Of all the changes I anticipated barefoot running would bring to my life, I have to admit that my parenting style wasn’t one of them. And yet, that’s precisely what’s taken place over the past year or so.
More specifically, I used to be one of those parents who always shouted “Put your shoes on!” whenever one of our kids wandered out of the house, and who constantly lectured them about the potential dangers that awaited them on the ground if they dared to venture unshod into the great wild world outside our front door. Or something like that.
The obvious dilemma was that this knee-jerk precaution of conventional parental wisdom flew in the face of all that I’ve described on this website for the past year and a half – specifically, the freedom and joy of kicking off your shoes and letting your feet work as nature intended. And if that weren’t ironic enough, I often refer to such a feeling as child-like. The more I thought about it, my enforcement of mandatory footwear standards for my kids grew increasingly hypocritical.
Consequently, I’ve done a complete 180, and I’d love for my kids to be barefoot as much as possible, but this leads to two predictable problems: 1) there are, in fact, some actual dangers for absent-minded kids who run around barefoot all the time, and 2) they have to wear shoes at school. My wife would also add that 3) having kids repeatedly enter and exit the house while barefoot completely trashes our carpet, but that’s a separate discussion.
That’s why I jumped at the chance to test one of VivoBarefoot’s recently released line of children’s footwear this summer. Additionally, it was an opportunity for my 6-year-old daughter to join my ever-expanding roster of product testing associates - and since she didn’t know any better, I could get away with not paying her. I can be a shrewd businessman sometimes.
The model she tried is the Pally, a Mary Jane-style shoe that is suitable for running, jumping, climbing, hiking in the woods, and pretty much all kinds of general horseplay. My daughter likes them because they’re pink and cute – and I have to say, they are pretty darn adorable.
More importantly from my standpoint, however, is that they maintain all the beneficial features of VivoBarefoot’s adult models, and allow her foot to function as nature intended. It has no heel or midsole, a flexible 3mm puncture-resistant outsole, and a comfort lining around the heel collar that rests gently on little ankles. There are two versions of the Pally: one that is 100% vegan in its construction, and another that is made from vegetable-tanned leather. All of VivoBarefoot’s children’s footwear is manufactured under the same socially responsible guidelines that the company adheres to faithfully.
All of the kids models, for both boys and girls, are available on the company website, although the color selection for the Pally is now limited to black - not quite as cute as pink, but it's a very versatile option for either school or church. All of the models range in size from Euro 26 to 34 (U.S. 9.5 child to 3 adult), and in price from $60 to $90, with the Pally normally retailing for $60. Yes, the price is a little bit steep, which is why it would be great to have a coupon code, huh?
That’s why you’ve got me here to help. VivoBarefoot is currently hosting an invitation only web promotion to move its end of season inventory off the shelves, with huge discounts on everything in stock aside from the Evo running shoe (I know … rats.) The good news is that you’re all invited! Between now and September 13, use coupon code WEB50 for 50% off all non-Evo shoes, including the girl’s Pally. I’ll be taking advantage of the offer myself to grab another pair for my deputy product tester once she graduates to a larger size.
Perhaps the best thing about the Pally is that it helps me reconcile my reluctance to insist on my kids wearing shoes. I’m happy that their feet are experiencing all the healthy benefits of going barefoot, while providing adequate protection to give us peace of mind for their safety. My daughter gets to look cute and walk naturally, and I don’t have to feel like such a hypocrite.
*Product provided by VivoBarefoot
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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