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Natural Parenting Carnival – Help!
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Natural Parenting Carnival – Help!

by admin on April 13, 2010

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice!

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 letters to ask our readers for help with a current parenting issue. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I have a natural parenting dilemma!

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I don’t have enough time to do all the things that I need and want to do! I want to give my complete undivided attention to Axel at all times. I need to go grocery shopping so we don’t starve do death. It’s necessary that I clean the bathroom once a year. (Haha- ew.) How do all of you natural parenting people do it all? Are you all just breastfeeding, cosleeping, gentle disciplining, baby wearing, natural living maniacs!?  Sometimes I feel like I’m going to lose my mind!

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I have been having a really hard time with effectively managing my time lately.  I can’t seem to keep up with all of my natural parenting ideals.  We are still practicing all of the same things we were before, but I’m finding myself paying less attention to Axel, simply because there is so much to DO all the time!

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How do you all find time to do chores, without losing sight of what’s most important?  I am not very focused right now, and I need some honest advice about how I can redirect myself back in the right direction.  I think I’m in “get stuff done” mode, and sitting with Axel outside doesn’t produce immediate results, if you know what I mean.  (I love doing it, and spending time with him always warms my heart, but it’s hard when a million things are swarming through my head from my “to do” list.)

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My son is my life, and I love him with all my heart.  I want to be the best mommy I can be.  Please, can someone tell me how I can manage all of the things that get in the way of life, without neglecting my precious little boy?  I’m just so stressed out, and I would really appreciate the advice.  Thank you all.

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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 by the end of the day April 13 with all the carnival links.)

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy April 19, 2010 at 3:06 am

I hear you mama! I have to do lists in my head too. One tiny tip – do a brain dump; get all those thoughts out onto paper, then you don’t have to carry them in your head and you;ll feel more in control.

The prioritise – urgent will be buying food when you’re running out, making time to pay accounts.
Not sure urgent, but would be nice to get done are the clean bathroom and dishes
Like to do one day – well those can wait for ‘one day’.
Not saying this is how YOU will prioritise things, but showing an example of how things might look for myself.

It’s really hard, but it’s good to remember that these days don’t last forever, you’ll get more and more ‘me time’. And talking of ‘me time’; it sounds like you are the kind of person who needs time along to recharge – so make that your number one priority…

Are you able to hire help or swap help with something? Get a friend over and both clean while the kids play / sleep and then you go to her house on another afternoon? Or you could batch cook together….

admin April 18, 2010 at 2:42 am

Ahh, I feel better now. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. :)

Amber April 16, 2010 at 3:45 am

I’ve just now started to be able to clean while my daughter is awake. For the first 6 months or so she would not sleep out of my arms, so I just didn’t clean until the boy got home, or on the weekends.

Then I was able to put her down to sleep alone for the past few months. Though, to be honest, I haven’t wanted to do much more than veg since I have ME TIME :-)

The last month or so it’s gotten better. I’m now able to clean while she plays on the floor in the same room…so I don’t have to use those precious few hours of time while she naps to do anything productive :P

Soooo basically, we lived with the mess and disorder for a while. As a certified neat freak (actually had a home organizing business before I got knocked up!) it was tough to accept that I just didn’t have it in me to do it all. Sitting with my baby was all I could do for a long time, and all I wanted to :-)

admin April 16, 2010 at 1:16 am

Hahaha- I like you. :)

Candace @ NaturallyEducational and @Mamanista April 15, 2010 at 5:47 pm

My big thing is I work from home with almost no childcare. When I have deadlines–which is a lot lately–I’m just so stressed.

When I don’t have deadlines, though, I find I am better able to balance.

I think that a lot of what we do around the house can either be “let go” (I’m not the best housekeeper in the world, frankly) or can be done with the children.

Focusing on the process (we’re cleaning up together) works better than looking at just the result (is the house as clean as it could be).

I look at chores more as something I do with my children rather than as something keeping me from spending time with them.

We’re very focused on efficiency as a society and efficiency and small children are just two concepts that often do not go together.

the Grumbles April 15, 2010 at 4:19 pm

It’s tough! I found on early on that I really only have time to clean the house on weekends during Jude’s long afternoon nap. That’s when I do all the cleaning so every other day of the week- you can bet there are plates and junk mail and trash and cups and toys stacked all over our living room. And I’ve learned to tolerate it because I would much rather roll around on the floor with my baby and have fun during our time together. I’ve also gotten better about just doing a quick walk-through decluttering 10 minute clean. It might not really do much but it LOOKS better and then I feel better.

Arwyn April 15, 2010 at 4:55 am

1) I do it all? That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week! ;)

2) I think you should neglect Axel. I’m a big, big fan of benign neglect. Now, it’s only benign when they’re happy working or playing on their own, not when they’re screaming for you (literally or figuratively). But I don’t actually think it’s healthy for kids to be the exclusive focus of adults all the time — to the contrary, I think it’s sort of bad for them. (With the caveat that all children are unique, and some require a lot more attention and focus than others. But often I think we focus on them excessively from our own sense of guilt, not because they really need it.)

3) I’m also a big fan of involving kids in our work. Now, I’m not nearly as GOOD at this one, because I have a very low tolerance for chaos and a high “need” for control. But! when I do manage to let go of the need to have everything “just so”, I find that I can do a lot more, and have a lot more fun, by involving the Boychick in what I do. If I’m picking up, I get him to help (usually by racing him); if I’m cleaning, I give him a sprayer filled with water and a rag; if I’m cooking, I have him help stir, or add ingredients; if I’m sweeping, he sweeps with his own broom, or “helps” me by taking the dust pan to the trash. (And when I say “I” here, I mostly mean “The Man”.)

