National Spank Out Day – Positive Discipline Resources

April 30th is National Spank Out Day, which was established to promote non-violent discipline of children.

Today, we aim to raise awareness about physical punishment for children, as well as educate parents about effective discipline practices that do not involve hitting and spanking.

Here, we’ve listed some of API’s resources on positive discipline, as well as information from other trusted sources. These can serve as a starting point on the path to implementing positive discipline in the home, or those familiar with positive discipline may find new tools to deepen the understanding between the parent and child.

We offer these resources to let parents know that there are alternatives to spanking that work.

From Attachment Parenting International:

“What is Misbehavior?” API Speaks

“Toddler Ten Commandments” API Speaks

“Tips to Dealing With Acting Out Behavior” The Attached Family

“The Man in the Yellow Hat Exemplifies Positive Discipline” API Speaks

Attachment Parenting International’s Effective Discipline page

The Truth About Spanking: What Parents Must Know About Physical Discipline [Teleseminar]

From Other Sources:

10 Reasons Not to Hit Your Child Ask Dr. Sears

“How to Use Positive Parenting” Aha Parenting

“The Power of Touch” San Diego Family

“Connection is Key” Parenting from Scratch

Alternatives to Spanking” Positive Parents

“No More Timeouts, No More Tiger Moms” Tips on Life and Love

Blog Carnival: Attachment Parenting is for Everyone

attachment parenting

Time for some clarification and a reality check about why attachment parenting is for everyone!

Do AP parents work? Do AP parents get any sleep? Do they have sex? Do you have to practice all the principles to be AP? Isn’t AP just babywearing, breastfeeding and bedsharing? Do your children rule the home? Aren’t AP parents judgmental? Is the baby literally physically attached all the time? Do the children breastfeed until they’re 5, 6, 7…? Do Attachment Parents never go out or have personal time?

Interesting interpretations about Attachment Parenting are filling blog posts, news sites and comment threads. From professionals to media, it’s not just parents who are discussing Attachment Parenting. API responds here: What is Attachment Parenting?

The API Principles are written to be accessible to any parent and provide encouragement and support for parents to discover and practice relationship/learning-based discipline.  The research that supports the Principles has been shown to promote healthy parent-child relationships and positive child outcomes.

The parents out there living the Attachment Parenting lifestyle every day are in the best position to answer some of the big questions. We want you to clarify the misinterpretations and open up a real discussion.

Tell us what AP is like from your POV! API’s Eight Principles of Parenting stand as inclusive, broad guides to optimal development,  but we want to hear from attachment parents the diverse, real-life applications.  We believe that our stories are proof of the diversity of healthy parenting.  Tell us how you implement the API Principles in your family.

1. Submit a post that shares:

  • How one or more attachment parenting principles plays out in your family
  • How you came to attachment parenting
  • What are you most misunderstood for by those critical of your practice attachment parenting principles
  • What you wish for others to understand about the way you choose to parent
  • What can we, as those practicing AP, do better to increase understanding/decrease misunderstanding about attachment parenting

API subscribes to non-violent communication and urges posts to be expressive and authentic at the same time as being respectful and encouraging. Our mission is to inform and create awareness that AP is for everyone, that parents can find support and the resources to help them on their journey.

2. Publish a post on the above topic to your own blog with the following text (including hyperlinks):
This post is part of the Attachment Parenting is for Everyone blog carnival, hosted by Attachment Parenting International. Learn more by visiting API Speaks, the blog of Attachment Parenting International.

3. Once your post is completed, submit a link to your submission via email to webeditor@attachmentparenting.org with a short message that the post is part of the What Attachment Parenting is for Everyone Blog Carnival.

Submissions will be accepted until April 11!

Please note that in order to participate in the blog carnival, the post must be published and publicly viewable.

If you do not have a blog, but would like to submit a guest post for Attachment Parenting is for Everyone, please email webeditor@attachmentparenting.org to make arrangements.

A Mother to Mother Conversation With Mayim Bialik

“…neuroscience and developmental neurobiology and psychology support a style of parenting that fosters healthy dependence. It’s simply biologically true.”

