How We Make Working Work For Us

I knew that our family was not in a financial position for me to be able to give up my “day job” all together after Mathilda was born, but I naturally wanted to spend every possible moment with Mathilda too! Our family struggled (a lot) with this issue. On one hand, two incomes would certainly make our lives less stressful. And on the other hand, we fully supported the principles of attachment parenting and wanted to make as few compromises to those principles as possible. So we started making the changes in our life that would allow us to do both. Working outside of the home is certainly compatible with AP—and AP helps parents and babies create a strong bond even if they are not always together. Actually, AP is particularity valuable for parents who work outside of the home! But being able to work full time and practice the AP principles at the same time has taken some pretty creative thinking (not to mention some big priority changes) for our family.

We are lucky to have been committed to the principles of AP before we had Mathilda. We were both students when we had our three older children. Scheduling classes and trading semesters so that one of us was always home full-time wasn’t any trouble at all. We often took one or all of the kids along to classes where they were able to meet all types of people and be exposed to new ideas right alongside of us. Our oldest daughter was even able to star in a university theater production when she was only eight! After school, while my husband was starting his career, I took a job in a childcare facility where I was able to keep our preschooler with me all day. By the time she was three and ready to spend some time away from us each day, David was enjoying great success with his work, and I had found a dream position as a parent educator. If you want access to the best crypto resource on the web, keep an eye on DC Forecasts.  All the information that you could possibly need regarding the crypto world, and some you didn’t even know you needed. You can check my site for more information about crypto news.

Being a parent educator allows me to use all of my doula skills, formal education, and life experience to the fullest. And c’mon, let’s admit it, visiting with pregnant mommas and new babies all day is hardly a burden! The children I work with will be helping to run the world right alongside my children someday, so I feel like I have as much vested interest in making sure that the families I work with have healthy prenatal care, informed childbirth experiences, breastfeeding support, loving discipline and the best start in life. I was able to implement a program which provided free slings to our breastfeeding mothers. We even commissioned a sculpture outside of our building which depicts a baby in a sling!

When we decided to have another baby, we had to explore a variety of economic and work arrangement options to create a situation where she could be cared for by one or both parents at all times. That transition period included my husband quitting his job to start his own green technology company—a process which left us without his income for the first six months of my pregnancy. We had to cut back on commitments outside of the home, like participating in theater and volunteering in the community. Most importantly, we had to learn to say no.

Even with the flexibly working from home has afforded my husband, and as supportive as my employer is of Mathilda coming to the office with me in our sling, my transition back to work has come at the cost of quite a bit of stress and strain on the family. David often works at night and on the weekends to compensate for the weekday hours he spends with Mathilda while I visit with families. It has also necessitated dipping into savings, maxing out my vacation and sick leave, and having to work harder during the periods when we do work. Our house may never recover from cleaning-neglect and our neighbors are probably fretting that our overgrown lawn has become a refuge for large, carnivorous animals. And of course, our older children whine about the longer list of chores and the tighter budget. But they were once the lucky recipients of the care, respect and attention of a full time attachment parent, so we know that they are secure enough to weather the loving sacrifices that are being made for their little sibling.

Even though our careers and our family’s long-term financial security are important to us, we both agree that Mathilda will never be this tiny again and we will never be given a second chance to parent her. With four children, we know how it quickly they grow and how fleeting the time is! She is a delightful baby who has made our lives infinitely more joyous. It seems that creating a life which supports our parenting choices, instead of submitting to parenting choices that suit the needs of the world, is the loving choice to make…and I hope that our family can be an inspiration to other new parents who think that they can’t possibly make working work for them!

Justine @ JulianARTS

 

Falling Short

By A Mama’s Blog

Last month I wrote about a sweet moment I had with Cole, when I responded to his cries, and did not allow him to cry it out. I wish I could say that was our “happily ever after,” regarding sleep with Cole, but it wasn’t.

