attachment parenting

Trust Your Gut

Permissive parenting, passive parenting, Attachment Parenting, Helicopter Parenting, free range parenting, main stream parenting, Intentional Parenting, Peaceful Parenting…yada, yada, yada!!  Then there is the advice of your mother, your mother-in-law, your sister, your sister-in-law, your boss, your BFF, your husband's boss's wife's cousin.   How in the world is one to choose which advice to follow?!

There are proclaimed experts in every area of parenting.  There is one (or many) in each school of thought.  There is a whole section on parenting in Barnes and Noble.  Thousands of pages, blogs, magazines and articles that specialize in telling us how to rear our children fill all of our media sources.  Parenting is big business!

So how does a newly pregnant woman go about narrowing what works and what doesn’t?  The answer is to read it all.  That’s right, read everything that you can get your hands on while you are pregnant.  Take information from all sources possible.  Listen to other mothers.  Sit in on cafes and small groups at The Motherhood Collective.  This is all very important information to gather, especially when your baby is easily contented with your avoidance of spicy foods and nourished from the umbilical cord.

As you start collecting this information, certain thoughts and ideas will begin resonating with you.  Certain parenting practices will just seem “right” to you.  You will get an idea of what to do when your little bundle of joy arrives.  You will get a gut instinct that will continue to develop as you develop as a mother.

So now your little newborn is here, and you want to know why the things you just knew you wanted to do with your baby aren’t working.  You have a whole arsenal of things to try.  The next step in developing your parenting skills is to stop reading those books and to start reading your baby.  Watch your baby’s cues and signals.  Determine your child’s rhythms and work with them.  All of those thoughts and words of wisdom that you have gained from your pre-baby preparation now need to be adapted to fit your baby’s personality.  I am here to tell you that no baby will fit inside one parenting book, but there are many ideas on parenting that will amalgamate with your baby’s personality.

You will, of course, continue to have questions throughout this crazy and fast journey of mothering.  Your baby will continue to develop and you will continue to adapt.  Continuing to grow and adjust are all part of this wonderful journey.  You are your baby's best mother.  You are also never alone.  Continue to seek advice of those other mothers and your trusted physicians; but more importantly, remember to trust your gut, listen to your instincts, and NEVER say never.

Dreaming of Sleep

Sleep issues are a big deal in our house.  Our first child has had a difficult time sleeping since day 1.  Maybe you can relate.  I could give you the background, but the general idea is that he is 22 months old, and I have haven’t slept through one straight night since he was born.  Some of you are in shock right now.

Sleep can fall under one of the controversial categories in the realm of parenting.  My husband and I agreed early on that we wanted to respect our children’s needs in the way that felt most natural to us.  We opted to never choose to allow our children to Cry It Out alone when dealing with sleep.  I feel that a child will learn to sleep through the night when they are developmentally ready.  Not everyone agrees with me, and that is perfectly fine.  This is how we have chosen to parent our children.  I truly believe there are a million ways to raise a child.  What works for one family may not work for another, and what works for one child may not work for another.

Way back when he was around 3 or 4 months old, I read The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  It is a fabulous book on sleep that didn’t really work for us.  One thing she wrote in the book is, “You can either have tears or take time.”  We have chosen the time route.  Well, I’m here to tell you that the time route can take its toll on a mama.  But nevertheless, we have stayed the course.

Some things we have worked through are bedsharing versus cosleeping; tandem nursing; night nursing; differing schedules; nursing to sleep; night terrors and nightmares; schedules versus routines versus child cues; and crazy nap habits.  Maybe some of you have had to work through one or all of these topics.  Maybe some of you can’t relate at all.  Maybe some of you are so sleep deprived that you can’t even read the words on this page.  I wish I could write that I have all of the answers, but I don’t.

What I do have is a few great resources to give you.

