mynaturalfamily

Inspiring natural, happy, healthy families!

New Diapers, Old Diapers: We All Scream for Cloth Diapers! March 30, 2011

Filed under: Fluff Stuff & All Things Cloth — My Natural Family @ 2:47 pm

Holy moly are we busy over here!  I was going to write a post about my new-found obsession with baby-wearing, but I think I’ll have to save sharing that until next week. 

The Re-Diaper sale is three days away and between organizing consignment items, receiving new items we’ll be selling at the store, and telling multiple people, “No sorry, we can’t accept 200 items from you the morning of the sale,”  none of us have been able sit down for longer than a 5 minute time-period.   

It’s all so exciting though!  This will be my first-ever re-diaper sale experience and from what I’ve heard it is an absolute blast!  People from all over the state come to check out our awesome local vendors (PS: there is going to be so much great stuff for sale…get excited!) and add to their fluff collection for unbelievably low prices.  It’s a regular Fluff Frenzy!  People are dropping off ADORABLE, barely used diapers left-and-right…it’s gotten to the point where I’ve had to stop myself from buying brand-new bamboo fitteds priced at more than 50% off their original price.  Sure they’re only $8.00, but I don’t have kids and I’m not pregnant…so not only would it be a waste of money, it would also make me feel like a weirdo.

From our multitude of consigners, I’ve learned that cloth diaper users fall into three camps: those who do it for the cost factor, those who do it for the cuteness factor, and those who do it for a little bit of both.  I’ve seen moms drop off just a few covers and prefolds and boast that they diapered three kids for under $500 total.  Amazing! I say.  Then I got to bear witness to one mom who dropped off over 150 of the cutest, custom-made fitteds and wool covers and at least one of just about every pocket diaper brand you could imagine.  Seriously, this woman could open her own retail business and call it “Been Around the Bum: A Gently Used Cloth Diaper Store.” (She could probably think of a better name for it though).  All of us who were working at the store sat around ogling her consignment items after she dropped them off (but not for more than 5 minutes, mind you).  This woman was definitely not cloth diapering for economic reasons.  That being said, even if she broke even on the cost of cloth diapering her 6 kids vs. what she would have spent putting them in disposables, she’s about to make a boat-load of cash back from this sale.  So when it comes to cloth diapering, I guess even when you splurge you still save!

Well, I’ve been sitting for more than 5 minutes writing this, and there are diapers to be sorted.  Can’t wait to see you all on Saturday!!!

 

Ready to Change the World? March 21, 2011

Filed under: Fluff Stuff & All Things Cloth — My Natural Family @ 12:53 pm

I never thought I’d be so excited about changing a diaper…but when it’s over 9,000 cloth diapers changed at once all over the world, I guess that is pretty exciting! 

A genius over in California knew that cloth diapers are an amazing way to protect the environment, but realized that so few people knew about their benefits or how much easier to use (and cuter to wear) they’ve gotten over the last 20 years.  So she contacted Guinness and decided to make Earth Day (Saturday, April 23rd) the day where cloth diaper babies all over the country could stand up and get noticed by breaking the World Record of Most Cloth Diapers Changed at Once!  Well, I guess they won’t be standing up so much as they’ll be laying down, but you get what I’m saying.  The goal initially was to make it a national event, but the idea spread so quickly and was embraced by so many cloth diaper enthusiasts that now it’s gone global!  People from countries all over the world (currently 15 and counting) have agreed to host a venue where parents can come together and take part in this monumental event! (Can you tell how excited I am by how many exclamation points there are in this paragraph?!  I’ll try to cut back…)

When Anna, our lovely store manager, told me about the Great Cloth Diaper Change I jumped at the opportunity to help circle ME act as a host venue for the challenge.  We filled out the forms and have started contacting people to act as witnesses, supervisors, ticket takers…you name it, Guinness requires it.  Turns out setting an official World Record is all in the details, and Guinness is PICKY.  One of the many requirements is that there has to be at least 25 adults changing 25 babies in the room for them to count towards the record total. 

When I read that clause in the contract my palms started sweating.  I suddenly remembered how nervous planning and hosting an event can make me.  I think it all stems from my 8th birthday party when I invited my entire 3rd grade class and one person came.  I’m here to tell you that ONE person coming to your party is significantly more traumatizing than NOBODY coming…ugghhh.  Several years and several birthdays later, I STILL get mild nausea when planning a party is required of me. 

