It takes a village.

Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, she is right about this. It does take a village to raise a child. I think a large flaw in today’s society is the fact that we don’t raise children this way. Parents are largely left on their own to sink or swim, making life harder for them and their children and by extension, the whole society.

Many of us, me included, are fortunate to have helpful families and/or friends but some are not. And even us fortunate ones struggle to ask for or accept help, even if we know people who are willing to give it. I wish we could get to a point in society where we don’t have to ask for help. Where the village mentality is a given. You just jump in and do for each other what needs doing.

To get to that point, we of course need to let go of selfish tendancies and be willing to GIVE what others need. But even harder than that is to let go of pride and be willing to ACCEPT what we need.

This weekend, my two college roommates spend 24 hours with us. Us girls spent the day chatting while Mark went out to buy a mattress for Grace (she gave hers up to Connor when he got a new bed). Then Mark and I went on a date (Cork’s Irish Pub in St. Paul and candlelight skiing at Lebanon Hills in Eagan) while the girls, along with my sister, babysat. And as if that wasn’t wonderful enough, Gillian did laundry, helped Grace clean her room, washed the kitchen floor and some mirrors and windows. Mandy held the baby. It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it. 😉

Alison and a freshly bathed Ellie

On Sunday, my best friend from high school came over with her husband and three kids to visit, eat pizza and watch half the Superbowl. After we ate, she cleared the table, opened our dishwasher and started loading it, yelled at Mark when he got up to try to help, then handwashed what can’t go in the dishwasher. Her husband joked that she should save some of that ambition for their own house. Later, she gave Ellie a bath and lotioned her up.

I had no problem accepting help from these three as they are practically family to me. I also have no problem accepting help from my parents and sister and a close friend who makes a point to see me every week. But it is sometimes hard to ask for the help. I hate that I’m unable to fix anything in our house or cars and have to always be asking my dad for help. I know he’s glad to help (provided I thank him enough) but it’s still hard to ask.

Even harder is asking for help from people I don’t know as well. But as the kids get older and involved in more things, I think I’m going to need to learn to do this. Grace has a classmate whose mom has been very helpful to me since Ellie’s birth. She takes Grace to school or picks her up from school once a week. She babysat all three kids for a morning last week. I would love for her to take Grace to and from school every day but I feel that I can’t ask her to because I can’t reciprocate. She has two kids at Grace’s school and I can’t fit both of them in my car so giving rides to/from school is out. I could offer to babysit so she can run errands, etc., during the day but I doubt she needs that as she is already alone 5 hours a week during preschool.

I know it wasn’t long ago that she was in my place, with a baby and two older children and that she probably needed the help. And it won’t be terribly long before my kids are all in school and I’ll be able to offer help to someone. There is a season for everything and I guess I just need to accept that this is my season to accept help and (with some courage from Above) ask for it.


Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Love and partners!

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we’re writing about how a co-parent has or has not supported us in our dedication to natural parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


We’ve been doing a lot of things differently with the third baby. I don’t know if it’s because I am home full time or because I’m more confident in my parenting skills or because I know more about Natural Parenting now than I did five, or even three, years ago. Probably a combination of these, plus my new dedication to putting my kids before all else.

At first, my husband was skeptical of some of the “new” approaches (which are in actuality very old). But I wasn’t giving in and insisted we at least try cloth diapers, bedsharing and (for the older two) the Time-In method. Once he saw how easy and effective they all were, he was sold.

He was most skeptical about the diapers. But I was no more interested in folding and pinning than he was, so I forked out the big bucks for one-size all-in-ones. These things are awesome. Not only are they just like disposables as far as ease of use, but they grow with the baby. Serieses of snaps make them adjust to fit teeny weenies like our Ellie all the way through potty-trainers. I haven’t tried using them on Connor because we just don’t have enough of them for it to be worth it but, in theory, I could. Ellie even wears them at night with no leakage. Once Mark saw how easy this was — that they weren‘t “George of the Jungle loincloths — he made no complaint about using them. He says he’s still questions whether all the water used to wash them makes them less green and economical. I’ve told him it is, but he’s not quite sold. As long as he uses them, I don’t really care if he is.

One-size cloth diapers

I decided to have Ellie in our bed after reading an issue of Mothering that was devoted almost solely to bedsharing and co-sleeping. The arguments for it made sense to me. After our bedtime issues with Grace, the one I was most interested in was that bedsharing makes sleep/bed more appealing to babies so it’s not a scary thing/place and once it’s time to sleep alone, they’ll do so without fuss. It took Mark a few weeks to adjust to it. He said he couldn’t sleep well because he was worried about rolling over onto her and because her grunts and rooting noises woke him up. I just asked him what he thinks of it now after two months of part-time bedsharing, funny enough, he says it allows him to sleep MORE because if she cries, it takes me only seconds to calm her. He still is a bit nervous about harm somehow coming to her, especially because he doesn’t always know when she’s in our bed because she often starts the night in her bassinet and comes to bed at the first feeding.

He wasn’t skeptical about the Time-In method so much as he wasn’t sure we’d stick to it. But we’ve really made an effort to do so. We both find times that it just doesn’t work and the kids are defiant and we do need to use a time-out. But I’ve see many times were Mark starts saying something and then amends it to conform to the Act/Ask/Attend/Amend tools.

