February Carnival of Natural Parenting

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

I cannot imagine parenting without my instincts.

It seems that everywhere we look, there is someone aligning a particular parenting practice or belief with a label.  Are you a breastfeeder?  Bottle feeder?  Working mom?  Stay at home mom?  Attachment parent?  A Babywiser?  The labels go on and on.  Each label can lead to assumptions about other parenting beliefs and practices that “go with” a particular decision.

Those labels and assumptions don’t work for me.  I have three children, and I have made different decisions with each child based on each of my sons’ individual needs.  Throughout our parenting journey, my husband and I have maintained our belief in responding to each child’s needs with sensitivity and allowing each child to be respected and maintain dignity especially in their more difficult moments.  However, each of our sons has had a different personality and different needs.  Breastfeeding, cosleeping, and nurturing touch have looked different with each child.

The beauty of natural parenting is that while it encompasses a variety of topics and philosophies, it isn’t a list of dos and don’ts.  In fact, instead of telling parents how to raise their children, natural parenting holds the philosophy that each parent knows his/her child best and is the expert on that child.

Being a new parent can be hard.  Reading all the parenting books, magazines, blogs, articles, and columns doesn’t always make life easier.  In fact, for some people (like me), it can make parenting even harder.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I read both Babywise and the Baby Whisperer on the recommendations of friends.  As I was reading them, I thought they sounded like good, manageable plans.  I was worried about knowing what to do when my son was born, and both of these books gave me a (seemingly) easy to follow and (seemingly) practical plan for parenting.  Great, right?  Well, apparently not for me.  As soon as my son was born, the plans began to fall apart.  We dealt with pre-term birth, jaundice, and a sleepy baby who had trouble latching.  Almost as soon, I realized that those books weren’t going to work for me.  For quite a while (and even once in a while now), I still struggle with the feeling that I’m not following “the plan.”  I know it’s silly, and I know that it didn’t work for us then, and it wouldn’t work now.  Once in a while, though, I still feel a twinge of doubt about my decisions.

Then, I remember what I’ve heard again and again from others who also choose natural parenting.  “Follow your instincts.”  “You know your child/children best.”  “Your body was meant to birth and breastfeed.  Trust your body.  Trust your baby.”  Over and over, I have been reaffirmed by the natural parenting community in my ability to parent my children.  Natural parenting and its emphasis has supported me where techniques and plans did not, and it was through natural parenting that I learned that my instincts are good.  I need to trust them in order to parent.  Without them, I would be lost!

This doesn’t mean that I’m perfect, that I always make the right decision, or that I don’t need any other help.  When those times arise it’s essential to have friends, family, blogs, and resources to consult, but in the end it comes back to my instincts.  Having experienced the benefits of using my instincts to parent my child has been invaluable to me, and I know that as my children grow and we encounter new experiences, challenges, and trials I’ll be calling on them again and again.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things’s relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can’t imagine parenting without her husband’s sense of humor – he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can’t imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs “me time” in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter doesn’t appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn’t imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • It’s More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can’t imagine parenting without her breasts; here’s why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family’s needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama’s next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn’t even know you needed (and probably don’t…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn’t survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it’s afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren’t things at all.
  • I’m No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without…Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can’t imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it’s not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn’t easy at first, Knocked Up – Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can’t live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What “stuff” does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I’m a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship…and made life easier to boot.
  • It’s Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can’t imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin’ Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us…
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter’s perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles – come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.

CSA- Week 1

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk About Food

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their struggles and successes with healthy eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

**This post was written on July 5 in preparation for the Carnival of Natural Parenting.

Success. 🙂

This summer will be a summer of amazing vegetables in our apartment (I hope). Jason and I decided that we would share a community garden plot with some friends and also join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Our CSA is from a farm about 40 miles from where we live.  While I would like to give some great reasons like growing techniques or pest management techniques for choosing this particular CSA, but that’s not the case.  It was the only one we knew about.  So, we signed up for it.

While I hope one day to be able to rely on my own garden as our family’s primary source of summer vegetables and to be able to store other vegetables for the rest of the year, it’s a good thing that we are not relying solely on the garden for this summer’s vegetables for a few reasons. First, North Dakota isn’t exactly known for it’s long growing season. Between some late frosts and early June rain that left our garden plot with standing water for quite a while, we only planted our garden on June 16th! Second, we have a 20×20 garden, and I’m a novice planter. I didn’t use any sort of space saving methods. I didn’t do a square foot garden. My parents and I went to the garden one night. We made some rows, put down some seeds, and covered them up. Last, if we hadn’t put sticks in at the ends of the rows it would be nearly impossible to tell where any of our (tiny) vegetables were starting to grow in the midst of all the grass and weeds. While I’m currently in the process of weeding the garden by hand, it will be at least another week of work before I get through all the rows the first time.  To give you some idea of the amount of weeds and grass I am removing, imagine a grocery bag 3/4 full.  I am about 40% of the way through the garden, and I have pulled that many weeds.  Twice.  While I am grateful to be able to have a garden while living in a north facing apartment, it’s frustrating to me to spend hours upon hours upon hours pulling hundreds of weeds from our plot.

Thus, a few of the reasons for the CSA. 🙂 Over the past couple years, Jason and I have also been talking about things we want our children to know and one of them is where their food comes from. We want them to be able to enjoy eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and to understand how they come to exist. So, in addition to having a garden, we decided to join the CSA. We have been frequenting our local farmer’s market more and more, but with our children being as young as they are (just about 3 and 4 1/2), we weren’t sure they would differentiate between buying broccoli from a local farmer at a stand and buying it at the store. One of the benefits of the CSA is that the farm is pretty close and the farmer is open to visitors. At the end of the summer he hosts a potluck at his farm, and he put out an open invitation for his CSA members to make an appointment to come visit him. I’m hoping we’ll do this at least once.

