Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Top 10 ways I'm not very good at natural parenting (and why I keep trying anyway)

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

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 shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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At the birth of my first child, I knew practically nothing about natural parenting. I realized breastfeeding was good, and I thought baby slings were neat. Yep, that's about it. I did not grow up observing many natural parenting principles, and I wasn't the least bit crunchy before I got pregnant.

It should be obvious that now, less than four years since I started learning about all these things, it is still a work in progress. Here are the top ten ways I screw up daily as a natural parent, starting with the least of the evils and counting down to number one. I'm pretty sure I might have read similar lists by others, although I can't remember where. I tried to find one but couldn't. If you know of one please tell me and I'll link to it! Here's my list. I hope you still like me once you get to the end.

#10 - I cloth diaper, but not very well. We have a mix of cloth diapers, mostly consisting of velcro-fastening covers with the cheapest inserts we could find that were not prefolds. We have no wool anything. I have never lanolized or done a wool wash. Our diapers get ugly stains and I just leave them there. I recently bought a bunch of diapers for the new baby from my friend Jenn. They are cute and some of them are, well, beautiful. I never thought of a cloth diaper as something that needed to be beautiful. It was something that could save me money and would be covered by my baby's pants. But I love these tiny little diapers. For Baby Robert, I am going to make upcycled wool shorties and applique something adorable on the butt and buy him some t-shirts to wear so he can show it off. Because now I see that diapers can be an art form.

#9 - I don't ever want to be on the news for being harassed while breastfeeding. I love breastfeeding, and support a woman's right to nurse wherever, covered or not. I think the women who go on the news and out establishments for bullying nursing moms are amazing and important. I've attended a nurse-in held for another mom. And if I realllly had to, I'd stand up for myself and my baby. But probably, my husband Jordan would be the one giving somebody a piece of his mind. I am not one of those women who is like I just hope somebody does say something to me because they won't know what hit them. I probably would go on the news if I had to but I'd much rather just sit there and nurse my baby and be ignored.

#8 - Our toys are not all handcrafted wooden ones, and we even watch princess movies. I enjoyed Disney movies as a child, the princesses especially. There was no way I was going to keep my kids from watching them. But Suzi has not been swayed into being ultra-girly. After viewing a Disney classic such as Sleeping Beauty, Suzi pulls on her rain boots and announces in a gruff voice that she "is the prince! Off to rescue the princess and marry her!" Ivey doesn't currently care about TV one way or the other, except for turning it on and off repeatedly. As for our toys, we usually opt for simple, wooden, handmade toys, but sometimes we don't. Other people frequently gift us with battery-operated plastic items, and if the kids love it we usually keep it. Sometimes I even like those toys, if they aren't just noisy for the sake of being noisy.

#7 - We plan to homeschool, but we haven't nailed down the details yet. Suzi is going to be four in May, so we have a while to figure this out. We don't legally have to do anything until the year she'd be in first grade, but we probably could do a little more than we're doing right now. It's tricky, because Suzi is not into being drilled or directed. She is probably more of an unschooling type, but I went to public school so that approach does not come easily to me. I need to make a point of jumping in and doing more, trying various things and seeing what works, especially in this year before she'd be going to kindergarten.

#6 - I'm not a good cook. I just never really enjoyed cooking, for whatever reason. It's a victory for me to come up with a halfway balanced meal at all, let alone something creative that contains whole, unprocessed foods my kids will enjoy. I try, but all my ideas come from other people. There are also many good foods I've never tasted. Since becoming a parent, and thanks to my more knowledgeable friends, I've been introduced to such things as steel cut oats, real whipped cream, quinoa, spaghetti squash and goat's milk. I need to branch out, have fun and think of my time in the kitchen as working on a craft project. I've always liked the Waldorf idea of having a different grain for every day of the week, so I might go buy the ones we don't have and try some of these recipes. I might accidentally stumble upon something Suzi will eat!

#5 - Hand-in-hand with #6... I'm a junk food junkie. Ice cream, cheetos, cookies with milk, little powdered donuts. I get started and can't stop. At least I have pretty much conquered my soda problem, though, because I drink mostly water now. I'm not going to pretend I have any intention of giving up sweets, but you know what I could do to improve? Bake more of my own goodies with wholesome, real ingredients and leave the barely-qualifies-as-food stuff at the store.

