Deborah Carlisle Solomon

Deborah Carlisle Solomon on RIE and the Newborn

Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®) is a way of parenting that remained on the periphery of my own parenting until my first child was almost two. During his infancy, I was unsure how to practice RIE alongside attachment parenting (AP), but as he grew increasingly mobile, I was looking for a structured way to discipline, that would be respectful of him as an individual and allow him his own thoughts and ideas.

I began to read blogs and joined a RIE Facebook group for parents with toddlers. Then I discovered a book called, 1, 2, 3 … The Toddler Years: A Practical Guide for Parents & Caregivers, and it completely changed my perspective on my role as a parent. I learned to give my son space to figure things out on his own, and I saw him begin to trust in himself and his own abilities.

Deborah Carlisle Solomon

Deborah Carlisle Solomon

A year later when I was pregnant with my daughter and seeking resources on how best to use RIE from birth, I discovered Deborah Carlisle Solomon’s book, Baby Knows Best. What I was taught in Baby Knows Best enabled me to feel confident in practicing RIE with my new baby. It was especially helpful after the delivery, when I didn’t have the energy to adhere as closely to the tenants of attachment parenting.

Baby Knows Best educates about RIE from birth to 2 years old. It walks us through caring for our newborn, managing infant sleep, and even how to support developmental milestones naturally through freedom of movement.

Deborah is a leader in the field of child development and I’m overjoyed to share her wisdom on the topic of RIE and the newborn.

Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®)

For families unfamiliar with RIE, how would you summarize the philosophy succinctly?  

RIE® is a way of being with and caring for a baby that supports the baby to feel more peaceful and secure. When a baby feels peaceful and secure, he is easier to care for and this creates greater harmony for the whole family.

Magda Gerber co-founded RIE in 1978 with pediatric neurologist Dr. Tom Forrest. Her Educaring® Approach is comprehensive and addresses all aspects of a baby’s development and daily life. It includes gross motor, fine motor and socio-emotional development of the baby; respectful, attuned caregiving practices; sensitive observation of the baby to understand his needs; the importance of play and appropriate play environments; and consistency and clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline, among other topics.

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Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

I think of Sweden in the same way as Narnia. A far off place with foresty islands, magical light, mythical history, and renowned novelists with strong female protagonists such as Lisbeth and Annika. They also have generous paid family leave. I try not to think about the dark cold winters, and focus on a country that is creating policies to offer families the healthiest work life balance.

Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

Today, we present Emma Olevik, a horticulture journalist based in Sweden with her husband and three daughters. I had the fortune to “meet” her in an online photography class several years ago. At the time she was a mother of two and I was a mother of one. We bonded over ‘Wabi-sabi’ and have kept in touch since.

Here we talk about having and raising a family in Sweden while being a working mom.

As told to me March 2016. Emma welcomed her 3rd child, a beautiful baby girl, in October 2016. 

Raising a family in Sweden with Emma Olevik

Are there birth doulas and postpartum doulas in Sweden?

Yes, it exists, but it is unusual. But getting more and more common I think. None of my friends had a doula, or anyone I’ve heard of, but you can easily find one online.

During your pregnancies did you receive care from a midwife or an obstetrician?

In Sweden once you find out you are pregnant you call your local ”mother care central” where you register and get a personal midwife whom you meet regularly during the pregnancy. Once or maybe twice you visit the hospital for a scanning/ultrasound (more often if there are special needs). You don’t meet an obstetrician as long as everything is “normal.” Even during the actual birth it is most common to be assisted by a midwife and a nurse. They call on an obstetrician if there is a need for it.

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Motherhood: Fantasy vs. Reality.

Motherhood: Fantasy vs. Reality.

Our hopes and dreams create the passion we need to strive in life. However, the vagaries of reality can be disillusioning. Childbirth, and the transition into motherhood, is one of those times where our fantasies often do not match reality.

