A stiff apology is a second insult.... The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.
Friday, September 30, 2011
I am human, and next to my finer moments, I have had dark moments, destructive moments. Times where movies like “Mean Girls” could learn something from me. Moments where I am not proud of, where I hurt those closest to me, those who cared about me most.
I have hurt people so badly that the guilt of it kept me awake years after the fact. So one day, I decided it was enough. I set aside my ego, my fear of judgement and I contacted two people I fret about and apologized. From the bottom of my heart. Not trying to explain. Just stating I was wrong, I had been mean, evil even, and that I had no right to have treated them this way. That so many years later I still think about them.
Both of them responded rather quickly. They were both extremely kind. They agreed I had hurt them, but they were delighted by the apology and they forgave me.
No more sleepless nights. No more fretting.
|butupa on Flickr|
An honest apology can sweep a dusty mind clean.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
A positive image of birth is the cornerstone of a safe, happy birth experience. If you believe your body is meant to give birth efficiently, naturally, and without complications and that birth is a joyful event, you are more than halfway to a safe, natural birth. Positive beliefs and attitudes contribute to a happy birth experience, enabling the mother to labor more efficiently and to open for her baby with less effort.
Article first published as Book Review: Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz on Blogcritics.
I won a copy of “Birthing from Within” through an online contest. As I am currently pregnant and in a region where birth preparation classes are not available, I thought it would be just the right book for me. Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz promises to be an alternative approach to childbirth preparations. Indeed, it does step aside the usual paths, adding birth art to the tools for preparation and analysis of one’s feelings.
Throughout the first chapter, I had the annoying feeling that the author was trying to sell her course, which, in a book intended for an international audience is quite unsuited. Living in an area where the option would not even be available to me, this was quite frustrating. Moreover, I don’t set out reading a book about birth preparation in order to sit through a sales pitch.
The book gives a few suggestions I hadn’t read before and offers neat checklists.
For a natural birth advocate such as myself, there is too much focus on hospital birth and very little on the alternatives. Moreover, I completely disagree with the way she perpetuates the myth of pain in childbirth. If anything, a book about birth preparation should suggest that it can be different, that pain in labor is not necessary. I can conclude that this is not a book about birth preparation, but one about preparation for pain.
It’s a sad thing to see that ‘alternative’ books like these still perpetuate such myths and linger on the medicalized model of birth.
Furthermore, the suggestion of using art and group discussions for birth preparation, while a great idea for groups, is not adapted to people who have to prepare for birth on their own, for whom I would think the book would be intended. If one wanted or had the possibility to do group work, one would join a class.
Even though this book was a disappointment in general, I did retain the idea about a labor project and the Leboyer bath and will be showing my husband some of the sections for the birth partner. The book also features some great short lists that are handy to have around.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I have lots of discussions with people about education - which, as an unschooler, I bet is not an anomaly. People are naturally intrigued when you step aside the common path, sometimes even appalled.
Every once in a while, I have such a discussion with someone who has spend some time considering education options himself and who - in the end - did choose to go along, become a teacher or enroll their children in some sort of formal schooling.
When I then utter that I oppose the entire structure and system of formal schooling, even if there are some initiatives for slight change for the better, a frequent rebuttal is that you can’t change a structure by ignoring it, and stepping out, and that they aim to change it from within.
While I do admire the effort, and completely agree that lots of things can be changed at the schooling system, so why not start today, I do wonder about the validity of this stance.
Change from within by enrolling your child
I don’t quite see how (much) you can change the schooling system by enrolling your child into it. Sure, if you are a very active parent and if you have a somewhat receptive school, they might make exceptions for your child. If you are truly lucky, some of the points you raise and the changes you try to make (through joining the school board, petitioning...) will be permanent. But in the end, it remains up to the goodwill of the school and their liberties within the larger system and until they do change, your child may well be the one who loses in your battle, as he is the one who will have to submit to the system on a daily basis. If the child has not himself chosen to be schooled, then I wonder why he should be the one taking the risks for your ideals.
Change from within by becoming a teacher
Becoming a teacher, if one has a vision of greater freedom, is a nice thing to do. And yes, you might be able to change some things for the children who are there while you are. The question is how much you will change within the limitations of the structure. How will the structure go along? If you are the only teacher that makes a difference, how much good does that do to the students who see dozens of teachers each year?
Instead of making small changes and hope for a better future, should we not just reform the entire structure. Trying to change a structure that is such a dinosaur as is the ‘modern’ schooling system, is like putting a mere band aid over a diseased leg.
Reforms in the schooling system have been taking place worldwide, but they are merely placebo’s and they don’t get to the root of the problem. The issue is not in the curriculum, or the standard, or the uniformity. The issue is not in globalizing the whole thing so that ‘everyone has the same chances’. Reforms have continuously been looking in the wrong direction. They have been looking towards the future of the student, instead of his very real present. They do not see the child or adolescent as a person, but as something that needs to be shaped and molded into a citizen.
