We're officially in love with Mr Fox Magazine! Just like us, they do things a little differently, with a perfect blend of style and substance for modern families. What started as an online magazine for parents of boys has branched into a resource full of fresh ideas for children of both genders. We spoke to editor Lydia Gard about the concept behind Mr Fox and advice that she has for mothers of boys.
"I have written and edited print magazines for the past 12 years but when I had my boys (Oliver, 6, and Ru, 3), it dawned on me that I hadn’t ever picked up a parenting magazine or subscribed to a blog. What was out there didn’t really answer to me or feel relevant. I was having lunch with an old friend from Uni and we were lamenting this fact when it occurred to us that we could try and create it ourselves."
"We launched Mr Fox because, as mothers of boys, we couldn’t find a resource relevant to us. When it comes to fashion and décor, traditional parenting magazines give plenty of column inches to ‘pretty’ things for girls, but very little space for boys stuff, besides the odd sweater in requisite blue stripes or camo print. Mr Fox set out to redress the balance. After 6 months we realised that 90 per cent of the content in Mr Fox was in fact as relevant to parents of girls as it was to those of boys (and both). In fact, some of our readers were parents of girls only and kept asking us to bring girls into the fold. By broadening our readership, nothing changed. Our ethos remains the same as it always was: active, healthy, outdoorsy families who value style and substance and want to read intelligent features on issues relevant to them without having to trawl the internet and spend time they don’t have searching for it. We aim to make life simpler and easier for modern parents by being an intelligent, go-to resource for them across all aspects of raising children."
"As a mother of boys only I have to preserve my femininity by carving out some time to myself – a hot bath with essential oils and a big glass of red wine is usually enough! Friends with older boys say that they are grateful for time to themselves at the weekends because boys increasingly gravitate towards activities with their fathers. I secretly dread that but I expect I’ll enjoy the quiet time when it comes. I do think that mothers of boys have an enormous responsibility for teaching them how to respect women. Making sure they understand how to be gentle, kind, nurturing and to communicate their feelings will give them the best chance of being good fathers and husbands themselves."
"The most interesting piece of advice I've picked up since editing Mr Fox is to encourage a son’s allegiance to switch from the mother to the father. Noel Janis Norton (author of Calmer, Easier, Happier Boys) wrote a series for Mr Fox, which finished recently with a piece on the role of fathers. Much of it resonated with me because my husband works abroad and is only at home a few days a month, so his time with the boys is really limited. When he is there, the quality of that time is really important (for them all). I have already noticed that Oliver looks increasingly to the men in his life as role models: my father and our au pair (a young man) as well as his father. Being ok with that and managing my pangs of envy is a lesson I am still learning."
What would you say are the 3 key bits of advice / knowledge you'd like to pass to mothers of boys?
"Love them fiercely.
Even when they don’t want to talk about it, or they are misbehaving or sulking, they need to be sure of your love. Sometimes that means bear hugs and tickle fights to coax them out of a bad mood and other times a squeeze of the hand at the school gates to give them confidence. You have to be their champion at all times, publicly and privately.
Noise and mess is play, not misbehaviour.
If you feel stressed out by upended toy boxes or the perpetual racket, go into a different room and take five. Boys are programmed to shout, bang around, climb and experiment. So when they use your freshly folded laundry to make a den and tip over your prized orchid in the process, it may drive you to the edges of sanity but they probably didn’t do it intentionally so try not to lose your mind.
Remember to listen.
It’s all too easy to try and offer a positive when your child is sad or angry about something. But instead of always offering a solution, just be quiet and let them speak. All they really need is validation that how they feel is ok and normal. We are always telling our kids to listen to us, but are we really listening to them?"