garden and make her a cup of tea and put it next to her bed before leaving for work.
  • He always said that the best thing about his day was seeing Mum when he got home.
  • Mum would tuck Dad into bed every single night. Even when they weren’t on speaking terms, Dad would still let Mum know he was going to bed, and she would tuck him in.

The truth is, Mum and Dad really loved each other, for better or worse.

The four of us (my brother & two sisters) got together this week to talk about what we wanted to share about Dad. We had so many stories, so many funny times and great memories, but more than anything it was some of Dad’s simple character traits that we really loved and will miss the most.

Dad had a strong presence that always made you feel safe.

He was full of integrity, and taught us about responsibility, honesty and a good work ethic.

We all knew that honesty and telling the truth was important. You could get away with a lot of things in the Robbins household, but if you got caught lying… *whistle*… LOOK OUT

Dad always made sure we were ok... We had great Dad. And we know we did…

We have put together some photos of Dad’s great life, so get your tissues out.”

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I came across a great article by Nick Saban called “The Story of My Dad.” Nick’s story reminded me of how we miss our own dads. I will let you be the judge.

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss and think about my Dad. His passing at forty-six years of age seemed unreal and was devastating to our family; yet he is always with me in spirit, in my heart, and in my mind.  

We had a unique relationship because he was my Dad, my boss, and my coach. I loved him very much and want everyone to know that I wouldn’t be the person I am nor have had the success I’ve enjoyed without the experience of Dad in my life; he was my champion! 

He set a standard of excellence and provided a set of values and direction for my life that I still follow today.

legacy

The last conversation I had before Dad died of a sudden heart attack was just after the start of my first season as a GA in 1973. I told him I wanted to be a coach like him and he gave advice, as always, “I’m happy you want to be a coach, however, the expectation, no matter what you choose to do, must always be to do your best and to be the best.”

I promised him I would always try… that was the last time we spoke. I am so thankful I had my father as an example of uncompromising values, standards to live by and, especially, his love for me and compassion for others…

Dad’s headstone recalls his legacy, “No man stands as tall as when he stoops to help a child.”

Lovework

As fathers, we all leave a legacy.

What will your children say about you? That’s why I write to you every week. Give it your best shot before it is too late!

Yours for Leaving a Legacy,
Warwick Marsh

PS: If you want to build a greater legacy for the ones you love, please join us at the Men’s Leadership Summit, Tops Conference Centre, on the weekend of 26-28 August 2022.

Bookings close midnight this coming Friday 12 August 2022.

See video promo here, or watch below.

Download Summit flyer here.

Register here.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Alena Darmel.

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Best Baby Gear – 2022 Guide For New Parents

Are you wondering what to buy when you’re expecting your first baby? Are you looking for the best baby gear?

Whether you are currently pregnant or if you are a new parent, there are so many things to think about and research.best baby gear

Marlowe, my first child, was born less than one year ago, and I am constantly researching questions about the best baby gear. 

When I was pregnant, it felt like all I did was look up the top things a baby needs.

I remember looking up everything from what the best strollers were to what I could do financially to best prepare for a baby. There are so many companies to buy the best baby items from, and everyone has an opinion on what’s best. 

Because I was so overwhelmed in the beginning, I decided to put together a blog post that outlines must-have baby items for first-time moms, plus the best baby gear whether it’s your first or 5th child!

My hope is that I can answer many of your questions, so you don’t have to spend nearly as much time researching things as I did.

And, I definitely think this will be helpful because I have been writing, researching, and gathering information for this article ever since I found out I was pregnant. I quickly realized that there wasn’t one easy-to-read guide for new parents, and that’s where this article comes in.

The areas we will talk about in this best baby gear guide include:

  • Pregnancy, birthing, and new parent courses
  • All about different baby registries
  • How to get a free baby box
  • Pregnancy and new mom gear
  • Best baby gear
  • Baby bath and diapering essentials
  • Baby sleep essentials
  • Breastfeeding gear
  • Baby clothing
  • What you need to financially prepare for a baby
  • How to take maternity leave when self-employed

Now, you definitely do not need everything on this list.

Babies don’t really need much other than food, sleep, and some clothing items. So, no matter your budget, please remember that your baby will be happy and healthy! Also, for every expensive baby item, there are also great budget-friendly baby items as well!

Note: Remember, I am not a doctor or nurse or anything whatsoever remotely related to that. The below is simply what I personally used and liked. I am completely new to being pregnant and becoming a mom, so I am not an expert.

Best Baby Gear & New Parent Essentials 

 

Pregnancy, birthing, and new parent courses

Before we can even get into the best baby gear, let’s start with your baby’s birth! I took birthing courses from Mommy Labor Nurse, and I highly recommend them. She has three courses: Natural, Epidural, and C-Section. I enjoyed these courses so much that I asked to be an affiliate for them afterwards.

Through my link, you can get 10% off using my coupon code CENTS10.

She also has a free birthing workshop that you can sign up for here.

Her courses are extremely helpful, and they go over everything that you could possibly need to know when it comes to having a baby. Her courses can help you:

  • Create a birth plan
  • Understand what your body does during birth
  • Know when to head to the hospital
  • Pain control tips
  • What happens if you have to go natural (even if you planned on an epidural!)
  • What the process is for a c-section
  • How your partner can prepare and help you during the birthing process
  • How to prep for postpartum
  • Even new baby tips for after you have your little one

I also read Expecting Better by Emily Oster, which I found very helpful as well. This was a very non-judgemental pregnancy book, which I really liked. I felt like way too many of the pregnancy books seemed judge-y.

My friend Natalie Bacon also has a wonderful community called Grow You, which is specifically for moms. I was a part of this for the last several months, and I really enjoyed it. This membership comes with mindfulness workshops, tons of tools and resources, live group coaching, and more.

 

Signing up for baby registries

I only made two baby registries, but I only really used one of them – the Babylist registry (this will make more sense in the next section).

The reason I used and liked Babylist so much is that you easily create a registry that pulls the best-priced products from multiple websites. My friends and family could then shop from different stores but still find all of the best baby gear I registered for in one place and at the best price. I also like Babylist because it gave me a newborn checklist to make sure I had everything I needed for the first couple of months.

Here are different baby registries you can check out:

For many of these, you will receive a completion discount once your registry is filled out. This is a coupon code for a discount, such as 15% off your total purchase, that you can personally use to buy any items that you might not receive at your baby shower. This can save you a decent amount of money!

 

free baby box

Here’s what I received in my free Babylist box.

