Weaning in the Context of AP

My son Cavanaugh is a little over two now and we recently embarked on night weaning. Night weaning then researching weaning for our API meeting last month got me thinking about breastfeeding in the Attachment Parenting  community. So many of the AP mamas I know were planning on child-led weaning and many of them are changing their minds as their kids move further into toddlerhood. But a lot of us have mixed feelings about weaning, whether we decide to partially, gradually, or abruptly wean or to nurse as long as our kids feel like they need it.

So here’s how I’ve been thinking about weaning in relation to the Eight Principles of API

Continue reading “Weaning in the Context of AP”

Attached During the Holiday

Before I was a parent, December was a time of calm. There were a few office Christmas parties, and a little bit of shopping, but there was nothing frantic about it. We’d drive around to find the best light displays, go see a Christmas movie or two in the theatre, and just relish in the season. On Christmas morning, my husband and I would leisurely open our gifts, then head over to his mother’s house.

How times have changed.
Continue reading “Attached During the Holiday”

AP When Things Are Upside Down

Joy, love, and simplicity are certainly some of the most compelling reasons that our family has chosen to practice Attachment Parenting. AP principles, like keeping our baby close, responding to our children with sensitivity and respect, and engaging in night time parenting have made our lives infinitely sweeter, gentler, and less stressful. So, recently, when our family was asked to contend with an unexpected hardship we were grateful to already have the strong bonds, security, and trust that we have gained through our AP relationship.

We are a relatively healthy family who relies mainly on good nutrition and clean living to help us keep up with four children. On the whole, we are fortunate to enjoy good health and do not take it for granted. When my husband came down with a touch of the flu last month, we brewed some tea, made some soup and figured he’d be better in a few days. The rest of us went into immune-building mode: I nursed the baby more frequently, we included some immune-boosting foods and supplements into our regular diets and everyone got some extra sleep. By day three, my husband was worse, not better. And nobody else was feeling ill yet. Another three days passed with no improvement. And other than being more tired from having the other half of my parenting team incapacitated, I was not feeling ill. Nobody in our house had the flu—including my husband.

Watching a child suffer through an illness is a parents’ worst nightmare…our little ones can seem so helpless and vulnerable. However, seeing a 6′ 4” grown man who is too weak to get out of bed for a week is very distressing, too. Our big, strong, wood-chopping, snow-shoveling, chief wage earner, and carry-the-kids-to-bed Daddy had come to a screeching halt. This was beyond my soup, rest, and TLC skills. We had no choice. Continue reading “AP When Things Are Upside Down”

AP while on vacation

We have just returned from a holiday which lasted 4 weeks. We have been to 4 countries, visited our extended families, went to the beach and stayed at 7 different places.
I was a bit anxious that it would be too much for our 20 month old daughter but she handled it very well.
We don’t need many things to keep our baby secure and content, even in unfamiliar places. Attachment parenting allows us to travel lightly. We never need to carry a travel cot or think about where our baby will sleep. We don’t need to take a stroller with us, our baby carrier does the job, all we need to worry about is having insurance, luckily, now a days you can even find travel insurance for seniors, which is great because we travel with our parents most of the time.

During the first 2 weeks, we were in Belgium visiting my sister. While we were there, we decided to go to Paris for a day trip. One morning we took the train from Brussels and within one hour we were there.

We visited all those well known places and around six o’clock we headed to the Eiffel Tower. We would just have a look and leave. We were already tired and hungry and we were reckoning that there would be a long queue of people who wanted to go up. However there wasn’t and suddenly we decided to go up and see what it is all about. So our visit took longer than we anticipated. Poor Daphne was very hungry and wanted to breastfeed. She was in the carrier, so most people didn’t notice it but a few women smiled at us. Who would have thought that I’d breastfeed her at the top of the Eiffel Tower?  Well, it was a lovely moment that I’ll never forget.

Isil writes about attachment parenting and vegan cooking at Veggie Way.

Be Selfish: Finding Balance in Your Life

For busy families, fitting one more thing into your day might seem impossible, but adding something extra every day will actually revitalize and refresh you.

After fighting his way home through traffic, an exhausted dad arrives at home ready to put his feet up. At the door, he meets the also exhausted mom holding a crying toddler, ready to hand over the kids and have her body back for a little while. They both need a break. They have both spent the day meeting the needs of others.

Modern life is fast-paced and heavily scheduled. There are jobs to report to, meals to prepare, soccer carpools to drive, groceries to buy, bills to pay, gardens to care for, and lawns to mow. There’s diapers to wash and toilets to scrub, crayon on the wall, and fourteen dirty baby outfits to launder each day. It’s stressful. It takes a lot of mental energy to cope with all of the demands of our jobs and families, let alone our friends and relatives.

Strive for a healthy balance in your life.

We have to take time for ourselves. When we get stressed, we can’t fully nurture our loved ones or connect with them on a deep level. On the airplane, the flight attendant teaches us that in an emergency, we should first put our own oxygen mask on, and then we put the mask on our child. If we pass out first, we will be of no help to our child. We can’t take care of others if we aren’t first taking care of ourselves. The classic mom (or dad) burn-out is someone who takes care of everyone else’s needs first, trying to be everything to everybody, putting herself last, and then being stressed out both physically and emotionally because of it.