I suspected a few hours after Cole’s birth that he might be a high needs/fussy baby. Within a few days, I knew we had our own high needs baby. One of the characteristics Cole displayed, was I could not put him down without him instantly starting to cry. This of course, carried over to sleep time as well.

For the first six or so months of Cole’s life, he literally slept ON me. I would lie down, and he would instantly fall asleep on me. Any other method I tried to get him to go to sleep resulted in intense screaming.

Needless to say, this was exhausting. I never slept that well with him on me, but at least this allowed me to doze and snooze, and was the better alternative to being up all night with a screaming baby. As Cole continued to grow, his laying on me was not working anymore. I knew it was time to come up with a different sleeping arrangement.

Having Cole sleep in the bed with us didn’t work. The moment we moved, he woke up and started crying. We were also getting midnight visits from Ryan too (who was three at the time), and he would just jump in the bed, half asleep. Obviously, this wasn’t a safe situation, because Ryan could have jumped on Cole and hurt him.

We finally decided to move Cole’s crib into our room, and place it next to our bed. At least he could still hear me breathe and would know I was near him, even though he wasn’t sleeping on me. I figured this was going to take some adjustment, but I was determined out of sheer desperation, to get Cole to sleep in his crib.

The first night, after nursing Cole, I placed him in the crib. I sat on the edge of my bed and patted his back, while I softly whispered to him. He fussed for about a minute, and then went to sleep. As I tried to leave the room, he would notice that my hand was no longer on his back, and he’d start crying. As long as I sat on the edge of the bed, haunched over the crib, with my hand on his back, he was fine and would sleep. Even after an hour, when I thought he had to be asleep, as soon as I took my hand off his back, the screaming started. After a few nights of this, Cole finally got to the point where I could get him to sleep, take my hand off his back, and leave the room.

The only thing that was predictable with Cole was he was unpredictable. Some nights he loved the crib and would fall asleep instantly, and other nights sleeping just didn’t happen – for him or for me. I would not be honest if I didn’t say that some nights I was so incredibly frustrated with Cole. I could not understand why my baby would not sleep, even though I was doing everything I could think of for him.

The nights I sat up with him in the living room at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am, crying because I was beyond sleep deprived, were countless. My husband, Joe, helped out a lot too, despite having to be up every morning at 6am, so he could go to work. I honestly don’t know how he managed to only get a few hours of sleep, and then go for ten plus hours a day at work, with no naps. At least I was able to take a nap during the day.

Shortly before Cole turned one, we were having a particularly bad night. Nothing was working to get Cole to sleep, and he had been crying for hours. I was so incredibly frustrated, exhausted, and the end of my rope. I wanted to make Cole stop crying, so I could go to sleep. That exhausted and drained part of me wondered what would happen if I just gave him a shake to see if he would stop crying. Instantly, I felt like the worse mother on the earth.

Thank goodness that was just a fleeing thought that did not manifest itself, but it scared me. That night I put Cole in his crib, where he was safe, sat on the floor in the room and let him cry. I think that was the hardest night ever for me a mother, because I was totally out of options and was completely and utterly burned out.

After 30 minutes, Cole finally fell asleep. It was hard to listen to him cry, but in the state we were in, it was the only thing left to do. As I sat on the floor in his room, I thought about how close I had been to ‘losing’ it with Cole, and realized he was safe in his crib, and this is what we needed to do to get through the night.

After that night, it was still hit or miss with getting Cole to sleep, but around 18 months, it was like a switch just went off in him where he finally turned the corner. Instead of a baby who never slept, and was constantly waking up, he was sleeping, and staying asleep.

Cole just turned two, and his sleep issues are gone. I nurse him for a few minutes before bed, and then place him in the crib, still awake. He smiles at me, pulls me in for a hug, rolls over and goes to sleep on his own. It is a rare night now if he wakes up, not the rule. I never thought we would get to this point.