Get a free baby box

If you are newly pregnant, this is a fun and exciting way to get some of the best baby gear.

Baby boxes are typically sent out when you create a registry, and these boxes are often filled with free baby samples, such as newborn laundry detergent, baby bottles, toys, pacifiers, baby onesies, and more.

I got both the free Amazon baby box and the free Babylist baby box, and they were great! I simply created a registry through both sites, and I received the free baby box once someone purchased something off my baby registry. The Amazon baby box is sent out to Prime users who create a registry and have $10+ of purchases completed from the registry. I simply bought one item I knew I wanted, and then I was sent the baby box for free.

Walmart and BuyBuyBaby also give you the option to get a free baby box for signing up for a free baby registry as well.

 

Pregnancy and new mom essentials

Here are the pregnancy and new mom essentials that I have used:

  • Prenatal vitamins – I took the Nature Made Prenatal with Folic Acid + DHA throughout my pregnancy and while I am still breastfeeding.
  • Pregnancy body pillow – There are all different kinds of shapes and sizes, so it really depends on what you are looking for. I really enjoyed having a pregnancy pillow in the first trimester when I was really nauseous and would toss and turn all night. But, I stopped using it in the second trimester and just used a normal pillow.
  • A nicer pillow – Instead of a pregnancy pillow, I got a better pillow overall. This really helped improve my sleep. I got the Zoey Curve Pillow. Pricey, but it is very comfortable and it has a curved design. Also, this is a pillow meant for those who sleep on just one side, which if you are pregnant, you are probably doing a lot of.
  • Maternity bras and clothing – Kindred Bravely (I highly, highly recommend their maternity yoga pants!) and David and Adley are the brands that I wear.
  • Compression socks for travel – I did a 35-hour road trip when I was 32 weeks pregnant. The compression socks saved my legs! I recommend having your own pair if you have a long trip planned.
  • Baby shower and maternity photoshoot dresses – If you are looking for dresses for a maternity shoot or your baby shower, I recommend these websites to look at for ideas: Pink Blush Maternity, Baltic Born, and Amazon.
must-have baby items for first time moms

Marlowe playing in her Lovevery Play Gym

Best baby gear

Are you wondering what do new moms really need for baby? The items on the list below are my essentials. This is the best baby gear that we’ve used from day one.

  • Pacifier – Wubbanub pacifier, hands down, is Marlowe’s favorite. She also likes the BIBS and FRIGG pacifiers.
  • Doona stroller and car seat – There are many, many different options for strollers and car seats, and they can all be great! The main difference is that they all have different situations in which they work best. For us, since we travel full-time, the Doona made the most sense because it is made for traveling. It converts from a car seat to a stroller in just a few easy clicks. The downside of the Doona is that it has a short usage life, as it will only fit your baby until they are around 1 to 1.5 years old. There are travel systems, infant car seats, double strollers, convertible car seats, and more. It’s a doozy, and once Marlowe outgrows her Doona, I will be back in the research phase. Other popular strollers include the UPPAbaby, Chicco, Nuna, Mockingbird, Graco, and the Babyzen YOYO.
  • Swing/rocker – 4moms mamaRoo 4 Multi-Motion Baby Swing. Marlowe absolutely loves this swing! This is good from baby’s birth until your child reaches 25 pounds or can sit up unassisted, whichever comes first. The seat has five different motions such as car ride, wave, and rock-a-bye, as well as white noise sounds.
  • Play gym – We have The Play Gym by Lovevery. She plays with it every day, and we also subscribe to the subscription boxes as well. Their toys are great, and they’re also beautiful!
  • Baby life jacket – Salus Bijoux Baby Vest. If you plan on having your baby in or around the water often, then this is the most popular life jacket. It is pricey, but there is a reason: Babies can stay in this life jacket for a long time and be comfortable. Marlowe wears hers all the time, and she hasn’t had one complaint yet.
  • Baby carriers – There are so many different baby carriers out there, and it’s more about personal choice and cost. Having one has been a huge help traveling and bringing Marlowe along throughout our day. Some of the most popular options are Solly Baby, Baby Tula, Boba Wrap, Ergobaby, Artipoppe, Graco, and more. A really affordable one is the Infantino.
  • Baby essentials that are beautiful – Mushie. From dinner plates, to silicone bibs, swaddles, toys, sheets, and more, Mushie makes baby gear in beautiful colors.

 

Baby health, bath, and diapering essentials

There are many different diapering and bath brands. This is definitely not a full list. This is simply what I use and what has worked for me:

  • Diapers and wipes – Pampers. There are many different kinds of diapers and wipes, but we have been using Pampers Swaddlers for the most part, and we haven’t had any issues.
  • We use Aquaphor diaper cream ointment. We have tried others but they didn’t seem to work for her.
  • Frida – From postpartum recovery items to new baby items (such as the Nose Frida), Frida has quality items that I recommend.
  • Baby sunscreen – ThinkBaby is what we use, and it has great reviews from dermatologists.
  • Baby shampoo and soap – Tubby Todd is what we use and I recommend it. It smells great and is gentle on baby skin, and I also recommend the all-over ointment lotion. These are the best baby products for the skin.

 

Our boat bedroom with Marlowe’s Snoo.

Baby sleep gear

Oh, baby sleep – what every new parent hopes for!.

Like many babies, Marlowe’s sleep was very rough in the beginning, but thankfully she quickly got the hang of it. She has been sleeping through the night for several months now.

Here are my recommendations for the best baby gear for getting your baby to sleep:

  • Bassinet – Snoo by Happiest Baby – This is the bassinet that we use, and it is very popular. Yes, it is expensive, but you can also rent one. We actually decided to rent one because we don’t have the space to store it if we decide to have another baby. Marlowe has been sleeping through the night for months now, and I definitely think that the Snoo has helped. We kept it on the weaning function the whole time as well, so we didn’t have to worry about her preferring it over a crib too much.
  • Sleepsack – I LOVE the Dreamland Baby Sleepsack/swaddle. Marlowe has been sleeping through the night ever since she started wearing this. She sleeps a solid 10-12 hours without waking up, and it is wonderful for all of us.
  • Travel crib – Guava Lotus Travel Crib. This is the travel crib we have. It fits into a backpack and can be used on a boat, in an RV, while traveling via hotels and Airbnbs, at airports, and more.
  • Baby monitor – The two baby monitors that I looked into are the Owlet and the Vava. What I like about the Vava is that you don’t need wifi in order for it to work.

 

Breastfeeding gear

Breastfeeding can be a struggle for many new parents.

