Q&A for Parenting Advice
Q: If you had one bit of advice for a 20-year-old girl with a passion for health and nutrition who is in the last weeks of Dr. Sears’ Wellness Institute health coach training, what would you tell her?
A: Find a way to share your passion that feels true and unique to you. Take all the tools you learned and sprinkle on your personal touch. Share your sorry unapologetically no matter what challenges arise.
Q: How can I gently encourage my 2-year-old to stop feeding all through the night (comfort feeding) so I can get some more quality sleep?
A: Night weaning. You will know when it is time to make a change in your breastfeeding. “Don’t offer, don’t refuse” has been the rule of thumb for most weaning situations, and it can work for night weaning. “Don’t refuse” doesn’t have to mean you can’t say no. Your need to get quality sleep is important and it is OK to listen to it, and another rule for parenting we have is “If you resent it, change it”. It is okay to put limits on your two year old’s night nursing. Say something to your child like, “We only nurse when the sun comes up.” If he or she is a young two, this could be more than you both are ready for, but give it some thought. If your child is comfort nursing all night just because you are sleeping close together, you could also try putting some distance between the two of you, such as using a separate sleep surface so he or she is not right next to Mom’s All-Night Diner. “Don’t offer” could mean “Don’t make it so handy”.
Q: What can you say about the benefits of breastfeeding to girls as future mothers?
A: Giving a baby your own milk is way more than deciding not to use formula. There is a long list of ways babies are healthier when they are given human milk. Think of it as your milk is your baby’s medicine: every organ and system in your baby’s body is better from having your own milk. And every year new discoveries are being made. Then another way to look at it is: What’s in it for the mother. That is another long list and it gets longer every year, with more discoveries. She recovers faster from giving birth and getting back into shape, her hormones are healthier because lactation is part of a woman’s reproductive cycle, she learns to understand her baby better because there can be a closer bond, breastfeeding is relaxing for the mom and easier with no bottles to wash, she saves money because breast milk is free but you have to buy formula and all the stuff, she has a lower risk of many kinds of cancer and heart disease, her bones are stronger. The “recipe” for human milk simply can’t be matched by any ingredients in factory-made milk. It tastes better; is just the right temperature; has just the right vitamins and minerals; and the right kind of fat, protein and carbs. It is always “on tap”, and so much easier at night. Our book, The Breastfeeding Book, has all of this information, other things too numerous to mention, and even more now in the revised edition coming out in August.
Q: Should I put in place a nap timetable for my 11 week old as he gets older, or follow his cues and have different nap times each day?
Congratulations on your still-pretty-new baby! Planning ahead how you may want to approach have some sort of timetable for naps is useful, but you may find out that you still wind up being pretty flexible. Every baby and every mom is different, of course, so throw the rule book out (if you have one). Some babies are predictable and will fall into a schedule of some sort, and some moms will like that. Other babies are flexible and can go with the flow, and that may fit your lifestyle of having a different plan from day to day. You have probably by now figured out where you both fit in the spectrum of either having a fixed nap schedule (which of course changes as your baby drops one nap and then another one) or a plan that can and needs to change every day. Somewhere between the two you will find what works best for you both. The one nap that seems to need a fixed time frame is the afternoon nap that you and baby hold onto well into his or her third year. And remember, pick one of your younger baby’s nap times for your time to nap, too.
Q: Tips on single parenting two extreme ages/stages… A 17 yr old on his way out and needing more attention than ever and a 7 yr old girl wanting to be heard in the midst!
A: Our daughter, Hayden, is in a similar situation, though not as tricky as yours since her three children are less spread out in age. Her oldest, a girl, is nearly 15, and her youngest, a boy, is 8. Another girl is in the middle, age 11.
Knowing how she is handling this, as a single mom, and having some good insights that I’ve gained from observing, as the grandmother, how she navigates single motherhood, I can offer these suggestions:
- Capitalize on the benefits of having one on one time with each child separately.
- Allow them to verbalize and act out their feelings in a safe place, and validate that it’s okay that they have those hard feelings while at the same time teaching them how to handle them in a healthy way.
- Staying close and connected. This is harder but even more important to your 17-year-old son. Know who his friends are, and their families.
- Connect your kids with another family member or close friend that can also be a source of trust and offer a kind of mentorship to help them feel supported by another source as well.
And it’s also a good idea for you, as the mom, to have your own support so you can have a full tank to give your kids what they need.
Q: I am a stay at home homeschool mom. My kids are 6 and 3 and still very much require my attention. I feel lonely and drained by them at times even though I love them very much. Sometimes I find it difficult to be kind and patient. I don’t want to snap or shame them. What can I do to stop myself from saying something I will regret in ten minutes? Please help me find a better way to give myself the space I need so I can be a better mother to them.
A: Homeschooling, in my experience, works best when there is a good support system for the homeschooling mom. Some moms try do it without that support and they wind up getting burned out. You may already have a homeschooling group that you are part of.
All moms struggle with being kind and patient – just ask my kids! There are resources online for finding help, and I hope you can find a group of like-minded moms to connect with. When I was homeschooling (I only did it for a year here and a year there), my best times came from having help from my husband and from friends. Just in general, a stay-at-home mom and her children need connection and involvement from other adults. I found that kind of support by starting an attachment parenting group in my town and joining a playgroup every week at the park or even having it at my house. You can also find support and ideas on the website for Attachment Parenting, International: www.attachmentparenting.org.