Developmental leaps and cranky toddlers

We’ve all heard of the “terrible twos” but what we hear about less commonly are the ten developmental leaps that precede the massive developmental changes that happen at age two.
There is a book out there called the wonder weeks that talks all about these leaps. It’s such a great read I would really recommend the book, but if you’re not ready to make the purchase you should definitely sign up for free weekly emails from the wonder weeks website.

So what are these ten developmental leaps, and why do they make a difference in parenting? As I said before, there are ten leaps that take place between birth and twenty months of age. They all come roughly around the ages of 5,8,12,19,26,37,46,55,65, and 75 weeks of age. As you can see they start out really close and gradually space apart. The leaps in the beginning are small and don’t last long, maybe a few days.
The leaps towards the end are bigger and can last a few weeks.

Most of Laila’s leaps were almost unnoticeable until she hit about 8 months (Laila hits most of her leaps early but all children will vary as far as having leaps earlier or later).
Suddenly Laila wanted to nurse all the time, she was extra fussy, she hardly slept, and she barely let me put her down. I just couldn’t figure out what was going on with her and I was really ready to tear my hair out. Nothing seemed to soothe her!

I was desperately seeking out some advice when another mother told me it sounded like Laila was going through a developmental leap. “A developmental what?” I asked her. She then explained to me that a developmental leap is like a mental growth spurt. The child is going through huge changes and this causes some different behavior. The biggest thing to understand is that a leap will cause the three Cs, clinginess, crankiness, and crying. In addition to the the three Cs there are other behaviors, such as disrupted sleep, decreased appetite, thumb sucking, throwing themselves on the ground etc. that will come with different leaps.

The wonder weeks explains exactly what new skills your child is acquiring and how you can cope with them and make the leap go a lot smoother. It’s such a help to know that, “this too shall pass” and be able to recognize all of the new things your child is learning.

I was beyond frustrated with Laila and myself before I understood the leaps that she was going through. Now I know how to guide her through them and that she’s not freaking out due to being sick (during one leap I was convinced she had an ear infection or was in some kind if pain that I just couldn’t recognize) or due to me just being a faulty parent.

I equate her developmental leaps to the awkwardness that is middle school for every teenager. Remember being too old and too young at the same time? Wanting to be “cool” but not really knowing what that was? The growth spurts that came in the middle of the year. The crazy appetite and all the hormones? Nobody likes “the awkward stage”, and everybody needs a parent who can be patient and understanding with them as they inevitably go through it.

Our babies go through so many mini stages like this, and we owe it to them to learn the best ways we can help them navigate.

Laila is currently in the last of the ten leaps, and praise God! Being pregnant and hormonal has not helped me in being a patient mama. I’ve had more days of losing my cool and feeling overwhelmingly guilty than I care to admit. This leap has lasted about three weeks so far. I have had to pray for patience and self control over and over.

What I have found works best for me, is to understand that she’s not herself and lower my (probably too high) expectations a little. When she can’t sleep, I scratch her back and tell her stories. When she throws herself on the ground, I pick her up and remind her that it’s going to be ok. When she is clingy with me, I stay with her and assure her that I’m always happy to be with her when she needs me. When she’s cranky with me, I often lose my temper, but then I remember I’m the mom so it’s my job to apologize and model to her how to control frustration.

Raising kids is hard, there are so many emotional roller coasters. Luckily there’s so much good stuff out there in the world of child psychology to help us understand our kids better and find ways to guide them through all the emotional ups and downs and stages of learning they have ahead of them.

When parents throw the first stone

I was looking through my Facebook newsfeed the other day when I saw a six minute video that completely broke my heart. I couldn’t even watch one minute of it. There’s been several videos going around like this actually, and each one is just as sad as the next.

This particular video was of a man beating his wife. She had posted a suggestive photo of herself to Facebook. His response was to beat her entire body with a belt repeatedly while screaming at her. She cried out and helplessly tried to defend herself. This went on for six minutes, and then the man proudly posted the proof of his power over her for all of the internet to see. Several people commented that he did the right thing, she had it coming for posting a photo like that, that ought to teach her! I even saw other wives commenting that their husbands had done the same to them so they’d learn to respect them and they were grateful!

What did you think when you read that story? Were you appalled at such a blatant and arrogant show of abuse? Did your heart break for the pain and humiliation that woman endured? Did it break again when you imagined how many scenarios like this had already played out in her home? Were you furious that other people were rallying around this man in support? You probably wanted to go to her and tell her that her husband was not showing her true love, because no real man would beat his wife in an effort to control her.