Setting oneself up against the structure does make a change, because when many people start doing this, it gets noticed, and eventually might shake some decision makers to make drastic change.
I will not submit my child to a system I do not believe in and of which I know its negative effects, just because I think that maybe, in some faraway future the system will be better or cease to exist. My child is a child now, and is not to be a mere pawn in a scheme to achieve change for the future.
The system as is can be a lot better, but I aim for more. I do not aim for a reform, I aim for an eradication. Maybe then decision makers can start thinking about something new and inspiring for those who don’t have the time and the means to school at home. Maybe then they will make up something that is part of the times we live in, instead of some archaic structure that lives towards the obscurity of the future. Maybe they’ll think of a dynamic way of integrating children in life, instead of ripping them out and tucking them away.
Monday, September 26, 2011
By placing the use of the energies and talents of our youth in abeyance, by separating children from their parents and thereby undermining communities, and by irresponsibly presuming to know the future, educators participate in folly, the proportions of which resemble a modern form of idolatry.
When it comes to education, sub-Saharan Africa is tagging way behind. Education in these regions falls behind for numerous reasons, leaving a lot of people without the necessary skills to survive in an ever globalizing world.
The failing of sub-Saharan African’s schooling system is caused by many factors. Here are some of them, but there are a great deal more:
|School in Gambia, Aurimas Rimsa on Flickr|
- unstable governments: politics for the betterment of the personal wallet instead of the people, which causes education to be inconsistent to say the least
- lack of resources: Schools depend on the students to bring their own supplies, but since many of them are very poor, the supplies are very basic and few
- lack of funds: Mostly schools are dependent on tuition to cover costs, but for the general population, these tuitions can’t be very hight, so teachers don’t get paid, there are no supplies and facilities are minimalist
- No skilled teachers. The failing of Sub-Saharan’s school system is a sobering downward spiral, where you end up in a situation where there is no knowledge to pass along.
- Based on inviable models. Sub-Saharan countries have often simply copied the school system that was installed by the colonist, without making the necessary changes to adapt to their country’s reality
- Huge classrooms: since there are so little teachers, and so little money to go around, you end up with a huge student count per teacher, which leaves no room for individuality and generally ends with students just repeating what the teacher says.
From the perspective of the families, sending a kid to school can generate a number of problems:
Schools are often remote, causing children to walk for miles twice a day, or having to stay in boarding schools - which is a big cost for families. Some families resort to schooling only one of their children, most often the boys.
The schools do not offer supplies, so again schooling a child is a big bite from a family’s finances when they have to pay for tuition, books and supplies.
If after overcoming all these thresholds, a child does end up in school, teachers often do not turn up because very often they are not remunerated.
Families don’t see the use of schooling, they think it is best that their child learns to work the land and get more instant results from their efforts as a parent.
So far we have only talked about factors that limit children’s chances of getting to school, and reasons why the organization of the educational system causes trouble. We haven’t even started discussing the quality of education, or what exactly is being ‘taught’, because that would be too lengthy a discussion. Let’s just leave it at the fact that - considering all the above - quality of education is at an epic low.
Learning however is essential to survival in the word. A child should acquire the skills he needs later in life to eventually earn a living to sustain himself (and his family). How this learning occurs is completely open for discussion, but the fact remains that there are some skills the child needs to obtain.
Until colonization, African children were rarely schooled. Only a happy few - those chosen by faith or destiny - would be mentored by the sjaman - the local witch doctor. Other children would learn the skills needed to live from watching the elders of the tribe and from gradually participating in them, as soon as they were developmentally ready for it. Even though such traditional learning did not involve schooling, it cannot be compared to unschooling, because the question of freedom is one to be doubted, and a lot of the passing on of knowledge depended on gender, social class and other rigid structures, sprung out of tradition. It would have been a very continuous life, with little room for change, where young children ended up doing things exactly in the same way their ancestors did.
This worked perfectly until sub-Saharan Africa was first being raided for slaves and tradable goods and later colonized; and a window onto the wider world was opened. Suddenly, the village was disrupted and global economy lured. First, villages thrived from trade with merchants, with products such as Ivory, palm oil, wild rubber, spices and slaves.
Much later, many a young man and women got drawn into the cities into what seemed to be a better life, to the lure of wealth and stature and knowledge. Younger generations coveted jobs in firms and the traditional learning that had continued since the dawn of men suddenly found itself lacking. After the colonists had left, they had bereft the countries of a steady education system, often taking skilled and learned countrymen with them, thus robbing the country of the knowledge it needed to maintain the structures that had now been installed.