​The singer Freddie Mercury summed it up in his epic ballad, Bohemian Rhapsody:

“Is this the real life?

Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.

Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see.”

Motherhood: Fantasy vs. Reality.

During times when it feels like there’s no escape from the landslide of reality, it’s only natural to seek external inspiration. It’s tempting to jump online and read what others have done to make it work, and copy them. There are plenty of rosy stories with women who seem to have it all. There are also endless tips, tricks and advice articles. While none of this is necessarily bad, it can end up spinning you in circles with no clear direction. Keep in mind that inspiration is not mimicry, it should be a catalyst for finding your own way and methods.

During pregnancy, many of us have expectations for birth and the kind of mother we will be when our baby is here. These expectations can quickly become misaligned with reality depending on how labor goes, what your baby is like and how much support you have during the early days of motherhood.

It’s also important to listen to yourself and find birth professionals who are a good fit. There’s nothing like hiring an obstetrician who doesn’t remember delivering your first child or a lactation consultant who grabs your breast without asking.

A popular book that many women read during pregnancy is “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” It’s filled with encouraging birth stories and advice to trust your body and instincts. Ina May’s books are relevant and important, however it’s important to remember they are also “inspirational.” Striving for an ideal birth can be empowering… but the flip side is that sometimes you just can’t attain it. Being able to accept a not-so-dreamy birth, after fantasizing about a perfect one can be difficult.

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Creating Simplicity with Christine O'Brien

Creating Simplicity & Joy with Christine O’Brien

The beginning of the year brings reflection and resolutions for many. As a mother in Southern California, where it’s technically “winter” but often warm enough to go without a jacket and let the children play outside everyday, the new year still brings an urge to nest and create a cozy home.

Christine lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter. She is a Parenting Coach, recently trained as a KonMari Consultant, who helps other mothers create joyful homes for their families.

KonMari is the organizing method created by Japanese professional organizer Marie Kondo. A method she shared in her bestselling book, “The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”

Creating Simplicity with Christine O'Brien

Christine is also a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach. She teaches techniques based on Kim Payne’s book “Simplicity Parenting” which is full of helpful tools for creating daily rhythms that allow children to feel secure and supported.

Several years ago I read the book that started the KonMari craze: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” There are many aspects of the book that I find informative, however I don’t apply it strictly to my own home. I found that the book “Simplicity Parenting” was more applicable to my family’s personal lifestyle and I implemented several of the techniques it outlines.

The KonMari method was the catalyst for a complete lifestyle change for Christine. A few months ago I sent her an email to hear more about her personal philosophy and how it made her life more joyful.

Since then I’ve been following her wonderful Facebook Group, “From Chaos to Calm,” where she offers guidance to parents who are looking for peace in their day-to-day family routines. It is inspiring to read testimonials on this page from people who are making positive changes in their lives.

I can understand why the KonMari method has such a passionate following. Many people are also applying the KonMari practice to areas outside of the home and making more mindful choices throughout their lives.

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Wild Boys and Girls x Annie Kruse

Wild Boys and Girls x Annie Kruse

A few years ago I stumbled upon Annie Kruse’s interior design blog Stylejuicer. In four short years she has gone from blogging for fun to launching her children’s clothing brand Wild Boys and Girls.

Wild Boys and Girls x Annie Kruse

Annie resides in London with her husband and two sons. Here she shares her thoughts on motherhood and what it takes to balance family life and work.

With two adorable little boys underfoot, where and how do you find time to run your business?

Ha, with great difficulty but I think if you’re passionate enough about something you will simply make time, even if that means putting on the TV for the kids for an hour, so you can answer some urgent emails or pack some orders. I don’t like to do it, but it’s a stop-gap, and as long as it doesn’t happen too often, I don’t feel I’m neglecting my children in any way.

I’ve got a little (tiny) home office which is my haven. The door is never closed and I can always hear what goes on, so if my lion cubs are getting too rough with each other, I’m there to solve any issues.