We know of Mayim as Blossom, the Mayim who earned a PhD in neuroscience, Mayim as Amy Farrah Fowler in the hit TV series, Big Bang Theory. She adds “author” to her impressive list of titles with her new book, Beyond the Sling, scheduled to release tomorrow. I recently had the pleasure of talking to Mayim Bialik about her new book and her preferred role, Mayim the attachment mother.

First, I’d like to hear how your book came about.

I’ve been the spokesperson for Holistic Mom’s Network for a while now, and I started writing for this website called Kveller.com, and I guess sort of became this unofficial spokesperson for a style of parenting that I don’t see as particularly bizarre or strange at all. But obviously it’s really out of the norm of the way a lot of people parent. And so honestly, I was kind of just asked to write the book.

I was being interviewed by an actress named Theresa Strasser. She’s a comedian and she had just written a book about pregnancy, and she said to me, I would never want to parent the way you do and I think it sounds ridiculous in theory, but, she said, the way you talk about it makes it sound so not judgmental and it actually sounds like it makes sense even if I wouldn’t choose it. My book agent wants to talk to you. And I’m thinking, book agent? I spoke to him, and four months later we had a book proposal. Kind of an unlikely way to write a book, but I basically wrote the lifestyle that me and all my friends and everybody at Attachment Parenting International and La Leche League sort of know about but I guess once you put a celebrity name on it people will pay attention. I don’t know, I guess that’s the sad state of our culture.

It seems like it covers a lot of myth vs. fact, a lot of, the why behind outward appearances. What do you think people most misunderstand about attachment parenting?

I think people misunderstand a lot of things about the kind of children that people think you raise if you practice AP. People think that my goal, or anyone’s goal who parents this way is to raise spoiled, manipulative, whiny children who are clingy and never gain proper independence. But I think also one of the main things of the book is trying to take on is, not that you need a PhD in neuroscience to write a book about parenting or to be a parent, but that neuroscience and developmental neurobiology and psychology support a style of parenting that fosters healthy dependence. It’s simply biologically true. And that attachment parents don’t choose this because we’re lazy, or because we don’t know how to get our kids out of our bed, or because we don’t know how to say no to them when they keep asking to breastfeed. So I think the notion is that this is a conscious choice and parenting philosophy that is believed in. It’s not passive parenting, it’s not lazy parenting, and it’s not careless. It’s very conscious and concerted.

And there are a lot of different ways to do it! There are families with a lot of structure and discipline that also are attachment parenting families and there are families that are a lot more permissive. It’s a broad term that really describes a lot of people.

What is your biggest parenting challenge going on right now?

[Laughs] Um, how to pick? We don’t have easy kids. A lot of people think I have easy kids simply because they seem easy, but they’re high-needs kids. As anyone with a high-needs baby or child knows, it takes a lot of work to keep that going, and sometimes I feel like I don’t have much more attention to give. But I’m getting clear signals that they need more attention and it’s a huge challenge and especially, my husband’s home with them when I’m working, so I’m here even less than I need to be. But there’s still so much that needs to get done. I joke with friends of mine, we say, how can they need more attention? I’m giving them all I have!

Having so much on your plate, author, blogger, neuroscientist, homeschooler,  and obviously Big Bang Theory, and with attachment parenting being the most hands-on parenting philosophy, at least the most hands-on I know of, how do you strive for balance? That’s one of the attachment parenting principles, so what do you do for Mayim?

I try and find small, not time- or money-consuming ways to kind of replenish. I think we’re in an unusual situation where I was the primary caregiver, you know, hands-on, 24/7 for years, and it’s only recently that I’m working and my husband is the one home. So I think it’s important also, for the primary caregiver which is my husband at this point to also find ways to replenish. So, I think he feels that sometimes I get to leave the house, and that’s my replenishment.

But I think that in weeks that I’m off, and all of those times that I am just me with them – I don’t do a lot of social things, I don’t go out a lot with girlfriends, I read, I study a couple times a week with a Jewish study partner, which is an intellectual exercise and also a social one. And I do small things. Like simplifying life so I can catch up on things that make me feel organized and like the house is in order. So for me, sometimes it’s relaxing to know that, like last week me and the boys, we re-did all of their little shelves where they keep their clothes. And things like that give me a sense of peace and balance because it’s one less thing that I have hanging over me.

You mentioned your husband is staying home with the kids full-time. The traditional role has the man as provider and the woman as caregiver. How does he handle that, and how does the family handle that?