The village elders simply did not have the skills that were required in this newly introduced world. And often, tribes had become scattered due to the migration of people, the stealing and selling of slaves, and the acquisition of house personnel. Writing, foreign languages, computers, advanced maths, physics... you name it, they weren’t included in traditional learning before they were introduced by the colonists. Neither had they been necessary up until that day.
Now we can discuss the negative effect of colonization as much as you want, the fact is it happened, there is no way to turn it around again and the people of these regions find themselves highly affected and stuck in a situation with little hope for the future. Many Sub-Saharan countries are actually on a downward slope.
|Image: hdpcar on Flickr|
However, some parts of the unschooling idea seem very appealing when it comes to sub-Saharan Africa’s situation:
- unschooling can basically be free or at least very low cost
- there is no need for teachers
- there is no government designed curriculum
- unschooling can go on no matter the situation the country or the children are in (unless they are of course living in fear or danger)
- children do not have to be grouped in a central point or school
So maybe an adapted version of unschooling may be the solution to sub-Saharan Africa’s problem.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
- "Welcoming a New Baby", some great tips on handling a new baby and preparing siblings for their arrival on Natural Parent Network.
- Essential Parenting writes a beautiful, almost poetic post about the importance of connection and attachment.
- "Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting" a decent article, where I agree with most of these basics
- A few things you need to know about induction, on Birth Sense.
- An article about herbs for postpartum recovery, from herbal infusions to treating specific ailments.
- 135 positive birth affirmations on Baby Dust Diaries
- Why Buy Handmade? A very comprehensive comparative post on Baby Dust Diaries gives you an answer to this question.
- How to deal with the fear of change? A very timely article for my by The Organic Sister
- Should we remain judgement free or embrace judgement as a way to entice change? Interesting article on Positive Parenting.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
No matter how hard parents try, no matter the amount of books one read, and googles searches one perfoms, no matter the hours of discussion, it seems to me the first child is always somewhat a trial and error child. You can never quite know what you are getting into when you finally get that first little bundle of joy.
I think this is a universal given, but in our culture it is exagerated. Think about it! How many children did you take care of before your first child was born? How many hours have you babysat? How often did you see a newborn?
Many parents have never even touched a newborn before they have their own, fearful they might hurt it, break it or out of pure awkwardness. But when it's your own child, there's nobody else to hand them over, so your going to have to overcome all these feelings anyhow.
It's a pity our contact with other children before we have our own is so limited. It's a result of a lot of societal changes the past hundred years or so, but I won't go into that here.
For us, Attachment Parenting wasn't something we had heard about at all before we had our daughter I only found out such a movement (or cult as I have seen it being reffered too, lol) existed until my daughter was about 10 months old. Yet by then we were already very much attached parents.
Babywearing, breastfeeding and cloth diapering were things I was sure about before getting pregnant, and you can read here how our cosleeping adventure began. Yet cosleeping was a much bigger mountain to climb than the other parenting choices. Every single person we discussed our sleeping situation with tried to kindly offer advice to move our baby out of our bed, into a seperate room. Most of these 'kind' suggestions included some extent of Crying (CIO). And we folded. We tried to put her in her crib several times when she was tiny, but I could never bare the crying, so each time I got her out as soon as she cried. Yet I can't help but wonder how much damage these few moments may have done.
Now we have grown confident (again, after researching, discussing and finally meeting likeminded people - albeit virtually) and we will never make that mistake again. The next child will sleep in our bed until he or she chooses to sleep in his/her own bed.
And there are countless other anecdotes I can tell you in which I have grown through trial and error, and which I won't repeat with a second child. Let's just hope that first child will forgive our erroneous ways and realize this does not make us love them less.
Going down the trip of worrying how much you screwed up and what repercussions it might have, is easy. But frankly, it's quite pointless to beat yourself up over things that can't be undone. It is of far greater importance to keep researching, keep informing yourself, and work at your parenting skills on a daily basis.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Upon reposting an article about praise, I got a very heated discussion on my Facebook page on the validity of raising the topic. Surely, one of the commenters argued, there are better things to spend our time and attention on as something as trivial and harmless as praise.
Should we spend more time highlighting these topics, raising awareness, offering advice and working towards prevention, and overlook ‘minor offenses’ until we have actively eradicated them.
I beg to differ.
I blog 365 days a year (unless the internet gods are against me), with only one day where I post a rerun. The rest is generally (again with the grace of the internet gods) new content, by me or guest writers. I think I spend lots of time and effort highlighting everything hat is wrong with parenting, and I also spend lots of time writing how we can change this. I think it is safe to say the same about my fellow internet parenting writers, at least the ones I read.
Should we dismiss topics just because they cause less harm?
I beg to differ.
It would be a shame to leave things unlighted if they are negative to our children’s mental of physical health. Even if they’re just a little bit bad.