Mornings are my most productive time as that’s when both of them are off to nursery and school. Those 3 hours do fly by though and most evenings when others are settling in for a night in front of Netflix with a glass of wine, I’m heading upstairs to finish off some work, often with some dark chocolate to help me through.

I struggle with balancing work and family life every day. I feel so much is expected of us moms today. Most of us have no relatives, neighbors or friends who can help out with childcare on an as needed basis, so the pressure of child rearing is mostly on the mother and the bar is placed incredibly high.

There is so much (often conflicting) research and testament out there telling us how we should parent, what is and isn’t good for your child that you’re set up for failure in the eyes of society from the start. I always thought I’d be strong enough not to take on parenting guilt as long as I tried my best and saw that my kids were happy and developing well, but I’ve discovered that I am not immune to this burden of guilt. I constantly feel that I should be playing, singing, reading, drawing, interacting with them more and being the best mum I can, but I do know my limits and often I’m too tired and exhausted to play Mary Poppins.

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Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

Sweden, land of IKEA, Elsa Beskow and Carl Larsson, is one of those Scandinavian countries known for providing generous paid family leave and being very supportive of families. Lisa Ferland, an American mother of 2, relocated to Sweden from Georgia after the birth of her first child. Then went on to welcome a second child in Sweden, which led to her book “Knocked up Abroad.”Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

Last month she launched a Kickstarter for her next book “Knocked up Abroad Again.” This book will feature stories from mothers in South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. These varying stories and experiences will help us to see there are many ways to bring a child into this world.

I reached out to Lisa after hearing her speak a little of her journey on a podcast interview and I’m so glad to be able to share more of her story with you today.

Pregnancy

When you talked about the difference in prenatal visits in America and prenatal visits in Sweden, so many thoughts came to me; specifically how both models can influence a parent’s confidence. I got the sense that not having as many prenatal visits and multiple ultrasounds, as well as being told “let us know if you need additional care,” was more empowering, because its trusting you to know what’s best for your baby. Has birthing and parenting in Sweden made you more confident as a mother?

I recognize it is not the same for all mothers but for me personally, I found the hands-off approach of Swedish prenatal care as a stress-reliever. During my first pregnancy in the U.S., everything was treated as an emergency, and I was in a mild state of constant panic. With the frequent scans, I was terrified that they would find something even though they never did. Then they found white spots on the baby’s heart but couldn’t tell me if it meant anything. The increased investigations without any answers or diagnoses only made me more fearful of the unknown. My baby was born 100% healthy. All of those scans and worries were for naught. In Sweden, their approach is very much, “let us know if there are any issues but until then, go live your life as you would normally (but no drinking alcohol or smoking).”

Birthing in Sweden has given me the firsthand knowledge that my body can have a baby without interventions of any sort. I had an uninterrupted, complication-free childbirth without any pain relievers and still never experienced any pain whatsoever. A comfortable and easy childbirth experience is very possible—a concept that goes against the majority of the cultural depictions of childbirth in the U.S.

Parenting in Sweden has unquestionably increased my confidence as a mother. I don’t feel the social pressure or judgment that I see so many other American mothers facing today on Facebook or in social media. It helps that the Swedish cultural norms of child-rearing align with how we wanted to raise our children. It is culturally encouraged to breastfeed in public, allow your child to play outside unattended, climbing, exploring, screaming, and laughing in public—all of these things are seen as “kids being kids” and it is a positive environment as a parent.

Childcare

You shared in your podcast interview and tell me if I have this right, you can’t place your child in daycare in Sweden until they’re 12 months? How did you feel about this, especially after returning to work much earlier with your first son in the US?

That is correct. Swedish daycare or preschools don’t allow children to start younger than 12 months of age but if you did enroll your child, s/he would be the youngest in the group. Parents in Sweden receive 480 days of paid parental leave, and many people stretch those days, so their child is a bit older when they start daycare at 16-18 months.

Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

At first, I was surprised that daycare was so much later than in the U.S., but Sweden has free “open preschools” which are as much for the parents’ benefit as for the child. These open preschools are usually held in churches (Swedes aren’t very religious with only 5% being regular churchgoers), or local community buildings. Unlike a regular preschool, parents must stay and play with their children. Coffee and snacks are provided at a fee but the singing time, access to a safe play space, and other babies and toddlers make for a great meeting spot for parents to socialize and stay sane while at home with their child for that first year after birth.

Truly, Swedish society values family time and places it at an equal or a nearly higher priority than the career.

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Parenting in Vienna

Parenting in Vienna with Hannah

Hannah, a mother of 3, runs a play-based home daycare in Vienna, Austria. Here she talks about minimalism, embracing her parenting choices and enjoying her children.

Parenting in Vienna

Motherhood in Vienna

What is it like being a mother in Vienna? Are there moms groups, support for families, etc?

I really like my city, so I have to say that Vienna is a good place to be a mom! There are playgroups, cafés especially for families, Yoga classes where you can bring your baby, lots of parks and playgrounds! We really have great museums and theaters with programs for kids, even for the smallest ones. There are good places to go when you need counseling and there are tons of opportunities for further education. So it’s really all there, you just have to know where to go.

Embracing Chaos

How do you manage 3 children, specifically the interaction between siblings?

Well, that’s an interesting question and I thought a lot about it. I don’t feel like I have to manage anything really, this life with kids feels really natural to me. Being a mom for 12 years and a working mom for 5 years, I accepted that life is a beautiful chaos. And sometimes it is just plain chaos, without it being beautiful. There is always laundry and a messy bathroom, beds to be made and things to be stuffed away, there is always, always something to do.

But I chose this life and I chose to have kids. I chose to work from home and I guess I chose the chaos that comes with it. And you know what helps me on highly stressful days? To simply think about how much I love my kids and my husband and that it is for them, for us really, whatever I do and that some day, when I’m old and grey, I will say to my husband: “Do you remember when the kids were little? These were the best days of my life!”

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Motherhood, Stress and Meditation

Motherhood, Stress and Meditation

Motherhood, Stress and Meditation
Motherhood and Stress

Being a mother can be stressful. Children are full of surprises, and although we try to anticipate their needs, it’s impossible to head off every challenge. After a long day, it can be difficult to unwind our nervous systems and go to sleep. It’s also especially hard to fall back asleep when a crying child has woken you in the middle of the night, and your heart is pounding from the adrenaline rush. It’s easy to end up surfing the internet in an attempt to zone out or worrying about tasks that need to be done.

Meditation and Mindfulness

One technique I’ve found to be helpful in clearing my mind is meditation, even if it’s while laying in bed trying to go back to sleep. Meditation has been shown to help our brains process stress and how we respond to stressful situations. A mother’s nervous system can become tightly wound after a day of crying children, lack of sleep, and juggling work and home life. We are constantly required to be non-reactive when our children do things that can be frustrating, and it’s important to find healthy ways to relax. One of the quickest, easiest and least expensive options is taking a short moment to meditate or practice intentional breathing techniques.

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Summer Sleep

Summer is officially here and now that the sun is setting later in the evening, it’s important to check in with our schedules and ensure everyone is still getting enough sleep each night. We need all the rest we can get to enjoy these long and sometimes very hot midsummer days.Summer Sleep

Brain

Our brain has an internal clock called the circadian rhythm which modulates sleep and wake times. Inside our brains is a very tiny regulator, called the pineal gland which tells us when to go to sleep and when to get up. The pineal gland is the size of a pea and functions to secrete a hormone called melatonin. This hormone serves as nature’s timekeeper and is produced at night beginning around sundown. Melatonin secretion is inhibited by light, which is why summer and other time changes like daylight savings can throw off sleep habits for both you and your children. If for any reason our circadian rhythm becomes out of sync, there are simple lifestyle changes we can make to realign it.

