Category Archives: Parenting Wisdom

My Childhood Memories; beacons of light in the darkness

 

Welcome to the December 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Childhood Memories

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about memories of growing up — their own or the ones they’re helping their children create. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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My family

My family

As the theme of this month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting is childhood memories, I thought I’d share with you a few of my memories. As 2012 draws to a close, I have started to reflect on the events of the past year, focusing on more recent memories, yet some of my childhood memories almost seem as close as memories of 2012, perhaps because they are wedged so deeply in my unconscious mind that they shall dwell with me always. This is the magic of precious childhood memories; they last a lifetime and continue to impact so deeply on my life now.
Since becoming a mother I have realised how significant my own upbringing is in the way I parent my son, memories like a guide shining a light into the darkness of child-rearing, with all its questions, uncertainties and conflicting directions. So, here’s the list;

A joyful childhood

A joyful childhood!

My earliest memories
My very earliest memory is when I was about two years old. I have a vague memory of being in a pushchair in a park in Bolton (England), where I lived for the first few years of my life. I remember my mum opening a gate and pushing me through it. I know my mum was there, but am unsure if anyone else was. Like most of my very early memories, my mum is simply present in them, probably because she was always close to me in my early years, a stay-at-home mum caring for four children. In the 1970s and 1980s it was far more common for mums to be at home caring for their young children, though I know my own mother would have taken extended maternity leave even if she been a mum in a later decade, because she is so maternal and absolutely dedicated to her family, loving children so much. Her life as a mother and a teacher has very much centred on children. If I have inherited just a little of her dedication I shall be eternally grateful.

First meeting of mother and daughter

First meeting of mother and daughter

How my mother’s presence impacts on my own parenting choices
My mother’s utter dedication to her children, in offering her time as a stay-at-home mother, is one reason I always envisaged being a stay-at-home mum myself; I just couldn’t imagine it any other way, it simply feels the natural and right place to be. Coming from a strongly maternal family, where many of my female relatives have stayed at home, to return to work Continue reading

Reflections on the Continuum Concept

Link to Continum Concept Article

First published in JUNO magazine, Issue 28, Summer 2012; http://www.junomagazine.com/

Stone Age Parenting

Our babies are born with the same desires as a baby born in Stone Age times. It is our environment and culture which has so radically changed, affecting how we parent our children today. Living in a fast-paced, materially and technologically driven age we need more than ever to listen to our inner voice, for the sake of our children’s and our own wellbeing.

I am bringing up my son, Ewan, in the 2010’s in modern day Britain. However, in as many ways as possible I parent him as our Stone Age ancestors once did. This includes baby-wearing, sustained breastfeeding and baby-led weaning, bed-sharing, using natural toiletries and medicines and attempting elimination communication (also called potty or natural toilet training).
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Toddler wearing

Frist published in ‘Mothering’ magazine, April 4th 2012

Ewan in his Tula

Ewan in his Tula

An evening Ceilidh

It is the evening of our friend’s wedding. We dance enthusiastically at the ceilidh, a hundred bodies dressed in their finest, moving in tune to the music. Instinctively I swoop to avoid a flying arm, my free hand reassuringly touching the blonde mop nestled at my chest. As I move to the rhythms of the music my son unlatches himself from my breast, drifting contentedly into sleep. He nestles comfortably into my body, his eyes heavy, his breathing steady, as all around him people twirl to the rhythm of the music. Tummy full of milk, he is comforted by the familiar sounds of my heartbeat and voice, my smell and the touch of my hair on his face, sleeping soundly on my front for the rest of the evening. Conscious of his every movement, I am free to join in the evening’s celebrations, safe in the knowledge he is with me.
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Toddler slings

I’ve been approached so many times about toddler slings that I’ve decided it’s time to write a post about them. This way many of the questions can be answered in one go, and this post referred to in the future by friends and acquaintances who want advice about the right kind of sling to buy.

Baby-wearing as a way of life

We have always used slings as the preferred mode of travelling with Ewan. I never understood or used a pushchair, feeling this separated me from my child. The merits of baby-wearing are a blog post, even a book, in itself, so I won’t discuss them in detail here. Safe to say, baby-wearing simply made sense for us, fitting perfectly into our parenting philosophy and our lifestyle.

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The day of the improvised sling

Reprinted with permission The Natural Mothers Network

Published on 23rd April in Natural Mother\’s Network Mothership magazine

We are walking on the Isles of Lobos, a small, uninhabited island close to the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Isles. Following the islands way-marked paths, my twenty-one month old son, Ewan, is growing heavy in my arms. My brother and Dad have already carried him on their shoulders for some time, now it is my turn. Regrettably, my Boba sling lies in our chalet, forgotten as we packed in haste for our day-trip. As a baby-wearing advocate, slings are an essential piece of equipment for us which I have used almost every day since I discovered them when Ewan was small. This is why I am missing the sling so much today, wondering how we can improvise in order to still explore this island thoroughly, with a sleeping toddler in tow.

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Bedsharing: one way of letting our children in

Our young children are our most vulnerable members of society. It seems somewhat crazy that as parents we go to such lengths to separate them from us, buying and using a myriad of plastic containers to achieve this. Why do we own so many containing devices? Are we afraid of letting our children in?

Reactions to bed-sharing

We don’t own a cot. If friends ask about Ewan’s sleeping habits I am open and honest about where he sleeps; we bed-share. Whilst some people respond with understanding and support, the look of horror on some people’s faces is almost comical (yet also upsetting). They ask questions such as ‘how do you cope?’, ‘aren’t you scared he’ll never leave?,’ doesn’t he wake you squirming in the night?’, ‘how do you maintain an intimate relationship with your husband?’, ‘it must surely be only for comfort?

People are simply curious and interested in what we do, often unsure of how or why we practice bed-sharing. These comments reveal some of the commonly held myths prevalent in the West surrounding bed-sharing, a lack of understanding and awareness around this most natural of human behaviours.

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Stepping out of the box and dealing with criticism

This post is part of the; Authentic Parenting May Carnival

My son, my teacher

My son is my greatest teacher. In our first meeting our eyes locked as he looked, all knowing and serene, into my eyes shining with wonder. He communicated, with a depth amazing for a newborn, that it was all OK, that he would show me the way. Each and every day he keeps this first unspoken promise, teaching me to listen to him and to my mothering instincts, to really trust nature.

Which path

There are moments when I am swayed by mainstream society, becoming a sheep plodding along the well trodden, comfortable path, craving approval, normality and recognition. At such times all I must do is stop, question, and look to my son to steer me back to the right path. Yet this path is little travelled in this modern age, weeds tangle and knot as tree trunks lie haphazardly blocking the way, ancient wisdom and primordial practices, half lost, so difficult to find amongst the debris.

Walking this lonely path I eagerly look for other like-minded souls. I find a few and stumble upon others who are supportive and appreciative of this alternative style, even if they choose not to practice it themselves. I also begin to search the virtual world, one of the many wonders of our modern age, sharing my parenting style through writing. I find a growing online community who listen, applaud and reflect on my words, as I in turn listen and learn from theirs.

Support groups are also a lifeline to me, one an informal weekly meeting between local mum friends, the other a local La Leche League group. I also find wisdom in natural parenting literature, including research about the benefits of attachment parenting, which helps affirm my belief what I am doing is right. My cousin recently pointed out that my parenting is an example of research-based practice, which to a certain extent is true, although my son is by far greatest teacher, research often backs-up my practice.

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