#4 - My kids get sick and I freak out. I know there was something I read one time about treating (whatever) at home, but what was it? Then I find the answer and, of course, we need some obscure herb that I should have carefully packed away in a medicine cabinet, but I never did. Why? Because it's overwhelming and expensive to buy all these things before you need them. Someday I am going to learn my lesson, compile a basic list, drop a couple hundred bucks at Earth Fare and be done with it. Our kids are usually fine without a doctor's visit anyway, because we've acquired some basic knowledge and the most commonly needed items. But we do need to work on this.

#3 - I'm a pregnancy slacker. I don't exercise like I should, although my midwife kindly reminds me that housework (like running up and down the stairs to put laundry away) is exercise. I don't cut things out of my diet that I probably should. I sit in my recliner a lot. I forget to take my vitamins, although this time around I have been very good about taking my cal-mag. That's because if I don't take it I can't sleep, and it tastes good too. It makes me feel better if I look at my first pregnancy, when I was eating large bowls of ice cream all the time because I thought that was what pregnant women did, and think how far I've come.

#2 - Sometimes I lay guilt trips and nag my children to say please and thank you, and that sort of thing, when I should be modeling the behavior I want from them. I should be treating them politely at all times, but sometimes I get downright rude if I've had a hard day and I'm irritated. I say things to them that I wouldn't say to another adult, like telling them to move instead of saying "excuse me" when they are under my feet and I'm trying to get work done in a hurry. And then I expect them to blow people away with their politeness. Silly.

#1 - I yell. I have a temper and get frustrated easily. Sometimes I hurt my kids' feelings. I don't want to yell, but it's a hard habit to break. This is my biggest, most difficult problem.


My reason for sharing all this is not only to make a list of areas I'd like to improve, but also to point out that the idea is not to be perfect, it's to do your best. We didn't choose natural parenting because we thought we'd be so great at it. It's just that the more we got acquainted with natural parenting, the more we realized it would be better for our family. We wouldn't grow as parents if we didn't challenge ourselves to take this better but less familiar path.

So, please tell me I'm not alone. Do you do any of these things? Do you have totally different issues? Any advice to help with some of mine? Please share.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!


Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)

34 comments:

CJ said...

I feel you! I could have written many of these points word for word! As you said, I may not be a perfect natural parent, but it's best for my kids and we ALWAYS need room to grow!

teresa said...

I'm so glad you made this list. It's nice not to be alone in this feeling. I'll never give up either!

tanzer1326 said...

So glad you made this list! No you are not alone!! I have a lot of these same problems as well! There is always room for improvement in this crazy parenting world!

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Love, love your post! The honesty and the reality — and that I'm not alone! I think I could check off all of these. It's comforting to know that there are some things I know I don't do well and want to do better, but there are also things where I know I can just keep slacking and it's fine. Like getting stains out of diapers, or in our case right now, toddler underpants. Whatever.

I like the small steps you've come up with to do some things better, like baking your own treats (Sam just made oatmeal raisin cookies — yummers) and seeing what works for unschooling. And let me just say that I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels guilty for relaxing while sitting during pregnancy. All those horror stories about malpositioned babies because you were too slouchy! Agh!

Liam J. said...

Unschooling scared the bejebus out of me when we first considered it. How could doing nothing lead to something? Then I realized that the stuff that I know now, that I needed to know for my job, was mostly self-directed learning because I wasn't satisfied with the job I had at the time. It's certainly not for everyone, but unschooling has helped us in what is most important for us -- happy kids.

Witch Mom said...

So real, so honest! Thanks for that!

Lily

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I carry around so much guilt all the time for not being perfect. In my mind my daughter deserves a perfect mama. But I struggle with your #1 too. I am impatient by nature, so if I ever yell I feel so bad. Glad to know I am not alone. Working on being a peaceful parent...and a guilt free one too! :)

Kate Wicker @ Momopoly said...