Remember, every parent has to do what works for them, and the main goal is to keep your baby fed and healthy. No judgment here on how you decide to feed your baby!

Because I am able to breastfeed, here is some of the gear I’m using:

  • Spectra – S1 Plus Electric Breast Milk Pump – This is the electric breast pump that everyone seems to have, including me. It is also portable and rechargeable, which is great because I don’t have to be near an outlet in order to pump.
  • Willow wearable breast pump – In addition to the breast pump above, I also recommend a wearable breast pump if you plan on pumping often. I only had the Spectra breast pump during the first two months, and then I quickly got tired of being stuck in one place multiple times a day. The Willow completely changed this for me. I can now work while I pump, make dinner, eat, take care of Marlowe, and more. If you’re looking for a more affordable wearable breast pump, I have heard good things about the Momcozy.
  • Breastfeeding pillow – I have the My Breast Friend nursing pillow, and I have no complaints about it. It’s comfy for both me and the baby.
  • Baby bottles – Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Anti-Colic Baby Bottles – These are the baby bottles that we use.
  • Formula – I have not used formula (other than the first day at the hospital while waiting for my milk to come in), but there are plenty of great formula brands out there. Here is a really helpful article on the Best Baby Formulas.
  • Other items you may want include nipple cream and breast pads.

A quick note about breast pumps: If you have insurance, you may be able to get a free or discounted pump through your insurance. I definitely recommend asking as it can save you a large amount of money.

 

Baby clothing

There are many, many different stores to buy baby clothing from. Below are some that I recommend:

  • Old Navy
  • Target
  • Carter’s
  • Kyte Baby
  • Once Upon a Child – this is a secondhand store where you can find many great deals on baby clothing and gear
  • Caden Lane
  • Spearmint
  • Copper Pearl
  • Little Sleepies
  • Posh Peanut
  • Free Birdees
  • Little Poppy Co – they have the most adorable bows

When should I start shopping for baby?

This is entirely up to you!

Some people will run out and buy a couple of things right away, while others will immediately start buying the best baby gear. 

One of the first things we bought were tiny swimsuits for Marlowe because we were in the Bahamas and couldn’t wait for our little beach baby, haha! However, once I filled out our registry, we waited to see which items were purchased before buying anything else. Fortunately, we got pretty much everything on our registry.

Whether you decide to start buying the best baby gear now or later is up to you. But, you can save money if you see what’s purchased from your registry. Also, borrowing baby gear from friends and family can be a great way to save money.

best baby gear

Everything you need to financially prepare

If you are looking for a financial guide for new parents, then I recommend the New Mama Money Plan. I have read this from beginning to end already. Some of the topics discussed include:

  • How to create a budget for your baby’s first year (this includes what you will need, common medical expenses and estimating birth costs, and more)
  • Maternity leave
  • Planning your baby registry
  • Understanding your insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Estate planning

This is a great resource for anyone who is about to be a new parent.

There are worksheets included to help you create a budget for your baby and answers to baby-related money questions (such as what baby things do you actually need? What hand-me-downs are safe? How do you plan and afford childcare? How much will the birth cost?). That’s just a bit of what the worksheets include. It was really helpful and nice to have everything in one easy-to-find guide.

You can click here to learn more about the New Mama Money Plan.

 

How to take maternity leave when self-employed

Are you self-employed and pregnant? Are you wondering how to handle maternity leave when self-employed?

Here are some tips for planning how to take a maternity leave:

  • Set something up with your clients. If you have clients, then I have heard of many business owners working ahead as much as possible to have all the work they’d do during their maternity leave completed in advance. This can be a great way to guarantee income. While it will require more work upfront from you to make up for missed income months, it can be a way to not miss out on any income.
  • Create a savings fund. Many self-employed parents create a savings fund that is specifically money set aside for the months they are not working during maternity and paternity leave. This can take some of the stress off of you, as you know how much time off you can afford to take.
  • Find ways to make passive income. If you have the time, finding passive income ideas can help you make money while on parental leave without having to dedicate as much time towards it. There are many options, and you can learn about them in 12 Passive Income Ideas That Will Let You Enjoy Life More.
  • More money talks with your partner. Because self-employed maternity leave will affect your partner too, it’s important to have some serious conversations about how you can work together. Maybe that’s creating a stricter budget, paying down high-interest rate debt, or them helping you work ahead.
  • Short-term disability policies. Because pregnancy counts as a pre-existing condition, you may be able to take advantage of a short-term disability policy. They won’t work for everyone, so do your research. It will also take some long-term planning because you will probably have to pay into a plan several months in advance before you can use it for your maternity leave.
  • Have a plan for going back to work. Your life will be very different once your baby is born, and figuring out how to go back to work is just as important as how to take maternity leave. Think about things like childcare, which clients and tasks will take priority when you get back, and so on.
  • Hire someone to manage your business. Some business owners may decide to hire someone like a virtual assistant to answer emails and keep day-to-day things running smoothly while they’re away. Or, maybe you hire another freelancer to take over your work for you.
  • Be easy on yourself. I’m already learning that having a child means I need to be easier on myself. There will be times when you get it right, but there will also be times when you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. That’s a lot to handle when you’re worried about your baby and your business.

You can read more at How To Take Maternity Leave When Self-Employed – What You Need To Know.

 

What is the best baby gear?

I hope you enjoyed my list of the best baby gear that I have used and enjoyed.

This obviously isn’t a complete list because all babies and parents are different! So, what may have worked for me may not work for you. There are so many great options out there, and this list could go on and on.

Also, I know how easy it can be to get overwhelmed as a new parent. I have been looking over this list, and it seems so long!

You can easily accumulate a lot of stuff for your baby, and there are a ton of baby items that I have that I haven’t even included in this list (such as a baby bathtub, diaper bag, crib mattress, crib sheets, changing pad, and more!). 

What else would you add to this list for new parents? What’s on the top of your best baby gear list?

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Dad Adventures in the Backyard

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” These are the inspirational words of Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The fact that Tolkien was one of the biggest-selling adventure authors of all time with 150 million copies sold gives extra credence to the quest for adventure brimming inside all of us.

Why am I writing about adventures with Dad? Never thought you would ask!

You see, we are currently filming our Father’s Day TV Community Service Announcements (check out last year’s here) and interviewing dozens of children. We are asking very simple questions like, “What do you do with your dad?” and “Why do you like your dad?”

The answers are sublimely brilliant and revealing all at the same time.

