Thursday, January 14, 2010

Some Thoughts on Attachment Parenting

Recently some friends of ours had a baby. After about a week, the dad said something to the effect of 'you guys want THREE of these?! On purpose?!' I guess their babe is fussy, and it's been a struggle to get sleep, do anything productive, or generally EXIST with this one babe, never mind adding more kids to the mix.

We never had this problem. Sure, each new babe brings a couple weeks of adjustment, but I don't ever remember feeling overwhelmed or lost, for more than a day or two. And I really believe that we don't have just biologically 'easy' kids (if you've ever met Chicken, you'd agree here...she's a whirlwind)... and also I don't think that we're uber parents who have amazing abilities to 'train' our kids into being little angels. I'm absolutely convinced that it's because of our parenting methods (which, for the record are not OUR parenting methods... see here)

We attachment parent, and everything we do is designed to make our lives (and our kids' lives) easier. We wear our kids in backpacks or slings from the very first. It makes getting around easier, and babes are much more likely to sleep if they're snuggled in with momma or daddy, than if they're alone in a stroller. In fact, our son HATES strollers, and tends to cry when put in one. The closeness that wearing a baby forces brings us more cohesively together, and helps us bond as a family unit. I believe our kids are much more secure because of it. Even today, Badden prefers to be snuggled up to momma or daddy, more than anything else in the world (not typical for a little toddler).

We also co-sleep. I know there's a lot of controversy out there over this, but honestly I don't understand it. I always know where my kids are in the bed, and I've never had even a moment of 'oops! almost squished a baby!' I remove the pillows from half the bed, and put them up beside my head. They cuddle in and we all get a good nights sleep (mostly...until recently, please see this post). It also makes breastfeeding WAY easier, since I don't have to get up, get a kid, feed and then return said kid to a crib. I simply lift my shirt and go back to sleep. In fact, there were lots of times that I'd wake up and find Badden had attached himself while I was asleep. I can't imagine why someone would choose to formula feed a newborn* ...that's SO much harder...get up, make formula, sit up and feed...blech. Not to mention having to then WASH all those bottles, the expense of buying formula... no thanks.

Lastly, our first response for discipline is always a hug. I find that more often than not, when the kiddos are acting out, there's usually an over-stimulation problem (either from tiredness, hunger, too much noise, etc), and making them stay calm and still for a few minutes solves the behaviour issue. Not always, but definitely most of the time. So, instead of a time out, or (God forbid!) a whack across the bum, I scoop the offending child up, give them a big bear hug, tell them 'that's not nice, we don't X', and give them a kiss. Of course we have the occasional moment when this DOESN'T work, and the tantrum gets worse, but more often than not it's effective.

So, when someone says to me 'you have such easy kids' or ''re brave...3 under 3?!' I just smile. I think that if we all just learned to relax a bit, hug a lot more, and be closer as families, the world would be peopled with 'easy kids'.

*I know breastfeeding can be a challenge - it was NOT a cake walk with either kid, and we had varied success - Chicken was only intermittently breastfed for the first 6 weeks, and Badden was exclusively so...then intermittently until 3, believe me, I'm not ignorant of the difficulties. This time around, I'm steadfast in breastfeeding exclusively until weaning age.

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