How Attachment Parenting Found Me

 

I had always planned to parent similarly to the way I was raised but with more structure, like the southern baptist families that populated most of my schools growing up. I would have strict curfews, rules, dinner at the table, yes sir and no sir and my children would do as they were told. I saw plenty of children around me raised this way…then I saw them grow up. I wasn’t so sold by the time we were late teens and college age, many of them had rebelled and were left to face difficult consequences.

Over my first few years in the north I began utilizing another system in my role as a nanny, it was very popular in the area, I call it the rewards and reinforcements method. This style focuses on sticker charts, marble jars, chore sheets and other behavior incentives to train children to respond appropriately to expected tasks so you don’t have to punish them and when you do you typically do so by withholding a reward. I would soon see both in childcare and soon in my classrooms that this can breed a dependency on external motivators and in the worst cases students/children who know where the line is and will tiptoe until touching it as many times as possible, knowing they are invinceable if they stay just this side of the carefully outlined rule.

By the time I stepped into my first developmental pyschology class I was pretty sure neither of these two very common systems worked and I wanted something more for my future students and children but wasn’t sure what. When we reached attachment theory a lightbulb clicked and while I wouldn’t really think to label it such for years, my journey with attachment parenting began.

Attachment parenting is an oft abused and misused term. It is frequently misapplied to what is, in reality, permissive parenting. In some circles it is synonomous with hippie/granola/crunchy parenting and in others with certain choices like breastfeeding, babywearing or cosleeping. All of these things miss the mark of attachment parenting though. Attachment parenting is parenting with the goal of creating a secure attachment for your child and it can be achieved in many different ways but one thing is consistent throughout: Responsiveness. Attachment parenting might better be termed responsive parenting.

The eight principles of AP are:

  • Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
  • Feed with love and respect.
  • Respond with sensitivity.
  • Use nurturing touch.
  • Engage in nighttime parenting.
  • Provide constant, loving care.
  • Practice positive discipline.
  • Strive for balance in personal and family life.

NOWHERE does it say that you must breastfeed, extended cosleep, cloth diaper, etc, etc, in fact that wouldn’t be AP if it was wrong for your child because AP is about RESPONDING to YOUR child.  Don’t get me wrong these things can be part of the journey for some families, I have nursed each of our children to 2+ years old and we had a family bed until our preschooler was old enough to feel comfortable in his own but that was what was right for us and it might not be for you.

The first few years of my oldest’s life I could feel the hesitancy from those around us about our choices, were we babying him or spoiling him? Wouldn’t nursing him that long hurt his growth or something? When was he going to sleep in his own bed? Why won’t you make him interact with people he doesn’t know, that’s what is normal. Then my child passed the attaching phase (typically from 6 months – 2 years) and the seeds we had been toiling diligently to plant in his life began to sprout. Those same people began to see that indeed he was more independent and capable than his peers in many areas and the questions changed in tone from judgment to advice, how can I get my daughter in law to try X, would my child benefit from Y. I responded to where he was and waited patiently for him to be ready for each skill and as such prevented the typical cycles of regression so many struggle with.

I’m not saying there is only one right way to parent but I do think that responsive parenting would be beneficial to every child. What it looks like varies widely based on the child’s needs though, even in the same family, because it is responsive! For example I would have never put my oldest child in a “time out” it was not necessary and would not have been effective, instead he and I cuddled and talked over the situation and it worked everytime. If I tried that with my daughter it would only escalate the situation as she does not like touch or affection when upset, so with her I simply remove her to comfy place, usually her room and tell her I will see her when she’s done crying and ready to talk.

Our journey is still in progress and I assume there will be many bumps in the road to come but I have no doubt that responding to my children’s needs and meeting them where they are will always be a positive choice.  As a Christian I have a Father who is always available, always willing to listen and guides my life through prayer, scripture and the Holy Spirit and I think that being a constant, loving, stable place for my child is one of the many ways I can model that relationship.

If you want to learn more about attachment theory there is a helpful summary here on Attach from Scratch and if you would like to know more about Attachment Parenting you can check out the AP International site.

Thank You

 

Every day you work hard to provide for our family but that’s not what makes you amazing.

You get down on the floor to wrestle, change the princess dresses, play hockey in the drive and run around the playground but that’s not what makes you a terrific father.

You help me demonstrate every single day what a loving, healthy marriage looks like, that fun and love, apologies and respect are all part of the daily give and take but that’s not the thing that makes you such a titan among dads.

What makes you the example I thank the Lord daily for is the bible verses in your email, it’s the passion for understanding God’s will, it’s the desire to do what he calls even when it’s not what you “want”.