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Interview with Cynthia Lair :: Feeding the Whole Family

Cynthia Lair is the author of “Feeding the Whole Family”, a cookbook interspersed with really Cynthia Lair Feeding the Whole Family Foodrelevant parenting advice about food. My favorite pages are 43-48, “Parents as Role Models and Setting Boundaries.”

“Its not fair to have a strict no-sugar policy and then stay up late for some adults only Godiva chocolates!”

Obviously as parents there’s much thought in how our actions are viewed by our children. Have you always felt it was important to set food rules for children that parents also follow or did you come to this through your own experiences as a mother?

When I read research that babies as young as three months old pick up non-verbal cues about food from their parents, I realized that what parents DO around food choices is more important than what they say. If a parent hates vegetables or grabs breakfast at McDonald’s, the child will notice and want to be like daddy or mommy.

One of the primary functions of a child’s caregiver is to lead the way toward healthful foods. By designating poor quality foods as “baby food” or “kid’s menu food”, or even “adult foods” (with some exceptions) we don’t construct a bridge but create separation. Good leaders don’t talk about what their subordinates should do, they lead by example.

It is challenging as a parent when your young child won’t eat the food you’ve painstakingly prepared for them with love. Your section on “Setting Boundaries” applies to children between the ages of 3-10. What can parents do if they have a child under three who is eating solids but refusing certain foods such as vegetables?

Toddlers have a biological need to separate from their parents and begin the discovery of their selves as individuals. Some choose to exert that independence by refusing certain foods. At this age, any painstakingly prepared food should be for the parents with tastes of it offered to the child. If they refuse, so be it.

We place too much importance on (and generate fear about) toddlers eating vegetables. Let it go. Let children see you eat many different kinds of vegetables with enjoyment. Don’t force or be concerned if they don’t want any. Wait for them to ask for a bite. Many fruits contain some of the same nutrients as vegetables (like vitamin C and vitamin A) and most children are willing to eat fruit.

Always look at your child – are they growing, rosy-cheeked, smiling? Those are the best signs of adequate nourishment.

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Interview with Brian Leaf :: Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi

I’m thrilled to share this special Fathers Day Q&A with Brian Leaf, a self described parenting yogi and the author of Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi: Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting. It’s a book that will have you laughing before page one, think Larry David by way of Ram Dass and throw two kids into the mix.Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi by Brian Leaf

What have been your proudest moments as a father this past year?

So many. Watching my six-year-old expressing himself through dance. He’s like a small Billy Elliot. Watching my ten-year-olds passion for computers blossom. Giving them both space for this.

Of all the parenting philosophies you studied and wrote about in your book, which ones do you find yourself leaning towards the most?

Free Range Kids. I think it’s so important to let kids take risks and give them some (age appropriate) autonomy.

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Bedtime Stories :: Annie Haas

Annie Haas singer/songwriter, artist, and photographer

Annie Haas

Annie Haas is a mother of 3, singer, artist and all around inspiring mom. Here she shares her bedtime routine, which is very much in the spirit of Dr. Sears Attachment Parenting philosophy. When you’re a parent, getting your child to sleep is important, and there are myriad ways to achieve this. So, while Annie’s family sleep routine has me looking for some lavender rub, remember every family’s style is based on their personal values and philosophies. There isn’t one right time or way to get your baby to sleep. You can find Annie on Instagram and visit her website for more information about her art, parenting and Waldorf home.

What ages are your children?

My children are very spread out! They are 15, 8, and 4.

How do you help them slow down towards evening?

My teen reads before bed, and I read and sing to my younger two. Sometimes they have a bath first but not every night. I use a lavender rub on their chest or chamomile tea especially if they need to calm down but sometimes they are so tired they don’t need it!

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Dusk

Bedtime Stories

Today I’m introducing a new “Bedtime Stories” series, which is a lighthearted questionnaire for parents about family sleep routines.