But look at me, I’ve gotten way off topic here.  All phobias aside, I do love the mission of this Great Cloth Diaper Change and I could not feel more elated that I have the opportunity to help spread the word about the environmental, financial, and health benefits of cloth diapering.  I feel like this is literally the opportunity to “be the change you wish to see in the world” (ha ha…get it?).  Plus it really is going to be like a party here at the store that day!  Sort of a birthday party for Mother Earth, if you will.  There will be family entertainment and fun games and, if you’re a regular attendee, the best part is the Great Cloth Diaper Change doesn’t overlap Lincoln’s annual Earth Day Celebration.  You can come be a part of history from 10:45am to 11:45am and then head over to Antelope Park to take part in more awesome Earth Day festivities.

If you’re reading this and not in Lincoln, Nebraska, check out www.greatclothdiaperchange.com and see if there’s a host location near you.  If you are in Lincoln (and aren’t going out of town Easter weekend) go to http://www.circleme.me/Great-Cloth-Diaper-Change.php to register for the event.  You don’t even have to own any cloth diapers!  If you’re still doing disposables but have been curious about all the cloth diapering hub-ub, we’ll have diapers available at a discounted rate the day of the event for you to use.  

Be part of a historical event and help spread the word about the awesomeness that is cloth diapering.  Be the change you wish to see in the world.  And please, come if you can…I’m getting a little woozy at the thought of only one person coming.  🙂

 

Choosing to Parent March 16, 2011

Filed under: Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 1:39 pm

This is something very near and dear to my heart: the choice to parent.  “The choice to parent“? you may ask.  You mean “choosing to become a parent, right?”  Well, not exactly.  Yes, you choose to become a parent (or not…sometimes it more or less happens to you without your choosing.  I’m a firm believer, however, that those little surprises can be life’s most amazing blessings!).  But more important is how you choose to parent your children.  How you choose to guide them, teach them, and raise them into adulthood.  A parent I very much admired told me they always thought about how they’d like their children to act when they are 21; that thought is what encouraged and guided them to make the parenting choices that they did.

Through my work with children and their families, I’ve seen so  many variations of the way people choose to parent their children: Authoritarian Styles, Authoritative(Democratic) Styles, Permissive Styles and Neglectful Styles.  These are terms used in pyschology, but you don’t have to be a psychologist to recognize that neglectful styles of parenting are probably not going to  be the best choices.  They range from never attending your child’s softball games to forms of abuse, mainly not providing a child with adequate food, safety, or nurturance to the point where they fail to mature or develop appropriately.  But what about these other “styles”?  Here’s a brief overview of what each typifies:

Authoritarian:

  • The parent is highly demanding, but not responsive
  • Attempts to control to an absolute standard.
  • Values obedience and does not encourage give and take.
  • Emphasizes strict family rules and is often referred to as military style parenting
  • Authoritarian parents attempt to exert complete and total control over their families.
  • They can be restrictive and rigid, demanding absolute obedience, often in a ‘do as I say not as I do’ style of parenting.
  • Punishment is often harsh and punitive.

Authoritative (Democratic):

  • The authoritative parent encourages independence, originality, open communication, and listens to the child’s point of view as well as expressing his or her own, while at the same time maintaining a fairly high level of expectation from the child in terms of conduct and responsibilities.
  • The authoritative parent believes in developing close, loving and nurturing relationships with their children, giving them clear, firm and consistent guidleines.
  • Open communication encourages verbal give-and-take.
  • Authoritative parents encourage their children’s independence, individuality and creativity by being highly responsive toward the children and expecting a degree of responsiveness in return. In terms of demands, age appropriate behavior is expected, along with clear standards and boundaries which are firmly set.
  • Because children are encouraged to think for themselves, a high level of autonomy is achieved for the child. This is placed right alongside a balanced and disciplined conformity which is of equal value.
  • Children of authoritative parenting style grow up experiencing safe boundaries, against which they are also encouraged to push and question in a mutually respectful environment.
  • Authoritative parents exert firm control but do not hem the child in with restrictions. These children become socially responsible, able to control aggression, self-confident, and high in self-esteem. By encouraging independence, the child learns a high awareness of social responsibility through openly discussing how their actions will affect other people.
  • Authoritative parents want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated and motivated as well as cooperative.

