Parenting from the heart.

The End

To be honest this has been coming for a while.  I’ve been thinking about it for some time now.  I won’t be blogging about parenting any more.

I’ve been questioning  the ethics of telling people to follow their instincts while at the same time saying which methods of parenting are good and which are not so good.  I also question why I care so much about the choices other parents make.

There’s a lot of pressure on parents to get it right.  And a lot of it is fear based, not just the mainstream you won’t sleep through the night, he’ll be in your bed forever, vaccinate or he’ll die of polio camp, but attachment parents do it too.  You’ll ruin his spine with that carrier, that’ll cause brain damage, csections cause autism, vaccinations cause autism, not giving probiotics causes autism… We all justify our methods by using fear tactics.

So many times I’ve seen so called gentle parents going to town on another parent for choosing another method of parenting.  I mean absolutely tearing strips off another mother simply for making a choice that she felt was best for her family at the time.

I don’t want to be a part of that any longer.

I feel like I’ve been having the same conversation for 3 years, and so I decided to stop.  I stopped talking about birth, babies, breastfeeding, if I saw a debate come up I ignored it.  I took a break for my own mental health.  And when the week was up, I didn’t want to go back.

So I left some groups, the debates, the posting of screenshots to sigh at, criticise or *facepalm* wasn’t worth the stress for me anymore.  I enjoyed posting in the groups, but without them I was less stressed.

 

I’ve reclaimed my hobbies.  It seems no one expects fathers to suddenly start talking exclusively about babies and child related matters, but to be a good mother you have to.  Everything you say, think and do must first be for the benefit for your child.

What crap.

If I did everything good parenting pages told me to do we’d be on a no wheat no dairy all vegetable diet, I’d never yell, we wouldn’t watch TV, there’d be no character toys, we’d wear handmade clothes, have wooden toys, I’d homeschool…

We eat meat, and wheat, I yell sometimes though I try not to, they watch TV, my boy is in love with Buzz Lightyear, we have lots of character toys, and clothes, including Dora the Explorer and some Disney Princesses, and a Barbie, I don’t make their clothes, most of our toys are plastic, no way in hell will I homeschool.

Once I stopped looking to other sources for answers to my parenting problems and forced myself to just deal with it, follow my true instinct, it all got easier.  We do have the answers, we just can’t hear them with all these outside influences.  If you are bombarded by all these opinions and ideas from outside sources you’ll never be able to hear your own voice, if you’re so busy trying to please others you’ll never find a way to please yourself.

It’s been an interesting journey to this point.  I have really loved blogging, and I will start another blog soon about what we’re up to, but you won’t hear any more parenting advice from me.

Best of luck with your parenting journey.  You’ll be amazed at how much easier the whole thing is if you stop striving to be perfect.  I bet half those page owners of those perfect parenting pages aren’t getting it right either.

No More Mummy Wars

Yesterday someone commented on my blog post about the Gift of Sleep, basically saying I have no idea what I’m on about and how mum’s need sleep and the Gift of Sleep helps families.  I was ready to reply, I was forming a reply in my mind when I realised, I just don’t care anymore.

I don’t have a 6 month old anymore, I got my kids through that and I don’t feel like debating that or justifying my choices during a period which is long gone any longer.

Okay so I do care, I do feel for babies left alone to cry in their beds.  But let me frame it this way.

My 19 month old has been going through a period of waking at 3-4am and thinking it’s morning.  I did this for 3 days before I decided I am the parent, I make the rules.  3am is night time not morning time.  So I went in, hugged him until he calmed down and talked to him, it’s night time, not morning time, you need to go back to sleep now.  Put him down, go back to bed.  And he’d get out of bed and bang on the door, so I’d go back in and repeat.  He wasn’t left to cry, he would on ocassion yell at me as in “muuuuum muuuuuum mum mum mum!” He wasn’t distressed, he was pissed off.  Eventually, he went back to sleep and it’s been improving ever since.