It’s unusual for sure. It’s still an adjustment for him. It’s an adjustment for the whole family, but now that Fred is now out of the stage where he’s breastfeeding as much as he had been, it’s much easier. My husband has always been super supportive of breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding. And Fred does still nurse, but he’s not at the point where I’m pumping anymore, which I think is in some ways easier for my husband. He has more autonomy, now that he’s settling in and now that they’re both older and they can do more active field trips together and that the day is not dictated by naps, you know, for the little one.

This particular unit study is about medieval England. This unit study is called Time Capsule: Medieval England by Michelle Caskey. There are daily lessons to keep your children engaged and learning for 12 weeks (300 activities in all)! For each day you also have a variety of activity options to choose from to suit your child’s interest and needs. The unit study also includes a supplies list and suggested reading list.

In this unit study your child will experience being:

  • A Peasant in Medieval England
  • A Tradesman/Tradeswoman in Medieval England
  • A Knight/Lady-in-Waiting in Medieval England
  • A Monk/Nun in Medieval England
  • A Baron/Baroness in Medieval England
  • A Knight/Queen in Medieval England

Your child will get to create and wear peasant clothing, listen to Old English, go on a field trip to a local farm, one of my kids has dyslexia so when i try to find a place to go i make sure they have  dyslexia tutors to give to children with dyslexia where they can , learn to whittle, make a water clock, design their own castle, make a medieval battle axe, and much more.

While these activities would be fun for boys OR girls, they are especially suited to active boys. Not only will they be reading and writing, but doing lots of fun physical activities too.

I read that you’re the only parent on the cast of Big Bang Theory. What’s that like?

Many of our writers have kids, and I’ve actually done a little lactation consulting, on the side I guess, for one of our writers in particular. As it is, when you’re the only in a group of friends to be the first to have kids, it’s a little bit like being an alien species. And I think also, until you have kids, you can’t imagine how much of a part of your brain and your heart are always devoted to them, no matter what you’re doing. I can argue a lot of things about a lot of different styles of parenting, but I will say that when you choose this path, it really is a constant part of you in ways that sometimes I meet other parents who don’t feel that way. I meet a lot of people who say, I’m happy for someone else to handle them. I’m not really thinking about it, it takes a village, and I don’t want to be involved. For me, that’s not our choice. I always miss my kids in a very specific way.

What do you do when you mess up – when you’re short with your child, when you find yourself yelling and kind of losing it? What do you do to repair that relationship?

I guess I’ve been told it’s called a “mommy time out.” I need to know, literally, when to shut my mouth and walk away, meaning to stop the, you know, bad mommy behavior. And I think promptly admitting you’re wrong to your child is extremely powerful. I think I make a very very conscious effort to not make excuses when I apologize. Meaning, I don’t say, I yelled at you because, or I’m angry at you and I used harsh words because you blah blah blah. There are times to explain to a child why or how there may have been a trigger situation but when you’ve hurt a child I believe very strongly all that needs to be communicated is that your intention in life is not to hurt them, and that you feel bad and will do things to not repeat that with them.

And you cannot apologize to a child as if it’s a spouse. They’re not on the same intellectual or emotional level. That’s something I try really hard – I try to do that with adults too! To say, I’ve hurt your feelings and I’m sorry, is different than, I’ve hurt your feelings and I’m sorry but, you’ve really let me down, you know?

And I think also, something I try and do is I try and, especially with our oldest son who’s six, I’m not afraid – well, I’m afraid and I’m not afraid to try and be real with him and tell him, Mama messed up. Mama doesn’t know how to be the mama of a six-year-old except through this experience and we’re trying, and I’m learning. That’s one of my favorite things I say to them. I’m learning too. And I’m not perfect.

And I’ll make a joke out of it too, I’ll say, I know you think I’m perfect because I make the best pancakes, but I’m not. So a little humor also can take the edge off, so that you can have access to them because they put up a wall when they’re hurt. It’s what people do. It’s protective.

What do you say when people negate your parenting style?

I think with my first I was very sensitive and I was defensive and I questioned a lot, and I doubted myself, but for me a big part has been to find a community of like-minded parents and that’s sort of what API and places like API are doing. Once you have that support and you can have your behavior normalized, it really can give you a lot of strength.