What is undeniable is that fathers are the source of fun and adventure for our children. The moral of the story is the more fun and adventure, the merrier. Children love laughing, enjoy adventure and love doing unusual things with their dads.

As Richard Branson said,

“If happiness is the goal — and it should be, then adventures should be top priority.”

So, if adventures should be a top priority, why don’t we do adventures more often? I think one of the answers to this question is that we think adventure needs be undertaken in a far-off place, in exotic circumstances.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Just start in your backyard. Go outside your door like Bilbo said, and begin the adventure. Let me give you an example.

It was my daughter-in-law’s birthday and my son bought a large metre-wide helium heart balloon. Well, my four-year-old grandson wanted to release the balloon into the air ‘to see what happened’. Mum had the presence of mind to grant him his wish.

From my grandson’s point of view, Bilbo’s words came to pass with the helium balloon, “There’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” This outside-the-door adventure of the balloon going up and up and up became the adventure of the day.

Check out this beautiful “A Toy Train in Space” story below by a true dad adventurer with his young son. It has almost 9 million views and at 2.5 minutes is a great watch with the whole family. The pre-sequels humour is worth the watch too.

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To be fair, devoted dad Ron Fugelseth’s adventure is a little bit further than the backyard, but a variation of the same could still work outside your back door. This is where your Dad Adventure creativity really begins to count.

The next Dad Adventure video I would like you to check out is totally backyard. Yes, you can do this and your children will love you for it. It is descriptively called, “Camping in the Backyard Adventure! All Fun with Dad!” Another great watch for the whole family.

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Jawaharial Nehru said, “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

Payton Fisher, the lovable dad in the camping-in-the-backyard video, was looking at camping in the backyard through the eyes of his children. This is the key to being a good dad adventurer.

The second key to being a good dad adventurer is developing the spirit of adventure in you. Wilfred Peterson gets right to the point when he says,

A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, travelling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.”

Brett McKay, who runs the Art of Manliness website in the USA, recently featured an amazing guest. His podcast called “Become a Backyard Adventurer” helps individual dads develop the spirit of adventure in practical ways. This will help you do the same with your children.

Brett had this to say about his podcast guest,

“A lot of people feel like they’ve seen and done everything there is to see and do in their local area. They’re bored of their daily routine, and contemplate going off on some grand adventure in an exotic locale.

My guest would say that you don’t actually have to wait until your next big trip nor go far afield to mix things up, and that adventure can be found right where you are, in your ordinary routines, the everyday landscape of your life, and even DIY projects, if you decide to approach them in a different way.

His name is Beau Miles and he’s an Australian filmmaker who documents his own small-scale adventures on YouTube, as well as the author of The Backyard Adventurer”.

Beau has even written a book called Backyard Adventure. His most popular video with 4 million views is called “Running a marathon, one mile every hour“. One of his quirky adventure videos, with half as many views, is running along the track of a hidden overgrown railway line.

Beau, as a dad, incorporates his baby into this video of his adventure below.

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“Today on the Art of Manliness show, Beau shares his experiments in proving anything can be infused with the challenge, intrigue, and fun which mark adventure, if you add in some intentional risk, difficulty, and simple what-the-heck quirkiness.”

Lovework

Well, you now have some inspiration for your new “Dad Adventure in the Backyard”. It can be as simple as jumping on the trampoline with your children. A walk to the park or a drive to the beach with your children. Normally it starts as Bilbo said by, “Going out your door.”

Yours for More Dad Adventures,
Warwick Marsh

PS: I encourage you to join us at the Men’s Leadership Summit, at the Tops Conference Centre on the weekend of 26-28 August 2022.

See video promo here, or watch below.

Download Summit flyer here.

Register here.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Kampus Production.

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Victory for Mothers and Fathers

Believe it or not, any victory for mothers is also a victory for fathers, and ultimately for children.

Sall Dover, a new young mother, after protesting on Twitter about the forced use of the Orwellian phrase “birthing parent”, has scored a victory for motherhood.

It takes a man and a woman to create a child, and a mother and a father to raise a child. All the social science research shows that this is always a best-case scenario.

Sadly, a small clique of radical elite activists has been trying to eliminate and derogate the role of mothers and fathers for many, many decades. In doing so, they also harm our children.

In a quote from her book aptly called Seducing the Demon, Eric Jong elucidates the strategy of these radical elite activists:

“Language matters because whoever controls the words controls the conversation, because whoever controls the conversation, controls its outcome, because whoever frames the debate has already won it, because telling the truth has become harder and harder to achieve in an America drowning in Orwellian Newspeak.”

The story broke on Sky News and Channel Nine’s Today show with Karl Stefanovic and Ally Langdon. Watch the video below.

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Olivia Day, a journalist for the Daily Mail in Australia, reported the story in an article titled, “New mum is OUTRAGED after being called a ‘birthing parent’ instead of a mother by the Australian government — as Ally Langdon slams the move as ‘dehumanising’”.

“A new mother has called out the government after being referred to as a ‘birthing parent’ rather than a ‘mother’ on a healthcare form.

Sall Grover, from the Gold Coast, said she was shocked by the ‘alienating’ form that has been introduced in some hospitals as part of a trial to upload new baby details to Medicare.

She pointed out the form asked for the ‘birthing parent’s full name’ in one box and ‘birthing parent’s signature’ in another instead of ‘mother’ and shared an image of it on Twitter.

‘Attention women in Australia: On the form to put our newborn baby on our Medicare card, we are referred to as ‘birthing parent,’ Ms Grover wrote.

‘Enough is enough. This absolute bull***t is exclusionary, alienating and derogatory towards every woman who wants to be and is called “mother.”

‘I know enough what is happening at the moment with women’s rights, and the erosion of our language and spaces, so I know where it’s coming from,’ she said.

During an interview with the Today Show on Thursday morning, she said the new consent forms were simply to please fringe activists and lobbyists.

‘The fact that it was on this government form saying ‘birthing parent’, shocked me.’

Today Show host Karl Stefanovic said he ‘couldn’t believe’ the form had been changed in the first place and described it as ‘bureaucracy gone crazy’. 

Motherhood is about so much more than that, it is every other day from then, you have your first few days of excitement, being part of that and then you see “birthing parent”, are you reducing the role of me getting her here,’ Ms Grover replied. 

She called on the people offended by the term ‘mother’ to ‘get help’.

‘If the word “mother” bothers you so much, I mean motherhood is going to be quite a shock. Get help, go and deal with it if the word “mother” bothers’, she said. 

