July 25, 2017

PANKs and PUNKs (Professional Aunties and Uncles No Kids)

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The number of PANKs (Professional Aunties No Kids) and PUNKs (Professional Uncles No kids) is growing and their influence on children is in the news. The founder of the auntie movement is Melanie Notkin at www.savvyauntie.com. She has an active blog and book that guides child-free aunties on all things kiddie. Notkin is the creator of the term PANK and she also owns the trademark.

From her website:

A few years ago, DINKs was the new segment marketers had their eye on – Dual Income No Kids. PANKs, while focusing specifically on women (married, partnered or single) who have no kids, is a pretty large market in the US. In fact, the 2010 US Census Report: Fertility of American Women states that 47.1  percent of women through age 44 do not have kids (check “All Races” report). And that number has been steadily growing over the last couple of decades. In 1976, only 35 percent were childless.

Notkin gives statistics on the spending potential of the emerging PANK market:

–  According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 50 percent of single women own their own homes. They’re also the fastest-growing segment of new home buyers, second home buyers, car purchasers, new investors, and travelers. (Who hasn’t dreamed of taking the nieces and nephews on their first trip to Disney World?)

–  Twenty-seven percent of American households are headed by women, a fourfold increase since 1950.

–  Of American women who draw annual incomes of $100,000 or more, nearly half don’t have children. In fact, the more a woman earns, the less likely she is to have kids.

That means that these PANKs and PUNKs have money to spend on their nieces and nephews since they don’t have kids of their own.

A November Forbes article Raising Children: The Role of Aunts and Uncles says that many adults in childrens’ lives today are not relatives but close friends that are considered stand in aunts, uncles and godparents.

Notkin says, “The more aunts and uncles the child has, the more influences a child has,” says Notkin. “If the uncle is a fantastic artist, the child may be inspired by that talent.”

For kids the diversity of influences could be beneficial. Parents who share their kids with aunties and uncles might benefit too. And it fits with the notion that “it takes a village” to raise a child.

Author’s Note:

I’m not really an aunt, but I’m a godmother three times over and consider most of my friends’ kids my nieces and nephews, so that makes me a PANK.  I just finished shopping, wrapping and mailing all their Christmas gifts. I take my role of Auntie Amy very seriously at Christmas time, and put A LOT of thought into finding the exact right gift for each child. (One gift was noisy and I’m sorry for that.) And I hope, hope, hope the kids love them! I find that books are the best gifts and still remember all the books my PANKs and PUNKs and real aunts and uncles gave to me as a child. Hope you will share your favorites.

Hey WNKers (and PANKs and PUNKs) what is your favorite book to give to kids?

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Childfree Getaways

Looking to escape the cold AND the kids over the holidays?

Check out the list of tropical childfree vacation destinations below:

California

Villa Royale Inn – Palm Springs

Luxury Boutique Hotel

Adults only

http://villaroyale.com

Hawaii

Hooilo House Maui

http://www.hooilohouse.com/index.html

From the website:

Ho’oilo House is designed as an adults only property. We do allow children over 16, but they will be in their own room in accordance with our 2 person per room maximum. Exceptions can be made for small babies.

Antigua

Coconut Beach Club

Affordable all-inclusive resort

Adult couples only

http://www.coconutbeachclub.com/

St Lucia

Ladera – Beware children are welcome over the holidays!

2011 Nomination for most romantic resort in the Caribbean

http://www.ladera.com/

Gros Piton, St. Lucia, seen from the Ladera Ho...

Children are discouraged. From the website:

Ladera was designed primarily as a retreat for adults. Because of its unique location overlooking the Caribbean and the Pitons, there are steep drop-offs at the edge of every suite. Furthermore, many guests come to Ladera to get away from their children – for the romantic setting and peaceful solitude Ladera offers.

If you do bring your children, please keep a constant eye on them, especially around the cliff areas and on the stairways, and be sure they understand that peace and quiet are important to many of the guests at the resort. Children over the age of 10 are welcome. Families with children ages 5 and up are welcome during the holidays.

Mexico

Le Blanc Spa Resort – Cancun

Adults only luxury spa resport

http://www.leblancsparesort.com/

From the website:

Are you ready to release yourself from the cares of the world and surrender to the freedom of a serene and carefree luxurious retreat? The adults-only, all-inclusive Le Blanc Spa Resort beckons you from the white sand beaches and sparkling waters of the Caribbean.