And now I’ve learned which battles to fight and which not to fight. And even with family members, even well-meaning friends, I’ve learned a couple key phrases, like, “it’s working for us,” or, “thanks for your thoughts,” or “I guess we all get to do it our own way,” or, “I’ll keep that in mind, thank you.” But I really don’t get into the complicated discussions with people, especially when I can tell that they only want you to have their opinion. Because some people want to have a healthy debate, or they’re interested in decisions and why you make them, but a lot of people really just want to be right, and I don’t always have to have that conversation.

You mentioned the organizations that support you, such as API. What individuals make up your support system? Who are your rocks?

I have a group of girlfriends, who we kind of formed a renegade mom’s group and I single them out in the book. One of them is actually my friend who took the photographs for the book. She took the cover photo and, she’s one of those people. I have one La Leche League leader and mentor in particular who I kind of go to for all things even beyond breastfeeding, and she’s sort of my attachment parenting, well, everything. That’s pretty much it. I mean, we have a small circle. I do participate in La Leche League still and Holistic Moms’ Network events and things like that, but for me to have three people, three women in my case that I know I can turn to, even if they don’t agree or do it the same, I think that’s been the most helpful.

I personally struggle with this: how do you just do your thing without making other moms feel like you’re judging what they’re doing?

I know that other people’s opinions are none of my business now. And if people have guilt, it’s not for me to either create or take away. I simply keep it within my circle of my family, and know that what’s working for us works.

I had dinner the other night next to a very prominent celebrity mom and she was there with her nanny, and her two kids and I was there alone with my two kids, and it was very friendly and very nice, but I was kind of wondering, does she look at me and think, how’s she doing it? Why am I not doing that? Why can she do it? Do I even what to do what she’s doing? And I looked at her and I was kind of wondering, wow, that would be really nice to have an extra set of hands right now!

But again, I learned early on that you never know what goes on in people’s families or what they need, or why they’re doing what they’re doing or not doing what they’re doing, so I really try to mind my own business. I mean, honestly I try to mind my own business and I also make sure to use general concepts and phrases that I do believe are true. That we all want to do the best for our kids. It may mean different things to different people, but we all want to do the best. And once you kind of level the playing field, then you can open up a conversation and then you can get away from all that stupid mommy wars stuff.

Do you remember a turning point when you decided that attachment parenting was the way you wanted to do things?

Before we had our first son, both my husband and I were both planning on research professorships. I don’t know, I struggled a lot with breastfeeding. I had a difficult, slow learning curve, as it were. And I think making the commitment to stay home for 40 days, which is something we did after both of our sons were born, I think that tuned me into a new rhythm that I decided not to fight. Because I know a lot of people fight it, and I know people who go back to work after 2 and 3 weeks, you know? But I think for me it really helped tune me into that rhythm, and help us make that decision.

Does your husband read the AP books? Does he do the research?

My husband is rarely yes dear about anything, but if he sees something for himself, that’s the proof he needs. He’s a very principled, rational, confident person, and he, honestly, he doesn’t like to read things like that. I mean, he does a tremendous amount of reading, but no, he has really become a phenomenal example of someone who is not super interested in emotional attachment or psychological development, hadn’t really given it much thought, and literally lived for himself the evolution of this beautiful, beautiful relationship that he has created with our kids and that we have in our family. Although he sees, for sure not one of the principles of attachment parenting was something he thought was totally nuts, and once he saw how it worked, totally jumped on board on his own. But he’s not the kind of person who reads up on things or says yes dear, so it’s been actually really interesting to see. It’s even worked and made sense for him.

Who are your influences as far as parenting goes?

I admire Dr. [William] Sears and Martha Sears a lot, also for their functioning in a conventional world as proponents of attachment parenting. Our pediatrician, Dr. [Jay] Gordon is a huge influence for us, and then personally I mentioned my La Leche League leader, Shawn Crane who is also sort of my everything mentor and parenting expert extraordinaire. But I feel like the real people that kind of make it happen are my girlfriends, Nancy and Denise.

What was it like to work with the Sears’ and Dr. Gordon?

What’s impressed me kind of in this whole book journey has not only been the support on the professional side, from API and the Sears’ and from Dr. Gordon, also a really really positive, healthy general notion that we’re all working toward something good and trying to empower parents to make decisions that are good for them and for their kids. And I think that’s actually been honestly surprising. I’ve been shocked at the lack of ego that I’ve run into and I’d like to think that it’s indicative of the attachment parenting philosophy at work in adults.

