Posts Tagged ‘attachment parenting’

The No-Nag Chore Chart

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

The no-nag chore chartFull disclosure: I am a mom of three girls, and my oldest is 6. I am fully aware that I am only mutton-bustin’ when it comes to this parenting thing. I haven’t had to get on the big one and ride for eight seconds yet.

That said, three is enough to gang up on you entirely. They can be a huge help and also a whirlwind of disaster that spins through the house, leaving devastation in its wake. There are days when I feel like there simply isn’t enough of me to meet all the needs and stay sane, even with all the patience I have had to learn over the years.

Because my kids are small, any help I get is a bonus. Even if they had legitimate chores, they wouldn’t be done to my expectations, and there would be a lot of clean up still to do. The help I do get isn’t worth arguing, fighting or nagging over—that is more exhausting than the actual cleaning. So I came up with this. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s an idea I hadn’t seen before, and it’s actually working at our house.

It’s pretty simple. There’s no printable, no calendars, no boxes to check, no lists to make. Just draw a grid and slap your child’s name on it. Then decide on a reward that’s mutually agreeable, and let them earn it. You can reward physical work, kindness, patience, self-restraint, or any value you feel needs to be emphasized or rewarded right now.

Right now, my six-year old has to do 21 chores to earn a trip to pick out a toy under $20.  The three year old has to complete 14. The rules are that they must think of the chore and do it themselves. There is no time frame. If I have to ask them to do something, like clean a room, make a bed, pick up after themselves, clear the table, then it doesn’t count. If I help the oldest, it doesn’t count. The younger two simply have to pitch in and help someone else. I don’t expect them to do chores totally on their own yet, but they have surprised me at times.

It takes time for them to catch on. I can’t tell you how many times I suggested my oldest think of a chore to do to earn a sticker and I was met with a passive, “Maybe later.” But then she realized how close she was and did seven chores in one day. I have already noticed the frequency of help increasing with my oldest, and that momentum can be contagious.

As my kids grow, the idea can grow with them. They may need to do two chores a day consistently; maybe I will pick a chore they must complete weekly for a month to get a reward. Maybe they will have to volunteer a certain number of times a month. The tasks should shift to helping others outside our home instead of just me.

My goals with the chore chart were to get help without fighting for it, because that was taking more out of me than the chores were. I wanted them to be proactive. I want my kids to shift their focus outward, and we all need help to do that. Building kindness and empathy in your child takes time and persistence. But when I see them help each other, care for each other, and love each other in a way my sibling and I never did, I begin to think that this may have effects that reach far beyond the state of my house.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

The Mother Within: Finding Your Way

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Pregnancy Week 36: Making Time for Me Before Baby ArrivesLiving in a world of oversharing media, where a news break of the latest thing to hurt your child comes on every night, it is tricky to find the path to become the mother you wish to be. Attachment parenting, Tiger Moms, Free Range Parenting, all these options are out there calling to us, yet before the baby was born we dreamt of what our lives would be like. And once our little ones are out of the womb it’s easy to become very lost in the day to day of survival and perseverance without remembering who you wished to become as a mother.

Motherhood changes us all. It’s hard to imagine minutes after birth what it felt like to have a little body inside your belly. Suddenly, there is a tiny person demanding life and love where there previously was just hope and dreams. Motherhood changes us in the best ways possible, growing stretching our hearts and patience. With the birth of my first baby I had a dream of the type of mother I wished to be. In the rush and fog of it all, I quickly lost my way in the haze of sleepless nights, diapers, tears, teething and home.

Finding a way in this new life can take some practice. I found my confidence growing with each month, each day teaching me a lesson in patience, time management and growth as a person. From learning and becoming confident in diaper changes, to learning to be comfortable nursing and leaving the house, to figuring out how to manage my time and home, everyday became a lesson in confidence, trust and listening to the inner voice that told me to do it my way – to hold him, rock him, nurse him as long as I wished, to let the rest go and find my path in this new world.

By listening to this voice, the path has become easier. I trust myself more, question less and listen to my children as they show me the way. Often we believe that we must have all the answers, but the one thing I have learned with my boys is to listen to them. They have shown me the way, how to raise them, how to teach them, how to be the mother they need me to be. Sometimes it is the tough mom, who holds her ground, and sometimes it is the silly fun mom who shows them that it is ok to cut loose once in a while. This lesson took me a while, took my a while to catch on to listen to them and learn to let myself be molded into their mother.

Motherhood is a journey, some find it easy and smooth and others a bit less so. But finding our own path on the journey makes the road much more enjoyable. There is no substitute for sharing our own confidence with our children; soon they catch on and accept it as their own.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom in Portland, Oregon. She lives, loves, laughs and giggles with three little boys ages 5, 3 and 6 months.


Escaping the Crib

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Some children never do it. Some children are born knowing how. But once they’ve done it, there’s no going back.