If you as a parent wish to focus your energy on the things that are really wrong with your parenting, and you feel there is no room left to tackle as little an issue of praise, that is of course your good right, and probably a good strategy. One cannot desire to change from mainstream parenting to radical unschooling control-free parenting. That would be unimaginable. Change like this, which infuses life and your every preconception about it, takes time.
I did not find all of this out by reading on book, I did not change my parenting on the lecture of one article... Change takes time and effort and thinking and coming back to something and reading some more and rethinking stuff. It takes time to integrate things in your behavior pattern, especially if you are trying to change behavior that has been deeply ingrained.
But it doesn’t hurt to know what else you can change. Sometimes it takes reading about a ‘lesser evil’ for a bigger pattern of ideas to reveal itself.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Watching a baby do the Breast Crawl is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. It is nature at its best. I find it fascinating that a newborn baby, soon after birth will actually lick and suckle their own hands and then crawl from their mothers belly to chest and latch onto the breast completely unassisted.
Sadly, too many mothers and babies have missed this opportunity to witness and bond over the breast crawl because of unnecessary interventions. Washing, vitamin k drops, measurements and the like often take priorities in today’s birthing practices and although bonding is a popular buzz word in many neonatal care units, too often the most important moment of bonding is overlooked and not honored as it should.
Several researchers (Christensson et al, 1995; Matthiesen et al, 2001, Klaus 1998, Klaus and Kennel 2001) have found over and over again that the breast crawl is directly related to overall breastfeeding success. It also shows that by doing the breast crawl babies are honing in on their instinct and wiring their brains with sensory and motor information vital for their survival. Here is another interesting finding:
16% of neonatal deaths could be saved if all infants were breastfed from day 1 and 22% if breastfeeding were started within the first hour after birth (Edmond et al, 2006).Depending on where you birth you might be luckily that allowing this bonding time is already the norm, in many European countries, for example Germany, it is somewhat common to allow newborns and mamas at least two hours of bonding prior to any interventions. And most home births assisted by midwifes allow for plenty of quiet bonding time following delivery.
In the USA however, with my second child, along with fighting hard to have a VBAC I had to pretty much hold my newborn and not let go while explaining why I wasn’t going to let go until the nurses promised to let my sweet baby boy hang out on my chest and delay all the washing and measuring in favor of the breast crawl.
I am fascinated with birth, and follow the movement to change birthing practices, to bring it back to basics, promote more home, natural, midwife assisted births etc...Although birthing in a hospital can in fact save the lives of precious babies and mamas, wouldn’t it be amazing if favoring skin to skin contact immediately following birth and allowing baby to slowly process the ordeal of birth, smelling mama, entering a quiet and peaceful state of alertness to initiate the Breast Crawl and bond would be the norm and not something perceived as a kooky request from “that crunchy” type of mom?
Peace & Be Well,
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Article first published as Book Review: Unassisted Childbirth by Laura Kaplan Shanley
Laura Kaplan Shanley’s book “Unassisted Childbirth” (1994) was not what I had expected to read when I bought it. I had set out thinking I would be reading a guide to unassisted childbirth, but found something entirely different.
Instead, the book raises awareness about a little known topic and tries to open your mind to the power of nature and the human body. It questions the cultural, technocratic beliefs about births and urges a fresh look on birth and it’s surrounding practices.
Shanley takes an anthropological and historical tour of birth to show us how it can be done differently, and how many women before us have gone through birth without the seemingly prevalent fear and pain. She discusses the power of the mind to control the body and reality, and steer the outcome of events. She takes the writings of the likes of Grantly Dick-Read to the next level, and hands the birthing woman the tool to overcome culture and the way we envision birth.
“I contend that panting, pushing, and pain are not natural at all. There is another way of giving birth. One has only to observe the average house cat in labor to see true natural childbirth in action.”
Even though it was not what I had set out to read, the book was an eye-opener, which refreshed and strengthened ideas that were already lingering in my head, but had never been pronounced fully. Childbirth isn’t meant to be painful, instead it should be a joyous, transcending experience. We make of childbirth what our culture and our preprogrammed mindset determines it to be.
I am really happy to have read this book and have gained new insights doing so. Yet there was a moment in the book where she goes to far over to the God/creator side for an atheist like me. Birth is indeed about spirituality, but when one writes a book for a larger public, one must at least leave the sort of spirituality for the reader to fill in. When reading about childbirth, I am not seeking a lesson about the bible or creationism.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Trust is one of the key factors in parenting, many parent child conflicts spring out of a distortion of trust in the relationship. But how does this trust work? How do we get it? How do we keep it.
When I speak of trust in parenting, I mean mutual trust. The child must trust his caregiver to fulfill his basic needs and to act in his best interest, and the caregiver, in turn, must trust the child to make his own decisions and to take action at the time fit for his specific development. Already at this simple given, things can go horribly wrong. Western parenting styles tend to not trust the child at all. In this situation, the child will lose trust in his caregiver, through frustration and incomprehension.
