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Gentle Parent

Listed below is a collection of articles from the quarterly BirthingMamas Magazine, sent out to subscribers. The magazine is a collection of articles to inform you of birth and parenting issues.

This section of the website is split into the various topics of the Magazine - Gentle Birth, Gentle Parent, Gentle Earth, the Family Friendly Footnotes and the Competitions. So, browse through each section; remember to sign up to receive your copy of the next issue, and please share it with your friends and family.


Magazine #1: Gentle Parent

 
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resources for new parents

For most of my first pregnancy I devoured every recommended pregnancy book I could get my hands on. I’m one of those people that likes to research and gather as much information as I can - it gives me a sense of security and I like to make informed decisions. I hadn’t a clue what to expect with labour so the reading really helped me. Thankfully, I also did the birth preparation course with Tracy Donegan so I felt quite positive after a rocky start.

Toward the end of my pregnancy though, it hit me that in a few weeks I would be responsible for a newborn baby!!! Having never even held 'one of these’, I did freak out a little (well, actually, A LOT!!!). If you are someone who has grown up with lots of babies around (like my husband and his sisters), this probably isn’t as big a deal - but I tended to avoid them if I could (I was more of a dog person at the time). 

So, as per my pregnancy, I decided to start reading parenting books. I knew I had no idea as to what sort of parent I wanted to be or what I would do with a newborn baby so I was hoping they would also help.

I know a lot of people dismiss parenting books and feel it is better not to read them, and instead rely on their instincts. But I honestly didn’t know if I would have instincts. I definitely didn’t trust that I would suddenly develop them. I was no Earth Mother. OK I knew I had to feed and clothe the baby - but apart from that, what else would I do? I had no vision as to how I could be a parent and so for me reading parenting books helped provide me with some ideas.. 

I began to realise that there are a lot of books out there on the subject. I also received lots of well meaning advice from people. This was pre-Facebook days, so there was a lot of trial and error in the process of finding books and resources. During my searching for resources a Mum gave me a copy of a lovely book that really resonated with me (Do Not Disturb - since gone out of print), and that started me off on my Gentle Parent journey. 

While I was pregnant, I was advised to head to my local breastfeeding support group and so duly attended my La Leche League meeting only to find they had an amazing library of books - not only about breastfeeding, but also about parenting. Utopia! I devoured these books and my idea of how I wanted to parent slowly began to take shape.

The books that spoke to me talked about wearing my baby near me in a sling, about co-sleeping, about following my childs lead and breastfeeding on demand. These resonated with me much more than the few I read that talked about schedules and waking my baby up and then putting them down and giving me lists of things to do. I knew following these routines would run me ragged and stress me out. I also knew I did not want to leave my baby crying for any length of time if I could at all, and I wanted to keep them close. As it turned out I had a baby who did not want me doing anything like CIO (Cry It Out) or leaving her down, so she led the way in how I parented as much as the books did. 

So I followed an attachment parenting philosophy and later a Gentle Parent philosophy. Don’t get me wrong. There are days within my home a stranger would wonder what all the noise is about.

Unfortunately, it is me shouting at my kids - not so gently or calmly; but to be a gentle parent is what I aspire to. There are times I manage to stay calm after my 4 year old floods the bathroom for the third time in the one day, or my daughter is still getting dressed two hours after the initial reminder because she got distracted! I am still learning and working on parenting every day - some new challenges come up, there are still fantastic books I want to read to give me ideas to help me etc etc...so it is definitely a journey. But it is one I am glad I embarked on. And for the most part I do think I am doing OK.

So here are my resources for new parents and for parenting children as they grow. All of them would have a Gentle Parent approach.

Books
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - La Leche League International. More than just a book about breastfeeding. Lots of parenting ideas in here as well. 
BestFeeding: How to Breastfeed Your Baby - Renfrew Fisher and Arms. I loved this book for the pictures and the big print (helped me in the newborn baby brain days.) 
The Baby Book - Dr William Sears. The subtitle says it all really: ‘Everything you need to know about your baby from birth to age two'. Still used as a resource in our house today. 
What Mother’s Do: Especially When it Looks like nothing - Naomi Stadlen I only found this on my second child. Lovely book that I feel many mothers will benefit from.
Baby Calm: A Guide for Calmer Babies and Happier Parents - Sarah Ockwell-Smith Comes highly recommended
The Wonder Weeks - Hetty van de Rijt (I didn’t know about this for either of mine but hear great things about it) 


So you now feel you have parenting sussed and then the children start walking and talking and saying NO! What do you read now....?