The first thing you need to know about cribs is that if your child can stand, the crib needs to be set all the way down, and you need to make sure all blind cords, curtains, furniture and décor is at least three feet away from the top of the crib. You will be absolutely astonished how determined they are to reach anything dangerous. If you don’t believe me, watch this video:

There are a few ways you make the transition to the big-kid bed, but one thing is sure: once they can get out of the crib, they can’t sleep there anymore. I know it sucks. It was safe, they could play themselves to sleep, and it was guaranteed worry-free naptime. Sorry, but that’s over. Grab a glass of wine and mourn it properly, and then get over it.

Escaping the Crib

Toddler rail: Many cribs either come with a toddler rail or have one you can buy separately. This screws right into the crib ends with hardware—it’s not removable. While it won’t keep your child in bed, it will keep them from rolling out while they sleep.

Toddler bed: A toddler bed is a mini-bed that your crib mattress will fit in nicely. This isn’t the best option if you are trying to clear out the crib to make way for the next child though, because you’ll be out a crib mattress. The benefit to these is that they offer the feel of a big kid bed while staying low to the ground.

Big bed with bedrail: If you don’t want to have to transition your child twice, or if you already have a big bed ready to use, there’s no need to get a toddler bed. Bed rails run about $30 and you can get them at any store that sells baby furniture. They also come in a variety of sizes, including extra long. I liked that you can fold them down during the day to avoid injuries from kids playing on it, and also to keep your child’s room from looking like a hospital suite, if that matters (for me it did). There are also double rails if you need them for both sides.

You may have also seen crib tents or crib canopies for sale online or in stores, but Consumer Reports lists them as a strangulation hazard and also reccomends removing baby from the crib as soon as they are able to get out.

No matter what option to you chose to transition your child, going to bed will not be the same. There is no more putting baby down and walking out of the room. We did have issues with our kids getting up. With our first, we chose to keep putting her back to bed over and over and over and over until she fell asleep. With our second, we’ve chosen to cuddle her to sleep as a more efficient option for both time and our patience levels.

Many parents I asked advised me to reverse the locks on my child’s door as a way to keep them in bed when I was having issues. This guy even says it saved his marriage after six months of sleeplessness (he threatened to leave his wife if she didn’t do it, so make your own judgment there). The fire department will recommend against this as a fire hazard. If you have stairs in your home, you will want to make sure you have a reliable and toddler-proof baby gate in front of them in case your toddler does get up in the night. It’s also wise to keep doors to the outside baby proofed as well.

TV is the bedroom is another solution I heard often. I would rather snuggle to sleep than try this because of the fact that light in the form of nightlights or TV disturbs the child’s circadian rhythms. Although it may help in the short-term, in the long run it can lead to lifelong sleep issues. I don’t know any adults who still need their parents to sleep, but I know lots of adults who need the TV on.  Not to mention it being a hazard if your toddler gets curious and tries.

My kids still get up some nights. Rather than do bedtime over again in the middle of the night, we just let them get in bed with us. My oldest has already outgrown this need and sleeps through the night most nights. Not because anything we’ve done, but because she feels secure going back to sleep when she does wake up. I am confident the same will be true of our three-year-old. The baby has been sleeping through the night since she was about 10 months old. She’s just weird.

Whether it’s nursing to sleep, waking at night, or during a meltdown, when my children need security, I don’t hesitate. To me it’s important that my kids know that I am there when they are scared and they need me, even at night. It’s my most important function as a parent. And if I do my job right, one day they wont need me anymore, because the security I have given them will be inside them. It will be confidence.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.




Top 4 All Time Favorite Pregnancy Books!

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

There are countless pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting books available. I remember going to the bookstore shortly after finding out I was pregnant with my first child. I stood there browsing the section of pregnancy books. Despite the large selection I didn’t really find one that grabbed me. Granted I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for; ideally I wanted to find a book that would help guide me through the entire novel experience of pregnancy and childbirth. How that actually translated into a written book I had no clue. I just assumed all women needed such a guide so surely it existed? I left the store with a generic “Your Pregnancy Week by Week” style book in hand. It showed pictures of baby’s development and listed corresponding symptoms I would likely experience. All in all it was a rather drab and clinical perspective on pregnancy. Furthermore it did absolutely nothing to prepare me for childbirth or mothering. It was not at all the magical guide I was hoping for.

Fast forward  six and half years later: I have now read many, many books on the topic and decided to come up with a list of Top 4 All Time Favorite Pregnancy Books to share with you. That way you can bypass all the monotonous, uninspiring pregnancy books and go straight to the good stuff! 🙂

1. Birthing From Within by Pam Engalnd – If you only read one book your entire pregnancy, THIS is the one I would suggest. Birthing From Within looks at birth as a rite of passage. Unlike many pregnancy books that focus on the purely factual information regarding childbirth (stages of labor, dilation, pain management options, etc), Birthing From Within gives women tools to prepare emotionally and spiritually for childbirth. A large section of the book is devoted to Birth Art, which many “non-artsy” people (myself included) initially write off or even skip over. But let me assure you, it’s powerful stuff! Why? When a woman is in labor, she is operating in her right brain. She is primitive, uninhibited, free, raw, reflexive, wild, loud, and naked both physically and emotionally. She is her true self. Ironically most women attempt to prepare themselves for giving birth by stimulating their left brain. They will read tedious books, attend highly structured birth education classes, or talk with other
women who have given birth. Valuable information is missed if we only perceive birth in our left brains. Birthing From Within provides suggested activities that will actively engage your right brain. It is unlike any other childbirth preparation approach out there, but among one of the best in my opinion.