If we can add one more thing to our daily schedule, we can come to our relationships and obligations with a fresh attitude and a renewed sense of purpose. Exactly what that one thing is, only you can know. It’s different for everybody.

We are not just parents and partners.

We are artists and writers, cyclists and runners, quilters and woodcarvers. We have passions and interests that extend beyond the family, but we may be out of touch with that side of ourselves if we’ve spent all of our time meeting the needs of others and putting our-self last.

Think about the activities and interests that you enjoyed as a kid. Do any of these still pull you? Why not start again? It really does all come back to you.

If you’re stumped, maybe you need to start the process by just being physically active every day. Get that bike out of the garage and go for a ride. Pick up a jump rope and start spinning. Go to the pool and do some laps. I always find that when I get my heart pumping, my brain gets quiet. This lets me listen a little deeper to what’s going on inside me. I can see clearly which things in my life I need to change, and when I’m “back to the world”, I can use those intuitions to guide me in my daily life. With decades of experience and endless satisfied residential and commercial clients, Steel-Line is that the go-to company for Quality Garage Doors Melbourne. They’ve been recognized for our innovation throughout the industry, receiving several awards for our quality service and results. Steel-Line prides ourselves on building genuine and long-lasting relationships with our clients. Their friendly and honest service allows us to succeed in and surpass expectations.They work closely with our clients to make a custom product that’s tailored to satisfy their individual style and wishes. Their excellent craftsmanship and dedicated attention to detail ensures they deliver unsurpassable quality results for every and each one among our clients.Not only can they assist you find the right garage door for you; they also offer further assistance by providing installation, maintenance and garage door repairs, supporting you long after you’ve got purchased your garage door.

Some days, the easiest way to get my personal time is by riding my bike to work, and then taking a longish detour on the way home. I ride until all of my job-related stress melts away, and by the time that I get home, I’m ready to take over the kid department while my wife gets a workout in, or a sewing project finished, or goes for a bike ride for herself. We’re both taken care of: I’ve got my ya-yas out, my partner gets to focus on herself for awhile, and the kids (and our marriage) benefit.

Take some personal time every day, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Set aside work and family and social obligations to follow your heart. Sit and meditate. Work on your yoga practice. Do a puzzle. Go for a run. Start a blog. Nurturing yourself plays a huge part in finding and maintaining a healthy balance in your life.

Take time for you.

Your spouse and kids will appreciate it.

(Image Credit: cpt.spock on Flickr.)

Derek blogs about fatherhood, life with toddlers, green living, and other random goodness at Natural Father.

Cobathing

Bath time in our house is a social event. Since becoming the parents of a demanding toddler (armed with a growing vocabulary), my husband and I can hardly remember the days when taking a shower added up to a) showering alone, and b) getting in, washing up, and getting out.

In our childhood, my husband and I both remember bathing and showering with our siblings and mothers, probably out of convenience and because bathing together equaled more playtime (does anyone else remember playing with tub town toys?). However, once we reached a certain age, our parents designated separate bathing times for each person; co-bathing became something special that only small children could do, and bath playtime was all but lost.

Fast forward a few decades to the present. Nowadays, showering is a two-person activity and sometimes a group event. When Annabelle was a newborn and even a baby under age one, we bathed her in our tub or placed her in a toddler tub with natural bath products. This worked swimmingly so far as getting her clean was concerned; however, she howled with disapproval whenever mom or dad tried to sneak off to the tub by their lonesomes. Eventually, being the swift thinkers that her parents are, we realized that our little one might be more content if we simply invited her to bathe with us. And well, she is.

On a typical day, Annabelle likely showers twice in the morning, once with my husband and another time with me; and if it’s been a particularly messy day or we’ve been at the public swimming pool, she showers yet again. Most of the time, she sits down in the tub and plays with her toys while one of us focuses on the business of washing up. My husband tends to shower first, so he takes care of soaping Annabelle and getting her clean. By the time I make my way to the shower, Annabelle is eager to join me for a second round of tub fun (though this time I shower and simply let her play with toys, collect dripping water with a cup, and splish and splash).

Bathing together serves many purposes for our family. As most folks in the western world do, we bathe for cleanliness. But now that our toddler insists (and I’d say rightly so) on bathing with her mom and dad (and sometimes both at the same time), taking a shower or running a bath invites play, allows us to bond, and offers the opportunity to relax and heal after difficult days. Additionally, cobathing allows breastfeeding mothers, like myself, to nurture their babies, soothe engorged breasts, and to enhance milk production. A La Leche League article recommends that parents of adopted babies nurture their breastfeeding relationship by bathing together. Another La Leche League article suggests that breastfeeding mothers of newborns who have had a difficult time establishing nursing try cobathing as a natural way to soothe mom and baby, connect with each other, and relax into the breastfeeding relationship.

For our family, cobathing is more often than not, a positive way to spend time together, to play, and stay clean and healthy. To establish a safe and fun bath in your family, you may want to check out Dr. Sears’ Bathing with Baby tips. What are your thoughts about cobathing? Does your family enjoy showering together or is bath time a sacred ritual for spending some time on your own?