"Bedtime Stories" by MotherUs

There are a myriad of methods to soothe your child to sleep, and each of us tries to find what works best for our family. For some that might mean separate beds, for others, co-sleeping. It could mean calling a professional to help your child sleep better, or reading a book about it. At the end of the day, if everyone is happy and well rested, it all works. This questionnaire will explore the different ways families sleep.

For the first in the series, I will kick it off by interviewing myself! Here is “Bedtime Stories,” with Katrina Nelson, by MotherUs:

MU: What ages are your children?

KN: My son, Sebastian, is 5 and and my daughter, Leonie, is 2 going on 5.

MU: How do you help them slow down towards evening?

Some days a walk after dinner; dim lights, bedtime stories and most days a warm bubble bath.

gnomes by wil huygen

MU: Do you have a set bedtime?

Absolutely. Since daylight savings time we moved to 7pm give or take a ½ hour either way depending how the day has flowed. Last fall/winter it was 6pm sharp and they both slept until 6/6:30am.

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Interview with Kristen Beddard :: The Kale Project

Today, we have an interview with Kristen Beddard. Kristen is an American writer living in Paris. I discovered her work nearly 3 years ago on Instagram and really enjoyed her vignettes of life in France. She is the founder of The Kale Project and mother to one-year-old Grady.

She currently has a new book coming out called Bonjour Kale: A Memoir of Paris, Love, and Recipes. Below we talk about how she navigated her fourth trimester with Grady, her experience with breastfeeding and resuming a work schedule.

Kristen Beddard

If I remember correctly, you welcomed your daughter last year. I know research and development of a book can take awhile, but how did you manage to write your book and have a baby all in what appears to be the span of a year or so?

To be honest, the deadline of the book was a year earlier than I would have liked but the publisher wanted to release it in spring (Paris in the springtime!) and because the kale trend isn’t getting any younger. I worked on the proposal off and on for around a year and then signed with my publisher in November 2014. My daughter Grady was born in March 2015. I worked on the first 30,000 words or so and the chapter outline until her birth, many of which were already well developed from working on the proposal. After the birth, I made sure to be as productive and efficient as possible while writing the last 60,000 words. It was not easy because my time alone to really focus was not as frequent as it was before she arrived and she’s never been the baby who just “sleeps” while I work.

Did you plan for and have postpartum support after the birth of your daughter? In the sense of cooked meals, someone who held the baby while you showered, etc.

Yes! My mom! I’m an only child and Grady is her first grandchild and she had retired a year earlier so the timing was perfect. She arrived two weeks before Grady was born (at 41 weeks and 4 days), was present for the birth and then stayed for a month afterwards. We rented an Air BnB not far from our apartment and she was absolutely wonderful and so helpful. She is a great cook – I talk a lot about her and the influence she’s had with me and food in the book – so I was very spoiled to have her cooking for me during the postpartum phase. I feel so fortunate that I was able to have her with me for emotional and physical support.

I think that women in modern day, western society, feel this pressure to try to do this all on our own when in reality, motherhood was not meant to be done without help. For centuries, women had their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and communities all helping each other out with knowledge that had been passed down through generations, a spare hand (or even breast!) and more. I tell any of my expecting friends to hire a doula for anything they might need if they will not have help from a family member. It will make such a difference in the first few weeks.

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Baby Friendly Social Activities for New Parents

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When you have a new baby, sometimes days can go by without ever leaving the house, especially if it’s your first child. With Internet and social media taking the place of real life engagements, finding the motivation to pull yourself together, get the baby ready and drive across town or even down the block to the store can be daunting.

Getting out of the house and meeting other parents can alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation that often accompany new parenthood. When you find the right group, or even just one other person who is on the same wavelength, you will realize you are not alone!

You Will Feel Grateful.

Grateful to talk with others and realize that your baby isn’t the only one waking up at night, although there’s always one baby who is sleeping blissfully for long stretches!