This week was the first week we received a delivery from our CSA. We picked it up on Wednesday, and I’m happy to say that we ate most of the vegetables we received! We got a container of delicious, melt in your mouth strawberries, a bunch of spinach, a head of lettuce which I believe was romaine, and a bag of some kind of lettuce. The strawberries received immediate attention from our family. They were gone within 2 meals. The romaine (?) was used in salads for Kael, Jason, and myself. Unfortunately, Asa hasn’t yet come to love salads yet. I’m sure his day is coming though. 🙂 The spinach was used to make green smoothies which the boys (and Jason and I) love. The other lettuce was eaten in both salad and wraps. We didn’t eat all of it though. Tonight, I took it out of the fridge to add to our taco salad and found that the condensation in our fridge had caused it to get limp and slimy. I’ll be working on another storage method for next week’s greens. All in all, I would say our first week of eating from our CSA was a success. I’m definitely looking forward to Wednesday’s drop to see what comes in our next box.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated July 13 with all the carnival links.)

From Nervous to Normal

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.

When my older son, Kael, was born four and a half years ago, I knew I wanted to breastfeed him. I knew that it was best for him and for me, and I had some innate desire to do it. Honestly, I didn’t think once about nursing in public. I didn’t have a plan for how to handle it. I wasn’t concerned about it. I wasn’t confident either. It just never, not even once, crossed my mind.

When Kael was born four weeks early, I found that other issues were weighing more heavily on my mind. Most of my waking thoughts revolved around the fact that he was a sleepy baby with jaundice who couldn’t latch. During my days in the hospital, I had help (?) attempting to get him latched every 3 hours around the clock from the nurses on duty. Eventually, he latched but only with the help of a nipple shield. But, by that point, I felt like everyone in the hospital and maybe in the city had tried to help me breastfeed my son. It seemed as though nearly all of them had seen me attempting to breastfeed, so I figured at that point I was ready to feed him anywhere.

The second week I was home with Kael, my mom came to stay with us. She was SO supportive of breastfeeding. I’m not sure I can emphasize that enough. She kept telling me, “You’re the mom. You know best. Trust yourself.” So, thinking back, that is what I remember from her visit, but somehow by the end of the week when my dad arrived, I had the impression that I should be using a blanket to cover Kael while he was eating. I’m not sure what was said or if it was my mom that said it, but somewhere in that week, I ended up feeling like I should do what I could to cover myself while breastfeeding. Even in my own house!

Between feeling like there was something that should be hidden while breastfeeding, having a baby who struggled with latch, and using the nipple shield, I ended up avoiding breastfeeding in front of other people as much as I could for the first few months. However, it turned out that Kael was pretty cooperative with that. He was a very consistent eater. He ate about every 3 hours for 30-40 minutes. This made it easy for me to plan my outings, because as a mom of a new pre-term baby, I rarely went anywhere for longer than three hours. Also, I knew that if he was going to eat, it was going to take a while. Knowing this, I sometimes arrived late or left early to avoid having to breastfeed for that long time period in a potentially inconvenient place. As he grew, he nursed less and less. I don’t ever remember him asking to breastfeed in a store or restaurant as he grew.

Then came Asa.

Asa was a completely different nursling and completely different baby. He was born at 40 weeks and 3 days. He latched on pretty well, and he ate every hour or so for much of the first six months after he was born.

This was quite a shock to me. I assumed that Kael had been “normal” and that “normal” babies ate on a consistent and predictable schedule. I also had a 20 month old (Kael) who wasn’t crazy about being at home all day each day. That meant that I needed to breastfeed where others might see me. Gulp.

I bought myself some nursing tank tops, and I wore them under another shirt every day. I made plans, and I took both boys out. And, I breastfed in public. Anywhere and everywhere. It seemed like no matter how well I thought I planned things out, the first thing Asa needed when we got anywhere was milk. I breastfed in Subway, Applebee’s, the mall, the mall play area, the park, Sam’s Club, the splash park, the gas station, and everywhere else we went.

At first, I felt very awkward doing it. I was pretty sure most people around me were looking at me, talking about me, or at the very least thinking about me. Looking back, I’m pretty sure most of the times I was nursing no one else gave me a second thought, or maybe not even a first thought!

Over time, I felt less nervous and awkward while I was nursing. I stopped blushing, and it really became as much a part of our routine as nursing at home was. I’m sure I could claim that it was because I just did it more, and I got better at it. While I’m sure that was a part of it, I know there was at least one other major factor that really helped me feel comfortable feeding Asa wherever we were. My friends.

Not only did my friends breastfeed their children, they did it in public. They breastfed at the park, in the mall, at my house, at their houses, in stores, in restaurants, on the bike trail, and everywhere in between. They also had children who were older than Asa. I’m sure I had no idea at the time that seeing other moms nurse their babies while reading a book to their toddler at the library or seeing moms nurse their babies while sitting at a table in a restaurant had such a large part in my change in attitude about nursing my own children, but as I look back, I am confident that having such great role models as friends was so important for me and for Asa.

I have always heard other breastfeeding moms encourage people to nurse when their babies need to. At one time, I even felt like it was some sort of agenda. Now, I feel like I am more able to see it for what it is. It’s normal. It’s part of mothering a breastfed baby. It’s feeding and comforting. I’m due in October with baby number three, and I am not sure if this baby will be more like Kael or more like Asa, but I know that regardless of his nursing needs, I will be more prepared to meet them wherever we are.

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It