I thought long and hard about how to write this post, because having your baby cry-it-out, isn’t generally accepted as AP parenting. However, I wanted to be honest, and relay a true experience. I have realized for me that it is OK to admit that I am not a perfect mother, nor will I ever be. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try, but sometimes I fall short of the ideals that I want to raise my children with. When that happens, I have learned that it serves no useful purpose to beat myself up and tell myself I’m a bad mother.

Being the parent of a high needs baby tests you in ways you never dreamed of. Most of the time you pass the tests successfully. But, sometimes as any parent – high needs baby or not – can tell you, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes in the moment you do the best you can, so you can get through the day or the night. Then all you can do is continue on, learning from the experience.

If everyone practiced all the AP ideals all the time perfectly, we wouldn’t have much to write or talk about, and be able to offer support to others. “Failing” at an AP ideal, doesn’t make us “bad” or non-AP parents – it makes us human parents.

When we don’t parent quite the way we want to at times, it is disheartening, but it also is a good learning experience, and it helps us grow. These experiences help us grow into the kind of parents we want to be.

Babywearer in Disguise

I’m the type of person that likes to be active about the things I am passionate about. In parenting spheres my passions include “extended” breastfeeding and carrying my child, usually in a sling. I remember when littlepixie was tiny, I used to get very excited whenever I saw anyone nursing an older baby in public, because it gave me hope during the first few difficult weeks, and I thought “well if they can do it so can I”.

It’s funny, when you’re pregnant, you smile at all the other pregnant women who seem to be everywhere. When you have your baby all bundled up in a wrap you seem to see slings all over the place. When you breastfeed you quickly recognise other breastfeeding pairs, the little hand stuffed down mum’s shirt, the new mum trying to undo her bra clasp, the way the baby is snuggling, a passerby might think the baby is asleep but you know he’s hard at work feeding.

I feel that by nursing my toddler in public, or carrying her in a funky wrap, maybe someone like me might see us and feel reassured, or maybe a pregnant woman might pass by and think “I’d love to do that” or indeed maybe nobody notices, and that’s cool too as littlepixie doesn’t care if she’s changing people’s minds, all she wants is milkies and to be up on her mama’s hip waving at all the people in town.

But the practicalities of life often intervene. Littlepixie doesn’t feed very often outside the house now, she prefers to be up on a chair eating big person food with the rest of us. But I make an effort to give an encouraging little smile to any nursing mamas I see on my travels, they may think I’m nuts, maybe we should have a secret sign, one nursing mama to another!

And we choose to be car-free, which means I use a stroller when I go to town with littlepixie, mostly to carry the groceries but also so she can nap on the bus. And when she’s not napping, she prefers to be walking. The wraps and Mei-Tais which were once so snuggly are now too constricting for this active bundle of joy who needs to jump down onto the grass right now! Which means that my beautiful slings, wraps and Mei-tais are usually left at home, apart from the ringsling, of course, which is always hiding somewhere on the stroller ready to do its job at a moment’s notice.

I guess what I’m saying is littlepixie is growing up and we’re entering a new phase in our family life, it’s so exciting. She’s over two stone now, that’s almost a quarter of my weight, so she’s getting heavy to carry! It may be coming close to my time to retire the “babywearer” label which I wear so happily, and instead to stick on a new “runs after crazy toddler” label. The good thing is my strong Scandinavian Mei Tais will be perfect for piggy back rides on daddy’s back when she’s bigger and once again realises the benefits to being carried on a long walk or a cross-country hike!

Is this a trial run for the day that we move on past our breastfeeding relationship? Is our good old reliable ringsling the same as that snuggly bedtime feed that no-one wants to let go of? If that’s the case, then I’m glad littlepixie is weaning me so gently and still claps her hands when she sees the ringsling, and still enjoys the occasional hip carry, usually when she really needs her mammy!