Mayim’s new book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, will be available in stores March 6th, 2012.

Photo: flickr/pennstatelive

Nighttime Parenting Isn’t Always Pretty

My first had always been a good sleeper. We co-slept through about 18 months or so, and when we moved, Little Man jumped right into his big-boy bed and that’s where he wanted to sleep.

After I had my second child, we went through a phase where Little Man would wander into my bed in the middle of the night. Which was fine for a while. Hey, if he needed some extra security or mommy time or whatever it was, I was happy to oblige. After all, he was adapting to a pretty big change.

After a few months, he would wander into the bedroom in the middle of the night, where the other 3 of us were sleeping, and start asking for trains. Or cookies. Or to go to Zia’s (his aunt’s) house. And when we would say no, a full-throttle tantrum ensued. So, the 3 of us would have to wake fully, get Little Man settled, then try to settle ourselves and the baby to sleep.

He did this every night for about a month. It had gone on long enough that we were all becoming tired, cranky zombies.

I have no problem waking with him for nightmares, for monsters in the closet, or if he’s not feeling well. But to burst in at 2:00 a.m. every night, getting everyone all fired up? It affected everyone, every day. And I didn’t want to start feeling resentful.

Okay, I was already feeling a little resentful.

At a loss, I did something about it. One night, when he came into our room, he made his usual request for something he could be sure we would shoot down. As soon he showed the first signs of tantrum, I picked him up and put him in his bed. I told him he could come back in and talk to us or sleep with us if he could do it quietly, without waking the baby.

Of course, this made him wail. When he came back in, I took him back to his bed, and repeated what I had just said. By the third time, I had almost given up. I felt like I was doing a form of cry-it-out for almost-three-year-olds. But because I was inviting him into our bed and the alternative (sleepy, crabby family) wasn’t good for anyone, I decided to stick to my guns this time.

After one more round, he started to calm down. I asked him, “can you come into the big bed quietly?”

“Yes,” he whispered.

I tucked us all in.

“You okay?” I asked.

“Get trains,” he said.

“No, it’s dark down there and we won’t be able to see them.”

“Okay.” He rolled over and went to sleep.

That was the first and last time I had to do anything like that at night. Now, when he wanders in, he sneaks in quietly and nobody knows until morning. We can all wake refreshed and happy. He has his nighttime security, we have our rest.

Still, as with every parenting move I make, I can’t help but wonder if I did the right thing.

Quiet is Okay

Early on, I remember being in new groups and being shooed away to “go play with the kids.” I have memories of not really wanting to play with a bunch of kids I didn’t know, but they would look like they were having fun. So I’d force myself, thinking that I might end up having fun too.

From age 8 to 17, I was the first one on and the last one off the school bus. I’d board close to 6:00 a.m., groggy and not quite warmed up for exciting conversation. I wanted to stare out the window and get lost in my own thoughts. Problem was, social convention dictated that one should spend the entire time socializing. Topics of conversation were usually less than profound – gossip, TV shows the night before, mocking teachers’ unusual quirks – none of which interested me in the least.

But again, I forced myself to participate. This time, it was to avoid being labeled as weird, uncool, or whatever I was avoiding. But I think I knew by then that I wouldn’t be having as much fun as the other passengers.

Beyond age 13 or so, I stopped caring about being cool or popular. I remember thinking that once I entered high school, I could just be the quiet, thoughtful one and it would be okay. If I would have been most content parking myself on a bench with a stack of books, I could do that, right?

Wrong. Instead, I discovered that I was being labeled a new thing – snobby. And that was not okay with me. It wasn’t that I was standing around thinking I was better than everyone, or anyone for that matter. It was more that I wasn’t a giggler, a rumormonger, or a hot new TV series watcher, so I didn’t have much to contribute to most conversations in my circles.

To this day, I loathe small talk. There’s no bigger waste of hot air, in my opinion. Asking questions to learn about a new person is one thing – there’s purpose behind that. But meaningless chit-chat about the weather and whatever sports thing just happened? Torture. But through almost 3 decades of forcing myself to engage in the mundane jibber jabber, I’m as good at it as the next guy. I can even fake being social and chatty. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you need to bust it out, and I can.