Letting Go as Children Grow - Deborah Jackson (this is the update to the ‘Do Not Disturb’ version I have mentioned previously.
Adventures in Gentle Discipline - Hilary Flower. This book gave me some great ideas on how to parent gently such as HALT (is my child hungry, angry, lonely or tired?) when they start acting up and look into meeting those needs or dealing with those emotions first.
Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting - Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn. Mindfulness is something I struggle with, so I really enjoyed reading this beautiful and gentle book by one of of the main proponents of the practice, Jon Kabat-Zinn. I find when I am being mindful I can meet the needs of my children much more effectively, especially when they are out of sorts.
Playful Parenting - Lawrence J Cohen. While not an absolute favourite of mine, I did enjoy it and found some of it helpful - such as the chapter on roughhousing which did get me playing wrestling games with my daughter and now with my son.
Raising Our Children Ourselves - Naomi Aldort. I find some of this book annoying - the author grates on me a bit and is off-putting (in my opinion). However there are some fantastic insights into parenting here which have helped me on my journey such as the SALVE acronym (Separate Self, Attention, Listen, Validate, Empower). 
Unconditional Parenting - Alfie Kohn. Loved this book. Helped topple a lot of ideas I would have had about how I thought I would parent and how children should be brought up! Very thought provoking and challenging for me.
The Myth of the Spoiled Child - Alfie Kohn. I haven’t read this yet but it is on my wish list. 
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Can Talk - Adele Faber. This is on my ‘To Read’ list and is sitting on my locker patiently waiting for me to get around to it. So many people have recommended it so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in at some stage this year.
Siblings without Rivalry - Adele Faber  Another book on my reading list, and I definitely need to get to it this year as most of the tension in our house is caused from the kids arguing.
Moods of Motherhood - Lucy Pearce. One of the most honest books on parenting I have ever read - I often come back to it to remind myself I am not alone in my feelings on the ups and downs of being a mother. 
The Natural Child: parenting from the heart - Jan Hunt. A small book and easy to read. I love her ‘Ten Ways we Misunderstand Children’ and often re-read it to remind myself of how I want to parent.
Raising Your Spirited Child - Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Again a very useful book with lots of practical ideas on how to work with and help your child if they are spirited.
The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them - Elaine Aron. This book - suggested to me by a friend, was a huge eye opener for me and such an enormous help on my parenting journey. Not only in understanding my daughter, but also myself.
The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through The Night - Elizabeth Pantley. I borrowed this book from my LLL Library, but always found myself too tired to even try to implement any of the strategies myself! I have heard others swear by it and I love the gentle approach advocated.

Facebook Resources
Facebook wasn’t really around when I became a parent for the first time - it would have been such a great help...

Extended Breastfeeding in Ireland One of the most populous and busy Irish based breastfeeding support groups on Facebook. Originally set up for those feeding beyond 6 months it has become a great support for anyone having breastfeeding issues. It’s ethos is an attachment parenting one, so no posts asking how do you practise Crying It out (you have been warned). The support on the group has helped many a breastfeeding mama through difficult times and as I always tell the Mums in my workshops - there is usually someone up at 2am in the morning if you are stuck!!!
BreastFeeding Mammies in Cork  (there are also 'BF Mammies in...' groups in almost every county in Ireland so do check to see if your area has a FB page (and if not, sure why not set one up?) 
Back to Work and Breastfeeding Support for mums who are going back to work and want to continue breastfeeding
Ireland - Currently Breastfeeding Beyond 2 This is a group strictly for anyone who is currently feeding a child over the age of 2, or who has walked this path.


BabyWearing

Like the Breastfeeding Mammies groups, there are local babywearing facebook groups all over Ireland. So, ask on the main group if there's one for your area. They will have details of local sling meets and also lots of advice on baby wearing.

Baby Wearing Ireland - Sling Mamas
Babywearing Ireland - Cork Mamas 


Parenting / Support
GentleFamiles  A spin off from the GentleBirth Mums Facebook group (the support group for anyone using the GentleBirth programme). Great place to ask parenting questions and a nice group of Mums with lots of great advice and support.
Gentle Discipline Peer support for those interested in parenting gently.
No Cry Baby Sleep Parent to Parent support. Gentle support for night time parenting - sharing what has worked for others and offering reassurance and support for those struggling with a baby.
Cuidiu There are local groups for all over Ireland and these organise meet ups for parents in real life (yes, there is a life outside of Facebook). They were a lifesaver to me when both of my children were small.
Night Time Parenting Support: This group aims to gentle support parenting during the hours when parents can feel most alone, particularly during the early days with a new baby.


Blogs / Websites 
Again, I wasn’t aware of blogs before I had my DD, but in the last few years the number of blogs has exploded. There are so many that it would be impossible to list them all. I dip in and out of the blogs listed below. I enjoy them for a glimpse into how other people parent. I love when they are funny and a bit OTT. Below is a list of some of my favourite parenting blogs - some of them hilarious, some informative. Enjoy checking them out. 

At The Clothesline: seriously, this woman is funny! I have to be careful when and where I read her posts as I am liable to spit out my water if I am drinking or laugh uncontrollably - tears coming down my face (which can make me look slightly deranged!!!). 
Dreaming Aloud: A good friend of mine writes this blog and there are often articles on mothering as Lucy muses on the ups and downs of parenting. 
The Mama’s Hip: lovely Irish based blog. Not only talks about parenting but the writer Niamh is a huge lover of fashion so blogs about this area as well.
Mind The Baby: another favourite of mine. Great writing and interesting articles. Irish based as well. Always thought provoking. 
Renegade Mothering:  Be warned - if you don’t like cursing you will not like this blog. I love her dark humour but I know it’s not to everyone’s taste.
Natural Parent’s Network: A US based blog, lots of parenting information that I like and find useful.
Janet Lansbury: I like some of her ideas and suggestions for parenting
Consensual Living:  I stumbled onto this website having found a link to it on mothering.com (a US based discussion list), and immediately fell in love with the idea of parenting in this way. They had a very active Yahoo discussion group a few years back, but it is very quiet now. Archives have a tonne of useful discussions though and well worth a read to get some ideas if this interests you. 
The Orange Rhino This website and author has definitely helped me become more aware of my yelling and how to curb it. 
Evolutionary Parenting Another website with brilliant thought provoking parenting articles that always help me in my parenting journey.


Do you have any particular favourites (books, websites, blogs or FB groups) that I am missing? Do drop me a line and let me know: mary@birthingmamas.ie


Magazine #2: Gentle Parent

Coming soon...