See below for a sneak peek of the robot garden I made for my toddler using an Ikea chair and milk jugs. Find a detailed tutorial on Houzz.
In a strange way, I built it in response to the ideas presented in this book: All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood
I confess that I have not yet read the book. After finishing my fourth or fifth baby sleep book, I realized that the more you read these parenting books, the more they confuse you with their conflicting advice.
I am intrigued by this book’s premise, though, since the author describes the subject matter as more social science than parenting. As I understand it from the reviews, the author, Jennifer Senior, argues that the anxiety around modern American parenting stems from the notion that children are helpless. She implies that the modern parent’s tactics for increasing their child’s happiness and self-worth—smothering them, packing their schedules with extracurricular activities–is backfiring while also piling on more stress into parent’s lives. In the past, children handled more responsibilities at home, perhaps even earning income for their families, out of necessity. She finds some merit in this more hands-off parenting approach, suggesting that children might only gain self-worth (and therefore happiness) by following through on their responsibilities and by contributing in a meaningful way to others.
So I built this scarlet red robot with an underbite, a single gold tooth, herb legs and cherry tomato arms to amuse my toddler. But also to serve as a small gesture of empowerment for her. Maybe in a few months she can eat pesto made from the basil she helped grow ;)
On a more pragmatic note, I designed it for those strapped on time and/or money. It cost virtually nothing to make since I recycled an old Ikea chair and some milk jugs. Its vertical orientation helps maintain a small footprint so I hope that parents living in small quarters could use it in their balconies or patios.