On a side note, while talking to Mark about this blog post, he said that these days, I treat him as a co-parent and less as another dependent. I’m not sure what to make of that. Maybe he has just finally grown up. *wink*

If you want to know more about what Natural Parenting entails, check out the explanation at the bottom of this post. If you have questions about our thoughts on any other Natural Parenting principles/practices, feel free to ask in the comments or by e-mail to


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated Feb. 9 with all the carnival links, and all links should be active by noon EST. Go to Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama for the most recently updated list.)

I finished reading Time-In: When Time-Out Doesn’t Work, and I want to share what I found to be the important points for our family.

Here is the premise: “Time-In is a practical process that teaches children how to be competent, to think, and to succeed. It uses four tools, Ask, Act, Attend, and Amend, which fit together like interchangeable puzzle pieces. Time-In addresses discipline and misbehavior while strengthening the connection the child has with the parent or teacher.” The four basic steps are:

  1. Stop the unwanted behavior
  2. Ask yourself, “What does the child need to learn about this?”
  3. Use one or more of the four tools (Ask, Act, Attend, and Amen) to help them learn the appropriate lesson
  4. Notice the tools the child responds most to and continue using them, rather than using the tools you would respond to

The Ask piece was the most interesting to me. It tells us to ask a child about their behavior rather than telling them that what they did was good/bad/rude/whathaveyou. For example, tonight Grace took her dress off in the living room and left it on the floor. Before, I might have said “Grace, don’t leave your dress on the floor” or “Please put your dress in the hamper” and I may or may not have gotten any reaction. (Or if it was a bad day, I might have said “I’m sick of you guys leaving your stuff all over the place.”) Tonight I said, “Grace, what is this?” and pointed to it. She opened her mouth in that light-bulb-goes-on expression and picked it up and put it in the hamper. I took it a step further, saying “Where were you supposed to take it off?” She said “ohhh, riiight, in my room.”

It also says to ask about positive behavior, like “do you know why I like when you eat your vegetables?” and let them think about it and have a discussion about why that is a good thing, rather than just saying “I’m glad you ate all your vegetables.”

The next one was only a small point in the book but it’s something I’ve been conscious of and working on for awhile: Not adding “okay” to the end of statements, thereby asking a child’s permission when giving instructions or responding to requests. For example, say “I’ll get your milk in a minute. Please wait.” instead of “I’ll get your milk in a minute, okay?”

Another language point teaches delayed gratification and avoids negativity: Use words like “if/when/after” instead of “not now” if the child asks for something they can’t have/do until a later time.

Another small point that hit me was an example in which the kids had too many rules and were unable to keep track of them all. So we are going to create a list of maybe five rules to focus on and post them on the wall. Grace and I brainstormed today and she came up with lots of good ones. Too many! Once we narrow it down, I’ll post what we settle on.

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutions!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month we’re writing about how we want to parent differently — or the same — in the New Year. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

A new baby.
A new year.
A new dedication to my children.

I’m not setting any resolutions this year, but I plan to make a more conscience effort to put my children first, to set aside or put off what I want to do when they need or want me. That doesn’t mean I am going to neglect myself, but I will spend my “me time” when the kids are sleeping or occupying themselves in another room, not when they are trying to get my attention.

I’ve spent too long trying to do too many things at once. I might be browsing through blogs, nursing the baby and spelling a word for Grace, all while thinking about what we can have for lunch. I want to focus my attention fully on the task at hand, with the kid-related tasks getting priority.

I plan to spend more time reading, playing games, doing puzzles, answering questions fully, snuggling, singing, dancing, tucking in and being silly.

And I want to be more consistent with our rules. It’s too easy now for the kids to convince me to let them do something “just this one time” because I’m too busy with something else to physically enforce a “no” answer or my mind is too occupied with something else to even realize what I’m saying “yes” or “no” to.

I’m hoping that these two things — spending more productive time with the kids and being more consistent — will reduce the need for discipline, especially with Connor. But I’m also reading “Time In: When Time-Out Doesn’t Work,” which advocates an approach intended to teach children what behaviors are appropriate and why, rather than punishing them for “bad” behavior.

** Update: Here is a post that does a great job explaining what I strive for in discipline. And here is my take on “Time In: When Time-Out Doesn’t Work.”


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(All the links should be active by noon on Jan. 12. Go to Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama for the most recently updated list.)

• To Yell or Not to YellThe Adventures of Lactating Girl
• It Is All About Empathy: Nurturing a Toddler’s Compassion PotentialBaby Dust Diaries
• To my babies: this year…BluebirdMama
• Mindfully Loving My ChildrenBreastfeeding Moms Unite!
• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: ResolutionsCode Name: Mama
• Imperfect MotherConsider Eden
• ResolutionsCraphead (aka Mommy)
• FC Mom’s Parenting Resolutions 2010FC Mom
• What’s in a Resolution?Happy Mothering
• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutionsHobo Mama
• Natural Parenting ResolutionsLittle Green Blog
• This year, I will mostly…Look Left of the Pleiades
• Parenting ResolutionsThe Mahogany Way
• I Resolve to Breastfeed In Public More Oftenmama2mama tips
• Moving to Two KidsMegna the Destroyer
• Use LoveMomopoly
• My parenting resolutionsMusings of a Milk Maker
• Talkin’ ’bout My ResolutionsNavelgazing
• Parenting ResolutionsOne Starry Night
• Invitations, not resolutionsRaising My Boychick
• No more multitasking during kid timeThe Recovering Procrastinator
• I need to slow down, smell those roses AND the poopy diapersTales of a Kitchen Witch Momma
• Resolutely Parenting in 2010This Is Worthwhile