Now let me tell you the real story. Replace wife with daughter, and husband with mother. Oh. That changes things. It’s not abuse anymore, it’s just like the title of the video said, “how island moms do it”. That battered wife, just became an out of control, promiscuous teenager. The abusive husband who was so eager to beat and shame his wife, well he just became a tough love mom teaching her daughter how to behave. Those people who encouraged the abuse, well they’re just encouraging “discipline” and parental rights.

Why are children deserving of beatings and public shame, but if it was anyone else, it would be abuse and there would be talk of jail time.

When I saw this video I was hurting not just for the daughter, but for the mother too. You see, when I hear a girl is posting inappropriate pictures of herself on Facebook, I don’t think that she’s a slut. I certainly don’t think that she deserves to be publicly shamed and humiliated. I see a hurting woman who wants attention. A woman who believes that only her body could attract a man, instead of what is in her heart. What I see is a woman who needs to learn how to love and respect herself. You cannot beat self love and respect into a woman. The only thing you can beat into anyone is fear and submission.

I hurt for the mother because she doesn’t know what else to do. When we lose our tempers to the point of striking our children, we are out of control. As a parent, being out of control is a very scary thing. Although I think what the mother did in the video is monstrous, I don’t see a monster. I see a woman who is stressed out, afraid for her daughter, and doesn’t know any better. In fact, I’m sure her mother was the same way. Abuse begets abuse.

The hard thing about abuse, is it’s complicated. It will never be black and white. Abuse hurts everyone involved.

When I saw the video I immediately thought of John 8. For those that don’t know, the story is that the Pharisees brought out a woman who had been caught in adultery. Under the law she was to be stoned. The Pharisees asked Jesus what he had to say about this. Instead of answering them, he bent down on the ground and wrote something in the dirt. When he was finished he stood up and said, “he who is without sin throw the first stone.” Everyone put down their stones. Jesus told the woman that he did not condemn her, and to go and sin no more.

Isn’t grace a beautiful thing? As much as we like to bring judgement on others, we are all equally guilty. Yet, we all receive grace.

In mainstream parenting, and ironically I tend to hear this message even more in most Christian parenting, punishment and consistent consequences are always taught as being of the utmost importance. Respect is confused with fear. Children are never to be given a second chance, and unfortunately all of the punishment that is so strongly encouraged, is shame based.

In the beginning of my parenting journey I spent many nights crying over these condemning messages and praying for wisdom in how I was going to raise my daughter. Sometimes I even wondered if I could raise her in the church. I had only recently come to understand Christ, and what grace truly meant. I couldn’t imagine Jesus treating a child that way, and although I had felt the condemnation of many Christians, I had never felt condemnation from Jesus. The more I sought out the gospel, the more I saw that there is another way to raise children.

Punishment is the law, but Christ came to fulfill the law! So why would we continue to live under the law when Jesus sacrificed himself to set us free. Parents, we are free from condemning! Children, you are free from condemnation.

When we as parents are teaching our children about God, we need to know that we are our children’s first example of God. Each day is a new day to pray for grace, for ourselves, and for our children, and to let God lead us in our decisions.

Parenting isn’t easy, it requires us to give, to give again and again until we have no more and we have to ask God for even more grace, strength, and understanding. There will be days that it will be so tempting, it will even feel right and justified to punish and humiliate our children, but Christ never taught a lesson through punishment, he taught his lessons through love and relationships. This is what we have to remember.

Breastfeeding a Newborn

It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that in just a few short months I will be curled up in bed breastfeeding a sweet little new born girl. I’m so excited to see how things turn out this time because I have so much more knowledge and and over a year of experience under my belt.

There is so much info on breastfeeding out there. For women attempting to breastfeed for the first time, it can be really difficult to sort through the good advice, and the totally unrealistic, where do people come up with this stuff advice.

I remember reading some pamphlets on breastfeeding a few weeks before my daughter arrived that had me feeling really confident. The very first sentence said that when a woman is nursing correctly, it should be painless. “Alright! All those women complaining about the pain of breastfeeding in the first few weeks just didn’t know what they were doing!” Of course I would be a natural from the start. Not quite.

