Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day 12: 20 Day Commitment to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

Today's topic is warmth....
So it's been almost a month since I've blogged about this journey. It seems I got stuck at the halfway point. With the holidays approaching I've felt called to return to this. Also a couple of really horrible days...

So on to the topic of the day. Warmth in Waldorf education from what I've read refers to both physical and emotional warmth. In Waldorf, physical warmth is seen as very important since this Sense is not believed to be fully developed until age 9. So as parents we must protect it until then. There must be some truth to this since as mothers we spend a lot of time and energy chasing our children and putting on hats and mitts, or in my house underpants, on our kids. They just don't seem to feel the cold. Yet heat is energy and if children have to expend energy to further heat their bodies because they are not wearing warm clothes, or any clothes as is often the case with my son, then they are using up precious growth energy. I try to be conscious of the need for my kids to be wearing warm clothing especially since our house is fairly chilly but inevitable all the clothes seem to be off at some point or another. Or all day in M's case. That boy does not like the restriction clothing puts on him. He often strips completely naked to go swimming in his 'pool'. Which is a pile of blankets between the spare bed and chair. I haven't quite figured out how to keep him physically warm when he refuses to keep clothing on but maybe if I keep him emotionally warm he'll have extra energy to expend on this? I've never been a big believer in hats at all times for babes but I've read quite a bit lately about how they can calm an infant. Maybe I'll try this with D, can't hurt.

I try to foster emotional warmth in my home by keeping a sense of humour and picking my battles. Not every little thing needs to be addressed every day. I am making a conscious effort to tell my kids I love them every day and to express my love by hugging and kissing and laughing with them. I grew up in a hands off family. We didn't hug or kiss or touch very often. We aren't close now and I have no idea if this is the reason but it's one thing I can change. I also try to convey a sense of warmth through my relationship with my husband. I believe it is important for my children to see H and I kiss and hug and laugh together. At this point all M wants to do is get in the middle so he can have some of the love.

Parenting Passageway's challenge is to spend 3 days increasing the amount of times you hug, hold, laugh, give positive encouragement, say I love you, smile at your kids and partner. We are supposed to watch for a difference in the feeling and peacefulness of our home. So Friday through Sunday I am going to take this challenge. I am going to do these things at every opportunity I get. I'm going to raise the temperature in my home and family.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Breastfeeding: The Internal Struggle

I believe in child-led weaning and nursing until at least the age of 2. However, when M self-weaned at 17 months old I did not put up a fuss or encourage him to continue. Why was this? I really do not know other than I was young and working full-time. I knew there would be other babies and more nursing. Also M was never a comfort nurser. He was an efficient drain the boob, get off and get busy with other things kind of babe. He didn't nurse lazily and stare into my eyes and make it an intense bonding experience for us. Nope he wanted his milk and he wanted it fast in a no-nonsense kind of way. Maybe that's why that nursing relationship was so easy for me to let go. I am hypothesizing that my current relationship with D my daughter will be much different. She was a natural nurser from the start we got started within the hour of her birth and we have not looked back.

I had many obstacles to overcome with M, NICU, poor latch, mastitis, oversupply. My mother in law and midwife gave me 2 pieces of advice that kept me going during this difficult time. My mother in law said "just give it 6 weeks that's what it takes". It was true that we had most of the kinks worked out by then. My midwife said "his mouth will grow and your breast will not". So true and so obvious but I needed to hear it. During my RN education we were taught that with a proper latch breastfeeding SHOULD NOT HURT. Well.... it. hurt. with M, and with D. I have learned newborns are voracious little creatures that will get what they want even if they have to suck your nipple right off. This is not a comfortable experience no matter what anyone tells you or at least it was not for me. Mastitis is the MFer of all flu's. It's like having a raging flu and hten having someone insert razor blades into your breasts and nipples. Add on top of that a newborn baby and postpartum hormones. You are in for one hell of a ride. I got through it with quark cheese and a professional grade pump. After the first 6 weeks things became more comfortable and more relaxed. I found my nursing groove. There were still bumps in the road but they were surmountable.
My internal struggle would be my fantasy of being the ideal attachment parenting mama who never needs to leave her baby. However I NEED to get out, get away. This need often makes me feel guilty when I satisfy it especially since D hates the bottle. If I satisfy my need I am neglecting hers. When I try to get a few hours uninterrupted sleep and H has to use the paci to satisfy D instead of what she truly wants (the breast) I am satisfying my need at the expense of hers. It's a delicate balancing act, trying to keep my needs met and hers as well. It feels like they are often in direct conflict. While it may seem great to be so needed by another sometimes I feel so trapped. Other times I feel warm and fuzzy when she is latched and trying to fish hook her toes into my nose. So you see it's a struggle at times but not one I would willingly give up.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 11: 20 Day Commitment to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

I've been stuck on this topic for a couple days since life has been a little overwhelming. Not a lot of computer time.
Today's topic: Making my home work for me...
The first thing that comes to mind is comfortability. I want the people I love whether they live with me or not to feel comfortable in my home. I guess this boils down to a sense of warmth, welcoming and belonging. Being a homemaker actually brings me great joy that I never thought it would. I always thought the career world would bring that fulfillment and joy but I am never truly happier than when I am spending quality time in my home with my loved ones. I love to make good food and share it, I like create handmade items for people, I like to have tea and snacks for those visitors that drop by for a chat. The motivation to do these things usually sparks when I feel cared for.