Today Host Ally Langdon said as a mother herself, she found the term ‘birthing parent’ dehumanising.

‘I feel divided about it, if I’m perfectly honest. As someone who does identify as a mother, I see that and it’s sort off-putting to see birthing parent,’ she said.    

‘It’s dehumanising to me.” …

The new mother re-appeared on the Today Show later on in the morning, after news broke the new forms had been dumped.Sall Grover

‘Since that interview went to air, Bill Shorten, who is a regular on the show, has been in contact to confirm these forms have been dumped,’ Stefanovic said.

‘Replaced with new ones that use the word “mother” not “birthing parent”.’

Ms Grover said it was ‘amazing news’. 

‘I was actually just talking to my own mum about it and I was saying it’s awesome, fantastic. No complaint,’ she told the hosts. 

‘It doesn’t take a genius to work out that it should have been ‘mother’ all along.”

Huge congratulations to Sall Grover, a courageous mother who is prepared to stand up to the attack on our children. This victory is really good news for mothers and fathers all over Australia. Even better news for our children!

Last year in a Father’s Day article, I wrote the following words addressed to men:

“Children need a mother and a father. Children grow up best in the midst of the tension between the masculine and the feminine, as long as that tension is constantly resolved in love.

The best way to resolve this tension for the benefit of your children is to get married and stay married. You as a man need to keep love alive!

Such love will kill you, but what a beautiful way to die! Out of the death of the two in holy wedlock, will come one. Out of that oneness of the masculine and the feminine your children are created, will flourish and become their true selves.

Such is the mystery of marriage. Mothers need fathers, and fathers need mothers, but children need them both.”

Lovework

Keep speaking up and defending mothers and motherhood.

Start by singing the praise of the mother of your children.

As a great woman once said, “Love begins in the home.”

Yours for Protecting Motherhood,
Warwick Marsh

PS: Just letting you know that the 2022 National Grandparent Conference is on Saturday 17 September 2022. Get more information here.

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First published at Dads4Kids.

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Feminism and the Oppression of Women Who are Mothers

The feminist movement has stripped women of their natural calling to motherhood, drumming in the lie that fulfilment can only be found in the general workforce. It’s time to retake the cultural ground and appreciate the unique, irreplaceable vocation to motherhood.

In 1975, coincidentally during the time of the Cold War and the West’s resistance to Marxism, Simone de Beauvoir, a French existentialist philosopher, writer, social theorist, and feminist activist, said something revolutionary about women.

In an interview with Betty Friedan, a leader in the American women’s liberation movement, she said,

“No woman should be authorised to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”

What she was saying essentially was this: If given a choice, most women would choose to stay at home with their children.

She was right about this, of course, for most women, given the choice, would indeed choose to stay at home with their children.

Unnatural Ideology

For the feminist movement it followed then, that from childhood, girls must be taught contrary to their unique design as a woman. That’s why today, you will only hear it said that a woman’s highest calling and value is found in the marketplace, in the workforce, a vocation outside the home.

This is why childcare is one of the priorities of feminist advocates and their sympathisers — to get women back out into the workforce as quickly as possible after they have their babies.

This is an inversion or reversal of God’s incredible calling of motherhood to nurture, protect and teach her children; to cultivate, educate and encourage them to goodness and their noble calling.

More than that, it is to make her home a sanctuary of love, peace and safety for the entire family. This is a full-time 24/7 role that is by no means easy, because it is an act of selflessness every day.

The Next Revolution bookWhilst researching for my recent book, The Next Revolution: Resisting the Cult of the Self, I was astonished at how the women’s liberation movement was hijacked by elite women, many of them childless, who didn’t represent the majority.

These women embraced the philosophical ideas of Marxism and subsequent philosophers who built their ideas on the Marxist theory of the Oppression of Women, and dismantling traditional structures like family, motherhood and fatherhood.

I was equally bewildered at how these ideas have been absorbed by Christians without any resistance, so that it is now a given that Christian women, including mothers, leave the home and unite with the workforce.

This, of course, has been the core Marxist communist/socialist slogan down through the decade — “Workers of the World Unite” — invariably accompanied by a graphic featuring an angry fist in the air.

Not to be left behind, the women’s liberation elites adjusted this slogan to “Women of the World Unite!”

Today we see the success of the so-called liberation of women, as for the first time in American history women outnumbered men in the workforce. There is surely no one more dependent than a wage worker.

And what a tragedy, women now outnumber men in the workforce. Since the US is the cultural leader of the world, we know what is coming for Australia, if it hasn’t already overtaken us.

So, this message is for my sisters in Christ, particularly the younger women, daughters in the faith. Don’t be deceived by the high-sounding ideas from the elite, influential women of the world, as their ideas are simply “empty philosophies” as referred to in Colossians 2:8.

They will lead you to frustration and unhappiness, because they are in direct conflict with your God-given natural design and purpose.

Offensive Truth

Recently I was in a meeting of Christian women leaders, both young and old, and I presented them a question to ponder: What if the minister or pastor stood up one Sunday and said something to the effect that according to God’s Word, a woman’s highest calling is motherhood, and mothers should make it a priority to be at home raising their children?

The room was silent, except for some odd gasps and awkward laughs. Finally, they told me that this could never happen; it would offend too many members, especially the women — even though they all discreetly agreed that this was in fact Biblical teaching.

My question was: If this is Biblical teaching, then why couldn’t it be taught openly in the church? Has the world’s culture, its ideas and philosophies, so permeated the church that what has become anathema to the world, is now anathema to Christians?

Is the church no different from the world in what it values and what it doesn’t?  Have we lost our distinctiveness as a counterculture to challenge the world in love?  I believe it was Matthew Henry who said that the church most influences the world when the church is least like the world.

Tim Keller said, “If a religion isn’t different from the surrounding culture — if it doesn’t critique and offer an alternative to it — it dies because it’s seen as unnecessary.”

Motherhood and the idea of being a ‘stay-at-home’ mum have somehow become one of the lowest base callings for a woman and a waste of talent because anyone can be a mother.  Or can they?

I recognise that we are in a day and age where many women now often have no choice but to work outside the home, and my heart goes out to them. I know many beloved sisters in this situation who feel enslaved, as the choice has been taken from them.

My admonition for the church is to provide practical help for young mothers who want to stay at home and raise their children. Can the local church community lift the burden so that a family can cut down the number of days the mother needs to work?

Their precious children, the next generation of Christians will be thankful to the church, and perhaps we will not have so many of our young people walking away from the faith.