The best way to maintain trust it to be present, to tend to their needs, to react when they are distressed. If your infant is uncomfortable, but there is nothing you can do, then just being present and soothing them is enough to keep their trust. Being present doesn’t mean being interventionist. We tend to want to act all the time, when sometimes simple awareness and connectedness is what is required. Your fussiness can be a huge disturbance and frustration to a child who is just trying to unwind.
Another way to avoid the trust to be eroded is to keep them safe without being restricting. If you are being to restricting, if you are keeping them away from everything, merely out of an irrational fear, or out of parental laziness (I don’t mean this in a bad way. Running behind an active toddler who wants nothing better than to stick his fingers in plugs and eat everything that doesn’t - or does -move, can be very tiresome. This is yet another reason altogether to ensure a safe environment wherever possible, where they can roam free with minimal supervision).
Keeping them safe doesn’t mean they’ll never have a bump. Children grow through bumps, bruises and scratches. It does mean being present and aware, helping them cope with frustration and harm, and guiding them so they will eventually be ready and strong to face danger on their own and make the right choices. Often, their correct decision making springs from having trust in them.
Unconditionality is a very important part of trust, for how can a child trust someone who lets his love eb and flow with the coming and going of situations. Showing your love even in difficult times is a very important step in maintaining that bond of trust.
Having a trusting relationship is one of the most important parts of parenting and it might be one of the hardest. Maintaining trust can prove an issue, since most parents have grown up themselves in distorted trust relationships. Though there is never a time to despair. Trust can be regained, even though it gets harder as they grow up, by making a continuous effort, showing them that your trust in them is unshakeable, and making clear, day after day, that you are there, that you are loving and that you care.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
- Is there a right way? Life lessons from a child, brought by The Hippy Housewife
- Ever wonder wether you are or not a Feminist? Something to consider on Baby Dust Diaries and another article about the French outlawing the Burqa
- CaveMumming writes about why eating should happen consciously, and why we have to consider what our kids are having.
- Learning Through Immersion, or how contact, instead of teaching, is the best way for children to learn, on Diary of A First Child
Friday, September 16, 2011
If you understand that the inappropriate behavior of your children is a call to increased consciousness on your part, you are able to view the opportunities they afford you to grow differently. Instead of reacting to them, you look within yourself and ask why you react.
Yesterday my daughter walked into the kitchen exclaiming she wanted to eat the crumbs. I frowned “Crumbs? What crumbs are you talking about.”
Calmly, she added she wanted the crumbs that came with the airplane.
I still didn’t understand and asked my husband for help. But he didn’t know what she was talking about either.
We had an airway delivery of food lately, so I was quite sure it was something that had come that time, but I couldn’t figure out what she meant.
“Do you mean the crumbs of your cookies?”
“No!” she screamed, getting seriously ticked off at our ignorance. “The crumbs that came with the AIRPLANE.”
I was thinking frantically at what she could mean, offering suggestions, opening and peering into the fridge. My husband quizzing her, thinking she meant a box of chocolates he keeps at his desk, which he brought the last time we returned from Belgium. “They are finished,” he said, “but we’ll get new ones next time we take the plane.”
Now she was wailing. “I want the crumbs, I want the crumbs! They are not finished.”
I was sure that was not what she meant, and with the rising of the volume, my patience was slowly exiting the building.
“Tell me what you mean, I don’t understand you. I cannot help you if I don’t understand you.”
She shook her head and repeated “the crumbs” falling to the floor and crying. 3I’m going to die, I want the crumbs.”
|Image: Chirag Rathod on Flickr|
She got up from the ground: “a box,” she said. “And do we keep them in the fridge or in the pantry?”
My brain was working overtime, and then it came to me: we had received a little box of chocolate sprinkles, that must be what she was after. I got it out of the fridge and the storm clouds made way for sunshine. With redness in her eyes, she produced a smile. I excused myself for not understanding her and told her I didn’t mean to upset her. That it’s best to talk and help each other when we don’t understand, instead of each of us getting angry or worked up.
She nodded, fell into my arms and gave me the cutest hug.
Sometimes communication with a toddler can be really difficult, with them screaming things at you which you don’t understand, and getting worked up as they notice they are not getting any response, or at least not getting what they want.
Sometimes I think it is best to see them as a foreigner who doesn’t master your language. If you can’t come to an understanding, try to get them to use different words, ask other questions. Don’t ask them what they mean, because for them it is as clear as it is gibberish to you. Not being understood is frustrating, especially if they really want something (which is like 98% of the time).
My reaction of getting worked up at our incapability to communicate is obviously wrong We would have gotten much further and with less tears if I had remained rational and had asked the right questions right away.