2. Mother Rising: The Blessingway Journey into Motherhood by Yana Cortlund, Barb Lucke, and Donna Miller Watelet – This book is plentiful with ideas on honoring the pregnant mother with a Blessingway Ceremony. Like Birthing From Within, Mother Rising acknowledges birth as a rite of passage; one that should be celebrated with ritual and tradition. Because Blessingway Ceremonies are not very common in our culture, many women are unsure how to create such a ceremony. This book gives very detailed and specific information on planning a blessingway ceremony, even down to suggested scripts. One thing I liked about the book is I felt it could also appeal to someone who prefers more of a modern day”baby shower” but wants to include some elements of a blessingway. Reading through the book made me feel deeply connected to women near and far, past and present. It impressed upon me the importance of celebrating and honoring the pregnant journey in a very special way.

3. The Attachment Parenting Book by William and Martha Sears – I felt this book was a fantastic read for my husband. It provides a very direct, easy to understand and apply, description of the main tenets of attachment parenting. Additionally it is a relatively quick read. The information is so accessible and therefore easy to remember. I highly recommend it as both an introductory and summary of the Attachment Parenting philosophy, especially for those that want straightforward information.



4. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International – For me this book is THE breastfeeding book. It is simply overflowing with evidence based information about breastfeeding.  In fact it’s not a book I would pick up and read cover to cover. There is just too much information to process at one time. I tend to use it more as a guide or reference book when I have a questions for myself or from a friend. However I would recommend reading the first two parts; planning to breastfeed and the early months of breastfeeding at some point during pregnancy so you can approach breastfeeding armed with solid information.

So there you have it….my 4 favorite pregnancy books. 🙂 What books are among your favorites for pregnant women?


API Principle #7: Practice Positive Discipline

Friday, January 20th, 2012

The other day I was putting baby down for a nap while my older two boys played quietly downstairs. See, right there I should have known something was up because those two boys rarely ‘play’ quietly. Once baby was finally asleep, I went downstairs to find they boys had raided the art supply closet resulting in a mess of epic proportions. I was understandably upset. In fact I was angry. I had planned to take advantage of baby napping and get a few things done. Instead I would have to spend a great deal of time and energy cleaning up the art mess. Additionally some of the materials they used were quite expensive and I was upset at them for being wasteful. My reaction was not one of my better parenting moments. I yelled at them and told them that I was angry about what they did. I also harshly told them that they needed to clean it up “right now!”.  Unfortunately I knew they would need my help cleaning up to avoid it turning into an even bigger mess. Sigh…not at all what I wanted to do at that time.

However as we cleaned it together, my emotions began to soften. I realized what I had deemed a ‘mess’ and ‘wasteful’, they considered a creative, exciting, enjoyable experience. And therein lied the problem; our two opposing perceptions of the situation. As I thought about it more, I realized the biggest source of conflict for me was that they did not communicate their idea with me. Had they done so I would have been perfectly okay with them using the art materials, but perhaps would have placed some boundaries around the activity such as keeping it the table or limiting the amount of materials they used. Once I identified the main issue, I could take action….which is different than a reaction. I could explain to them the importance of communicating their ideas with me so we can develop a plan together. By doing so maintaining and strengthening our relationship remains at the forefront of our interactions. The hopeful outcome is that they understand communication is important and know that I will listen to as well as respond to their ideas respectfully. This is likely to reciprocal build trust and honesty between us which are essential aspects of healthy attachment. It is what Attachment Parenting International (API) refers to as Positive Discipline.

Rather than punish, API encourages parents to approach discipline in a positive manner that “helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others” (API, 2008).  This takes time, creativity, patience, energy, empathy, and the underlying belief that a child is worthy of the same respect granted to adults. It is easy to fall into the “I’m big, your little thus you do what I say” mode as a parent. But ultimately, that approach may not be effective in fostering the skills we desire for our children such as problem-solving, respect, assertiveness, or demonstrating integrity in relationships. If we accept challenging behavior as an opportunity to teach, it drastically changes how we respond. It does not mean we are permissive as parents, but that we are parenting consciously. Sometimes positive discipline is incorrectly assumed to mean always saying ‘yes’ to your child or never providing a consequence. That is simply not true. API recognizes a parent’s role in gently and lovingly guiding their child’s behavior to ultimately help him/her develop self-control and self-discipline.

I am the first to admit that using this approach to discpline can be exhausting! I don’t always get it right…in fact I often blow it! But the occassions that I do approach discpline in a gentle, loving way I feel so much better about than the times I yell, threaten, or scold. For most of us utilizing positive discipline takes practice. It takes deep reflection of our own childhood experiences and reflecting upon current struggles we have with our children. While it may seem easier to just simply adopt the a heavy-handed “I’m big, your little thus you do what I say”approach, the heart of attachment parenting is to develop a strong parent-child connection and API believes this is best achieved with discipline that is empathetic, loving and respectful.