Getting Dad into the Game

I often hear new moms tell me they are pumping so that dad can give the new baby a bottle. Over and over I hear that they want dad to feel involved and feeding an infant a bottle is just the way to do it.

As the mother of four, this seems redundant to me. My motto is always to prioritize and simplify. If you are nursing your baby, feeding the baby is not a task that needs doing by someone else. You pretty much have that one covered… and you can accomplish it while ostensibly sitting down and thumbing through a magazine or checking your e-mail. In my world, that means nursing is a baby duty I am happy to do! To let someone else feed the baby actually means more work for me, not less, as I have to figure out a time to pump when the two-year old does not tug at the machinery and what the heck do you do with a crabby newborn while you use both hands to juggle the pump anyways? Such a production!

So then, where does that leave dad? And older siblings? And grandparents? And everyone else who wants a piece of that delicious baby-care pie? Fear not, new babies are nothing if not, how can I put this graciously, full ’o needs. Even when mama is taking care of 100% of the feeding needs, baby still needs changing, bathing, dressing and holding. There are still plenty of baby-care duties that can be delegated and provide those special moments for bonding… tasks that actually need doing.

Send dad off on a walk with a well-fed, drowsy baby in a soft baby carrier and put your feet up and enjoy 20 minutes to yourself. Dad gets to bond with the new baby, dad feels competent because babies are generally content nestled in a soft carrier. Win- win! Let older siblings be in charge of choosing the outfit for the day, or singing to the baby during diaper changes. Grandparents can bathe and cuddle the new baby. There is never a shortage of baby care duties. And, hey, if someone really, really still wants to feed the baby, no worries, in 6 to 8 months, baby will happily accept cheerios, banana and avocado from just about anyone.

Breastfeeding can be intense the first few months. The nursing relationship between mama and nursling can seem exclusive. How have you included other members of your family in baby bonding time outside of the nursing relationship?

Stepping outside of the box AKA Talking for a teddy bear

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During the past four years of my attachment parenting journey, I sometimes find myself in situations, especially with regard to discipline, that require me to step outside the box and out of my comfort zone.

A few months ago I was trying to get Ava, almost 4 years old at the time, to sleep. She had had a long day and was simply exhausted, so much so that every little thing was setting her off into a puddle of tears. I was getting frustrated because it seemed nothing I could do was right (in her eyes). Logically, I knew that she was acting this way because she was so tired and had passed the point of no return, but still I felt my frustration growing inside me.

She sat on the bed, slumped over crying and complaining about anything and everything imaginable and I wondered how could I get her to give in to her exhaustion and just lay down. I realized that reasoning with her wouldn’t work at this point. She was too far gone for that. I felt like yelling because my frustration was getting worse and worse – after all, I had things to do too and I didn’t want to spend all of my night trying to get her to sleep – but I knew that wasn’t going to help matters either.

Finally I decided what I really needed to do was take a deep breath, step outside of my comfort zone, grab a stuffed animal and start talking to her as the animal. Talking to Ava via a stuffed animal is a parenting “tool” my husband and I had used with success in the past, though not lately and, given the circumstances, I wasn’t sure how it would fly.

She has a bear named Roger who I always imagine talks with a Southern drawl and is good at cheering her up when she’s down, so Roger was the bear for the job. After a few seconds of talking as Roger, Ava stopped crying and began responding back to him, telling him what was going on with her. Although she couldn’t have done that for me, her mommy, she could do it for an impartial furry third party. 😉

Roger’s silly antics soon had Ava giggling and then he was able to talk her into laying down on her bed, relaxing and getting ready to sleep. As the bear said his good nights to Ava and me, Ava said her good nights in return and was soon calm enough to drift off to sleep.

As I left her room I couldn’t help but feel very proud of myself. I can’t claim to always respond well or the “right” way to every situation, but that night I put my pride and frustration aside and did what Ava needed to help her relax and get to sleep. Had I let my frustration overcome me there’s a good chance it would’ve taken me at least another 30-45 minutes and many more tears (probably on both of our parts) before she was asleep. But by tuning into her needs, letting go of all that I “needed” to get done, stepping outside of my comfort zone, and throwing in a little goofiness, I was able to get her to sleep calmly in much less time. And let’s face it, isn’t goofiness a prerequisite for becoming a parent? No? Well, it should be. The world just might be a happier place.

Amy Gates blogs about green living, attachment parenting, activism and photography at Crunchy Domestic Goddess.

Senstivity strained by boundary pushing

Responding with sensitivity. Keeping everyone’s dignity in tact. Using positive reinforcement and active listening instead of punishment and negative reaction. All of these practices are something I firmly believe in. I believe children are incentivized to behave well when their needs are met, their work praised, and their failures patiently worked through, instead of harped on. I believe in teaching my children about consequences, instead of punishing them for their actions. I am a big believer in patient parenting.

