Taking time for self makes me a better Mommy

by Kelly Shealer on October 24, 2014

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Kelly ShealerIt was 8:00 at night. I was putting my oldest son to bed, and I realized that I hadn’t eaten dinner.

I had made dinner for both of my sons, had nursed my baby multiple times and had even made sure that my husband took food to work with him. But I had completely forgotten about myself.

And because of it, I was getting irritable and was on the verge of losing my patience with my son, who was doing nothing wrong except not relaxing for bed as quickly as I wanted him to.

I quickly made a decision to leave the room for a few minutes, grab something to eat and then go back to my son. I almost immediately felt better. My whole attitude shifted, not just because I finally ate but also because I felt good about taking the time that I needed for myself.

When I went back to my son, I exaggerated how happy I suddenly was, hugging him, tickling him and being silly with him. I told him that I knew he had wanted me with him but that I’d needed to eat so that I could be happier and be a better Mommy. I wanted him to see that it’s important for my needs to be met as well and that I’m much happier when they are.

I believe balance is one of the most important of Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting, because you need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your children. But it’s also the hardest to put into practice.

I know so many other moms who spend all day caring for the needs of their children, giving their all to the point where they don’t have anything left for themselves.

We fail to make time for our own needs, because often our children’s needs are greater than ours. We cosleep in uncomfortable positions and wear our babies for an extended time, so our bodies are sore. We respond to our children with sensitivity and feed them respectfully, but we don’t treat ourselves with the same kindness and care.

When we do take the time to care for ourselves, we often feel guilty, even though we shouldn’t. We need it. Our children need it, too, because we’re better parents when we take care of ourselves.

With three children ages 4 and under, I generally don’t make much time for myself during the day. Lately I’ve been trying to find quick, simple ways to help me feel like I’m doing something for myself throughout the day — things I can easily do with my children present.

Some of my favorites are putting on perfume or lipstick, finally taking the time to brush my hair that I’d thrown into a messy ponytail at the start of the day, looking at family pictures that always cheer me up, doing some stretches or just taking a few deep breaths.

When I need something more than this, I’ve found that putting on some of my favorite music and letting my boys have a dance party usually helps us all feel better.

And when all else fails, there’s always chocolate.

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The time-in technique

by isil on October 23, 2014

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 27, 2008, but I love the message it offers to parents about how positive discipline dovetails with responding with sensitivity in observing what underlying needs children may be expressing when they act out.

it-must-be-love-6-138382-mRecently there has been a discussion about time-out technique on a Yahoo group. A mother was sharing about how effective she finds the time-out sessions to teach her 18 month old not to bite mommy. Lots of people were interested and wanted to learn more about the technique.

I believe in gentle discipline. I remember reading an inspirational blog post by Angela White at Breastfeeding 123:

I talked to a friend who used what she called “time in.” Time in involved getting down on my daughter’s level and holding her if she wanted that, and talking about the kind of behavior that was acceptable and not acceptable. I realized that many times when my child was acting up, she was really looking for more attention from me. It was a lot better for both of us if I gave her positive attention in the first place, and refrained from negative attention like yelling and shaming.

My daughter has recently started pulling my hair. Every time she does this, I tell her that it hurts me and that it’s not okay to pull someone else’s hair.

I also paid attention to the times when she pulls my hair. The result is obvious: She’s either tired or sleepy. She wants more attention from me. Maybe she wants me to give her a hug, maybe she wants me to breastfeed her or maybe she wants me to play with me.

Had I used the time-out technique, she’d only be more upset.

I believe that by being respectful to our little ones — by questioning why they are behaving like this — we can sort out half of the problem. Time-outs may change their behavior, but they will not resolve the underlying problem or address our children’s needs.

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Editor’s Pick: AP Month on “How to get from there to here”

October 22, 2014
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“We nod our heads recognizing scientific ‘child outcomes’ as…parenting goals regardless of our style of parenting. But how do we get from there to here? What’s the parenting analogue that allows us parents to be all that, enough of the time, so that these child benefits are possible?” ~ “How to get from there to […]

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Why not the status quo, and instead Attachment Parenting?

October 21, 2014
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By Lysa Parker & Barbara Nicholson, cofounders of Attachment Parenting International and coauthors of Attached at the Heart It was 20 years ago when we hatched our idea to “save the world.” We were, and remain, hopelessly optimistic that we can effect change in our society. Both of us are parents, with six sons between […]

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The happiness of pursuit

October 20, 2014
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As an Attachment Parenting parent, I’ve always listened to my children. I always will.  I treat them with respect, and I truly care what they have to say.  I do my best and hope they always know that someone hears them. I don’t want them to go through their lives wondering and feeling like they are […]

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There is no night and day

October 18, 2014
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Attachment Parenting International is 20 years old. Twenty years of promoting connection and spreading reassuring support to parents across the globe! When I first became a mother, I followed every instinct to connect with and nurture my baby. I held her, I nursed her, I gazed into her eyes…regardless of the time of day. Strangely […]

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Attachment Parenting in shared custody

October 17, 2014
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We are in the midst of October, which happens to be Attachment Parenting Month,  and I am wondering what this year’s theme — “Cherishing Parents, Flourishing Children” — means to me? As I sit with this question, I am reminded of the many times lately that I have found myself in conversations about how people […]

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Babywearing: The next generation

October 16, 2014
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Aug. 26, 2008, but it contains a sweet reminder for parents expecting a new baby and may be wondering how that will affect their older child. There is something so sweet about watching our older children mimic our parenting approach with their younger siblings. When our second […]

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