WNKies – Tell us your favorite secret childfree getaway.

 

 

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Kid Leash?

Kid Leash? I just walked past this little scenario at Dulles International Airport!
Kid Leash?

I just walked past this little scenario at Dulles International Airport!

I’m en route from the Adirondacks to the Sangre de Cristos. You follow me so far? Exit Essex; enter Taos. Only, the transition’s not that slick…

First there was a ferry ride across Lake Champlain. Spectacular! Warm, breezy and bluebird skies. Then there was a leisurely picnic with my bride near Burlington, Vermont. At the edge of a pond. With cattails. And dragonflies. Perfect. Then a smooth flight to Dulles with a fascinating seat mate who’s sailing through the Mediterranean then across the Atlantic and around the Caribbean with her husband. The flight vanished instantly. So far, so good.

Then a layover at Dulles waiting for the flight to Albuquerque. Dinner. A walk. And then this. A pet child being taken for a walk! I’ve seen it on ski slopes. I’ve heard of it in malls. But a father walking his son on a leash? Never before. Still processing it. Good? Bad? Ugly?

Update: I posted a reddit link to this post (“Kid Leash: A father walking his son like a pet Pomeranian… Good? Bad? Ugly?”) which has generated some of the expected reactions, but also a few frustrated/angry commenters. For the record, I wasn’t excoriating the man in the picture above or users of baby leashes in general. I was surprised. And I asked readers to share their reactions. Turned out to be a more sensitive topic than I anticipated, provoking some defensive emotions. But mostly some interesting conversation. And a link to Gadling’s “Dont use baby leashes” with a video that ties in nicely!

But wait, there’s more! If you’re still trying to make up your mind if baby leashes are good, bad or ugly, then here’s another little scenario to set your gray matter gears in motion. Or your emotion in motion…

A woman was in last week with her one year old son. He was wearing one of those child leashes disguised as a cute monkey back pack, you know where the tail is the leash? … his mom wanted to try on shoes so she tied him to the sale rack. Yes, she TIED him to the sale rack… The sale rack is near our handicap ramp, which all kids think is a playground. So naturally the baby wanted to play on it. He heads for ramp and almost gets there but he’s leashed, so he starts to stretch. He makes it to the rail and starts trying to flip over it to get to the ramp. He’s so close yet so far, and this is so dangerous because the sale rack could fall on him if he gets any further… (Awful little monkeys)

The subsequent conversation between sales supervisor and mother is less startling to me that the scenario itself.

For the record, I well recognize the merits of a leash. In fact, it’s occurred to me that an adult version could be marketed to husbands/wives with a tendency to wander! But I’m also inclined to see a dehumanizing quality in a leashed baby or spouse. Perhaps it is primarily symbolic, but a leash seems like a convenient way to circumvent the sort of “hands on” parenting that ideally nurtures and educates and guides a child during these formative years. It replaces a verbal, tactile and cognitive guidance with a merely physical surrogate. I’m not a psychiatrist, nor do I pretend expertise in infant development, so I’m not denouncing the use of people leashing. Certainly those wiser than I will set me straight!

Endless Summer (Vacation)

I hate that summer has to end. But I love comedienne (Canadian female comedian) Samantha Bee from The Daily Show. Her article in Saturday’s WSJ  “A Long Summer for ‘Weary Tiger’ Moms” made me pine for summer vacations past. She explained that as a child of the 1970s she spent her lazy summer days,

“languishing in front of the TV watching Phil Donahue and eating Boo Berry until my skin turned purple. Nobody cared if I read. Nobody cared if I wore sunscreen, or pants. I was like a house cat; my parents barely even knew if I was still living with them or whether I had moved in with the old lady down the street who would put out a bowl of food for me. In the ’70s, parenting was like a combination of intense crate-training and rumspringa, so I would typically spend June through September burnt to a crisp and wandering listlessly around the city, verging on scurvy.”

Kids and parents of 2011 are busy and exhausted all summer long. There are tutors and classes and camps and play dates and so many things that fill up the space that is meant for restoration and relaxation. Even as a member of the child-free community I am guilty of playing catch up with work and to-do lists on splendid summer days when I should be outside playing!

As a kid, my summers were crammed with summer camps and activities like many kids today. The days that I wasn’t programmed to the gills I was thrilled to lie around and stare at the TV, or go for meandering bike rides, or make chalk drawings that filled the sidewalks. I loved the freedom that came with having nothing to do. I would maybe wander home when the street lights came on for a quick dinner only to rush back out to meet the neighborhood kids for the late night kick-the-can session.

