Attachment parenting (AP) is a wonderful and nurturing parenting model that is growing in popularity. Techniques like babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding on demand, extended breastfeeding and positive discipline work together to help you build a loving, connected relationship with your growing child. But as an attachment parent, it can sometimes be hard to strike a balance between being available to your young children and taking care of your own needs.
The challenges of new parenthood are intense. Being an AP mom takes it up another notch. Like many new AP moms, I was convinced that the world might end if my baby cried or if I didn't utilize all his moments of quiet alertness for bonding. But the truth is, AP doesn't ask moms to run themselves ragged without ever taking a moment to replenish themselves. In fact, striving for balance in family and personal life is one of the main principles of attachment parenting. Below are some helpful tips on how to restore the balance in your daily life:
Do you ever find yourself feeling like the Cat in the Hat with dishes stacked on your head, a baby in one arm, laundry in the other, dinner cooking on the stove and a couple of toddlers swinging from your ankles? One of the things that many AP moms complain about is feeling like they have to do it all. It is true that as an AP mom a lot of the parenting responsibility falls on your shoulders. Breastfeeding alone can take many hours of your day when you have an infant. However, it is important to remember to ask for help when you can. Family members and friends are almost always happy and even honored to be asked to help, especially if you can offer them specific instructions. Cooking, cleaning, watching older toddlers and even babywearing are great tasks for which you could ask assistance.
Everyone needs to get out and recharge occasionally. Whether it's yoga, knitting or salsa dancing you enjoy, make sure to schedule some "me time" for yourself each week.
I spent the first few years of motherhood feeling like I was on-call to my children. Unless they were asleep, I believed I should be playing or interacting with them in a meaningful way. While I certainly enjoy my children's company, over time I began to feel drained and somewhat empty. I began to question if I had an identity outside of being a mom. Gratefully a good friend of mine saw what I was going through and offered some excellent advice. "You don't need to do it all," she said. "Children need time to explore and discover. Boredom is a gift. For both of you." She was right. My children don't need me every second to learn and grow. Give them thirty minutes and an empty toilet roll and I'm amazed at the things they come up with.
It is wonderful that you've dedicated yourself to your family in such a nurturing way. But putting your family first does not equal ignoring yourself. Remember that you will have more to give if you nurture your own self. Keep up with your hobbies. Stay in touch with your friends. Go on dates with your husband. Do the things that keep you connected to who you are and you will have much more to offer your children in the grand scheme of things
Dr. William Sears, the founder of the attachment parenting movement, says, "Attachment parenting may sound difficult, but in the long run it's actually the easiest parenting style. What is 'hard' about parenting is the feeling 'I just don't know what my baby wants' or 'I just can't seem to get through to her.' If you feel you really know your baby and have a handle on the relationship, parenting is easier and more relaxed. Attachment parenting early on makes later parenting easier, not only in infancy but in childhood and teenage years. The ability to read and respond to your baby, carries over into the ability to get behind the eyes of your growing child and see things from her point of view. When you truly know your child, parenting is easier at all ages."
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