I think sleep training does have it’s place, for older babies/toddlers over 18 months old who can clearly communicate.  Dr Louise Porter in Children Are People Too says that controlled crying was actually intended to be used for children over 18 months.  That makes total sense to me.  It’s an age where parents know their children well enough to be able to tell what angry/sad/distressed/pissed off sounds like, what a tantrum sounds like, what pain sounds like.  To know when they’re asleep or simply laying in wait.  And you know your child well enough to know their limits.  I know my daughter will whinge for a long time when there’s not really anything wrong, she’s just tired, grumpy, over it.  My son goes from zero to screaming in a matter of seconds to show he’s pissed off, but if I don’t go to him straight away it’s literally 30 seconds and he’s over it.  But there’s a difference between the squeal he does to get my attention and the scream he does because he’s hurt or scared.

Now I know that it’s not in the “attachment parenting” framework.  I should cosleep with him, right?  I don’t sleep when someone is touching me, no not even my husband, that’s why we have a king sized bed so we don’t have to touch each other while we sleep.  DS doesn’t sleep in the bed with us either, and DD sleeps in her own bed and sleeps all night.  I’m not messing with that.

The endless debate of CC vs gentle settling methods is tiresome, there seems to be no end.  We all get uppity about our chosen settling method.  We all get a bit Holier Than Thou about it and everyone should do as we’ve done.  Some of those claiming to be gentle parents seem to forget about talking with kindness and respect when talking to other mothers, and they forget that what we model for our children they are bound to copy.

I’m sick of the so called Mummy Wars, and I admit that I have at times been a part of them.  But I just don’t care for debates on sleep or settling any more.  I find it dull to be honest.  It’s just not where I’m at any more.

Look, I still encourage mums to do their research, if they’re not sure do some reading and ask around.  Use your critical thinking skills, who wrote that book, what qualifications do they have, what was their intention when writing the book?  Does it resonate with you?

But here’s an even better idea, throw out all the books, from your Tizzie Hall’s, to your Elizabeth Pantley’s, the lot, put them away and just listen to your own inner voice.  We all have our own instinct and inner voice, listen to it.  Do you really think your little baby needs to sleep through?  Do you think they’re an early riser or do they need your help to “reset” their body clock?  Are they waking hungry, wet, nightmares?  You know your baby, so stop listening to what people who don’t know your baby think is best.

I haven’t picked up a parenting book for a while now, I’ve flicked through something about illness for some ideas when DS had a cold we couldn’t shake, but other then that I’m really making it up as I go along.  I remember when I was a kid my mum had one pregnancy book, it was very thin and it had two pages of baby names for boys and two for girls, some pictures of a baby developing and some exercise ideas.  Mum just did what she thought was best and we turned out pretty good.  I don’t remember her debating sleep or settling with her friends (my brother is 7 years younger then me).  She certainly didn’t spend all day on parenting forums, talking about parenting.

Is this the problem, we spend so much time talking about parenting that we forget to get on and do it?  Have we lost our natural parenting abilities because we’re always waiting for someone else to give us an answer?

I will admit to identifying less and less with attachment parenting and just doing what feels right to me.  Wouldn’t it be great if we all discarded the labels and just got on with it?

 

Going Solo

Quick!  Put the OMO on the window sill!  Hubby’s off and won’t be back for some time.

He rang the other day from a sat phone, nothing like hearing your own voice bounce back at you.  He told me about roaches and rats, how we spend more on the dog each week then the weekly wage is over there, how the poor kids have nothing.  He sounded tired.  Heat stroke nearly got him day one.

Gee I love it when people compare their husband’s bi-monthly business overnighter to my husbands deployments.  Or their husband working a 12 hour shift (DH does 16 hour shifts when he’s on base BTW).  Or they know how I feel because their parent was in the defence force.

That one irks me the most.  And I use to say it myself at first.  I know how you feel being a defence spouse with children dealing with your husband being away because my dad is in the Army.

It’s different.  Totally and completely different.