The first one is a book, Sleepless in America:  Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.  I have found this book to be fantastic.  While other sleep books have been very helpful, most only cover the topic of the newborn or infant period.  Kurcinka covers so much more.  I highly recommend this book for any parent dealing with sleep issues, behavioral issues, grade issues or just issues in general.

Another good book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Weissbluth.  Now while I don’t ascribe to his every theory, he has a wide array of advice for many different parenting styles.

And when all else fails, come up with a good list of things to do when you are up all of those extra hours.  A good friend of mine wrote a great post about it here.  I have done quite a few interesting things in the middle of the night while waiting for certain little people to go back to sleep.  Unfortunately, I am so sleep deprived that I can’t really remember what most of them are.

What are some things that keep you going through the constant haze of sleepless nights?

Cooking, Cleaning, Bathing...Oh, My!

In September, the Motherhood Collective will feature posts on balance - having it or not! It's certainly a state most of us struggle to find. September is, for some, the calm before the storm. Our kids are back in school, fall activities have begun and we have a few precious weeks before we really have to start thinking about the holidays. What better time to take a few minutes to reflect on how we spend our time, juggle our lives and what we can do to achieve our own perfect balance! ~TMC For me, living a wholistic life is all-inclusive.  What I mean, it is part of everything we do as a family such as: attachment and purposeful parenting; respecting our children as whole persons; trying to eat a real, whole foods diet; getting the proper amount of rejuvenation and exercise; living a green and eco-conscious lifestyle; and most importantly, striving for an honest and pure Christian lifestyle.  Some of these things seem to come easier than others.  Practicing attachment parenting was a natural course of action for me.  It seems to be what I am naturally inclined to.  Ironically enough, finding balance is one of the eight tenets of Attachment Parenting.  Living a green and eco-conscious life is also very natural for me.  I am a minimalist in most areas; therefore, not being wasteful is fairly easy.

Then there are the other areas that don’t come so easily.  Respecting my children when I am a living lack of sleep is truly a task for me.  It isn’t that I don’t want to do this, but it is difficult to control my emotions when all I want is a moment of peace to gather my thoughts.  I could go through each area of my life, dividing the easy from the struggles.

After 22 months, I know that I need balance to survive.

Here are a few things that have helped me to maintain balance amongst the mayhem:

1.  Be patient.  My favorite mommy mantra is: “This too shall pass.”  Sometimes in the midst of whatever struggle we are going through, we tend to think it will never end.  As with most things with kids, it won’t last forever.  If we are patient, the phase will pass and be nothing more than a fleeting memory.

2.  Stop and listen.  Listen to your kids and your spouse.  Simply stopping to listen will tell you so much about that person’s needs, which in turn, will help you to focus on one thing.  As moms, we tend to do, do, do.  If we are focusing on these priorities, then maybe we can knock out a few of those unnecessary tasks.  This will, hopefully, decrease our busyness.

3.  Go outside.  When everything seems to be spiraling out of control, when everyone’s voices seem to be getting louder and louder, when I start to lose the ability to hear myself think – I go outside!   There are actually very few days that I don’t go outside.  I strap one kid to my body and put the other in a stroller, and off we go.  Everyone is able to take a breather, and reconnect.

4.  Simplify your morning routine.  If I have to be somewhere in the morning by a certain time, then I have to prepare the day/night before.  With two kids under two to get dressed and out the door, I have to have a few things streamlined.  I have my bag packed, my clothes picked out, their clothes and diapers set out, and breakfast in mind.  If I don’t do these things, we are late and grumpy.  Oh, and try to go to bed on time also.

5.  Have sex!  Okay, there, I said it.  I said the “S” word.  Even when we feel like we have been touched all day, we feel like we can’t stay awake one more minute, or we simply have our minds focused on 100 other tasks; this is a much needed act to have in our relationship.  How much?  Well, that is up to you and your SO.  I just recommend you do it enough so you don’t forget how.  I hear it's like riding a bike...


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