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9 Ways To Raise Your Child Without Gender Bias

9 Ways To Raise Your Child Without Gender Bias

It’s hard to believe that even in today’s open society where people feel more free to be themselves, we are still bombarded with the sort of gender stereotypes that were still just as prevalent 50 years ago. Pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Dolls are meant to be played with by little girls, and trucks and action figures are reserved for – you guessed it – little boys. Don’t let anyone catch a boy trying on his mother’s high heels for fun, or a girl watching a football game attentively, longing to be a part of the team. Because those things are not for their genders, right?

Wrong. But you knew that already, didn’t you? There is no research to suggest that a boy with an interest in playing dress up, or even makeup and nail polish, will grow up to be the next crazed serial killer. Likewise, a young girl who prefers sneakers to ballet slippers will not later become some ball-busting masculine-driven woman. Though even if she did, what is the real harm in that?

The solution is to start early with your children, by refusing to give into the gender-biased rules set by society and retailers. It may be hard, because other parents are nothing if not incredibly judgmental of the moms and dads around them. But stick to these tips to try your best to live by and you may just be gifted with a well-rounded, intelligent child. Go figure, right?

1. Integrate All Toys

This means that if you have a son, allow him the opportunity to explore what is deemed as the “girls” toy section at department stores. Don’t be so quick to steer him in the direction of those super hero masks. But to be fair, maybe after he has had the chance to peruse the latest Barbie Dolls, let him wander over to the other options.

If you give a little girl a doll, she will take care of it and remain motherly and affectionate as if that baby doll were her own real child. If you hand one to your young son, he will cradle it and be maternal and loving and treat it as if it were his own real child.

But first he needs to have the opportunity to do this, to explore a softer side of himself, and at a young age too. The earlier they can learn that there are no boundaries in playtime, the quicker they will catch on that it is entirely okay to mix their building blocks with their tea set.

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2. Shop In Both Sections

This goes for both clothes and toys, but you already know a bit about the toy situation, eh? Target recently announced that it will soon be doing away with gender-based sections of their children’s departments, opting for signs that say something like “Kids Clothing” instead of the requisite “Boys Clothing” and “Girls Clothing.”

And rightfully so. The whole assumption that all boys should wear blues and greens and girls should stick to pinks and purples is simply outdated. We’ve all seen the rather tacky shirts that say things like “real men wear pink,” but maybe they’re on to something.

If we can start the notion early that boys are allowed to wear pastels and shades of blue and girls are permitted to opt for simply graphic tees over their frilly capped shirts, then there will be less room for gender-biased actions later.

3. Promote Sports And Culture Together

It may come as no surprise to see this mentioned yet again, but we cannot stress enough how important it is to make it clear to your children early on that they have the option to participate in any extracurricular activities that they are interested in. No, this doesn’t mean forcing your son into a tutu or steadfastly convincing your daughter that she wants to be an umpire, but give them the choice to try out a little of everything.

Take your son to both a football game and a ballet recital. Let your daughter experience a baseball game, and follow it up with a cheer-leading competition event. Whatever gender-themed activity you thought you had to steer clear from because your child isn’t the “right” gender, well, think again.

Give yourself some breathing room mentally and give your child the chance to choose for themselves.

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4. Promote All Colors For Both Genders

Yes, this goes for clothing, as we mentioned before, but it also applies to pretty much everything else in life. Your first mistake may be in painting the nursery blue upon the news that you’re having a boy.

Don’t get us wrong, blue is a great color and if you really enjoy it, then by all means, go ahead. But if the only reason you chose it was because it is “for boys” isn’t the right reason. Skip ahead a few years, as you’re taking your son shopping for school supplies.

If he selects the pink pencil case, don’t be so quick to try and sway him away from it and to a more “masculine” color. We get it that you may be envisioning other kids teasing him, but the last thing you want to do is stifle him in any way.

5. Expose Them To The Correct Terminology

When you’re doing pretty much anything with your kids, from choosing a bike to picking out curtains, there is inevitably the mention of something being a “girl color” or a “boy bike.” This of course goes back to these ideas already being firmly implanted in us.

We get it, you can’t help but think of that as the first thing that comes to mind. But the whole idea is to train yourself to stop thinking that way as you raise your children to think freely and as neutrally as possible.

Be generous with your praises of both your daughter and son being “beautiful.” Even throw in some “pretties” now and again. The more you use such terms neutrally, the more naturally they feel.

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6. Share Chores With Your Spouse

As your children grow, it is important for them to see both genders in every type of role in the home. If you and our spouse are the same gender, then it is still plenty important for your children to simply see housework and responsibilities shared.

Don’t designate the more masculine of you two to take out the garbage and open jars because you are a “big strong man.” Let your children see Mom putting together that new kitchen table while Dad is folding laundry in the living room.

Gender stereotypes play such a huge role in the home that this is almost a no-brainer, and it really does take little effort to simply share the work, regardless of who society thinks is the stronger of you two.

7. Let Them Be Themselves

Even if it is questionable, or weird. If your son is adamant in his interest in getting his nails painted while you are working on yours, then give in without a beat. Like we said, there is no scientific evidence to say that doing so would hurt him. On the contrary, it would be promoting him to be himself and follow what he feels is natural to him.

If your daughter truly wants to wear those striped leggings with that polka-dotted tunic and bright orange sneakers, then guess what? She’ll be fine too. There is always the worry, of course, that their peers may find them off putting or even resort to name-calling.

But, guess what? Kids will do those sorts of things no matter what. Allowing your child to follow their imaginations and hearts is setting the foundation for them to not become those kids.

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8. Don’t Use The Logic Of “You’re Supposed To. . .”

Once again, this promotes the idea in your child’s head that because they are a certain gender, they “should” be interested in something or someone. It sets the stage for your child denying themselves of a certain happiness that comes with being yourself and being confident as a result.

Instead of telling your child what they are supposed to be doing, as told by society, give them choices so that they can decide for themselves what they should really be doing, based off of their own inner thoughts and feelings.

9. Remember That You Are Leading By Example

It is one thing to put these sorts of tips to use and to even follow through with them when it comes to your child, but the moment you succumb to these gender-biased rules and stereotypes yourself, you’re setting yourselves back a few hundred steps.

Don’t let your daughter catch you pouting to your husband that something is too heavy and you need his “manly arms.” And be sure to refrain from ever telling your wife – in front of your kids or not – that she’s good at cooking because she is the woman and that it’s simply a compliment. Such things only perpetuate the society-generated stereotypes that you as parents should be working hard to quell.

Is this the be all end all list of tips to raise your child to be perfectly perfect? Of course not. But helping them form an open mind about themselves and everyone around them is certainly a decent start.

Featured photo credit: The Birthday Backhoe/Nate via flickr.com

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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