From the beginning, God created women to be mothers; in fact, the name Eve means “the mother of all life.” As we observe the Roe vs Wade abortion law overturning, it is ironic to see that women are the majority of angry protesters on the streets advocating for the right to kill the most vulnerable and weakest in our society, the unborn.

I watched one woman leader say, “My abortion was an act of self-love.” The babes in the womb are voiceless, but if they had a voice, I know they would choose life. Christian women (and the church), we must stand up for motherhood and put it back in the top place of honour from which it has fallen.

Christians must champion motherhood and champion life.

Feminist Simone de Beauvoir conceded that if women were given the choice to stay at home with their children, most would make that choice. It’s our God-given innate design and our children need us!

To Christian leaders and elders, both men and women, I sound the alarm. We have heard much about fatherlessness, but the church needs to also address motherlessness because the flame is flickering dangerously low.

The church can liberate Christian women to pursue their highest calling of motherhood. This idea is radical, it’s different from the world and it’s God’s design.

Jesus is the true liberator of women — follow Him!

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Photo by Jep Gambardella.

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Jordan Peterson’s Latest Bolt of Truth

Jordan Peterson issues a fresh challenge to men, to follow their highest impulses and become the strong husbands and fathers they are meant to be; to find and fulfil their purpose in life, in service to the community and the world.

I first wrote about Jordan Peterson on 18 February 2018 after his breakthrough interview with Kathy Newman about his new book, 12 Rules for Life. That interview reached 7 million viral views in 4 weeks on YouTube. It was a major breakthrough for the men’s movement. Nothing like that had happened before.

At the time I wrote, “Every now and then a moment comes when someone fires a bolt of truth into the mayhem of modern culture and the repercussions are felt around the world, in a good way!”

Jordan Peterson is still firing bolts of truth into the culture and arguably becoming more truthful all the time, much to the pain of those who hate him.

Jordan Peterson’s Kathy Newman interview is now sitting at 38 million views and his 3-year-old British GQ interview is sitting at a stunning 54 million views. His own YouTube channel has over 400 million views and he has written a number of best-selling books besides.

Jordan has joined forces with the Daily Wire, founded by Ben Shapiro, but still he shows no sign of slowing down.

Watch this message to men called, “Wake Up, It’s Time” by Jordan Peterson, created by one of the many channels run by admirers of Mr Peterson. These channels alone must have over a billion views between them. Jordan is reaching the world.

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Jordan Peterson’s recent courageous video called “Doctors and Psychotherapists: Butchers and Liars”, a much-needed expose of the rapacious gender-change industry, has reached over 1.7 million views in a month. The man, true to form, shows no sign of stopping.

On 13 July he released a YouTube message to Christian churches, which is more a message to men than anything else. Read this portion below and make up your own mind.

“Our young people face a demoralisation that is perhaps unparalleled. This is particularly true of young men. Although anything that devastates young men will eventually do the same to young women and that, in this era of anti-natalism and equally reprehensible nihilism is precisely the point.

When they are children, boys are hectored for their toy preferences, which often include toy weapons such as guns, and their more boisterous playing style as boys require active rough and tumble play, even more than girls, for whom it is also a necessity.

When in grade school, boys are admonished, shamed and controlled in a very similar manner by those who think that play is unnecessary, particularly if it is competitive and who value a docile, harmless obedience above all. Shades of Dolores Umbridge.

Following all that, because that is not enough, even when pursued assiduously for total demoralisation, is the inculcation of an extremely damaging ideology which essentially consists of three accusations:

  1. Human culture, particularly in the West, is best construed as an oppressive patriarchy motivated by the desire, willingness and the ability to use power (defined as the compulsion of others against their will) to attain what are purely selfish and self-serving ends…
  1. The second accusation is that human activity, particularly that undertaken in the West, is fundamentally a planet despoiling enterprise. The human race is a threat to the ecological utopia that existed before us and could hypothetically exist after us in our absence…
  1. The third accusation. The prime contributor to the tyranny that makes up the oppressive patriarchy and structures all of our social interactions past and present and the unforgiveable despoiling of our beloved mother earth is damnable male ambition, competitive and dominating, power-mad, selfish, exploitative, raping and pillaging.

You might think that I am overstating the case. Think again, Sunshine.

We in the West are facing an all-out assault at the deepest levels on what the old joker Jaques Derrida deemed the phallogocentric conceptual structure of civilisation.

This is an attack on civilisation itself. To further explain: that is a society centred on the encouraging, adventurous masculine spirit and that privileges, that hated word of all things, the Divine Logos.

(Let me speak directly to my deconstructionist friends.) What should we worship and celebrate properly other than that, deconstructionists?

Should we worship the words of that mass murderer Karl Marx?

It is precisely those young men who are deeply conscientious, capable of guilt and regret, who have come to believe, in pain, that every deep impulse that moves them out into the world for the adventure of their life — even that impulse drawing them to women — is nothing but the manifestation of the spirit that is essentially satanic in nature.

This is not only wrong theologically, morally, psychologically, practically and scientifically. It is literally anti-true. It is not a mere misstatement about the nature of reality, a minor conceptual error, but something that could not be further from the truth.

Something that distant from the truth comes from a place that cannot be distinguished from Hell…

Young men, you have a woman to find, a garden to walk in, a family to nurture, an ark to build, a land to conquer, a ladder to heaven to build and the utter terrible catastrophe of life to face stalwartly, in truth, devoted to love and without fear…

Invite the young men back and say (literally) to those young men: “You are welcome here. If no one else wants what you have to offer, we do.

We want to call you to the highest purpose of your life. We want your time and energy and your effort and your will and your goodwill.

We want to work with you to make things better, to produce life more abundant for you, your wife and children and for your community and your country and the world.

Watch Jordan’s 10-minute video here in full.

Lovework

Jordan Peterson’s message of encouragement to men inspired the Dads4Kids team to extend the deadline for the Men’s Leadership Summit to this coming Wednesday at midnight. Your Lovework assignment this week is to let your friends know about the upcoming Men’s Leadership Summit, 26-28 August 2022.

Men need encouragement. The Men’s Leadership Summit is a great place to get it.

Yours for Encouragement for Men,
Warwick Marsh

I encourage you to join us at the Men’s Leadership Summit, at the Tops Conference Centre on the weekend of 26-28 August 2022.

___

First published at Dads4Kids. Image: Success Chasers/YouTube

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Notable Christians: Anthony Esolen

You need to be aware of this key Christian thinker. He has identified the source of the malaise in modern society and promotes the rebuilding of Western civilisation through the restoration of the family and a renewed appreciation of Almighty God, the Love Who purifies and refines us.