When you nurse your child for the first time it’s all rainbows and butterflies and oxytocin right? Well kinda. While it was probably one of the most beautiful and bonding moments of my life when I nursed Laila for the first time, it was also a little uncomfortable. My thoughts went like this, “oh she’s beautiful! She has my green eyes! Oh she’s hungry, she wants to nurse! *insert boob* wow! She took it perfect, look at our instincts! *begins nursing* THIS. BABY. HAS. TEETH!”

The nurse said that Laila had a perfect latch and I had her correctly positioned, so why was it uncomfortable that first time? While bleeding and cracked nipples aren’t the norm, nursing for the first few weeks is always going to be a little uncomfortable. Babies have an incredibly strong sucking reflex, it takes time for your milk to come in (usually a few days) and you have to be patient with yourself and baby. While the baby getting a correct latch is important, positioning the baby correctly and putting your breast in their mouth at the right time is equally important. Additionally, you’re going to have uterine contractions in the beginning to bring your uterus back to size. Not painful- just uncomfortable.

Most hospitals offer lactation consultants. Mine didn’t come to see me for three days. By that time I was a bloody, hysterical mess, determined to breastfeed but hating every second of it, and hating myself for hating it. Poor Eder, he really had a crazy woman on his hands those first few weeks. Lucky me, I have an incredibly supportive husband. When we realized the hospital staff just wasn’t going to be of any help, he looked up YouTube video after YouTube video and basically taught me how to breastfeed. So my advice is, if your caretakers can help, awesome! If not, let your partner step in because not only can they sometimes do a better job, it’s a great bonding experience between the mother and father. There’s nothing like help from your partner when you need it the most!

I’ve heard some mothers worry that when they breastfeed their babies, dad will feel left out. It definitely doesn’t have to be that way. Co sleeping, changing diapers, dressing the baby, holding the baby are all things that create a strong bond. In our family Laila is a huge daddy’s girl, but because of breastfeeding she and I have a very deep bond and it’s different from her relationship with anyone else. It’s something that can’t be described, it just has to be experienced, but it’s beautiful.

When I got home from the hospital with Laila I was in so much pain- I HATED breastfeeding. So I gave up. I have her one of those formula samples, crying my eyes out because I had wanted to breastfeed so badly. Supplementing is a very bad idea I think, but in my case it actually saved breastfeeding for Laila and I. Against the advice of my hospital nurses I started pumping. I pumped all of my milk and supplemented with one bottle of formula each night until my nipples were healed enough for me to transition into full time breastfeeding.

Pumping worked so great for me, I really would recommend it to any mother having issues with breastfeeding. It gives baby Breastmilk and allows moms boobs to rest and heal. But there are risks with pumping. First of all it’s work, seriously hard work. When I pumped I had nothing but the cheapo manual pump and a hungry baby. I’m assuming an electric or hospital grade pump gets way more milk, so if I have to pump this time around I’ll be getting an electric pump. With my manual pump I pumped about 45 minutes between every feeding session. Over three months I was able to get less and less milk out. A breast pump will never get out as much milk as your baby will. Lots of moms think they have a low supply because they aren’t pumping that much milk. A pump can never indicate your true supply. Not only that, but because Breastmilk is considered a living organism it reacts with the baby’s saliva and changes from feeding to feeding. While your baby will still get great nutrition from expressed milk, it’s not quite the same. ( http://nativemothering.com/2012/04/are-there-differences-between-breastfeeding-directly-and-bottle-feeding-expressed-milk/ )it’s also very difficult to get all of the nutrient rich hind milk while pumping.
Another downfall of exclusive pumping is it can easily force a feeding schedule, simply because it can be really difficult to pump enough milk when baby is feeding more frequently. Babies should not be on feeding schedules! Ever! They need to cluster feed.

Cluster feeding is really important for building up the milk supply. When a mother puts her child on a strict feeding schedule it can reduce the supply, as well as the milks fat content, causing the baby to want to feed even more frequently because they aren’t satisfied. ( https://www.llli.org/faq/frequency.html )

Ignoring scheduled feeding doesn’t just apply to daytime, it’s very important that babies feed at night as well. I hear parents getting excited that their tiny little babies are sleeping through the night. This is not a good thing! I repeat, not a good thing no matter how tired you are! Babies need to nurse throughout the nigh. Night waking is completely normal and not something that needs to be fixed. ( http://youtu.be/5Ae4K7l2W1I) Because Breastmilk changes in composition, at night it releases melatonin to help baby sleep. There are even studies that show babies who nurse at night have higher IQs because night time milk has so many more nutrients. Your baby needs that milk!