And then I met six.

Six has strained my relationship with my daughter, my role as an attachment parent, and all my fancy new fangled parenting skills. How exactly does one parent with patience during daily doses of the following:

“Mom! Can we play on the playground?”

“I’m sorry honey but not today, it’s raining.”

“Awww… but I want to! Just for a minute?”

“No dear, the playground is all wet and we need to get in out of the rain.”

“I don’t mind if I get wet. I want to play on the playground.”

“I understand that you do, but the answer is no.”

“But I never get to play on the playground!!”

“Monkey, you have played on the playground every day this week. Today it is raining. We are not playing on the playground in the rain.”

“Can I just go see if the playground is wet before we go?”

“No, clearly the playground is wet if it is raining. We are not staying, we are getting in out of the rain.”

“But I won’t play on it, I just want to look at it!”

“Monkey, you have asked me at least five times, I have answered no each time. There will not be a change in my answer. If you ask me again I will have to take away a privilege. Do you understand me?”

eyerolling “Yes” sigh “I wish I could play on the playground.”

It is enough to drive all notions of attachment parenting right out the window. To make things worse, if I ask her a question she doesn’t want to answer, she will just pretend I never spoke. It has gotten to the point where both my husband and I will reassuringly say “It’s okay honey, I heard you, you did actually speak out loud.”

What is a parent to do? I am trying not to envision my child with ugly green horns and bulbous spots when this behavior rears its ugly head, but I go not have endless reserves of patience. I can’t just turn off all my feelings and not react, even though I know her behavior is developmental, that she is testing her individuality and my boundaries. I know she is not out to get me, but it’s hard to know that in the middle of an argument.

I thought I would share a few of the coping methods I have attempted to employ in staying calm in the face of her powerful persistence.

1. Hum The Girl from Ipanema in my head and imagine I am all alone in an elevator that no one, especially my arguing child, can get into.

2. Envision myself on a beach drinking an icy cold fru-fru drink while a massage therapist works all the argument caused knots out of my shoulder.

3. Remind myself that calm and consistent responses will make a strong and healthy child.

4. Take a deep breath and warn Monkey that she is about to make me very angry. “Honey, I am getting very frustrated, if this continues, I may yell at you.”

If those don’t work I try to forgive myself for yelling, and her for pushing. I also try to apologize for losing my cool, and explain to her why I did. I use I statements when doing so; “I am sorry I yelled, I was feeling like you weren’t listening to me, and that was frustrating for me.” Usually she will apologize too, and we will hug, and the day will go on. On really bad days, we just have a fight, and then I lock myself in the bathroom alone for twenty solid minutes (after hubby is home) and either: read a book, do my nails, or take a long hot shower so I can recover some of my resources.

What do you do to stay calm in the face of unbelievable, epic persistence? What techniques do you use to keep your cool and respond with sensitivity? I would love it if all of you would share your ideas with me in the comments. I think we can all parent more patiently if we have a larger arsenal to draw from.

Attachment Parenting with Twins?

Am I an AP parent?

Is it possible to be an AP parent with twins?

  • I don’t wear them in slings (Two babies @ 30 lbs + sling(s) = sprained back).
  • They don’t sleep in my bed (Any more. Ask me about their first 3 months.).
  • I fed them formula in their first 6 weeks of life (Before my breasts learned to count to two.).
  • I had a planned c-section.

Am I still eligible? Could I be an AP parent?

According to Julie, of course I am!

Attachment Parenting is not about what you don’t do. It’s about what you do do.

There’s a spectrum of AP parenting, if you will, and I am on that spectrum.

  • I breastfeed. Twins. On demand. (That’s a lotta milk!)
  • I’m making their solid food from scratch! (Extra points for effort!)
  • They sleep in the co-sleeper next to our bed. Well, one of them does, anyway. The one that is currently the better sleeper. This week it’s Logan while Emma gets to sleep in the fabulous room we made for them.
  • We carry them around a lot. A whole lot.
  • We snuggle them. A lot.
  • We don’t let them get eaten by sabertooth tigers. Much.

There are probably plenty more examples that I could come up with if I wasn’t so tired. The twins insist on snacks at night and I, being an Attachment Parent, comply.

The cuteness, you see, ensures it.

Emma reaches for Logan’s bib after he’s finished eating carrots. The carrots are always…errr…oranger? on the other guy.

Emma considers eating solid food. “Naaaah! I stick wif meeyulk.”

I am an AP parent. With twins.

And an almost seven year old.

Dual cheek squeezing.

Life is good.

Woman with a Hatchet

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