This means I have to work on maintaining me so that I can maintain my house. I have been working on this. I am making progress and progress is good. I am getting out more and spending more time on me. Still some things to be added in but I wasn't built in a day and I won't get to where I want to be in a day either.

A major part of what makes a home work or not is whether or not the physical space works. H and I have been discussing this for a while. Our home feels cluttered. Our yard feels cluttered. We are currently working on the outdoors. When snow flys we will be focusing our attentions indoors on a major decluttering process. H wants us each to pair down to 100 items. There is a current blog challenge on this not sure which one I will have to ask. For the most part I am a purger not a saver but lately I have been saving a lot. I love a deal and usually cannot resist getting something I know we COULD use if it is on sale. I think I will have to go on a no buying spree for anything non-essential for us to get our STUFF pared down. I will also be referring to flylady's site when embarking on this journey. Our STUFF is getting out of control and with the basement reno's we do not have much storage space. It is true that the less stuff you have the less time it takes you to clean.

Maternity leave has left me in my house more than I ever am when I am working full time. This means that the cleanliness of the house has a compounded effect on my mood. I can breathe easier, relax faster, work more efficiently in a tidy house.

Food is one part of the home and what works that I feel I am actually excelling. Both H and I love food and the process of creating and sharing good food. As an effort to save money I started baking our breads. Now if I can make something myself I will not buy it in the store. I will buy the ingredients myself. This makes me feel GREAT! It also controls the amount of allergens M eats since soy is in almost every packaged product you buy including chocolate chips. Anyways that's a different post entirely.

The feeling in my home is hopefully warm and inviting. We laugh and giggle and play a lot in our home. Usually someone is quick to point out if another is grumpy and we all try to make it better. I would love to make it more inviting with more comfortable places to sit especially in the kitchen as this is where the heart of my home is and also where people tend to gather. I have a beautifully refinished kitchen table now I just need chairs to match. I would like to feel more peaceful at home. I would also like for the center or heart of the home to not have a tv but unfortunately in this house their really is only one place for it. I feel like the tv sucks away good conversation during get togethers and also sometimes in the evenings with H and I. Giving it up though is not a step I am currently ready to take though. I also want to change the colours of the walls. They are nice but they are not MY colours since they were chosen by the previous owner. That will have to wait until after maternity leave though when our belts are not strapped so tight.

Well since this post has spanned quite a few days it is a little disjointed and it appears I have lost my train of thought. What makes your home work for you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 8: 20 Day Commitment to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

So it appears that I missed Day 8. It's about Nature! So I guess my posts will have to be renumbered lol.

I have a very firm belief that seems to fit with Waldorf and Steiner. I believe we need time outside every day. We all need to connect with nature. It resets the equilibrium and clears the head. Nature chases the grumpies away or at least it does for me. Our society spends most of it's day 'plugged in' to the TV, the net, the radio. There is usually some sort of media playing in the background if not in the forefront. I believe we all need to unplug daily and get out into nature. There really is no substitute. The imaginary games and activities M comes up with outside are fabulous. I have got to take the time to record some of them on paper so we can look back at what he used to play and how he is progressing

We bought this house mostly for the yard. Right now with the reno's on the basement the yard is being somewhat neglected. This means it is less enjoyable to spend time in. With our porch gone and temporary stairs up it is also more difficult to get in and out easily. During the spring and summer M and I were out there every day. In this town we have at least 6 months of winter and cold. Which means we need to suck up the sunshine and warmer weather while it's here. Hopefully this weekend we can put the yard into some semblance of order and get out there and enjoy it. However even with the yard in the state it is in we are fortunate enough to have a gorgeous park and wonderful playground right next door. So there is really no excuse for not getting out into nature. Yet we will go days where we go from the car to the house and do not stop to enjoy the great outdoors. When we were outside every day M slept better, ate better, behaved better. He has always been a little nature bug. He used to sit in and dig in the flower pots for hours last fall. Time to get the shovels out and start digging before the ground is frozen.