Permissive:

  • The parent is responsive but undemanding
  • Is accepting and affirmative of the child but makes few demands for responsibility or conduct.
  • The permissive parent tends to take a tolerant, accepting attitude toward the child’s wants and impulses, including sexual and aggressive impulses.
  • Permissive parents have trouble saying no and setting boundaries and guidelines for their children.  They tend to be lenient and to avoid asserting authority, or imposing controls or restrictions, or indeed, any confrontation wherever possible.
  • Few demands are made for mature behaviour, like displaying table manners, or sharing responsibilities around the home. There are very few rules governing the child such as for bedtimes, homework schedules, mealtimes, or TV watching.
  • Permissively raised children are generally allowed to control their own behavior and to make their own decisions.
  • Inconsistent discipline creates problems around lack of responsibility, motivation and self control become more apparent.

I will say I tend to lean more towards the authoritative/democratic side of the spectrum, while recognizing just how challenging this is.   To follow authoritative parenting 100% of the time with no occasional slips of acting out of anger (yelling when I didn’t really need to) or giving in (letting them have the dang toy even though I said no) would make me perfect.  And that is something I am certainly not nor will I ever be.  In those situations I pray I have the strength to recognize when I’ve made a mistake, apologize to my child and forgive myself.  All I can do is hope that my core values of loving my child regardless of who they become or what they choose, being available for them, providing unconditional support, and always giving them what they need, not necessarily what they want will help me to give a loving, empathetic and responsible adult to the world.

For another perspective on parenting, Bo Bryson (someone far more experienced in parenting than myself) offered to share his and his wife’s thoughts on their choice to parent:

At the most basic level of our parenting, Jen and I have defined our principles as:

  1. Proximity – The state, quality, sense, or fact of being near or next; closeness. Proximity is being close in person but also in heart reality (mind, body, spirit) – being there for our children when we are with them no matter at home or other place; letting them know we are close and not allowing our mind to  wonder to work, hobbies, etc…
  2. Availability – Present and ready for use; accessible, capable of being gotten. Being available means being able to be contacted by your kids – being available means many times being at home but also when unable, making sure they know you are available. I also think this means being available even if we have something we think is ‘of more importance’
  3. Responsiveness – Answering or responding; readily responding to influences. Being responsive means to not be dull nor deaf – being responsive means to listen and act – being responsive means to not neglect a kid’s call for attention- being responsive is to guard your children’s heart
  4. Sensitivity – The ability to respond to stimuli; the degree of response. Being sensitive is being aware of your child’s needs – being sensitive is knowing when to say yes and when to say no – being sensitive is being aware of when to step in and when to back off – being sensitive is helping our children be ok with who they are. But as a Father, being sensitive meant to me to be engaged and ‘attached’ from the start of the pregnancy, not waiting until the toddler years to enjoy my child.

These are the four foundational principles we have adopted. I would not be truthful if I were to tell you that we do not adhere to more of the attachment theory of parenting. This does not mean this theory is correct or the best for each family because we have close friends who use a more – well, what would be termed ‘a scheduled model/theory’ and it works well for them.  And we have yet other friends who use a combo. And you know what – they all work for the families that use them.  Again, what is the underlying principle of the formula being used?  If the principles are broken, the formula may also be broken.  However, since  we gravitate toward the attachment theory, I will mention what Dr. Sears terms, “The 7 B’s of Attachment.”  They are:  (1) Bonding at Birth (2) Breastfeeding (3) Baby wearing (4) Bedding close to baby (not necessarily in same bed) (5) Belief in value of responding to baby’s cry (6) Beware of baby trainers (meaning all advice is not good advice) (7) Balance for parents and children.

These 7 B’s are not a set of rules but rather an approach that incorporates the four foundational principles I listed above. I have had a parent ask me, ‘What if I do not use all 7 B’s, does that mean I am not attached to my children?’ My answer is of course not! Maybe one of them does not fit with a foundational principle you have or maybe one of the seven is unable to be done for physical, mental or emotional reasons.