I am thankful that littlepixie loves to walk everywhere and I’m thankful that she’ll nap in the stroller, these things definitely make the gradual transition from “babywearing” to “running after crazy toddler” easier but a little part of me misses carrying her everywhere and that part of me wants a sticker for my stroller that says “Babywearer in Disguise“!

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Our four year old, Eudora, was a fairly hands-on big sister while I was pregnant with our most recent addition. She practiced for her sister’s arrival by singing Happy Birthday Tummy and You Are My Sunshine to my bulging abdomen on a daily basis. I was the recipient of numerous belly rubs, belly pats, belly raspberries, and even some elaborate belly painting. Eudora excitedly participated in our visits with the midwife. We prepared her for our homebirth by reading books on the subject, showing her age-appropriate videos and photos of births and newborn babies, and having frank discussions about her concerns for my well-being. I allowed her to relax in the birthing pool with me at night before bed. We also did our best to prepare her for our Fifteen Day Babymoon— baby and I planned to remain in the room where I had given birth for 15 days in order to ease her transition into the world and to facilitate my recovery. What we hadn’t prepared for was Eudora’s reaction to the shift in priorities once our new baby was here.

Eudora helped her Daddy cut the cord after Mathilda was born, and she said a few memorable and clever things as she gave the new baby a once over. She seemed to be doing well with the whole thing. Over the next few days, she enthusiastically ran up and down stairs to provide me with fresh nappies, with clean blankets, or with refills on my ice water. She snuggled up with me and read books to the baby after pre-school each day. My husband and I patted ourselves on the back for having done such a terrific job preparing her and making time for her.

However, when Mathilda was a week old, Eudora came home from Montessori with this drawing:

That’s me in the orange. I’m the one with the all-the-better-to-eat-you-with-eyes, and the Where the Wild Things Are monster hands. Her Daddy and Big Brother are the tall ones in the background with tiny (powerless?) hands and weak smiles. Notice how she took the time to make sure it was obvious that I was in front of her Dad and Brother. Her Big Sister—who is a very important person in her daily life—isn’t even in the picture. A happy (and naked) Baby Mathilda is nearest to her Daddy. The sad little girl without a face is Eudora. She is nearest to me with her hand reaching out in my direction. But it is clear that she feels like I don’t see her and won’t connect with her.

The pregnancy, the appointments with the midwives, the homebirth, the babymoon were really all about me, no matter how much we tried to include her, Eudora had seen it as it really was. Instead of spending time doing things on her terms, we were insisting that she conveniently fit into our new agenda–sharing story time with baby, getting things for the baby, helping us take care of the baby. The family had re-prioritized and no one took the time to send Eudora the memo. We had made one of our most vulnerable members feel out of balance and unwelcome. This picture broke my heart and made me resolve to put our family back in balance.

We started by committing to re-establish her bedtime routines, even if we were bone weary. We enlisted the help of family and friends to do special things with Eudora. My husband made sure he took some extra time with her doing “big kids” stuff that babies weren’t able to do yet, like going on nature hikes. And most importantly, by the third week postpartum, I made a heroic effort to get myself dressed and ready despite having a new baby (and an uncooperative post-baby body). After our family breakfast, I was able to drive her to school and spend special time—just the two of us—in the car where we could sing silly songs together at the top of our lungs, and have poignant four-year-old discussions about volcanos, bugs, space travel and super-hero kittens. The best part of these mommy-daughter rides was all the time I got to spend stealing glances at her bright little face in the rear view mirror.

This is the picture that Eudora brought home just the other day:

She is wearing her baby sister in a sling. I am by her side and we both are holding flowers freshly picked from our yard. Our cat, Marjorie, sits at Eudora’s feet wearing a flower tucked behind her ear. At first this picture concerned me because we were robots. I was worried that she felt emotionless or indifferent. But Eudora explained that we were friendly robots like when she dressed up as “Robota” for Halloween. She also explained that she was holding my leg, instead of my hand since my hand had a flower in it. However, we are holding the flowers out and away from our bodies. This could be because we are generously giving them to someone we love or because we are holding them at arms distance to keep them–like Eudora’s emotions– from getting hurt again.