The best thing is that nursing at night is so easy! If you co sleep you will not lose much sleep at all! Studies consistently show that nursing co sleeping mothers get the most rest. Seriously, it goes like this, boob in mouth close your eyes and mom and baby are asleep again. That simple. Nature has everything perfectly designed, and life is a lot easier when we follow nature.

Breastfeeding isn’t just about about feeding though. Like I said earlier, breastfeeding is a huge bonding experience. There are times Laila falls down or gets her feelings hurt and the first thing she wants to do is nurse while mommy holds her close and rubs her back.

There are just so many amazing things about breastfeeding, I could literally talk about it all day- but I think this about covers the basics for now. We’ll see how things turn out when baby Sabrina gets here!

Gently teaching children to eat healthy- Part II

So in my last post I briefly discussed why we shouldn’t force our children to eat. I’d like to elaborate on that a little today, as well as mention some things that have worked really well in my own home – and the homes of some other gentle mamas I spoke to- to get my daughter to eat well on her own.

Several months ago I was speaking with a children’s nutritionist and she told me one of the first things she tells parents is to never force their children to eat. Why? Because forcing children to eat teaches them to ignore their hunger cues. The whole “clean your plate” philosophy teaches kids from a very young age that a full plate, not the amount of food the body actually requires to no longer feel hungry, is how much a person should consume at each mealtime. Teaching children to ignore hunger cues can lead to boredom eating later in life causing a lot of unnecessary, and unhealthy, weight gain.

I once read an article about the difference in obesity in the U.S. versus in Europe. The first paragraph of the article stated that in America we serve giant portion sizes and tend to eat the entire portion, no matter how full we feel, while Europeans eat until they are no longer hungry- not full. The goal of feeding my daughter is not to pack her full of food, but to give her body the essential amount of nutrients that it needs. I cannot feel how full or hungry Laila is, only she can do that. Only Laila knows the appropriate portion sizes when she’s hungry. Though still developing, toddlers do have instincts. They know exactly how hungry they are and they aren’t going to let themselves starve to death.

Many times Laila doesn’t eat anything at dinner time, but will ask for food an hour later. This isn’t a cause to say, “Well, you didn’t eat at dinner so go to bed hungry.” That’s completely insensitive. Instead I put her plate in the fridge and she can have it heated up later, no problem. If she doesn’t like what I cooked, she can have one of several healthy, simple alternatives, like a whole wheat peanut butter banana sandwich or scrambled eggs.  If she doesn’t want to sit at the table with us, then she can go play. I want Laila to spend time with her father and I because she chooses to. There is no healthy, thriving marriage where one spouse is forced to be with the other. It’s the same with kids.

Children’s appetites are also a great communicator to parents. If Laila is suddenly asking for more food than usual, then I know she’s probably having a growth spurt and needs the extra nutrition. In a growth spurt, I know to feed her a little differently and provide extra protein. If Laila is rejecting food then it could be that she isn’t feeling well. Then I know to feed her lighter foods, like chicken broth. If I were to put Laila on a very strict schedule for snacks and mealtimes, and make her eat the full portion each time, I would miss those signs. There are so many better ways to teach a child healthy eating habits that still respect their need for bodily autonomy.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding are great times to introduce a wide variety of flavors to your child. During pregnancy a baby can taste what it’s mother is eating through the amniotic fluid, then later in the breastmilk. Several studies have shown that babies prefer foods that were eaten frequently by their mothers during pregnancy. So start eating healthy then!

As children get older, setting them up for success with their eating choices is very important. I always Keep our house stocked with snacks so Laila can eat whenever she asks. I keep junk food and juices to a minimum and instead stock up on cheerios, raisins, fruit (fresh and dried), yogurts, nuts, chopped up veggies, cheese etc. Laila can eat as often as she wants and I don’t worry about her filling up on sugar and missing out on a healthy meal.

While I do allow Laila to eat junk food (I let her have junk food whenever I do because I don’t believe parents should have special privileges over children.) I never use it as a reward or a punishment. When we use foods as rewards or punishment we’re communicating to our children that junk food is preferable to other types of food. Not only that, but if we withhold something from a child, they typically will want it that much more. In our home, food is just food. I can easily give Laila dessert before or after dinner and she will equally enjoy both.