The important and incisive Catholic writer and social commentator Anthony Esolen is well worth being aware of. This piece will be a brief introduction to him, or at least to some of his work. Since I only own three of his books, I will quote from them, along with one other piece.

The 63-year-old American academic and thinker is a graduate of Princeton University and has taught humanities at various colleges, most recently Magdalen College in New Hampshire. He has penned a number of crucial books, and we owe it to ourselves to be aware of his vital contribution to so many key areas of concern. Here then are some notable quotes:

Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery, 2017)

In the first chapter of this book, “The Restoration of Truth-Telling” he has a section on the need to clear the mind of cant. He writes:

I believe now that the “higher cant” is too dangerous even for small talk, because we will inevitably end up thinking in its terms. Words like democracy, diversity, equality, inclusivity, marginalization, misogyny, racism, sexism, homophobia, imperialism, colonialism, progressivism, autonomy, and many others my readers might name are simply terms of political force and have no real meaning anymore. Some of them never had any meaning to begin with. Do not wash your food in chlorine. Do not sprinkle your thoughts with poison. This cant is everywhere…

This is not the common talk of ordinary people in ordinary times. When the fishermen on an old schooner set down for the night, they did not talk about democracy, diversity, equality, inclusivity, and the rest of the nonsense. They talked about their work: the sea, good spots for cod or halibut, the ropes, the bad food, sails that needed repair…

You have to be educated into cant; it is a kind of stupidity that surpasses the capacity of unaided nature to confer. Mass phenomena do the job, so that when you see someone whose brains have been addled by cant for a long time, say a politician, it is as if you were watching a puppet flapping its mouth while a ventriloquist made it say democracy, diversity, equality, inclusivity; you might provide the words yourself if you were in a mischievous mood...

Out of the Ashes - Esolen bookTwo brief comments before continuing. I earlier had made mention of this book when it first appeared (along with three other similar titles).

It should be noted that in two months’ time, a paperback edition of this superb volume will be available.

In the preface to this terrific volume, Esolen begins as follows:

Christianity. Judaism. Dead white males. Old-fashioned morality. The traditional family. Tradition itself. These are the bêtes noires of the elites. They are the pillars of political incorrectness.

Together, they constitute that thing called Western civilization.

Political correctness, at its heart, is the effort to dissolve the foundation on which American and European culture has been built. It has been a demolition project: undermine Western civilization in whatever way possible, and build a brave new world from the rubble.

Multiculturalism has nothing to do with genuine love for natives of the Australian outback or the monks of Tibet. It is an effort to crowd out our own cultural traditions. Radical secularization — in the name of “separation of church and state” — aims to burn our religious roots.

Public education, purveying convenient untruths about our past — the Middle Ages were miserable, the ancients were simpletons, the church is oppressive — has sought to rob us of our heritage. Misrepresentations of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the last two hundred years serve to create an illusion of unvarying progress made possible by abandoning the old ways. And that is the central myth that justifies the continued discarding of our religious, intellectual, and moral traditions.

Defending Marriage (Saint Benedict Press, 2014)

In this solid work in defence of marriage and a refutation of homosexual “marriage”, Esolen says this near the end of his book:

It is not the State that defines what marriage is; nature has done that. It is not the State that determines the good of the family; nature has done that, too. It is not even the State that creates the village or the parish. Households have done that. Before there was ever a gross national product, there was economy, the law of the good of the oikos, the household. The ancient Greeks, who bequeathed to us both the term and the reality of democracy, understood that the individual as such was something of an abstraction. You belonged to a family, a household, a clan…

Totalitarian regimes since Plato penned his Republic… have always been aimed against the family, and for good reason. The family is the single greatest bastion against the power of the State. That’s not because of “individual” rights. It’s because the family claims precedence in being and in nature. It is itself a society anterior to the greater society…

I know there are libertarians who believe that the State should “get out of the marriage business entirely,” but they are living in the dreamland made possible by the very same all-intrusive, bureaucratic, technocratic State they deplore. The growth of the State does not depend upon the obliteration of the individual, so much as it does upon the obliteration of nature and those natural communities that make for genuine citizenship in the first place.

The metastatic State can make common cause with the individualism of licentiousness — with the sexual revolution — because they share the same enemies: the family, the neighborhood, the parish. The State profits from the chaos wrought by the destruction of the family, just as the totalitarian first destroys the economy and then declares that he’s the only one who can restore order…

The lesson is simple. If you want true liberty and not just a paper pass… then you want to bolster the family against the State. But you cannot do that if you grant to the State the godlike power to determine what a family or marriage is in the first place.

God’s Love

Finally, this short piece which I recently became aware of was first shared by Esolen on his Facebook page back in July of 2018. It helps us to learn more about the man and his Christian concerns:

I used to tell my students that they would go a long way toward understanding the Scriptures if they could simultaneously hold in their minds two truths: God is love; It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

My reasoning wasn’t just that both were true, but that the one verse helps to explain the other. When human beings think of love, they think, naturally enough, of the affections, including that most dynamic and dangerous of the affections, erotic desire. They also think of kindness and clemency, the love between members of a family, friendship and camaraderie, and, by extension, love of your native land. But we should always remember that the so-called analogia entis works asymmetrically. It is not that God’s love is like our love, but that our love is (distantly) like God’s love; as we say that a painting of Napoleon is like Napoleon the man, and not that the man is like the painting. So something of the divine Love is captured, analogically and dimly, in our forms of love.

Now, how then can it be “a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God” if God is love? We might reverse the question and ask, How can it not be a fearful thing, if God is love? Love can bring comfort, but it is not comfortable; it is not safe. It is an adventurous thing — even human love is a risky enterprise, as befits the power that alone can bring the soul near to the beauty it has beheld and with which it longs to be one, as Plato says in the Phaedrus. The most potent form of love that we know on a purely human level is a soul-transforming thing; it is Spenser’s “kindly flame” that will never give the lover a moment’s rest until he has won the beloved. And that is not the end, but the end of the beginning, and the beginning of a new life.

If the ardor of a human lover is a shadow of the love of God, then why should we be surprised that that divine love is like a refining fire, breaking, heating, purifying, re-creating? God loves us even such as we are, and because He does, He will not have us remain such as we are. So we pray for the divine chastisement, because, to use Shakespeare’s words, “whom I love, I cross.” “Batter my heart, three-personed God,” says Donne.