Our children are so blessed to have you, science can show the impact of a father on almost every area of a person’s life from self esteem to education and earning potential but it can not quantify the impact a Christ following father has on eternity. The seeds you are sowing in our family will sow seeds in their families and so on through the generations. I am thankful for the quanitifable impact you have on our kids but more so for the things that can’t be seen, those are the true treasures.

 

Ladies: No One Cares About Your House

When I first got married we hosted less than once a year. Why? Because it was stressful to try and make our tiny, cramped apartment seem welcoming and clean for guests. The amount of cleaning and prepping required to get it “presentable” was overwhelming and even then it was not a place I felt proud of, not when most of our young newlywed friends had houses and matching dishes and curtains and this list could go a while! (We eloped so we started life with my college stuff and his bachelor stuff instead of the usual registry fare.)

The next apartments were no better: small, clean, but still kind of a cluttered mish mosh that always looked a little disheveled. I told myself it would be better/easier/different to host when we get a new place/buy nicer things/ have more time to clean/etc…. this list could also go a while.

Meanwhile, despite being active in our church, involved in life groups, and friendly with many people we personally were feeling very isolated and lonely as a couple. We felt on the outside of everything and struggled to develop deeper friendships with those around us.

I didn’t connect the two issues…yet.

After yet another move to a 4th apartment in 5 years I got serious about developing relationships for our family. I decided to risk embarrasment at our little 2 bedroom with the mismatched, cluttered furniture and toys strewn about. My husband and I reasoned we could somehow host with our postage stamp size kitchen and when we couldn’t we’d order pizza! We began hosting a life group in our home, we pulled folding chairs into our living room and set out tv dinner trays to make up for our lack of dining space then we took a deep breath and opened the door. Each time the same things occured: people came, enjoyed themselves and the fellowship and left…. no one seemed to care about our apartment!

Two years later we would find ourselves blessed with our first home. This 1 bathroom, 1 story house still boasts dated wood paneling, old cheap countertops and most of the same mismatched furniture we’ve been carting around for years! But it is also a place we fill with love every single day, it’s the home I brought my daughter to from the hospital, where my son was potty trained, where my kids have their very own yard.

We open our home alot now, as often as we can actually! We love hosting meals for friends even though we don’t have a kitchen table! (My father in law is actually remedying this with another previously loved furniture addition to our home in a few weeks :D!). When I learned to stop caring what my house looked like and start focusing on the PEOPLE in it I realized that no one else cared about my house all along! They are usually to busy laughing to notice the stains on the carpet and too busy enjoying good food to care if it’s on paper plates or not.

So to the women in apartments, houses, trailers or whatever who find themselves hesitating to host that party or have those friends over because your home could never be in a pottery barn catalog… DO IT!!!

When you avoid those opportunities you are hurting your ability to grow relationships, you are missing opportunities to share life and you are robbing yourself and others of precious memories.

As I sit writing this while my kids play this is my honest to goodness view, I figured it was only fair to snap it without moving, picking anything up or…caring! So here’s it is in all it’s messy glory, complete with the everpresent sprinkling of toys!

IMG_20150716_110055

Spirit Airlines: A Mom’s Review

If you are traveling with small kids and an equally small budget you’ve probably considered the budget airlines (Frontier, Spirit, etc.) and possibly you have been scared off by the overwhelming number of negative reviews.

I almost was.

But then I looked at my bank account and said oh well, it’s Spirit or nothing.

To prepare myself I started reading the negative reviews on various sites, so I would know what I was in for. As I was reading I noticed a common theme… 90% of the negative reviews were the CUSTOMER’s fault. See I had already read Spirit’s website pretty thoroughly and knew their rules (and that’s just to consider booking with them) and so when I saw people complain about the “hidden” or “surprise” charges I thought…umm no I just saw that in big letters on their site. They don’t lie to you, they are really up front that you are basically paying for the gas to fly the plane and a seat to sit on, anything else you need is on you…or them for a fee.

I felt a little better as I found very few complaints that weren’t preventable on the customer’s part except for delays and let’s be honest delays happen on all airlines. I booked earlier in the day to try and minimize the chance of them but other than that it was out of my control.

My honest review was that Spirit was pretty good and I will definitely fly them again!

I measured my personal item, paid for one checked bag WHEN I bought my ticket, weighed it before the airport and confirmed my carseats and strollers were free. I booked so far in advance, in person at the airport that I was assigned seats together for free. I pre printed our boarding passes and checked in online to avoid fees and of course packed water bottles (empty through security and filled at a fountain) and snacks so I didn’t need to buy them.