Most people open up once they’re comfortable with someone. I appear to be doing the opposite. I’ll say less and listen more. It looks like I’m withdrawing, but it really means I’m comfortable enough to show you me, quiet and all. I’m lucky that my nearest and dearest get it and accept it, even embrace this about me. Only one person I’ve come across in adulthood has expressed discomfort with my silence, but she has her own issues that I couldn’t even begin to help her with, so I’ve got to just shrug it off.

But enough about me. What does this have to do with parenting?

Remembering my own childhood and observing other parents I’m around now, I think kids get undue pressure to be socially “normal,” whatever the heck that means. If a child would rather go off on his own to take apart his toys instead of joining group games, we start throwing around words like withdrawn and we suspect they might need autism testing. Couldn’t he just be a curious tinkerer? Or the girl who would rather hang out at the library than splash at the pool with her friends – what difference does her choice of activity make?

There’s enough pressure for kids to conform to social and societal pressures without parents adding to it. I want my children to know that Mom and Dad would never want them to pretend to be something they’re not. I hope the freedom to be themselves can start in the home, and that they feel free to be themselves in whatever circles they choose. Judgments, criticisms and all.

Letter to that smart person with smart kids

Before anyone gets all paranoid, know that this goes for all ridiculously intelligent people with intelligent children. And know that I have astronomical standards for what constitutes plain ‘ol intelligent, much less ridiculously intelligent, so by nature, very few qualify. But if you do…

I’m watching you. I’m making note of your every move. I’m listening to what other people are saying about you. I want to observe you so that I can do what you did to get your child where he is now, which, I might add, is quite impressive. I’m getting all CIA on you. I’m sniffing around about your past, your kid’s past, about how you handled bed-wetting during the preschool years, and what you said when you found purple crayon on the new white furniture.

No, I’m not stalking. I just need some positive influences among all of the garbage that has become so commonplace. Give me a break here. I am trying to raise a child in a society that prays to the retail gods, a society that admires a woman who looks like she’s smuggling bowling balls in her t-shirt, a society that sees nothing wrong with hanging back and taking credit for another group’s accomplishments (I’m talking about pro sports).

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with cheering on your favorite team. But for the love of Nutella, don’t say we. You ate chips and drank beer while a bunch of guys put in the sweat to accomplish whatever it was you’re patting yourself on the back for.

Just a peeve of mine.

Okay, back to my cry for help.

I JUST PULLED BREAD OUT OF MY KID’S EAR.

I mean, how is he supposed to become a chaos theorist and dead language hobbyist if he’s got a head full of bread?

You can’t blame me for taking notes on the geniuses of the world. Whatever I’m doing isn’t working. I’m like, oh no, you just put bread in your ear. Wait, Mommy’s getting her camera. Smile! Now, we don’t put bread in our ears…

(I know, I know, mixed messages. But some moments are too cute not to capture with the old point-and-shoot.)

I’m just trying to find the model parents and children out there who aren’t so much interested in the bowling balls and touchdowns (okay, I’ll take mildly amused). Is it too much to ask to want my child to want to exercise the noggin as a matter of priority?

So, the moral of the story is, I’m seeking out the people who get it so that I can get it too.

For the record, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the parenting pressure I put on myself. Time to lighten up, perhaps?

In a strange land…

Imagine you’ve just had done some dental implants in Chicago. Your deadened nerves make your mouth droop on one side. You’re drooling, but you don’t know you’re drooling because you can’t feel your face. Your tongue feels like it doesn’t quite fit in your mouth. For more tips, you can refer to this site.

And then, the phone rings. Someone’s calling about that job you’ve had your eye on, or the hard-to-reach medical billing department has just one more question to resolve the expensive mistake on your statement. You try to respond. You carefully coordinate your mouth muscles, but it’s useless. As much as you try to form words, they just don’t come out right. After a few tries, you start to sense frustration in the voice on the other end. The other person makes a snide comment before giving up and hanging up.

Imagine hiking in a new place, exploring as you go. You’ve just discovered the most fascinating artifact. You climb a few rocks to get a closer look. You’re able to reach it, touch it, marvel at it. Then suddenly, someone twice your size appears out of nowhere, pries it out of your fingers and hides it, for no apparent reason. He mumbles something in another language, and disappears.