When I was a kid I missed my dad, it was hard, especially when he was deployed for months at a time and contact was minimal.  But there was no added responsibility, no added pressure, in fact I was cut some slack because dad was away.  It was expected that I wouldn’t be on my very best behaviour because dad was away.

When my husband is away there is the added pressure of having to do the duties of both parents, I have to be mum and dad, good cop and bad cop, it all comes down to me.  Cooking, cleaning, parenting, the lot.  There’s added pressure, I need to arrange babysitters to keep activities running as per normal, which costs money, I need to keep everything going.  All the financial stress falls on me.  All the parenting duties fall on me.  There is no one to take the baby for me to have a quick moment to myself after a long day, there is no one to take over making dinner so I can cool this tantrum.  There is no one.  And I am certainly not being cut any slack by my kids, not at all.  In fact with their dad gone they are more challenging than ever.

So this isn’t a rant about why being an Army wife is SOOOOO much harder then being married to anyone else.  But I am saying this.

Please don’t tell me you know how I feel, more than my husband not physically being here it is hard because he is in a foreign dangerous country and virtually uncontactable by myself or my children.  And that’s the hardest part.  Because I would love to be able to call him to tell him I miss him, we love him, and we can’t wait until he’s home.  My daughter had a gymnastics competition this weekend and kept saying she was going to show her daddy her medal.  That’s the hard stuff.  And unless you’ve stood in my place as a mother whose husband is away with the military, you don’t know how I feel.

What I do appreciate is people checking on us, making sure we’re okay, offering to keep me company when the rugrats go to bed.  That really helps.  Please, keep us busy.

And if you see me online after 9 tell me to go to bed!  DH is always the one to call it a night, I stay up far too late without him.

Why I buy organic

So news outlets around the world are reporting that a study has found that organic produce is no more nutritious then conventional produce and has no more vitamins and minerals.  Essentially they’re reporting that organic is a waste of money.

They are reporting though that children fed conventional produce have higher level of pesticides in their urine, and those eating conventional chicken products were exposing themselves to antibiotic resistant bacteria.  But organic products are still, apparently, a waste of money.

Has anyone stopped to think that maybe vitamins and minerals aren’t the only reason why people buy organic?

Here are some articles about what I’m talking about

Here

Here

Here

And let’s not forget that while this study has shown no difference in the levels of nutrients in organic produce, other studies have shown a significant difference, but nutrient levels aside, there are other reasons why people buy organic.

We buy organic and local wherever possible for a number of reasons.

It’s better for the environment

When we buy locally they don’t have to travel as far meaning lower emissions, and lower transport costs.  When we buy organic produce they’re free of pesticides, which have dangerous consequences not just for the bugs and nasties that attack the crops but for the local ecosystem as a whole.  They’re grown seasonally, crops rotated appropriately, they are grown the way food is supposed to be grown.  “Conventional” farming with pesticides, artificial fertilizers and crops grown out of season is not normal, it is a relatively knew method of farming and we cannot yet know the long term consequences of these methods.

Now the study claims that the organic produce still contained chemicals.  Of course they did.  Everything contains chemicals.  I mean think of it likes this, water is H2O, a chemical compound.  Right now as I type this chemical impulses are travelling through my nervous system to trigger the muscles to move my fingers to type.  There are natural occurring chemicals in plants, fruits and vegetables.  And natural pesticides too that these plants use to protect themselves from, well, pests.  Nature has a good system in place to make sure that pests don’t wipe out species of plants completely.  It’s all part of the “circle.”  But here’s something to remember, if something claims to be chemical free – then what the heck is in it?  Not all chemicals are bad or toxic, but there is a big difference in man made chemicals like artificial pesticides and the ones naturally occurring in nature.

Too much of anything is not a good thing, remember the guy on Oprah who had too much colloidal silver and ended up looking like Papa Smurf?  I once met a kid who ate so much carrot, pumpkin and sweet potato that he turned orange.  Moderation.

