Free Range Parenting

IMG_1894

Harper came bounding through the backdoor from the dark backyard. His cheeks where rosy, his breath was heavy and his eyes where wild. “Mom! We play outside!” I had been upstairs going through the night routine with Willem while Chad was downstairs doing dishes while our 4-year-old ran around outside playing with no adult supervision. “We played hide and seek, and bad guys and bad cars (?)” he exclaimed with a frenzied excitement. As he told me about his adventures outside I became just as alive as he was. My little boy is growing up and experiencing the world in his own way through his own eyes.

We are graduating as parents with Harper. I still carry Willem close and cuddle him to sleep (even as I type this they are both asleep in my bed on either side of me), yet Harper has gained an intense independence in the last year.

I just recently came across this op-ed in the New York Times about Free Range Parenting. I had only heard of this term once before on a Facebook thread but it didn’t stick long enough for me to google it. Once I came across the article I felt a strong gratitude that we are able to give our kids an imaginative and beautiful childhood free from fences and limitations.

Free range parenting to me is what we lived as children but it now has a name. It’s about trusting your child in the world and letting them play without the constant watchful eye. This does not work for every child and in every environment but it does stand to be talked about because as the parenting pendulum swings we can over-act when it comes to our children. This comes only for love of them and out of their safety but there is a point when we have to trust that they will make wise decisions and be ok. Think of it as little test runs to their adulthood (oh the thought of that hurts just a little).

“If you love someone let them free” is an  in my mama-bear opinion but I do love Harper in a way that I want him to be who he truly is and not a mold that I put him in and trusting him at 4 to play with the neighborhood kids in a safe environment without his mom constantly overseeing him allows him to be his sincerest, sweet little self.

Advertisements

Weaning Willem

IMG_9352

Nothing makes you feel like a new parent like new stages in development or having a different kid. All children are different, we are constantly dealing with new situations as parents. While we may have been here (weaning in this case) we have never weaned this exact child so we have no clue what we are doing. This tells me that we do.not.have.all.the.answers. We have experiences and we share those however our experience will not work for every parent nor child.

Anyway, off the pedestal.

I started weaning Willem last Friday. It hasn’t even been a week. I have no clue how to approach this and what I did with Harper. That’s not entirely true, I remember holding and singing and rocking Harper when he would want to nurse at night. Willem doesn’t respond to that, if I hold him it makes him more angry and he just gets out of bed and sleep walks screaming and crying into the hallway.

I’m at square one yet there is something strong natural instinct. Yes our kids are different and this is a new experience but for some reason it is going smoothly. It could be because I’m not really pushing any one thing, it could be he was sick last night so I was too scared to nurse him for fear of more puke, or maybe he’s just easier. I don’t know, but he’s asleep in his own bed (first time ever) without nursing and it wasn’t sad and he wasn’t scared. As of right now he basically gets fed when I get full, it’s working well and isn’t cutting ties too fast. I resist sleep nursing him, as of now he wakes up 2-4 times but each night has fought less and less with me. I was amazed that when I laid down with him the other night to put him to sleep he just required me to cuddle him without a single attempt at nursing. I’m sad that he’s growing up but of course, like every mother who has nursed past a few months- I am ready to have my body back (although that doesn’t really happen until well after the weaning process is over, boob holds are a trademark of a nursed baby after all, and I’ll pretty much hold and carry him until he goes to college).

After asking for advise and searching for answers on how to approach weaning a somewhat demanding 19 month old it turns out we just needed to be ready, I need to be patient, gentle and willing to listen to my own instinct and it is working out just fine for us.

Now off to teach those preschoolers some deep-sea yoga.

Our Co Sleeping Journey

Image

Before I was pregnant I knew people who coslept, they were hippies and “nesters” or people who coddled their kids. When I was pregnant my mind began to shift. I heard statistics like “in China they don’t even have a term for SIDS because it’s so rare, everyone sleeps with their baby” considering how much I loved the little fetus I wanted to do whatever I could to keep him alive. 

Fast forward to baby’s first day out of the womb. He fell asleep on me who would have the heart to move him? Once home it only got worse. Sure he would nap in his basinet here and there, nap in his swing, fall asleep in the car seat but when it came time for the adults to turn in for the night, there was always a baby in the crook of my arm because to be completely honest I was overly paranoid about SIDS and I slept sooooo much better. Also a huge benefit was being a breastfeeder, when baby stirs in the middle of the night needing to eat all I had to do was pull down my shirt and drift back off to sleep. No getting up. No bottles to warm. Just sweet dreams and a wet puddle of milk on the sheet (I learned to put a towel underneath). 

I said I would cosleep until 6 months. Then I realized that there is still a slim chance for SIDS so I went to 1 year. At 1 year we attempted sleep training. It was heart breaking and not right for us nor for our son plus we admitted to ourselves we loved our little warm snuggler in our bed. Finally at 2 years old we felt comfortable getting him to sleep in his own bed. We didn’t force him, it wasn’t cold turkey, it was gradual and positive. He did amazing sleeping in his own bed. Every night we would go lay down with him, read books, pray, talk, hug. Sometimes he did not want to sleep and we would vice grip him with our body while singing and humming him to sleep, sometimes he’d fall asleep in less than 5 minutes and we would quietly slip out. 

Now at 3 years and 3 months old we no longer cuddle him. We tuck him in and tell him to go to sleep. He still wakes up sometimes and we find him in our bed with us in the morning but we love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I guess my reason for writing all this out besides to let our family know that he is officially”weened” from co sleeping, is to encourage others to do whatever feels right for them as parents. We didn’t set out to be cosleepers and we especially didn’t expect to do it for so long but your kids are only little for so long. We wanted Harper to feel safe and secure with us and in his home. We were selfish in that we loved cuddling with him, providing a constant affection between us, but that is just the way we are and luckily with little issue everything turned out perfectly for us. Now we just need to get him out of night time pull ups and he’s officially a big kid! gah good thing I have a new babe in my bed, now I’m a nester hippie
.