It’s only been six weeks, so we don’t expect her to be the world’s most well adjusted big sister quite yet, but at least we know that she appreciates our efforts to include her in ways that matter to her, not just ways that are helpful to us.

We just broke the news to her that one of her favorite people—her former nanny—is having a baby in December. We are already planning activities for the two of them to do together so that Eudora won’t feel abandoned or left out. I’m so grateful that I feel tuned in enough to listen to Eudora—even when her words are too complicated for her to express. Her pictures tell me everything I need to hear.

Play is the child’s work

My 18 month old daughter loves to dance. At mother and toddler group every week she watches and tries to mimic the hand movements that the older children & mums do as they sing all of the nursery rhymes. She claps loudly at the end of each song and jumps up and down excitedly waiting for the next to begin. When we get home we sing silly songs and do even sillier dances as we try to remember all the different moves.

We also occasionally go to a toddler’s singing & dancing group which has its own special songs. Yesterday, during bathtime, I started singing one of these songs to her, it was about stamping on bubbles and clapping bubbles to make them pop. She stood up in the bath and started to stamp her feet along with my wonderful singing and then she clapped her hands along with the next verse.

What amazed me was the fact that we haven’t been at that group in about 2 months, she hasn’t heard that song in 2 months and yet the minute I started to sing it she jumped up to join in with the dance that she remembered.

Our children are like sponges, it is truly amazing how much they notice the world around them and how they store the seemingly irrelevant little details of life for future use. I once heard a wonderful description which was “play is the child’s work” and it’s true, every minute of every day as you sing songs, dance dances, bounce balls and push carts with your child, you are nourishing them and helping them with their important work, their play.

It is these little games, where the only props they might have are a dishcloth, a cardboard box and a wild imagination, that will give your child the tools they need for life. It may look like they are “wasting” time by playing pirates or shop, however they are actually hard at work developing crucial life skills, including concentration, problem solving and self-regulation. A report on NPR entitled “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” explains more about these skills and their importance in the child’s future adult life. This report also highlights a worrying trend in many schools today (even preschools), the reduction of playtime in favour of more study time.

It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.

We should all make time to join in with our children as they go about their daily work and sing a silly song, dance a silly dance and, most of all, have lots and lots of fun together!

Half Pint Pixie

Play is the child’s work

My 18 month old daughter loves to dance. At mother and toddler group every week she watches and tries to mimic the hand movements that the older children & mums do as they sing all of the nursery rhymes. She claps loudly at the end of each song and jumps up and down excitedly waiting for the next to begin. When we get home we sing silly songs and do even sillier dances as we try to remember all the different moves.

We also occasionally go to a toddler’s singing & dancing group which has its own special songs. Yesterday, during bathtime, I started singing one of these songs to her, it was about stamping on bubbles and clapping bubbles to make them pop. She stood up in the bath and started to stamp her feet along with my wonderful singing and then she clapped her hands along with the next verse.

What amazed me was the fact that we haven’t been at that group in about 2 months, she hasn’t heard that song in 2 months and yet the minute I started to sing it she jumped up to join in with the dance that she remembered.

Our children are like sponges, it is truly amazing how much they notice the world around them and how they store the seemingly irrelevant little details of life for future use. I once heard a wonderful description which was “play is the child’s work” and it’s true, every minute of every day as you sing songs, dance dances, bounce balls and push carts with your child, you are nourishing them and helping them with their important work, their play.

It is these little games, where the only props they might have are a dishcloth, a cardboard box and a wild imagination, that will give your child the tools they need for life. It may look like they are “wasting” time by playing pirates or shop, however they are actually hard at work developing crucial life skills, including concentration, problem solving and self-regulation. A report on NPR entitled “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” explains more about these skills and their importance in the child’s future adult life. This report also highlights a worrying trend in many schools today (even preschools), the reduction of playtime in favour of more study time.