It’s better for the animals

Yes we buy organic meat and eggs because cows aren’t suppose to be fed grain or live on a feed lot.  They’re not suppose to be fed antibiotics.  Chickens aren’t suppose to spend their whole lives in darkness.  They’re not suppose to live in cages.

 

When we buy organic meat and eggs, and dairy products too for that matter, we can be sure that the animals lived a pretty good life.  Were treated the way they were supposed to be and their death was handled in a humane and compassionate manner.  Now be warned of clever marketing tricks, if you’re looking for organic or free range looked for the certification.  A friend of mine bought a carton of eggs, it had a picture of a chicken backed with fresh grass and a farm, the word fresh about 8 times, it even said premium grain fed range.  Clever marketing for cage eggs.  Well played marketing department.

I don’t want to unnecessarily expose my children to toxins

Yeah, yeah the pesticides are “within the safe range” and there are naturally occurring pesticides.  However, has the long term research been done about the build up of pesticides over an entire childhood, or lifetime?  What about the other inclusions in non-organic foods like artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, the high fructose corn syrup – It’s just not real food any more.

When we eliminate toxins from our home we need to eliminate them from our food as well.

It’s about building community

We buy food from local people.  They know my name, they know my children.  It goes back to basics, the money I had over directly benefits the person I am giving it to.  Simple.  They know what they’re selling me, they eat it themselves.  Yesterday I picked up my fruit and vege order and the woman I bought it off addressed me by name, and asked me how my son enjoyed the bananas last week, she remembered that he is particularly fond of them.  Don’t get that at the supermarket.  Every Saturday we stop at the same fruit stand by the road, he knows my daughters name and that we’re on our way to gymnastics.  It’s lovely.

It’s about eating real food and not food like products

It is now entirely possible for someone to go from the cradle to the grave without eating a single whole food.  From baby formula, to jarred baby food, packaged toddler snacks and juices, the Wiggles now do heat and serve meals, fruit bars, fruit straps, muesli bars, TV dinners, frozen vegetables, not to mention fast food and meal replacement bars and shakes.  With just a microwave and a can opener you too can never prepare a single meal from scratch again.

We aren’t eating food any more, but food like products.  We buy whole foods because I think it is important to eat real food.  Just eat real food.

 

 

It’s a part of a whole lifestyle, healthy eating, healthy living, community, eating together as a family, engaging our children in conversations about food and our place in the “circle,” it’s about putting something in our bodies that isn’t toxic.  It’s about tradition and making new traditions.

When I was a child we ate fast food sparingly, mum cooked dinner (or dad did, he’s a good cook too) and we ate at the table as a family.  Over dinner we talked and enjoyed each other’s company.  The TV went off.  For our birthdays we chose what was for dinner, and it wasn’t always a meal out.

 

 

We don’t always buy organic, we can’t always afford it, we’re a one income family and sometimes it’s important to pay bills first so the roof stays over our head.  But when we can we choose whole, organic, local foods because I believe it is important for our health, the environment and our future.

Spring

I’ve been feeling quite nostalgic of late.  This morning a cool breeze reminded me of the weather one summer when I did some work experience as a hair dresser and use to walk from the bus stop.  The other day sitting in the sun I had a very vivid memory of the summer I graduated high school.  It’s funny how the weather in September is so much like the weather in November/December back home.

It’s been a pretty horrid winter, the kids catch a cold, we do all the right things and get rid of it, then we venture out of the house and they’re sick – AGAIN!  In fact I just wiped a snotty nose just then, bright green yucky snot.  Oh gosh I’m looking forward to end of the cold and flu season, you know, until next year.

We’ve had a big winter of change, boy is now in a big king single bed and I often find myself falling asleep next to him in it.  The other afternoon the boy, the girl, the dog and I all fell asleep in the boy’s bed in the afternoon sun.  I only woke up in time to pick hubby up from work!  Oops!

It’s spring but it certainly feels like the beginning of summer to me.  Though it’s still cool in the morning, it’s warm come lunch time.  It’s lovely really.  I’m looking forward to the wet season starting up again.

