filtering advice

June 06, 2010

There is an overwhelming amount of information and advice being thrown at new mothers (and parents). There are countless books that tell us what we should and shouldn’t do when raising our babies, let alone the advice you receive from opinionated moms/parents who enjoy sharing their way of doing it with you. Beginning with the “proper” way to give birth, there are questions about how much to let your baby cry, what to wrap around your baby’s butt, what to feed her, how to discipline, what vaccinations to give her, what sunscreen to use and how much time you should be spending with her vs. your partner/on yourself/at work… etc.…just to name a few. All of this advice can produce a lot of anxiety and guilt!.

I am also an opinionated mom that is obviously sharing my way of raising Amari… but it took me awhile to realize that I could not follow what much of the conventional wisdom said (for one, a lot of it contradicts itself), and that what works for other moms and their babies just might not be the perfect answer for our family.  So I came up with a rule for myself… as soon as motherhood began to feel more like a job and a responsibility, and less joyful and inspiring, I would reassess and make sure I was doing what was right for us.  This rule actually began when I was pregnant.  I was reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting and I realized that I was getting all worked up about bizarre things that could go wrong with me or my baby.  Andy started calling it “the scary book” and I stopped reading it, because I had midwifes that I trusted watching my pregnancy progress and I was very in tune to what was going on inside of me. I trusted myself and the relationship Amari and I had already.  That book was just taking the joy out of my wonderful journey of pregnancy.

I still read bits and pieces of pregnancy, baby, and parenting books.  I am also eager to soak up as much as I can of what other parents have to share.  But I am getting much better at filtering through what works and leaving what doesn’t.  What works for Amari, Andy and I, might not work for our next little one, it might not work for Amari in a month, and it certainly might not work for you.

I do, however, think there is great value in sharing our stories.  The key to parenting for me (or a lot of things in life) is learning from other people’s stories and experiences… all of those ideas and experiences get mashed together in your internal self, and I believe that what you trust and what works for you comes out in the end, as long as you are in tune with who you are and who your family is.  Become your own advice book, and whether you share your opinions or not, make sure you share your stories… your story may help someone else heal from their story or grow as a parent.

So just incase you are wondering what works for us as Amari is approaching her first birthday:

Birth- We wanted to do a natural birth with hypnosis, but Amari stopped moving at 37 weeks and it was time for her to come out through an incision instead. I will share this story sometime soon.

Crying- From the beginning, for the most part, we have not let Amari “cry it out”… this is one of those things that just didn’t feel right in our hearts… the moment we started to feel that way was a red flag that this method what not for our family.  Every once and awhile she needs to make a small cry to get herself to sleep, but that is a different cry.  I do not believe that little sweet girl is out to play mind tricks with her parents.  If she cries (which rarely happens and I think that is because we respond to her emotions instead of ignoring them) we gladly embrace her and comfort her… to me, that is one of the greatest joys of parenthood, and it won’t always be there… so I will take the opportunity every time I can get it, even in the middle of the night.

What goes on the rear- We use cloth diapers… sooo easy and so inexpensive.  Yes I do use an occasional disposable when we are traveling or at night.  More on cloth diapers in blogs to come.

We feed her what we eat… organic veggies, fruit, a little grass feed beef, whole grains, beans etc… pureeing our own food is not only cheaper, but this way I know the exact ingredients that she is eating.  Michael Pollan says it well in his book, Food Rules: #13 “Eat only foods that will eventually rot” and  #19 “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”  For those of you who are saying: “that’s great, but I don’t have that kind of time”… it really doesn’t take that much time.  Maybe I’ll blog more about this too.

Discipline- well, we are still figuring it out., luckily she is not a trouble maker yet… Ha.  Three current thoughts on this… We are loving our current parenting books and their views on this topic:  The Discipline Book by Dr. Sears and Mindful Parenting by Jon and Maya Kabat-Zinn. We also don’t expect her to behave like an adult, because she isn’t one.  We also make sure that our positive words are a thousand times more abundant then the negative words she hears.

Vaccinations- after you have to put your whole family through the rabies vaccinations when your daughter is only two months old… any previous thoughts on vaccinations are sort of out the window.  She is getting most all of them, when the pediatrician recommends them.

Sunscreen- still looking for good and safe recommendations.

Time-  I spend as much time with her as I can.  And if I was planning to do something else, but she is really acting like she needs some mommy time, I put off what I was planning. Our main priority is Amari, everything else can wait. I do believe that time doing the other things I love and spending time with other people that I love is truly valuable… that is why I blog when she’s napping, my kitchen table is covered with my current art projects, and my craft table is also set up in the dinning room, my kitchen has a play area for Amari, and when I need to run errands Amari is a pro at helping. I may only get to attach one piece as I walk by my current sculpture, but it is one piece that wasn’t there before, and I am actually managing to get a lot done this way.   When it comes spending time with other people… well most of my other people love her too.

Comments (5) | More: blog

5 Comments to “filtering advice”

  1. Mary says:

    Heidi– thanks for sharing. I’m enjoying reading your blog.
    Here’s a site that rates sunscreens for safety. http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/best-beach-sport-sunscreens/
    California Baby makes a good one.
    I like the quotes from Michael Pollan.

    • admin says:

      So glad you are enjoying the blog Mary! Thanks for the sunscreen tip… I’m checking it out now!

  2. Clark says:

    You sounds like good parents – hope your parents didn’t screw you up too bad :-) If so, please forgive us, we were just trying to figure it out also!
    Dad

    • admin says:

      You didn’t screw me up and you gave me a lot of tools to be the best parent I can, and I’m sure Amari will be a better parent than both of us… I think that’s just how it goes… we pass on what we know at the time and then if we teach them well, they will build upon what we taught them and make it better!

  3. danielle says:

    that’s right, we love Amari! thanks for putting all this down!