It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.

We should all make time to join in with our children as they go about their daily work and sing a silly song, dance a silly dance and, most of all, have lots and lots of fun together!

Half Pint Pixie

Play is the child’s work

My 18 month old daughter loves to dance. At mother and toddler group every week she watches and tries to mimic the hand movements that the older children & mums do as they sing all of the nursery rhymes. She claps loudly at the end of each song and jumps up and down excitedly waiting for the next to begin. When we get home we sing silly songs and do even sillier dances as we try to remember all the different moves.

We also occasionally go to a toddler’s singing & dancing group which has its own special songs. Yesterday, during bathtime, I started singing one of these songs to her, it was about stamping on bubbles and clapping bubbles to make them pop. She stood up in the bath and started to stamp her feet along with my wonderful singing and then she clapped her hands along with the next verse.

What amazed me was the fact that we haven’t been at that group in about 2 months, she hasn’t heard that song in 2 months and yet the minute I started to sing it she jumped up to join in with the dance that she remembered.

Our children are like sponges, it is truly amazing how much they notice the world around them and how they store the seemingly irrelevant little details of life for future use. I once heard a wonderful description which was “play is the child’s work” and it’s true, every minute of every day as you sing songs, dance dances, bounce balls and push carts with your child, you are nourishing them and helping them with their important work, their play.

It is these little games, where the only props they might have are a dishcloth, a cardboard box and a wild imagination, that will give your child the tools they need for life. It may look like they are “wasting” time by playing pirates or shop, however they are actually hard at work developing crucial life skills, including concentration, problem solving and self-regulation. A report on NPR entitled “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” explains more about these skills and their importance in the child’s future adult life. This report also highlights a worrying trend in many schools today (even preschools), the reduction of playtime in favour of more study time.

It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.

We should all make time to join in with our children as they go about their daily work and sing a silly song, dance a silly dance and, most of all, have lots and lots of fun together!

Half Pint Pixie

Play is the child’s work

My 18 month old daughter loves to dance. At mother and toddler group every week she watches and tries to mimic the hand movements that the older children & mums do as they sing all of the nursery rhymes. She claps loudly at the end of each song and jumps up and down excitedly waiting for the next to begin. When we get home we sing silly songs and do even sillier dances as we try to remember all the different moves.

We also occasionally go to a toddler’s singing & dancing group which has its own special songs. Yesterday, during bathtime, I started singing one of these songs to her, it was about stamping on bubbles and clapping bubbles to make them pop. She stood up in the bath and started to stamp her feet along with my wonderful singing and then she clapped her hands along with the next verse.

What amazed me was the fact that we haven’t been at that group in about 2 months, she hasn’t heard that song in 2 months and yet the minute I started to sing it she jumped up to join in with the dance that she remembered.

Our children are like sponges, it is truly amazing how much they notice the world around them and how they store the seemingly irrelevant little details of life for future use. I once heard a wonderful description which was “play is the child’s work” and it’s true, every minute of every day as you sing songs, dance dances, bounce balls and push carts with your child, you are nourishing them and helping them with their important work, their play.

It is these little games, where the only props they might have are a dishcloth, a cardboard box and a wild imagination, that will give your child the tools they need for life. It may look like they are “wasting” time by playing pirates or shop, however they are actually hard at work developing crucial life skills, including concentration, problem solving and self-regulation. A report on NPR entitled “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” explains more about these skills and their importance in the child’s future adult life. This report also highlights a worrying trend in many schools today (even preschools), the reduction of playtime in favour of more study time.

It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.

We should all make time to join in with our children as they go about their daily work and sing a silly song, dance a silly dance and, most of all, have lots and lots of fun together!

Half Pint Pixie

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