I so appreciated this honest post. I always like to call myself quasi-crunchy. Sometimes I feel like a natural mama failure, but I've realized natural parenting isn't about following a set of rigid rules. It's really about parenting your children the way you were designed to and the way they were designed to receive your nurturing. There are other natural components of course like clothing diapering, organic eating, etc., but I don't believe you have to meet all these requirements to consider yourself a natural parent.

I eat chocolate. So do my daughters. We use disposable diapers (I get them for free), and I, too, sometimes struggle with not being the most gentle parent. Oh, and we watch princess movies, too. I've somehow managed to keep Barbies out of our house with three girls, but fighting the allure of the princesses was a losing battle. BUT we do talk about the commercialization and the sometimes unrealistic images perpetuated by the pink, princess puffery.

I'm rambling here, but I really appreciated this list and support you in your mothering journey!

Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings said...

Amen! I totally believe in picking and choosing what works for YOU, and not all this stuff works (or is the right choice) for every family. I do plenty of mainstream-type things (strollers, bottles, disposable pull ups, less-than positive discipline) that don't win me awards on the Natural Parent wall of fame, in addition to lots of things that are more so. Its rare to find someone who is 100 there, and not something I expect of anyone, in any case!

Ana @Pandamoly said...

You are definitely not alone! I never planned on following the "natural parenting" model (although a lot of what I planned on doing does fit it into it, unbeknownst to me). Kola is 6.5 months old - I tell him "no" "No" "NO" "NOOOO!" all the time. I bought cloth diapers to save money. I'm the only one that uses them and I hardly "take care" of them. I love junk food, but have been trying really hard to abstain as much as possible. It's a constant struggle and no one is perfect : ) As long as our children turn out healthy, well-adjusted, respectful, appreciative, and non-wasteful, I think we did our jobs, despite a few falls here and there.

Terri said...

I'm a perfectionist by nature but obviously am not perfect! I enjoyed reading this post as it made me feel less like the worst-parent-in-the-world when I mess up on certain things! I relate - especially to number 2 & 1, I really have to make a conscious effort to be more patient everyday and say affirmations about not yelling! We are all wonderful works in progress :-)Enjoy your journey. I wish you a fabulous birth for Robert!

Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction said...

What a great, honest post.

Regarding home remedies, pick up a copy of the Doctor's Book of Home Remedies. I came from a family with no health insurance, so it was always our go-to when anyone got sick, and the home remedies in the book are really excellent. The book is thorough and it really got me interested in holistic approaches to well being. It is an easy place to start, if nothing else.

Katy said...

Hello! I just happened across this blog and I'm so glad I found it. I loved your list and I've been inspired to write my own. It's so nice to be reminded that none of us are perfect, but we are all trying to do our best. :)

Andrea!!! said...

Nope, you're certainly not alone!! I often also feel like a natural mama failure - I use paper towels, I love chocolate, my child no longer co-sleeps, etc. But you're right, it's not about being perfect, it's about doing our best, and what a wonderful lesson to model to our children!!! Great post! :)

Wolfmother said...

You are definitely not alone! I love the idea of cloth diapering, I even have a complete set at home that has been rarely used..why? Because we have to pay extra for doing laundry in my building and I can't afford the 4$ a load. So we use disposables because it's cheaper. Until we buy our first home, this is unfortunately how it's going to be. I also have a lot of trouble with cooking healthy meals and this shames me greatly. I just love bacon and cheese on everything. lol!

Amy @ Anktangle said...

What an awesome list! Thank you for having the courage to put yourself out there. I totally relate to your points, and could've written most of them myself. I, too, think my biggest downfall is impatience and yelling, and it's a very hard thing to work on. I love your perspective though: we're doing our best every day, and we can't be perfect...oh well!

Megan said...

Your honesty is refreshing! I was laughing about pregnancy and ice cream. How I love ice cream!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

For Christmas, my mom got Kieran something that ended up being returned. Kieran got to pick the exchange item, and he got (wait for it) an enormous bag of stinky, chemical filled, plastic animals. And I let him. And dammit, he plays with those things a lot. I'm so peeved that we got them, but it was a good purchase in his eyes. None of us are "perfect," and of course we all still like you (in spite of or because of) your "flaws" :)

Acacia @ Fingerpaint & Superheroes said...