If she would have been a foreigner, I probably would have, but when it comes to ou children, we se them as demanding, we find their frustration intolerable. Instead of being tolerant and helpful, we get angry and frustrated ourselves, because they don’t behave in the way we think they should.
We start worrying about a million other things instead of getting the communication flowing. What will the neighbors think? Can they hear her? Must this be every evening...
If it were the lost foreigner, we’d probably show much more patience, and anger wouldn’t even cross our minds. Surely we owe our children the same courtesy we do strangers?
Thursday, September 15, 2011
But one of the ways that I learned not to become my fretting mother was to ask myself what could go right with my daughters’ adventures, as well as what could go wrong. That helped me separate my own fear baggage from reality, freeing me to help them assess each situation and its possible consequences. Often, I realized that the worst that could happen would be them learning how to problem-solve themselves out of a mess!
Article first published as Book Review: Nursies When The Sun Shines by Catharine Havener on Blogcritics. I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
Katherine Havener struggled with these same questions and noticed there was not much out there to help her and her baby cope with this difficult period, so she decided to write the book herself: “Nursies When the Sun Shines”. A soft and gentle bedtime story, preparing the young child for a different nighttime arrangement.
The story depicts a bedsharing family with a young child. The drawings - delicate watercolors by Sara Burrier - set the mood of a sweet tale about a truly connected family and will bring a smile of recognition to the face of any bedsharing family.
The book tells the child that there will be no more nursing at night (“nursies” go to sleep), but that mommy is still there, and the connection remains. It uses simple language to present the topic.
“I’ll hold you and love you while you drift back to sleep.
You’ll have nursies when the sun shines.”
Children’s books about attached families are rare and this one is a real gem. The rhytmic story is low in text, so it will appeal to the very young, but even the toddler will find pleasure in seeing the images of a family that sleeps in the same connected fashion they do.
Having a children’s book on night weaning is truly a great idea, and will help many a family struggling with the question. I can only applaud the initiative.
“Baby goes to sleep.
Mommy goes to sleep.
Nursies go to sleep... sleep nursies, sleep.”
About the author:
Katherine Havener is a natural and attachment parenting advocate, attorney, and mother to three girls (7, 5 and 8 mo). She is a retired Holistic Moms Network leader and an active member of La Leche League. Her inspiration for Nursies was her daughter Elea, who, for the first 22 months of her life, woke up every two hours to nurse. This is her first children's book.
You can find information about the book by visiting the website www.nursiesbook.com. Or buy it through my Amazon store.
Or you could win it!
This Giveaway is open to UK, Canada, US and Australia, postage included, and will be closed on the 15th of Oktober
My family will not be able to enter, nor will I (sadly, because I could use a teething necklace for when baby comes)
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The food we provide our children as infants, toddlers, preschoolers and beyond influence not only their health, growth and development but also shape lifelong eating habits. Offering our children a large variety of foods and tastes can only help foster a peaceful relationship with food.
Often in the toddler stage and preschool stage food becomes the focus of many battles. How to get over the “beige diet” or the “toddler appetite” is commonly discussed among parents. The more variety and nutritionally sound foods we give them, the better chance they have to developing healthy, balanced lifestyles which foster longer life, health and general happiness.
While still respecting little one’s tastes and their small bellies, these are some fun ways to play with food and help children discover new tastes:
1. Shape it: Cookie cutters are an easy and fun way to present fruits like melons, watermelon and pineapple in shapes ready for eating. We like to use star and circle cutters to make stars and planets. Using a blue plate as the background we then build delicious space scenes. Building aliens by stacking avocado pieces and banana chunks on a toothpick and carving a melon rocket ship by cutting just a wedge on the side and opening the spaceship door in a downwards motion adds to the fun. Cookie cutters also work well for making fun sandwiches like our dinosaur stegosaurus with zuchini noodles and carrots.
2. Freeze it: Fill a freezer approved, closeable container half way with some sliced and diced fruits like grapes, berries, bananas, melon and peaches. Fill water up to three-quarters of the container and then cover it and freeze it for several hours or overnight. Run some warm water on the outside of the container to loosen it up and serve it on a large plate. My boys love to pick the frozen fruit from this big ice block as a snack. I have used this to introduce new fruits like papaya and mango chunks and it worked well. (Credit goes to the tv show “Sid the Science kid” for this fun idea)
3. Blend it: From fruit smoothies to veggie juices, blending is a great way to get a big mix of fruits and veggies served up. Allowing the children to drop the ingredients into the blender and pressing the buttons is a good way to involve them in the blending process making them even more likely to try it. Recently we tried some green smoothies with spinach, I heard so many moms raving about these but truth be told these were rejected – through a lot of laughter, we all agreed they were just awful. Happy that everyone gave it a try, we then whipped up a batch of berry-banana yogurt smoothies and kept laughing about the green yucky goop.