Maybe the reason we do not go outside as much as I would like is that I always feel like I should be doing something inside. Cooking, cleaning, organizing all of this is indoor work. These activities seem to have a louder call for me. I have a hard time just hanging out at the park or dawdling down the path for a walk. It seems I need some sort of stimulation. Maybe outside time would assist me in my goal of reconnecting with M? When we are outside I am more 'present' with my kids. There are less distractions and I am not doing something else at the same time as interacting with them. But a focus outside for me would probably also help. There are many tasks to be done out there. Parenting passageway says there is no bad weather only bad clothes. I am not quite sure she has been out in 40 below weather! Nonetheless it is not 40 below right now. She also makes suggestions for bringing the outdoors in which I am going to implement this winter. I start my seeds in March but I'm sure there are things we can do in December and January. M would have a blast planting an indoor herb garden. He loves to pick fresh herbs and add them to his various concoctions.

I will come back and finish this post later as I cannot connect to the parenting passageway website and there is a post I want to read on connecting kids to nature. The site was down all day. Which puts me yet another day behind in this series. Today is activity and errand filled but perhaps we could hop on over to the soccer field after gymnastics with our soccer ball. Must pack warm clothes it's a tad bit chilly and the soccer ball of course.

Today's goal: Get outside!

This weeks outdoor goals/plans:

Start vermicomposting
leaf cleanup
recycling cleanup
M's playhouse cleanup
pick up sled from Granny
Move dirt pile
turn compost
cut down perrenials
dog poo (ICK!) love my fluffy friends do not love picking up their business.

Phew! there is lots to do outside if anyone has any tips on where to put/how to occupy D I'd love to hear them. Most of this work is rather difficult while babywearing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Goals

10 Goals for November:

1. Get 5 items for sale up on facebook
2. Take all unworn and unwanted items out of my dresser
3. Make a list of xmas gifts that can be made and get half done.
4. Make a study plan for my nephrology certification exam
5. Start a tickle trunk
6. Clean out chest in living room of birth supplies and drop off at midwives for someone else to use. RETURN TENS MACHINE!
7. Have basement assessed by an engineer and start on repairs
8. Cook supper at least 4x per week
9. Organize art supplies and crafting stuff into one space.
10. Get into an exercise routine

Day 10: 20 Day Commitment to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

Sooooo I have been MIA for a few days. The weekend was busy with Halloween and the furnace issue is still not resolved so lots of contractors in and out of the house. My poor house looks like a tornado whirled through it. Ah well, all will get put right again.

Day 10 is on realistic expectations. I have been reflecting on realistic expectations all weekend. I had read the post in advance. On Thursday night H and I had a date night and I brought up the topic of our expectations of M. H said he had been contemplating this as well. Great! We are already on the same wavelength. We both agreed that we have some unrealistic expectations of both M and D. With D it's mostly sleep related which is referred to in an earlier post. So we are working on correcting our expectations of that.

M is a very articulate and coordinated child for his age. He also has more concentration and bladder control than the average 3.5yr old. Since I do not know many kids his age I have been trying to observe those I see in his preschool and gymnastics and this is what I have been noticing. I think because of these capabilities we often place higher expectations on him than his age dictates. He acts and talks big much of the time but he is still very little.

He is in a very turbulent emotional state these days and little things can set him off. We need to work at avoiding the angry states which seem to be getting more frequent. I need to find some calming influences for him. Books are good and so is music. Anyone have any other suggestions? I am working on being more physically affectionate during these times. Often with the baby I feel touched out but he needs this connection on a daily basis and I am working on making this happen.

He is also very bossy and whiny. I am struggling with this because when I ask him to use a nicer voice he says "but this is my girllllll voice!" I really dislike his girrrllll voice! If his bossing does not work he has an all out meltdown. I am going to try instituting more 'I like' statements and giving information statements. For example 'I like when you say please can I have a drink' because his current method of asking for a drink is "I'M THIRSTY! I'MMMMMMMMMMMM THIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRSTYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" If his statement is ignored the noise level escalates.

We also ask that he get dressed for school and often get frustrated and give ultimatums when hes not fully dressed 15-30min after the request. I know that we ask because we've seen that he can get dressed in 2min flat when there is inspiration. But there will not be daily inspiration. Parenting passageway suggests less requests, less words, less choices and more action with the 3yr old. So this is what I am working on. I will bring an outfit downstairs and help him into it without asking if he wants to. If he rebels and wants to choose his own then I will lead him upstairs and physically help him put on what he chooses.

I realize he is not going to cooperate and will resist the rhythm of the day. How do I find the strength to let it roll off? I want to enjoy my days regardless. I guess this is part of my inner work.

I am doing a lot of observing and critical thinking in regards to M so more changes to my parenting practices and our day will probably follow. This is key for me to head off some of the meltdowns (my own and M's). What are our triggers?

My realization: It's easy to stay in tune with a nursing baby and even a nursing toddler. I think those physical check-ins allow me to take the moment to really observe my child and see what they are feeling or needing. Now that M is so much more independent and not nursing the distance between us has widened. I am not as tuned in to him. My goal is to get us a little closer. Pretty soon he is going to be too big to want to snuggle with Mama. I do not want to miss this golden opportunity.