Through allowing Laila to follow her own hunger cues, and choose her own foods, she is learning to create healthy eating habits for herself. I will not always be by her side, able to dictate what is  healthy, what she should eat, or when she should eat. Using force teaches children to make choices for others, and not themselves. I am much more proud of my daughter knowing that she is a healthy eater now, because she chooses to be.

Gently teaching children to eat healthy – Part I

I’m not a very picky eater, but there are several foods that I just can’t stand. Other times I just don’t feel like eating. I’m very erratic with my eating habits, I always have been. Some days I barely eat and the next few days I’m a bottomless pit. I’m sure I’m not the only adult who has these kinds of eating habits, and guess what? I’m actually a very healthy person. There are lots of toddlers out there who have similar eating habits.

So what is the difference between me and these toddlers? No one forces to me to eat when they think I should eat. I’m free to follow my own body’s hunger cues. I see lots of parents shoving spoonfuls of food into their squealing toddlers mouths, or telling their older children that they can’t leave the table until their plate is clean. I also hear “I’m not a short order cook, I made it so you eat it!”

Whenever I see that I feel so sad for those kids! If my husband made chicken and beans for dinner – two foods I hate- then sat me down to the table and either force fed me, or told me I couldn’t leave the kitchen until I had eaten it all, not only would I be angry with him, but I would realize that he didn’t care what I liked to eat, and that he didn’t want to take the extra time to prepare something for me. Why is it any different for a child? One of the best tips I was given before getting married came to me from my best friend’s mother. She said, “I hear so many women complaining that they have to cook for their families. If you have this attitude you will always hate cooking. But, if you cook for your family as a way to show them your love and do something to make them happy, you will love to cook.” Acts 20:35 says, “. . . It is better to give than to receive.” How much more fun would dinner time be if each member of the family sat down and enjoyed not only their time together, but their meal together? It’s better for me to give my time for my family preparing a meal, than to receive more time for myself. When we force feed our children we’re falling into maintenance instead of following the golden rule.

            A few weeks ago I made dinner, and Laila, who usually eats everything in sight, refused every bite that I offered her. The foods I had made that night were all foods that she really enjoys, so Eder decided to just force feed her one bite. He thought that if she just ate the one bite, she’d eat the rest. The food didn’t even make it past her teeth before she was gagging and crying. I told Eder to let her down and when she was hungry, she’d tell us. I fully expected her to run off and play with her toys while we ate. Instead she walked over to my plate and picked up a green bean. Haha Eder! Gentle parenting works! She just wanted to feed herself! To my surprise, she put the green bean in my mouth! She fed me one green bean after the other, then potatoes, and then little bites of fish. Once the larger portion of the plate was gone, she fed herself the rest.

I was so touched by this little act of kindness. Laila had seen me taking care of her, and this time she wanted to take care of me! Had Eder and I force-fed her our entire dinner time would have been a power struggle. When we decided to trust our daughter’s instincts, we were rewarded with seeing her make a positive -and completely precious- choice for herself. Years from now I will always remember my sweet sixteen month old finger feeding her exhausted, pregnant mama.

In my next post, I want to discuss a few more reasons why we shouldn’t force our children to eat, as well as the many ways that we can teach them healthy eating habits for themselves.

Parenting by the Golden Rule.

“Most Parenting out there puts parents in a very narcissistic role. The focus is on meeting the parent’s needs only. The parent’s need for uninterrupted sleep, for compliance and obedience. If children learn what they live, this speaks volumes as to why so many in our culture are so self-focused. A culture of peace and respect starts with living in partnership with our children.” – Dayna Martin.

When I decided that I wanted to start this blog, I spent a few days searching my mind for a name that would sum up what I wanted this blog to be about. I’m not very creative, and finally I gave up on a catchy name and settled on GRmama, “GR” being abbreviations for golden rule.

When I was little, my mom wrote the golden rule on a piece of paper and stuck it to the refrigerator. Every time I went into the kitchen I read it to myself, “Treat others how you would want to be treated” Seeing my mother’s example growing up, and hearing those words so many times caused them to sink so deeply into my heart. I always knew I wanted to be just like my mother and practice the golden rule with my own children.