So the great question is not whether God loves us, but whether we love God. One measure of that love is whether we will submit to be re-made, and that does not happen to human sinners without suffering.

It is hoped that these short snippets from these very important works of Esolen will spur you on to read him again, or to read him for the very first time.

___

Originally published at CultureWatch. Image: The Catholic World Report

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We Are Merely Jars of Clay

We all have a long way to go in our Christian journey. But if we rely fully on God’s grace, we will get there. Let us learn from the mistakes of others, and strive not to repeat them.

Christians know what my title refers to — it comes from 2 Corinthians 4:5-7:

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

The good that we do and the ministry wins that we have occur because of Christ in us, not because we are such great shakes. Here I want to look at this from two vantage points. One, I will look at one famous Christian leader, and two, I will look further at what Scripture says about sin and the believer.

One Notable Christian Leader

A little while ago I wrote about pastors’ kids and missionary kids, and I spoke about the sad reality that children of Christian leaders can and do go off the rails. I also said that at times the parents themselves may have been at fault to some extent.

I mentioned the daughter of Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, and how she suffered because she saw so little of her own father who was so very busy in Christian ministry the world over for over 25 years. He had done terrific things for Christ and the Kingdom, but his family was often neglected and hurt in the process. See the article here.

As I said in that piece:

“Part of the problem is that back in those earlier days, the standard list of priorities for Christians went like this: God, ministry, family. In more recent times many have realised that a much more biblical list of priorities goes like this: God, family, ministry.”

Man of VisionI want to look a bit further at the book. It is Man of Vision by Marilee Pierce Dunker (Authentic Media, 2005). It is a bittersweet volume, extolling all the great things he had done, and his tremendous commitment to Christ. But he also had his issues, including bouts of depression and a bad temper.

And on top of that, as mentioned, he was simply away from home for so much of the time — usually 10 months a year. Indeed, the constant travel and activity and ministry were just not sustainable — physically, emotionally, spiritually. Says Marilee:

“Years of eighteen-hour days, sleep caught on planes, unsanitary food, and eternal jet lag had begun to take their toll on my father.”

So many people became Christians because of his hard work, and so many were nourished physically as well as spiritually, but that did not mean his own life was fully in order. This was so very tough on his family, and even resulted in estrangement from his family. At one point he even filed for divorce. In fact, it was so bad that one of his daughters took her own life at age 27.

But the idea was to put God before all else. Writes Marilee:

How many times I heard Daddy quote Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children… he cannot be My disciple.” Daddy understood that Scripture to mean that he was obliged to put his ministry and the needs of the world before his own family.

He used to say, “I’ve made an agreement with God that I’ll take care of His helpless little lambs overseas if He’ll take care of mine at home.” It surely sounded sensible enough, and Daddy sincerely believed he was right. Unfortunately, future events would prove that this was Daddy’s agreement, not God’s.

And one more quote:

My father had an unusual ability to “weep with those who weep,” and he was driven relentlessly to do something about the intolerable pain and despair he saw. But Bob Pierce was a man of flesh and blood, and some of his greatest strengths were related to his greatest weaknesses. His very need to minister to the multitudes often made it hard for him to recognize the desperate needs of those closest to him, or to allow himself the luxury of expressing his own needs.”

Such a sad story and such a great story: so much done for Christ, yet plenty of weaknesses as well. I am not picking on one well-known Christian leader. My point here is to say that we are ALL in this camp: we are all a work in progress, we are all a mixed bag, we are all a people on a journey, and we all have plenty of areas where we are not fully imaging Christ. We are simply sinners saved by grace, in other words.

The Believer and Sin

What does the Bible say about all this? At the heart of the Christian life there is a seeming contradiction – or at least a very real paradox. On the one hand we are commanded by Jesus himself to be perfect as his heavenly Father is (Matthew 5:48). The rest of the New Testament insists on this aim, this goal, this telos as well.

But on the other hand, we are still all fallen, finite and fallible sinners, even after being saved by grace through faith. We are not perfect and never will be this side of heaven. We all have the old sinful nature to deal with. We all have carnality and the flesh to deal with. Those who claim we can achieve sinless perfection in this life are greatly amiss.

We are always works in progress. And lest some believers take umbrage at those two things that I just said (that we are still sinners, and we must resist a theology of perfectionism), let me simply point out how the Apostle Paul looked at this matter. The longer he lived as a Christian, the more he saw himself as being worse of a sinner. Yes he did, folks! Consider these three passages and their chronological progression:

  • “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9 – written in his mid-50s).
  • “Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8 – written in his early 60s).
  • “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15 – written in his mid-60s).

I speak to this further here.

Self-Knowledge

A growing awareness of how great and pure and holy Christ is should mean a growing awareness of how much we are not, and how much further we have to go. A few quotes along these lines by some great saints are worth sharing here:

“When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’
He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
~ Martin Luther

“The nearer a man lives to God,
the more intensely has he to mourn over his own evil heart.”
~ Charles Spurgeon

“Remorse, regret, sorrow, and the pain provoked by sin will only increase and intensify the longer we are Christians. Maturity in the faith does not lead to less sorrow over sin, but more. The pain does not diminish; it deepens.”
~ Sam Storms

“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.”
~ C. S. Lewis

“The Christian who has stopped repenting has stopped growing.”
~ A. W. Pink

“The evidence… the raw-bone, biblical evidence that there was one time in your life that you repented unto salvation, is that you continue repenting until today and continue growing in repentance.”
~ Paul Washer

The more we grow as Christians, the more we should be aware of the corruption of our own hearts; and not to be aware of that is a very serious symptom.”
~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones

We are just jars of clay. All the great things that believers have done for Christ have been due to Christ dwelling in them. Yes, God works through people. But we are all sinful and fallen, and we are always a mixture of flesh and Spirit. God alone gets all the credit and all the glory for any great spiritual endeavours and outcomes we are involved in.

One closing quote from Marilee:

“Obviously God is not dependent upon our perfection to get His work done; rather, we are dependent upon Him to work wholeness and health in us so that His Spirit can work through us in purity and power.”

In sum, there are two unbiblical extremes that Christians must avoid like the plague. One is to think that holiness and sanctification are just some optional extras that we need not worry about. The other is an unrealistic and Pharisaical belief in some sort of perfectionism whereby we think we have somehow obtained complete and total sanctification, and we now inhabit some unique spiritual plane that the rest of mere mortals will not get to.

We ARE jars of clay. And that is good news: it should save us from undue optimism and undue pessimism.

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Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by Antoni Shkraba.

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