I had zero dollars in hidden fees, both flights were EARLY not late, the staff were all very polite and I was pleasantly surprised that unlike many bigger airlines they had changing tables in the onboard bathrooms :).

My gate checked stroller was treated very gently (I could see them unloading from my window!) and my belongs all returned in the same condition I checked them.

I don’t know what more I could ask from an airline, especially one i’m paying so much less than the others for.

If you fly Spirit you MUST do your homework, read and follow their rules but if you do there is no reason you can’t have a nice flight!

[For tips on traveling with children read here.}

1

T.R.A.V.E.L. with Young Kids

Whats the secret to traveling with young kids?

 

Lots of wine, just kidding I actually don’t really drink but it seemed fitting 🙂

For me it all boils down to T.R.A.V.E.L.

Tricks, ask friends, family & the internet for their favorite travel tricks and choose the ones that suite your child & destination. I think my favorite travel trick for almost all age kids is candy! I pack a bag of dumdums and m&ms, and use them as bribes, rewards and to help ears pop on the plane 🙂

Research, not everyone loves research but it really does make for smoother travel. I watched parents turned away from a flight for arriving too late for check in, waiting in line for a ride their child could not ride and begging their children to stop crying when theirs ears began to hurt because she’d forgotten to bring anything to help them (I passed out suckers on this one but not everyone will have a helpful stranger). All of these little joy suckers were preventable by research.

Adaptablity, Be prepared to change plans! I love research, i’m a planner by nature but I am very willing to adapt the plan if it’s not working for us or a better option comes along! We got to do everything we wanted in Epcot by lunch thanks to short lines early so we adapted by heading to Hollywood Studios which I had done some research on as a backup anyway and I whipped out my phone to double check a few things as we rode the bus too. Some really special moments happened there that made the day and were never in the original plan!

Vigor, Ok this isn’t fully in your control if you have health issues but be as physically ready as possible! Keep everyone well rested, well fed and have necessities like water, sunscreen and bandaids readily available. It makes a big difference in your ability to enjoy the goings on of travel!

Expectations, I can’t stress enough how important it is to manage your expectations when you are with small children! If you expect them to keep up with an adult pace, or to have no little meltdowns or issues you are setting everyone up for failure and disappointment! We had at least 1 teary episode per day (usually less than 2 minutes but still tears!) over everything from a scary loud toilet to chicken that tasted wrong. I consider this 100% success. Having less than 30 minutes of tears total per day was my goal for the 1.5 & 4 year olds and we came in well under so I was ecstatic!

Luck, It would be intellectually dishonest to tell myself there isn’t luck involved! Even with the best planning, attitude, kids, etc. there is always an element of luck! We had no flight delays, pleasant weather, no lost luggage…in other words alot went our way! Any of these could have thrown a wrench in a lovely vacation and made it less pleasant but thankfully they didn’t for us… this tim

 

e.IMG_20150508_180510

My Children Train Themselves

They do, my son is 3.5 and he basically trained himself to sleep through the night and use the potty.

He must have because I didn’t.

My children both walked at 9 months old, my son is a teacher’s dream, well-behaved, polite and eager. My 10 month old daughter will happily ride on my hip quietly for hours.

You can imagine I get alot of compliments on my children, like everywhere. I’m not joking I don’t think a week has gone by in 3.5 years where I have not gotten a compliment from strangers about my children and that’s great because they really are wonderful. Here is a little secret though, I’m not some super mom.

I’m not saying that in the way overachiever mom’s sometimes do with the pleased blush like, “Oh, I just threw together those 87 bakery perfect, healthy organic cupcakes, it was nothing, I’m not super woman!”

I’m saying it like, I am really not an especially great mom. I mean I think I’m a good mom, and I LOVE my children but i’m not breaking ground here. I don’t read to them as much as I could, I’ll throw on a tv show when my son gets a little whiny while i’m trying to cook dinner, they aren’t in classes to teach them stuff.

I usually look well rested and happy, and so do my kids because I just do what comes naturally, I let my kids decide when they are ready for things.

When you have early walkers people are always asking what you did you get them that way….umm genetics I guess?

When your family seems well rested and happy despite newborns or babies at home people ask. You know what we do, we sleep with our baby until they are old enough they can sleep on their own.

Jidge slept with us until 3, now he sleeps in his bed but his bed is still in our room. Lexi sleeps in our bed, when she’s ready they will move into a room together and sleep in beds.

That’s it, no tricks.