Unfortunately, the golden rule isn’t mentioned very often in mainstream parenting sources. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard even one of these mainstream sources quote it. The message that I have heard over and over in mainstream parenting sources is that children are an inconvenience, that they are to obey immediately, and that they require lots of maintenance. What these sources should be telling parents is that children are a gift, that they have much to learn from their parents, and a relationship with our children, the same as a relationship with anyone else, requires lots of effort, but the rewards will be more than worth it. So if parenting is not a set formula, but a relationship with our children, how vital is it to use the golden rule every day? What healthy relationship can survive without the golden rule?

When my first daughter was born, I didn’t know a thing about parenting. During my pregnancy, I was so connected to her. I excitedly put my hand on my tummy and rubbed her every time I felt a little kick. At night her father and I would rub lotion all over my stomach and talk to her. We dreamed of holding her and watching her grow. It was bliss, just waiting for our perfect little baby girl to arrive.

I’ll never forget the first time I held Laila and we looked into each other’s eyes and we knew each other. In those first few moments I had not yet been bombarded with modern day parenting, I just had my instincts. I knew my baby was hungry, so I breastfed her and held her close, and that was all we needed. I nestled her against me and marveled at her tiny little fingers holding mine as the nurses wheeled me back to my room. The minute I was situated in my hospital bed Laila was taken to the nursery so I could rest.

There was no thought as to the fact that Laila had only been in this world for less than an hour and that she might want to be with her mommy, or that her mother might want to be with her. She was viewed as some thing that would further exhaust me, not as some one who would delight me, some one who was apart of me and needed to be with me. I didn’t feel right not being with her for her first night in the world, but I was too exhausted to protest. Besides, didn’t everybody send their babies to the nursery just after having them? When Laila was finally brought back to us, breastfeeding wasn’t as effortless and natural as it had been, it was awkward, we had missed bonding time together. When we got home, Laila slept in our bed with us. Our pediatrician told us “we would learn with the next child” because once children start sleeping with their parents, they keep them awake all night and never leave. Then came the advice to let her lay alone in a separate room and let her cry until she fell asleep because she was “spoiled” for begging for my attention. If she always wanted me to hold her, how would I get anything done, or have time for myself? I was told how important it was to put her on a schedule, instead of following her needs whenever they came.

I took all of this advice seriously, even though none of it felt right, I didn’t have any other advice to take. I felt like I was locked in a constant battle with my child to make her eat at the right times, sleep alone at the right times, and it wasn’t going smoothly at all. I cried because I knew I was making her cry. I told my husband that I couldn’t do it. I felt like the worst failure and I wished to be pregnant again, when everything was easier and I had been so connected to my little baby.

There are so many parenting practices, like the one I mentioned above, that are based on convenience for the parent. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says, “If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever.” As a parent you can follow every “rule” when it comes to raising children, but if it’s only about the rule and there is no thought as to your child’s feelings and whether these rules are truly for the benefit of the child or are only out of convenience for the parent – then the rules are worthless! Everything that we do with children has to be done with love, and with the the golden rule in mind. I began to search the Bible more deeply for answers. I realized that there was a very different way of doing things. God never leaves us, He never ignores us, He never views us as an inconvenience. Finally I found out about things like attachment parenting and gentle discipline, styles of parenting that catered to the child and not the parent. All of these styles of parenting were basically saying the golden rule over and over. Treat your child how you would want to be treated.

I went back to breastfeeding and fed my baby every time she asked, whether she was hungry or just wanted to be close to her mother. Because when I am hungry, I don’t want to be told to wait. Because when I want my husband’s attention, or he wants mine, we don’t ignore each other because it isn’t convenient, or “on the schedule”. If she didn’t want to nap, I respected that she wasn’t tired and played with her until she was tired. Because when I am not tired I don’t want to be left alone in a room for hours. When it was bed time, I let Laila sleep between me and her father, and each morning I was rewarded with cuddles and smiles. Now that she is older I wake up to “mama” and a kiss every morning. If I lose a little space in my bed, or a few hours of sleep, it’s well worth it. I will always cherish our mornings together.

When I threw all of the parenting “rules” out the window, my daughter was no longer some one I had to manage. I went by the golden rule and treated her exactly how I would have wanted to be treated. Our relationship completely changed, the way I viewed children and parenting completely changed. I decided to write this blog because I want to tell other mothers, who were like me, that there is no formula for parenting, parenting is a relationship built on love, trust, and respect. I want to talk about all the ways mothers can bond with their children, things like, co sleeping, baby wearing, breastfeeding, and positive parenting.