As a former teacher I can smell the first day of school rapidly approaching and still get excited to see new notebooks filling the store shelves at the end of July. September is always a crazy rush to get back on task with school and work, so why do we all feel the need to keep a tightly packed schedule during the summer too?  Maybe next summer parents, kids, and even the child-free can remember that the lazy days of summer are fleeting and it’s okay to enjoy the warm summer breeze and the long lazy days and just…relax.

Hey, parents:

Do you feel rested after summer vacation or are you eagerly awaiting the first day of school so you can finally get some rest?

Hey, Why No Kidsters:

How did you spend your summer vacation?

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Video: Amy Poehler’s Tip For Traveling With Children

Amy Poehler 2011 Shankbone 3
Image by david_shankbone

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO of Amy Poehler’s Tip For Traveling With Children.

SNL alum and Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler has an effective strategy for traveling with babies. DRINK! This one is from a direct post to our “Why no Kids?” Facebook page, where you can find more compelling clips and stories that have not (yet) appeared in the Blog.

Poehler’s P&R co-star Asiz Ansari also chimed in about his own baby strategies earlier this week. And check WNK archives for comedy clips and print from the likes of Louis C.K., Jason Jones and Drew Magary.

 

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True Luxury? Staying Kid Free

“Sometimes, children are the last thing travelers want to see (or hear) on vacation…” – Jennifer W. Miner

In my research for kid free hotels I came across many offers for hotels where Kids Stay Free! I immediately navigated away from the family friendly chains and discovered that there are several couples only accommodations and gay-friendly sites for me and my one-and-only. Some looked fancy and some required rubber sheets and participation in the daily wet T-shirt contests, but most childfree places catered to a more curious traveler. Swingers we are not!

It is no coincidence that my favorite hotel in the world is adults-only. It is peaceful and rejuvenating and expensive. But what price would you pay for the true luxury of lounging poolside without the words “MARCO” and “POLO” ringing in your ears?

At this magical hotel, let’s just call it Heaven-on-Earth, the pool is quiet and there are no flying Frisbees or nap time tantrums. Sometimes there are  boobies but not the breastfeeding kind. Once in a panic a few guests entered the pool area in horror when they spotted several young teenagers. The management was swiftly notified, and the guests miraculously disappeared. (Even some loud adult guests were asked not to return.) Many of the guests of the hotel had children and spoke openly and guilt free about loving their childfree vacations. I met some pregnant guests who mourned the fact that they wouldn’t be able to return for some while. Everyone agreed that the childfree policy made the hotel a perfect repeat destination. The hotel is consistently booked far in advance even with its crazy rates.

So why don’t more hotels offer adult only options? The huge baby boomer market is made up of empty nesters, and the childfree by choice market is growing, and many gay couples have Double Incomes and No Kids. Several Four Seasons Hotels offer adult only pools and a few hotels in Cyprus are childfree for the summer season. Unfortunately, search for upscale adult only hotels came up pretty short, but it is my mission as a ‘Why No Kids?’ founder to take one for the childfree community and search out and find these oases of serenity and share them with our readers. (Who says childfree couples are selfish?)

As DINKs we need to tell hotel chains that we want adult only options with pools and even sections of the hotels or kid-free-zones. If we vote with our wallets just maybe the proprietors (aka huge corporations) will listen. Unfortunately, it seems like the opposite is happening. Today, hotels primarily cater to families with children with their cartoons character tie-ins, day-care activities and adventure areas that are reserved for kids only. Even the cruise ship market is capturing the kid’s vote. What happened to the idea that a vacation is a place of respite, relaxation, and calm; free from the noise and commotion of everyday life including screaming, splashing kids and crying babes? And what happens when you and your partner slip from the little ones for some much needed peace and alone time, and arrive at your destination to find that it’s not an escape at all? Can an argument be made that parents, not non-breeders can derive the greatest benefit from a few days of childfree lodging?

Fellow DINKs do you have a favorite childfree destination? Parents, do you take kid-free vacations? Why or why not? Inquiring minds want to know…

For a list of hotel ideas check out:

Top Five Adults-Only Luxury Resorts in the World

Recommended Hotels with “No Children” Policies for Quiet Vacations by Jennifer W. Miner

http://www.suite101.com/content/top-five-adultsonly-luxury-resorts-in-the-world-a117108