Coming clean...

It has come to my attention that people may think that I only do things a certain way. That I am all natural, all attachment parent, all breastfeeding, all babywearing, ALL THE TIME. I am here to set the record straight.

First of all, my births were not strictly speaking all that 'natural'. I was induced for both with Cervidil. Once out of necessity and to save both of us, and the other because my OB was on call that day and I was SO DONE with being pregnant. Yup, that's right. I ASKED for it!

I chose to breastfeed both my kids. Doing so with my son was NOT an easy thing to do (my boobs were twice the size of the poor kid's head)! I also can't stand NOT doing something well and so I persevered. Through a preemie birth, use of a nipple shield, crying every night for three months (both of us) and worry every day and over every ounce that he gained or lost. I did it for him, and I did it for me too (I am crazy stubborn like that and just not a quitter!). The plan was to continue nursing for at least 6 months, but the funny and perhaps ironic thing about our eventual 3 year breastfeeding relationship (yes, even throughout my whole second pregnancy) is that it took that first 6 months to actually 'get it right'.

Breastfeeding my daughter was relatively easy. She was latched on within 45 minutes of her birth and has been a veritable breastfeeding star since then. My boobs on the other hand, not so much the stars. They decided to plug up, multiple times, and then get infections, multiple times. This shit hurts people. But again, I am NOT a quitter! I am also an egalitarian-type parent and was not about to give my daughter any less of a nursing relationship than I had given my son. So we pushed through and here we are today on the brink of her third birthday.

I try very hard every day to practice gentle discipline. Some days I am able to control MY feelings and reactions to my kids' misbehaving, some days I am not. And yes, (please don't all gasp at once) I have smacked my kids in the heat of the moment. Moments that I am not proud of, but moments that do exist. Moments that let me know that it is time to reset myself and that I am the one who desperately needs a time-out. Did I mention that I am re-reading my favourite discipline book again?

I buy organic and local as much as I can. I do so for a few reasons. I buy organic products (groceries specifically), because I believe there are real health consequences to the alternatives. That being said, some organic products are just beyond what I am willing and able to pay and so I will find the next best thing. I buy local because I am also a somewhat 'local' business and I know what it means to me when, even though there may be a cheaper option from a giant chain store somewhere, a customer decides to buy from me and sees the value in doing so. I want to support our local economy and the many extremely talented entrepreneurs that work and live right here in my own city, province and country.

I am a very lucky person. I have a partner who trained hard for a lot of years and works hard to provide for his family. We are able to exist very comfortably as a single income family and I am able to be the "stay-at-home" parent. This was not our initial intention. I loved my career and fully intended on returning to it after my maternity leave. I was a pharmaceutical sales representative with one of the biggest pharma companies in the world and I was the farthest thing from a Natural Urban Mama. Then I got pregnant (totally planned by the way) and then it got complicated...

...and then we had a baby. And with him all that we knew or thought we knew went out the door. We were bombarded with a whole new set of life lessons, instructions, and a sort-of paradigm shift in our thoughts about the world we live in and the world we were about to raise our child in. And all of these new thoughts left us with a very strong desire to make that world a better place.

I am not a parenting expert, I am a parent. Everything that I know I have learned on the job. I have made mistakes, I will very likely make many more. I have made selfless decisions as a parent and I have made selfish decisions too. I am a work in progress.

I read, I learn, I research and I advocate for the parenting practices that have been extremely beneficial to my family and those at I think provide the best start for all babies and families. My opinions are mine alone, and you are free to take what you can from them, leave what doesn't work for you and apply these to your own life as you see fit. My aim is to educate others and provide information and support for new moms and parents of all walks of life.

But know this. I own my own choices, my opinions, my mistakes and my triumphs. No one ever said this parenting gig was going to be easy, and as Yoda says...

"Do or do not, there is no try!"

Natasha~

 It's not only children who grow.  Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.

~Joyce Maynard

 

 

 

 

 

Gentle Discipline - AKA 'Damage Control'.

I have a toddler and a pre-schooler. Discipline is a daily, if not hourly, part of my life. So when I heard that the Attachment Parenting Edmonton Society was bringing renowned Canadian speaker and author, Judy Arnall, to Edmonton to speak about gentle discipline, I bought a ticket to the event immediately.

Because I need help.

I don't spank my kids, but I have smacked hands and I have tried time outs, reward systems, 123 Magic and my biggest tool-my voice. Yes, I am a yeller. And now, both my kids are turning into yellers.

It typically goes down something like this. Mommy lets herself get to the point of anger and then yells at preschooler to do/not do something, preschooler sees this and then yells at toddler to do/not do something, toddler yells back at preschooler because she is frustrated and them Mommy yells at everyone to just STOP YELLING!!

You see the problem here right? VERY bad modeling of the desired behaviour. And trust me I see it too, I see it as it is happening and I don't know how to stop it!

At least I did not know until tonight.

Judy does an amazing job of breaking down kids into age groups and the reasons for why they behave the way they do and then gives some very simple and basic tools and rules for how to deal with said behaviour.

I have ordered her book (and a few others that she recommended) and until it gets here, here are a few of the take home points that I got from tonight's presentation.

  • Discipline means self-control and THAT is what we need to be teaching our kids.
  • You can't solve the problem, whatever it may be, until everyone is calm! Most of all YOU.
  • Children often need a parent to help them calm down, this is called a 'time-in'. (So, all the time I have been sending C to his room until he calms down--not really the best idea!)
  • When you learn to handle your anger, your children will see this and learn to handle theirs. **This was a big A-Ha moment for me!
  • Don't punish a toddler for having a tantrum, they are thinking it through and working it out the only way they know how.
  • From age 0-3 our job as parents in basically Damage Control. As in control the environment and control the situation, but never the kid. At this age they do not 'get' the rules or have any sense of self control.

And her lists of tools to use for each stage of the game:

  • For Babies 0-12 months - Use substitution, distraction, redirection and and prevention to handle discipline.
  • For Toddlers - Plan ahead, give attention, use positive commands, allow child his/her space, model the behaviour and in the end learn to accept it-it really is just a phase.
  • For Pre-schoolers - Use 'time-ins' and stay with your NO. Gives choices, make it a game, pick your battles and try to connect with your child first and then redirect them.
  • For School Age Children (where Judy says most of our parenting work really gets done) - Use 'I' statements, as in "I feel frustrated/sad/upset when you.....", model the desired behaviour, use active listening and acknowledge their feelings, clarify expectations and know when to walk away from a power struggle.

The biggest take home message for me tonight was that it all has to come from me. I am the one who needs to be calm in order to discipline my children effectively. Judy's last slide of the night said that the best discipline tool ever has good modeling and comes from a place of love. That any teaching we do sinks in only after everyone is calm and that this gentle way conveys unconditional love and sets us up to have honest, open and respectful relationships with our kids for a long time.

Tomorrow is a new day and I am going to go at this with a totally new mindset. I am going to try to be zen mama, I will find my calm before I attempt any kind of discipline (so this may mean some 'time-outs' for me) and hopefully we will start to see some changes around here, in terms of the yelling at least!

I'll keep you updated and let you know what is and what is not working for us!

Stay calm Mamas (and Dads), even in the stormiest of times.

Natasha~