Once foundational principles are identified…a point to consider (if not the starting point) is: what is the ultimate goal of parenting? And as with anything in life, if you know the goal or a desired destination the journey seems less confusing and many times more enjoyable. For Jen and I, the ultimate goal of parenting is two-fold: (1) Realize we are raising adults not children (2) Realize we are stewards of a precious soul that God has blessed us with. Now let me expound on this.  As a mentor told me, you reap what you sow. Therefore, we want to sow seeds of  love in our children’s lives that in return will reap a harvest in their adult years.  I recognize that one of the potential hazards, if you will, of attachment parenting/theory, is that the child becomes the center of the universe. While at some level, this has to be the case when they are small. We desire our children to know that the world not does revolve around them. Simply, that it is ‘not all about me.’ Herein lies the balance of parenting; we so much want/desire our children to know, recognize and feel loved but once this love is recognized, not to assume it is just for them. This love they know then needs to be poured out to other family members, friends and others they touch in their life. You see, it is one thing to know you are loved but it is quite another to be able to give that love away.

There are many more wonderful points Bo raised, and those will be included in his next newsletter if you’d like to read more(http://www.trinitychiro.com/treatment/children.htm).  There are so many ideas, theories, styles, and beliefs about how to raise children that there could be a never-ending list.  It’s important to remember that you’ll grow and change as a parent as much as your children will grow and change as people.  When it comes to parenting, be willing to listen to your heart, pay attention to your child, and be prepared to learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible.

 

Technological Advantages…or Disadvantages? March 7, 2011

Filed under: Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 12:54 pm

I’m a little concerned about the direction that children’s toys are headed.  Call me old-fashioned, but I seem to recall a time when kids needed to use their imaginations to create something: a castle out of blocks, an airport out of wooden airplanes and Lego’s, a gourmet meal out of plastic food and cookware.  I remember inevitably getting more joy out of building forts with the boxes that my gifts came in than playing with the actual gifts (unless that gift was rollerblades. Best. Christmas. Ever.)  Sure there are still toys like this out on the market, but statistics show that parents are buying fewer stuffed animals and wooden train sets each year and opting for things like this instead:   I’m sorry, but what the heck is this thing and what does it do to benefit our kids?  I’m amazed at the amount and complexity of  high-tech toys that consume the shelves at stores, and the number of laptops that are marketed towards four-year-olds.  While searching for a gift for my niece, I came across a Barbie Video Girl Doll with a description that read,

“With a real, working video camera in her necklace, this Barbie’s a total star (and can make your little doll a star, too!).  She has a video screen in her back and a battery in each thigh—and she’s still skinny as a stick!”

If people were capable of spontaneously combusting from repulsion, I would have.  There are so many things wrong with this particular toy that it’s hard to fit my disgust into one little blog post.  I’m personally against Barbie Dolls period, nevermind the fact that now they’ve gone and reinforced the belief that girls need to be “skinny as a stick” AND made it easier for creepers to record little girls on video.  Barf.

But I digress.  There are of course great toys to come out of technological advances.  The educational aspects of things like Leap Frog and V-Readers don’t seem like such a bad thing; they make learning to read fun for little ones, and who can argue with the awesomeness of that?  But there is too much of a good thing, and I’ve seen it: kids who play with electronic gadgets and games all day, and are therefore rarely required to use their imaginations.  Last time I checked, being active, creative and imaginative are the fundamental building blocks of being a healthy kid, and eventually a fully functioning adult.  These toys, with their flashing lights and pictures, encourage kids to get more excited about “things” than other people.  Kids start to relate to their toys more than their playmates, and to me, that is an incredibly dangerous scenario.  And the instant gratification that these toys provide interferes with a child’s ability to develop patience.  My personal theory is that these instantly-gratifying, hyper-busy high-tech toys introduced at an early age contribute to the development of disorders like ADHD…but I am certainly not a child development specialist nor have I conducted research that satisfies this claim.  I’m just going off my own observations and experiences.  I guess the key is moderation.  A video game or playing with that space-ship-whatever-it-is-cat-thing every now and then can be great fun for a child, but just make sure they get outside and use their imagination on a regular (ie, daily) basis.

What do you do with your kids, or encourage them to play with, that fosters their imagination, creativity, and social growth?