A Balancing Act

In talking to parents, especially mothers, in the 6 ½ years that I’ve been a mother, I’ve learned that the hardest thing many parents face is finding time to oneself. This is definitely the thing I struggle with the most. Everybody in the family has needs which must be met, and as attachment parents, we realize the vital importance of meeting our children’s needs. Unfortunately for me, a casualty is often my needs. API even lists Strive for Balance in your Personal and Family Life as a Principle, but that has continually been my hardest item to meet, especially in regards to my own need to rejuvenate.

I’ve tried many things to get a few hours to myself every week. I’ve read books in a local sandwich shop. I’ve gone to the mall. My husband would even take the kids to the zoo on the weekend so I could get a few hours to sit and veg. However, none of those hit the nail on the head for me. Nothing met my needs.

But then a few years ago I hit upon something that met my need for alone time out of the house as well as the added benefit of exercise. I started walking. As soon as my husband came home from work, I’d head out the door, sneakers on my feet and mp3 player in my pocket. It’s a routine that still continues today.

My walks last about 35 minutes, and I go seven days a week, weather permitting. I really look forward to this time every day, I love that I’m able to exercise, and as a very non-athletically-gifted person, walking is about the extent of my coordination skills! I love that I get time to wind down at the end of the day, and the fact that I get to listen to my very favorite podcasts uninterrupted is the icing on the cake.

My children are ages six and three, and it took me four years to discover this way to rejuvenate my soul. What do you all do? How much time do you need for yourself, and how do you find it?

Role Model Parenting

This summer marks my 20th anniversary of parenting. Right this moment, my 4-month-old daughter is nursing in the sling strapped to my chest. My (almost) 14-year-old daughter is stomping noisily up the stairs in protest after having some kind of disagreement with her 5-year-old sister about the last dish of mac & cheese. My 19-year-old son is throwing a load of laundry into the washer. This is my life: a bit chaotic, a tad overwhelming, and completely filled with people I adore. I’m not sure if I accurately recall my life before I started my journey into parenthood two decades ago. Those childless years of my life must not have been very important to me since I have so many rich, vivid and love-filled memories of my life since then. I wouldn’t trade the life I have now, even if I could remember why I would want to. Each of my children has presented unique challenges, and have provided unparalleled joys.

I certainly did not begin this journey into parenthood with the AP Principles conveniently written down for me. I could not have found them online (yeah, that’s right, I parented for almost 11 years without the infinite wisdom of the Internet! Gasp!) I had the standard parenting library of the time: Dr. Spock, T. Barry Brazleton, and Penelope Leach. My parenting bible was LLL’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding which I turned to for all things breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding alike. I felt I was doing the best that I could with the tools that I had. Judging from the results, my instincts weren’t too bad. I look at the two teens who live in my house, eat all of the food, and call me mom, and what I see (most of the time) are helpful, spirited, creative, compassionate, respectful people.

I sometimes worry that my older children missed out on the benefits of Attachment Parenting because I did not have access to all of the information that I have now. Looking back I can see that I did okay. I wore them in backpacks and carriers whenever possible. I certainly thought of them as complete, conscious humans right from the start. I breastfed despite facing downright disapproval from many of the so-called parenting authorities in my community at the time. I often told people that they were sleeping through the night in their own cribs, when they were, in fact, in my bed nursing all night long.

My first born is about to be unleashed into the world when he goes off to college this fall. In addition to most of his possessions, all of our mismatched towels, and a crate of Ramen Noodles, he will also be taking along 14 years of big brother experience; 14 years of living in a family where healthy pregnancy, normal childbirth, and extended breastfeeding were modeled for him as each of his little sisters were welcomed into the world. He doesn’t run away or apologize for coming into the room while I am nursing. He sees my husband being a supportive and loving father. I have no doubt that someday he will take all of these examples and create his own parenting philosophies. My (almost) 14-year old daughter was the photographer for our recent homebirth and is super excited about finally being allowed to have a sling of her own to wear the baby in. I am confident that she will make loving, informed parenting choices for the rest of her life. Getting kids to accept your quirky parenting stuff when they are very young is a given–they love you and think you are the sun, the moon, and the stars. Pulling it off when they are in the midst of high school, hormones, dating, punk music, and Nietzsche, is a whole different story.

So even though I might not necessarily have been the ideal Attachment Parent when they were babies, I certainly have given my older children a gift I consider to be equally valuable: an example of parenting their little sisters that they will always remember and that I am proud to have modeled for them. My son won’t have to rely on vague, hazy memories of his youngest siblings nursing when it comes time to support his future wife and baby on their breastfeeding journey: he has never known any other way for babies to be fed. My daughter will never fear the unknown, or need to hear me reminisce over photographs of her own birth to feel confident when it comes time to give birth to her own babies: she has seen the power of birth up close and in person. They have been here every step of the way and have been involved in the process of learning and growing right alongside of me. Despite all of these wonderful examples, I trust that they will give me a few more years before I have to become an Attachment Grandparent, though!

Justine

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