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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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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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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Interview with Erica Jago :: Co-Author of Art of Attention, Yoga Teacher and Artist

Erica Jago

One of the things I read early in my parenting journey, which really stuck with me, is our children mirror our behavior. After listening to Erica being interviewed on a podcast, where she spoke of becoming the best version of herself, in order to be the best guide for her students, I decided to reach out to her for this interview.

Erica Jago is an artist, designer and yoga teacher, in addition to being someone I’ve admired from afar since I discovered Art of Attention, a book she designed and co-authored. Although the book was written as a gift to yoga teachers, the lessons inside are universal for anyone wanting to challenge and improve him or herself.

You designed and co-wrote a beautiful book, the Art of Attention, which has inspired me so much in my doula practice; what could a pregnant mother or new parent learn from your book?

I’m so happy to hear this! Not having children myself, I can only relate to the idea of parenting. But as an adult, I find myself still learning how to nurture and care for my own inner child. The book, Art of Attention teaches ways to speak to your emotional body; feeling forgiveness as a release of tension in the body. In chapter two, we release blame in the solar plexus, which is a huge power loss. All of these universal lessons will assist you in becoming a clearer channel for yourself first, and others around you, second.

Why do you think it’s important to be your best self in order to teach others?

Conflict comes from when I’m living a contradiction. What I teach in the classroom must be a true reflection of what I live at home, otherwise I’m a fraud. Integrity is the utmost important attribute a human can obtain and a topic I cover a lot in my classes and retreats.

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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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Interview with Elke Seyser :: Author of “The Superfoods”

The Superfoods

Elke is a Paris based, multilingual, holistic nutritionist, surfer and mother of one. Here we talk about what inspired her to write a children’s book with nutrition at its core. The Superfoods is a wonderful little read, teaching children the effects of sugar on their bodies, written in English, German, French and Spanish. The story is simple for a child to understand and it goes quickly too, something I love in a children’s book.

What sparked your idea to do the children’s book?

I work as a holistic health coach and believe food is medicine; I don’t feed myself to be full, but to nourish my body. I am also a mother and which mother doesn’t want their child to pick healthier food choices. That said, it was way easier when we wrote that book, as my son was 6 years old, now he is almost 10 and unfortunately his food choices are a lot different. I do hope I have created a healthy basis and at some point he will come back to this basis.

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