Imagine dozing off after reading your child’s favorite book about giants. You start to dream about wandering around a strange, large world built for giants. The stairs come to your waist, you can barely peer over the dining table, and your drinking glass is the size and weight of a landscape planter. You spend your day trying to navigate this world, only to find that you’re constantly falling, running into things, breaking things, and spilling things.

Now, imagine these annoying obstacles are here to stay for a while. And imagine every time you make a mistake, a policeman pops out of nowhere, starts barking through a bullhorn and whacks you on the rear with a billy club.

Am I that far off from the way a young child experiences life?

The next time our frustration starts to peak, let’s try to remember how new, complicated, fascinating and big this world seems through the eyes of our little ones.

7 resolutions for baby #2

So, about that whole balance thing. I’m bad at it. Really bad. And as we mothers tend to do when expecting baby number two, I’m going through my mental list of things I want to do differently now that I have some experience under my belt. My list seems to revolve around achieving balance. Which, I haven’t yet learned to do with my firstborn. Here are some things I plan to try to get better at this.

1. I will put the baby down. Sometimes. Once upon a time, I thought bouncy seats and swings were for mean mommies. But you know what? We need both of our hands and a full range of motion from time to time. To feed ourselves, to tend to the needs of our other children, to wipe up that dust bunny that brings our hormonal selves to tears because we’ve been staring at it for a week with a sleeping baby in our arms. Even the fanciest slings and carriers come with limitations. Tending to other things, including, you know, basic hygiene, is part of the program. And the baby will be no less content and secure. If she is, I trust that my instincts will pick up on it. Which brings me to…

2. I will trust my instincts. I had a hard time with this one early on. Could you blame me? What did I know? First, I’d never been a mother, so it was all new territory for me. Second, my mother had passed away years before my first was born, so I didn’t have that person I felt I could call to give me the right answer every time. I relied on books, where each one contradicts the next, and instinct. In retrospect, I’ve realized that instinct usually trumped what I found in print.

This time around, I’ll acknowledge that my mothering instincts are there and in working order. We are equipped with them for a reason.

3. I won’t be so paranoid about nursing in public. More often than I’d like to admit, I left a cartful of groceries in the middle of the aisle to run out to the car, or ducked into a bedroom, or surveyed a building upon arrival to find a hidden place to nurse, or lugged around an extra 15 lbs of bottles, pumped milk and ice, or made my crying, hungry child wait for a bottle to warm. And for what? For the comfort of the few squeamish who, in my humble opinion, need to lighten up? Wow, I prioritized rude strangers’ comfort over my child’s and my own. Not cool. I can’t whine that breastfeeding isn’t the norm if I’m not willing to be a part of the change I’d like to see.

4. I will try to remember that I’m a person, too. And I shouldn’t feel guilty about passing off parent duty to the husband or a caregiver to go to that yoga class I wanted to try, or to take a hot shower, or go to an actual store to find post-partum clothes that fit (vs. buying online). True, the baby might cry. And if I’m not there, Dad or the person in charge will do their best to soothe her.

Confession: I still feel guilty if I take a shower while my toddler is awake. My husband would think this is stupid.

5. I will live in the moment. As soon as my little guy was born, I started my mental panic countdown to the day I would have to go back to my full-time job. How much time must I have wasted feeling sad about someday being apart from him when I could have been enjoying my time with him?

Although I will be able to stay home with my kids this time around, being present is just as important. Sometimes it’s hard to do the day-to-day thing mindfully in our multi-tasking, over-scheduling culture. I need to remind myself to slow down and enjoy every moment as much as one can on just a few hours of sleep here and there.

6. I won’t feel guilty when I don’t get it all done. Heck, I don’t get it all done now. I would love to be superhuman, but see #4. I’m just a plain ol’ person. Even if it doesn’t get done, it’ll all be okay. It always turns out okay.

7. I’ll ask for help. Well, I say that now, but when the time comes I probably won’t. Those who know me know that if I’ve asked for something, it’s pretty much a life-or-death emergency and they should rush to my side. Hey, I listed it, which means I’m going to try. (I hope I don’t alarm anyone.)

Maybe I should revisit this list once the baby is born…

Is there anything you would do differently?

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