You are so right and you are not alone! I'm not bragging in any sense of the word, but I do know that I am considered a role model to a small crowd of people (namely my family) for my natural parenting. However, I AM NOT FAR FROM YOU! You're doing great and it rocks to read about someone being a REAL (in all sense of the word) natural parent!

Emily @ Crunchy(ish) Mama said...

I love everything about this list! I think too often mamas equate natural parenting with crunchy, gentle perfection. I am so human and fallible. And I love it when other mamas admit it too!

The Awakened Heart said...

I SO could have written your post (just see my blog if you don't believe me!). I too am muddling my way through natural parenting and oh, the food thing! Seriously, I am you just living in Australia! Lovely to see something so raw and honest and funny. Loved it.

inexplicableways.com said...

I love honesty posts! I love glimpses into lives. We have houseguests coming next week and they only *know* me from my blog. I'm terrified they think I have some fantastically organic lifestyle. Maybe I need to blog a top 100 list before they come!

Jenny, I think you are terrific. Thanks for sharing!!

Write About Birth said...

Thanks for a wonderful post! We natural parents are only human too! I yell as well, and love sugar just a bit too much. And I have PTSD. You don't have to be a perfect, raw food vegan, home-made everything person to be a natural parent, and it's an eternal growth process. Thanks for being so honest.

Olivia

Leah said...

Is my 3 year old sitting in the living room polishing off a donut while watching TV...gasp! No one is perfect, but I read a quote once about the person we are all striving to be as the part that matters. At least we are all trying.

Jo said...

and yet you keep trying and that is what matters! good thing i am perfect with no room for improvement :/ if only.... there are at least 10 moments every day when i think to myself "well, i probably could have handled that better"

Amber said...

I am definitely not what you would call a natural parenting star. My children eat real Cheerios for breakfast most mornings. I send my daughter to public school. I vaccinate fully and on schedule.

But, here's the thing. I don't think it's a contest, you know? Parenting, of any kind, is about figuring out what works for your family, and then showing up every day and giving it your all. I do that. And I'm far more "natural" than most parents in my area. So I may not be winning any medals, but I'm happy with the way things are. :)

Tat said...

Now if you had told me you have never yelled at your kids, or nagged, I would have hard a hard time believing it. We are all trying to do our best, none of us is perfect.

Amanda said...

We are so much alike! (Aside from the sweets...I'm anti sugar by nature...it just doesn't usually appeal to me.) I really love your post and wish I had read it sooner, though I definitely needed to read it tonight, especially #1.

Dreamingaloudnet said...

Nice one! Love the conclusion, really well put! It bothers me how much of parenting these days, natural parenting included is wrapped up in guilt of not doing it "right"...

Lisa C said...

You're number one is my number one. I feel so awful when I yell at my kid (yes, I only have one, and I STILL lose it!). I feel like I can't even just try to control my temper because my temper is controlled by my hormones--how do you control hormones??

I also don't like that we watch too much tv and don't get outside enough. Or that I don't encourage him to help me with the dishes or cooking more. Or that I spend so much time on the computer. Or that I don't make the super healthy meals that I dream about. Yeah. It's hard, that's all I gotta say.

Amber K said...

Do I do any of these? Every. Single. One. This post could have been taken straight out of my mama journals... And I feel horrendously guilty. Not at all the mama I want to be. BUT I am catching myself more. And I am apologizing more, to my two boys when I'm rude to them. And I'm forgiving myself more. Learning. Moving on. Accepting that this is who I am now, but it's not who I have to be forever. Bit by bit...I can make our life better. More "natural". So, thank you for posting this. For putting it out there for those of us also going through it, feeling like we're the only ones.

Ellie said...

You are awesome! THANK YOU!!!

Haley said...

This is the first of these "Top 10 Lists" that I could identify with. Thanks for being real - you're not alone, and sound like a great mom. :)

Anonymous said...

You are so not alone! I seriously thought I wrote this list, I didn't I? Oh, I don't know...don't even know what day or time it is, haha! If it makes your feel any better, I eat Reese's PB cups by the boatloads. Any my son is hooked on Octonauts. What can I say, I/we are not perfect and we're not alone! Might as well enjoy it :)