Cultivating healthy communities includes supporting the next generation to thrive. Children have the imagination and empathy so often lost in adulthood, traits needed to build more inclusive and regenerative futures. There's much to gain from observing the natural state of childhood, and hanging out with kids is truly a two-way learning street.
One of our photographers and friend, Holly Bartholomeusz, moved to Los Angeles recently. And as well as working and exploring in the electric city, Holly spends time with her family. With three cousins under the age of ten, Holly shares her experience of hanging out with little kids and how she supports the parents and families in her life.
These moments of family fun were captured on film by Holly herself, featuring our kids blanket, Dancing Daisies.
How do you like to connect with your little cousins?
I love to just *be* with them and play in their environment, usually at one of their homes. It's always special to observe them playing with their toys, learning something new or dancing around the house and entertaining the grown ups. For me, connecting doesn't always look like one-on-one play. I think there's a lot of beauty in observation and interaction in the quieter moments of their inner worlds.
What do you learn through the eyes of these littlies?
So much! If I had to sum it up, they teach me to live in the moment, to be messy and carefree, to keep moving and to play. More challenging moments teach me compassion and to regulate my emotions so I can hold space for theirs. I spent most of my life on the other side of the world from my Dad's family who have always lived here in LA, so it's incredibly special to be close to them and to see the world through the littlies' eyes.
What do you think the kids learn from you?
When I'm around them, I try my best to emulate love, patience and humour, no matter what kind of day I'm having. I guess in doing that my hope is that they learn how to love and know that they are loved and that expressing themselves in whatever way feels safe and best is always welcomed.
How can we support the families and parents in our lives?
As a lot of my close friends and family have started having babies, I've been thinking deeply about what sustainable support looks like. Especially because I'm away from so many friends who live in Australia, I've had to redefine the parameters of traditional, physical support. Through experimenting I've learned seemingly "small" things can make a huge difference, like regular check-ins, flexible communication, sending songs, podcasts or meditations, celebrating children/parent milestones and just having a good old fashioned chat and a laugh.
Yesterday, I sent a song (Weightless by Marconi Union
) to my two best friends, who are both recent mummas, that was specifically formulated as a form of sound therapy to reduce stress and create calm, and it was a nice feeling when one of them replied that it was just what she needed. In general, I try to support all the parents and families in my life by loving them, hard! Letting them know I'm here for it all, moving through the ups and downs and by making their babies and children laugh. I feel so privileged to be a pseudo-aunty to so many bubs in my life. It's not a job I take lightly!