You Will Get Answers.

Answers to questions you hadn’t even thought of, like how to find a nanny share, which type of baby carrier to get, or simply learning about a new teething remedy.

You Will Find Comfort.

Comfort from hearing the stories of others and realizing everyone is having similar experiences with their babies and trying to navigate from moment to moment like you are.

You Will Hear Other Parenting Styles.

You will meet parents with styles similar to yours or even opposite, and you might gain insight and confidence in hearing what works for some and not others.

Around your last post natal checkup is a good time to start looking for parent groups. There are many types, but the most popular are Mommy and Me; walks in the park, postnatal mommy and me yoga classes and breastfeeding support groups. If you’re a parent of multiplies, preemies or have any other special circumstances, there are often specific groups available.

To find these groups you can search online for MeetUps in your area, or on Facebook. You can also check out story time events at your local library, and see if your city offers infant classes. Additionally, there is a class called “Music Together” which can be started in early childhood: www.musictogether.com.

You can also contact your local Le Leche League leader, yoga studio, your childbirth educator, or reach out to a doula in your area.

 

Interview with Lou Harvey-Zahra :: Author and Positive Parenting Expert

Lou is a mother and the author of Happy Child, Happy Home: Conscious Parenting and Creative Discipline and Creative Discipline, Connected Family: Transforming Tears, Tantrums and Troubles While Staying Close to Your Children.27650_ap

Her books have wonderful tips for connecting with your children and she empowers parents to create an environment of magic and wonder and gives you tools for disciplining without using punishments and rewards. Lou trained as a special needs teacher, worked teaching autistic children, is a trained Waldorf teacher and ran playgroups for 12 years. She travels and gives talks and workshops in Europe and Australia and is known for being a common sense educator who presents in a heartfelt way, her motto is “never to harm, only to help, I just inspire.“

She believes the most important parts of parenting take two minutes, one of the things she said that really resonated with me was “childhood is a sacred special time and children don’t know time, they don’t know minutes or days of the week and rhythms make them feel safe, rhythms hold families together.”

I know you’re a Waldorf teacher, but what inspired you to write a book about discipline and happy households?

I write to give parents new ideas to create happy homes. I know parenting isn’t easy and parents don’t have ideas unless they watch somebody, read a book or attend a workshop or learn from their own parents. I do it for children because childhood is an important stage of life and I’m passionate about childhood, I think it’s a special and unique phase. I want to give parents ways to connect with their children, so their children can have a childhood of magic and wonder. When you use creative discipline, both the children and the parents can be happy.

Lou Harvey-Zahra

Did you have any deep held beliefs about discipline you had to let go of during your training as a Waldorf teacher?

I didn’t have any deeply held ideas. I was very lucky because my parents didn’t know anything about creative discipline, but they did use creative ways. So I was never hit or given time out or grounded. When I was doing my Waldorf teacher training, I learned it’s not what you teach, it’s who you are as a person that has the most profound effect on a child. Running playgroups and having children made me more conscious about what works and what doesn’t work. My ideas have evolved based on what works without using rewards and punishments, what works without making them feel really bad. It doesn’t mean letting them get away with things. Discipline means to teach, not to punish. Teach them to self-regulate their behavior. If you punish they just learn not to get caught.

Would you say your books are for every parent or for parents that already have knowledge of Waldorf schools, Rudolf Steiner and his teachings?

Definitely every parent, a lot of people say I have a common sense parenting or heartfelt parenting approach, it’s definitely for everybody.

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Bonding Tips for Babies and Toddlers

Hiking

The birth of a child is one of the most amazing and intense moments to experience and be a witness to.  As a parent and birth professional I feel privileged to have experienced the former and the latter.

When we bond with our babies and children, we create a trust that sustains them and us through those inevitable all-nighters that often happen to us parents.  It also gives us the confidence to parent using our own judgment when we’re receiving varying advice from well meaning friends and family.

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