4.Dress it up: We love to use broccoli, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, shredded carrots, beans, olives and more to decorate a round pizza into a face or animal or to transform a whole potato into an edible version of Mr. Potato head. Having pre-cut veggie chunks and shapes and setting it up on small plates for the children to pick from and use for their creations usually leads them to eat a lot of the ingredients ahead of time too. A while back I had to chop up extra mushrooms because they had all mysteriously disappeared from the plate and everyone wanted more for their pizza creations.
5. Bake it: Baking with children is just lots of fun. So many great things can be whipped up in the oven, whole grain breads, scones, oatmeal cookies, pies to name a few. One of our favorite things to do in the kitchen is making banana zucchini bread.The more involved children get into the baking process I find the more likely they are to eat the food when it is ready. My three year old recently washed all the blueberries for a pie we made together. We also cut out letters and shapes for the top crust. When it was time to try the pie he was not hesitant at all and really enjoyed it. Using whole grains for dough, reducing sugars and looking for healthy ingredients are all ways to make baking a fun filled and healthy activity.
6. Name it: From Viking chicken to Mikaela Pasta, many of our foods and dishes have fun names. Sometimes they are named after friends who introduced us to the foods, other times they are names my children have come up with. Pirate bananas are cut in a diagonal and Felix bread is a whole grain cracker a friend shared that became a favorite snack. Viking chicken is the name for chicken served on the bone and eaten without utensils. Mikaela pasta is tri-colored vegetable pasta and worms are pieces of bread rolled up. Green goop is the stuff we will not be making again anytime soon.
Our family meals and snacks are lots of fun, mostly healthy and often messy. What about you, what ways do you have fun with food in your family?
Ariadne (aka Mudpiemama) has three children, she practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. She believes parents and children should try to have fun everyday and love life.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play
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 how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I am glad to finally be able to participate in the Carnival of Natural Parenting again. The theme for this month happens to be Parenting through Play, which is a topic I have written about extensively throughout the this blog. So I am grasping this opportunity to shamelessly link up everything you can find on this blog about playful parenting. I hope you enjoy and find answers to some of your parenting problems.
Playful parenting is one of the great tools in my parenting toolbox. Especially with a toddler, it makes things a lot easier, and ultimately makes family life more fun.
Play is the way through which children learn, so it is the best way to show them how the world works. Instead of disciplining or getting frustrated, finding playful solutions to parenting problems can be a happy way to come to a mutual agreement.
|Image: D Sharon Pruitt on Flickr|
So how do you implement play in your parenting? It all depends on the specific situation you want a peaceful solution for. Here are three examples:
- You are ill
- You have to get some work done on the computer
- Your children are being loud
Illness and play
It might be hard to imagine that taking part in play might give you some rest when you are sick, but it can. Here are some ways in which you can get your rest and play at the same time.
- Invite them to be your doctor, you can tell them where you are hurting and they can use a stethoscope to check you, check your tension, feel your heartbeat...
- Ask them to read to you (even if they can't read yet, they can pretend or invent a story)
- Play the mummy: you can lie down while they strap you in with toilet paper or bandages.
- Children love to mimic, so allowing them a few minutes on your computer before you start doing whatever it is that needs to be done might satisfy their need to be just like mommy or daddy
- Ask them to 'help' you while you work: they can clean the back of your laptop, they can take notes while you work, you can ask them to take a picture of something and then scan it or copy it.
- Play the whispering game: for the next five or ten minutes, everything has to be said as softly as possible
- Little mice: fall to all fours and play like little mice. You can squeak, but little mice don't make lots of noise
- Take turns to try to scream the loudest and then try to be quiet as long as possible
- Hide and seek: energetic children might want to play hide and seek with you, and hiding also mean less noise
If you need some more inspiration, read these previous posts about getting dressed, their lack of hygiene, difficulties of moving from one activity to another, getting help around the household, there is a playful solution to be found to nearly every situation! I've received great guest post on how to make cleaning up playful and another one on cleaning up in harmony. It just takes a little effort and for you - the parent - to get out of your negativity and into a state of joy.
If you start practicing playful parenting, you quickly notice what a valuable tool it is, how much lighter it makes your existence. Things you would dread before now become joyous, parenting becomes fun. And that's how it should be!
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: 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:
- On being a more playful parent — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares how the Playful Parenting book impacted her.
- Parenting a toddler through play — Alicia at I Found My Feet lists some examples of how she uses play to parent through everyday tasks and challenges.
- Splashing in Puddles — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how she learned to get dirty and have fun with her little boy.
- Say Please — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life explains how they taught their son manners by "play," showing that actions speak louder than words.
- No Nanny Needed — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life wishes parenting through play was her only responsibility during the day.