When my son potty trained himself he was ready. I say he trained himself because all I did was force the issue a little. I could tell he was ready and he wanted to (he kept talking about it and trying) BUT he was scared of the toilet so we stayed home naked for 3 days. I literally wasn’t even aware he finally started going until he called me to help him wipe. There was no transition period either, no accident phase. I mean it, he had one accident in the car the first week because he told us but we couldn’t get home fast enough. That’s it. I kept taking undies and changes of clothes and pull ups places expecting the constant accidents I see other parents dealing with but it never happened, he even gets up in the middle of the night to go pee.

No tricks.

Parents sometimes wonder why parenting seems so hard.

Maybe we make it that way.

Maybe we are the ones who think we should train our kids to do things that they will naturally progress to if left to their own devices.

Parenting is exhausting (because tiny people energy > big people energy) but it doesn’t have to hard or frustrating.

It can be a joy. My husband and I have laughed more at our son than any comedian I’ve ever watched and our daughter’s smile relieves more stress than the best massage. It will probably always be tiring but at least while they are little we can enjoy them more if we stop trying to train them to be something they aren’t yet: independent. Let it happen on its own because…it will, you can’t stop it and once they are you’ll miss this time.

1270710_627286192610_1933959508925837936_o

*Disclaimer, of course there comes a time and age when training kids to do things becomes necessary but i’m still in the littles stage so i’m talking about the littles stage 🙂

The New Face of Sexy

There are women among us who get comfortable with the flaws and imperfections of their bodies, especially post baby bodies. Women like this photographer who is willing to show her softer, fuller post baby body with pride (and no figure flattering clothes to forgive anything). But most women are walking around feeling too fat, too soft, too big, too pale, too whatever and it’s a FEMALE PROBLEM.

Yeah I said it. Men are not to blame.

I know there are exceptions (we like to call them jerks around here) who make women feel bad about their bodies. [so don’t feel like you need to comment with every specific instance a man made a woman feel bad, I know they exist.]

I’m not talking about the exception though, i’m talking about the rule.

The rule is that 9 times out of 10 when I feel insecure or inferior in my own skin it is because of another woman.

The rule is the reality that when I buy clothes or get dressed i’m thinking about what women will like.

The rule is that it’s other women who obsess, stress and force themselves to sacrifice for an image.

In my experience men love women’s bodies, it’s simply a fact of life, my husband finds me just as attractive curvy and soft as he did when I was toned and harder (in fact when I dropped 20 extra pounds on top of the baby weight thanks to nursing my first son he encouraged me not to lose anymore because I was getting “skinny” :). In my experience as a curvy lady I have had zero men ever express a disappointment in my body directly or indirectly.

But I am indirectly assaulted by women everyday. I am not giant but at 5’8 and change I am taller than plenty of the women I know, I am also a very full hourglass. This means that when my friend wearing size 6 jeans complains about how giant her thighs are, even though mine are easily 1.5 times the size, I suddenly have an urge to hide the lower half of my body.

When my lunch date complains about her stomach being flabby I look down at my own stretched and fattened stomach, staring at the area of post baby belly protruding from my hips and cringe, suddenly losing my appetite.

When women with glowy sun kissed skin talk about how wretched they look and how desperately they need a tanning salon I feel the pale, ever-sunscreened skin of my face blush red and hot.

Women size each other up in ways men would never bother with. I assure you that despite my stomach looking like a roadmap it is not men that prevent me from wearing a bikini, it is women.

Feminists love to blame men for so many things but ladies, we are doing this to ourselves.

You, mom that spends 7+  hours a week at the gym post baby while the rest of us enjoy our coos and cuddles, you don’t have to do it.

You, mom who perpetually skips dessert and always orders sensibly while the rest of us are indulging a bit, you don’t have to do it.

Having a beautiful body has nothing to do with what it looks like but instead what it can do. My body is strong enough to carry both of my kids, chase them all day, hike to the tops of hills and crawl around on the floor with them.

My doctor says I am fabulously healthy. My husband says i’m stunning. My son tells me I look like a princess. My Savior tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

These are truth. They are real. They are important.

You know what is most amazing about my body? I’m happy with it. Lately I have felt so much pressure to “bounce back” after baby because that’s what everyone seems to be worried about doing. This pressure made me forget that I love my body. I don’t care about my stretch marks. I don’t care that my arm jiggles a little. I don’t care that my stomach skin sags and droops. I am a strong and beautiful human being and so are you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Magazines will push it, celebrities will show it, trainers will sell it, the world will yell it but it’s not true. This body is a temporary vessel and making it glossy and shiny at the expense of things like time with your kids or love with your husband or fun with your friends is a huge mistake.

I’m joining the new face of sexy, it’s called acceptance and it’s amazing.

 

 

074a11c0-dc61-11e3-be01-f1d9103f1138_tarynbrumfittpic