Now to get the cyclone kit sorted.

I really really detest that statment.

You’re important too, followed by the don’t you know.  It’s said in a patronizing tone by someone who cares enough about you to notice that you’re struggling but not enough to actually offer you any real hands on support, usually.  If it’s said followed by, what can I do to help or let me take the little one for 10 minutes or so while you have a shower then wonderful.  However, we’ve probably all been there before.  Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.

Mum – “I’m just so tired, the house is an absolute mess, and I haven’t had a decent shower since X was born 6 weeks ago.”

‘Friend’ – “You poor thing, you’re important too you know, it won’t hurt him to have a cry while you have a shower or a cup of tea, they have to learn independence at some stage.”

Face, meet palm.

If you’re a friend of someone who has just had a baby, do not tell her she’s still important or needs to make herself a priority.  She knows that.  She knows that she feels awful.  The thing is it is hard to ask for help directly, we all fear rejection to some extent, or we’re too proud, or we just don’t want to appear like we can’t do it on our own.  So instead of hearing, I’m too wrapped up in my baby hear this, I would love your help.

If you hear, I haven’t had a good shower in weeks, then offer to make that happen for her!  Sometimes a nice warm shower alone is just what I crave, and so when my husband comes home from a trip away one of the first things I ask of him is if he can watch our two so I can have a shower.  Simple, but after weeks of grabbing a shower here and there the freedom to just relax and not rush, and wash my hair without a worry is bliss.

If you hear, the washing is just not getting done, then ask where the machine is or offer to fold a basket while you chat.

Bring a meal.  Nothing is better then a meal cooked just for you.  Make it something simple she can just reheat.  Ask what her favourite is!  And if you can’t cook, bring snacks, fruit, coffee from her favourite cafe.

Instead of offering her crap advice like, would he be happier if he learnt to self settle, are you sure you have enough milk and so on, how about just asking, what can I do to help.

What do you need?

The best thing you can do for a friend who is struggling as a new mother is just be there for her and offer her your time, listen to her, make her feel like what she is feeling is real and valid.  Trust me it is so hard when all the other mothers seem to have it together, hair neat and tidy, make up, outfits that look decent and aren’t covered in reflux spew.  That’s tough, it feels like you’re the only one not making this work when the washing is piled sky high, you haven’t fed yourself more than a blueberry muffin in two days and getting out of the house feels like mission impossible.

So don’t tell her she’s important, that she needs to put herself first, that a happy mum makes a happy baby (*shudder*).  Listen, is she really saying she is having a hard time or is she asking for your help.  And if she’s doing the later, offer it.  It doesn’t have to be a big thing, if you’re already sitting there then fold a basket of washing, or if you’re already there then cuddle that baby while she showers.  Who doesn’t love a squishy newborn hug.

I promise you it’s those gifts of hands on support that are remembered long after the cards of congratulations go in the drawers and the cute gifted outfits are grown out of.  They cement friendships.  They are treasured.

So remember, food not flowers, is the present that will be treasured by new mums the most.

Goodnight, sweet baby

Goodnight, sweet baby.  Though you’ve been awake for hours and it seems you’ll never sleep, I cannot be too cross with you because you are here.
It was with a heavy heart filled with sadness that we said goodbye to your dear friend yesterday, and now the little things you do don’t seem to matter anymore.

Good morning, cheeky baby.  Coloured pencil in hand you proceed to draw on my walls.  That may come off, it might not either.  Doesnt seem to matter anymore, because you are here.
My saddness makes these small annoyances, once major frustrations, slip away.

It doesn’t matter, silly baby, if you climb all over me, or refuse my requests.
It doesn’t matter, tiny baby, if you dig in the mud, kiss the dog, throw your lunch.
Because you are here, and forever I am grateful that you are.

And it’s a strange mix of sadness, guilt and love that fills me heart. Sadness that she is gone, though I am grateful that she was here. Guilt that our lives go on as planned. But love, for the both of you.

Goodnight, sweet baby, yours and mine.

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