- I'll Run Away With Gypsies — Nikalee at Spotted Pandemonium maneuvers physical and emotional obstacles while spinning playful tales, jumping through hoops, and inspiring the kids to clean the living room.
- A Promise To My Daughter — Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure writes a poem for her daughter promising to use play instead of anger when facing difficult situations.
- Parenting Through Play — Not Always Easy But Always Rewarding — Amy at Peace4Parents discusses how play hasn't always come easily to her, the power of appreciative observation, and how her family learns together through play.
- Imagination Plays a Role in Our Parenting — Tree at Mom Grooves shares how parents can use play to set the foundation for communication and understanding.
- A Box of Crayons — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction talks about how a simple box of crayons has become a wonderful parenting and teaching tool.
- The Essential Art of Play — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her favorite lessons available for young ones through play.
- The Art of Distraction — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a list of distracting alternatives to harsh punishments in tough parenting situations.
- Grace and Courtesy Games at Home or School — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has ideas for grace and courtesy games that help you encourage courteous behavior without reprimanding your child.
- I am woman, hear me roar! — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares how one simple sound can diffuse an argument in an instant.
- Getting Cooperation Through Play — Amyables at Toddler In Tow talks about respecting the worldview of a preschooler by using play to encourage connection and cooperation.
- Playful Parenting = Extra Energy?? — Momma Jorje didn't think she had the energy for playful parenting. See what she was surprised to learn…
- Dance Party Parenting — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen learned how to be the parent her children need through play.
- Wrestling Saved My Life — Wrestling is as vital to her son's well-being as babywearing once was, finds Hannah at Wild Parenting.
- Parenting through play — By playing with her children, Tara from MUMmedia is given amazing opportunites to teach, train and equip her children for life.
- Parenting Through Play Starts in Infancy — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Issa from LoveLiveGrow shares that though she only has a 3-month-old, playful parenting has already started.
- Play Before Sleep — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how playing and singing with her son before he falls asleep helps calm her frustrations that tend to arise at night.
- Playful Parenting — Or 5 Lessons My Son Has Taught Me About Parenting Through Play — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama has learned to be a better parent by following her toddler's lead in play.
- Hurry up! Hurry up! I mean it! Quack, quack, quack! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life leads a trail of ducklings
- On the Road: Learning to Play — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers her inner adult through a summer of playing with her children.
- Preventing Tantrums Through Play — Gaby at Tmuffin explains how she keeps her household happy by not taking things too seriously.
- Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play — Lily, aka Witch Mom, redirects unwanted behavior in a toddler using games and play.
- Exaggerating for effect — Lauren at Hobo Mama has learned how to ham it up.
- Handling Big Emotions with Role Playing — Zoie at TouchstoneZ plays at tempering her parental frustrations while helping her children handle some big emotions
- How To Herd Toddlers by Talking Pictorially — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama demonstrates how talking in pictures is a playful way to engage your young child in transitioning from one activity to the next.
- Getting a Toddler to Go Where You Want…Playfully — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how a game of hide-and-seek can be used to steer a wandering toddler in the direction of her choosing.
- Playful Parenting: Chores That Do Themselves — Remember chores when you were a kid? If chores were this fun for Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey, she wouldn't have needed any reminders!
- Clown School Express: Playing away Fears — MudpieMama describes how she helped her boys confront their fears about starting kindergarten by playing with trains.
- Practicing Playful Parenting — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle realizes that playfulness is the best way through the day and seeks more ways to practice it.
- Today, Tomorrow and Every Day — Starr at Taking Time addresses her children in a letter sharing with them how improtant it is that they spend their childhood playing.
- Learning Through Immersion — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares how she helps her daughter develop naturally without focusing on teaching, but rather by immersing her in their family's way of life and making her an active part of her environment.
- Play Here Now — Jessica at Instead of Institutions learns and relearns and tries to remember the value of play.
- Play: A Wonderful Parenting Tool — Mamapoekie from Authentic Parenting offers a list of examples on how to use play in real-life parenting situations.
- Playful Parenting — a Book Review — Erica at ChildOrganics shares simple yet sage advice from Dr. Cohen on how play can change your child's life.
- Mock Threats: Turning Real Frustration into Playful Parenting — Threatening is not an effective discipline strategy, but Dionna at Code Name: Mama explains how parents can turn their frustration into playful moments by making "mock threats."
- I'm Sick of Yelling — I Want to Play — Alicia at McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts realizes she needs to change the way she's parenting and is forming a new plan.
- Sing-along, Brush-along Songs — Shana at Tales of Minor Interest shares a few songs to make brushing her three-year-old's teeth more fun.
- Monster Voice — Ever have those frustrating moments with your kid(s) when you just want to scream? Amy at Anktangle shares a silly strategy for getting through those difficult times.