4) The Man does a lot of the cleaning — like the bathroom — in the morning before the kid wakes up, or while I’m playing with him. We’re both working parents; 8am-5pm, he has a job in an office, and I have the job of keeping the kid, the pets, and myself alive. We thus do most of the housework when we’re not at our respective jobs. Or, since we’re both recovering/relapsing slobs, mostly don’t do the housework then… (But that has less to do with the kid or our parenting than our sheer laziness!)

Melodie April 14, 2010 at 10:00 pm

I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Always have been. So I relate. And yet this table I am sitting at is covered in old mail and dirty mugs and Easter chocolate and a scarf that needs to be put away with the Winter clothes. My floor is dirty and my bed isn’t yet made. My dishes are piled high in the sink. I can clean fast. So I do it when I get time. 10 mins here and there and I can get the house looking pretty clean. I just do a bit each day as I go along. And one thing I was taught as a child which I find to be so helpful now, is never leave a room empty handed. If you’re in the kitchen and headed to the bathroom and see the shampoo you bought on the counter, take it with you. If you’re in your bedroom and see toys that should be downstairs and you’re headed there, take them with you. It helps me keep my house clean without too much actual effort. :)

Erin W. / Beatnik Momma April 14, 2010 at 2:18 pm

My daughter just turned 1 and I am still trying to find my way through the clutter. There are some days that I get literally nothing done. Then some days I am able to better manage my time and I get tremendous amounts of work done. And, to no one’s surprise – I’m sure – the variable there is my daughter. When she has her good days and will play contentedly by herself for a while, then I can pick up the living room and start some laundry, or when she will sit and feed herself finger snacks in her high chair, I can do the dishes or make dinner. But then she has her bad days when all she wants to do is be held or in some sort of constant contact with me – and on those days I’m lucky if I’m able to check my email in peace.

I know from experience with my 5 year old that as she gets older things will get easier. And I’m lucky that I do have help from my 5 year old (she’s great entertainment!) and from my husband, but I can’t always rely on that to get me through the day of attachment parenting as well as clean living. It’s on the days that I get nothing done that I have to remind myself what priorities are most important to me: having a happy, healthy family, or having a spotless house and dinner on the table by 6.

Mrs Green @ littlegreenblog.com April 14, 2010 at 7:32 am

I hear you mama! I have to do lists in my head too. One tiny tip – do a brain dump; get all those thoughts out onto paper, then you don’t have to carry them in your head and you;ll feel more in control.

The prioritise – urgent will be buying food when you’re running out, making time to pay accounts.
Not sure urgent, but would be nice to get done are the clean bathroom and dishes
Like to do one day – well those can wait for ‘one day’.
Not saying this is how YOU will prioritise things, but showing an example of how things might look for myself.

It’s really hard, but it’s good to remember that these days don’t last forever, you’ll get more and more ‘me time’. And talking of ‘me time’; it sounds like you are the kind of person who needs time along to recharge – so make that your number one priority…

Are you able to hire help or swap help with something? Get a friend over and both clean while the kids play / sleep and then you go to her house on another afternoon? Or you could batch cook together….

admin April 14, 2010 at 1:04 am

Oh, he definitely has independent time, and plenty of it. That’s where the guilt trips came from!

Thanks for all the tips everyone, they have helped me SOOO much! It’s always nice to have some support, even if it is over the internet! :)

BluebirdMama April 13, 2010 at 8:58 pm

My secret is actually that my husband helps A LOT!!! I would never be able to do it without him. Moving into a house with a dishwasher changed things considerably too. As did moving into a house with 1 bathroom instead of 2.5 – way less cleaning. Downsizing the STUFF we have helped too. I took a huge box of toys to goodwill and now, way less to pick up off the floor.

I agree with the previous comment of trying to have your baby with you while you do some chores and letting him “help.”

You could also check out FlyLady. I haven’t looked at her site in years but I know she has all these methods for breaking down chores/house organization into bite sized pieces to make it more manageable.

And for the rest, sit down and figure out what you can do away with on your list so that you can go play outside with Axel – there’s bound to be something that doesn’t NEED to be on there. :)

Jessica - This is Worthwhile April 13, 2010 at 8:32 pm

I’ve struggled with this one a lot and I think I’ve finally found a good solution: Designate 1 day a week, during nap time, to clean your house. And THAT’S IT.

I’m not a clean freak, but I’m not cool with clutter or obvious filth and so once a week keeps things tip-top. I also do it on a Friday so that I can relax on the weekend and my husband and I don’t have to even think about up-keep. We just relax, enjoy each other and our son and go from there.

Regarding all the other things, if I can’t fit it in to nap time then I ask my husband to watch our son. If it’s something I can include my son, then he’s along for the ride: oil changes, grocery shopping, whatever. I always love lugging him around; it fills up the days sometimes.

Hope this helps and good luck!

Danielle April 13, 2010 at 8:05 pm

It is always a one step forward, two steps back sort of thing. You find balance, you lose it, you go looking for it again.

One thing to note, though, is that your little one does not need your 100% undivided attention at all times through the day. Axel needs to have time to be independent, to explore his world, independent of you. He needs space to grow, to try new things, to take risks. Don’t be afraid to give him a little alone time while you get things done. It’s amazing to watch what they do when they think they are on their own. :)

If dishes need to get done, do them with Axel. Throw him in a carrier and talk to him while you do.

Same with grocery shopping. Take him along, talk about all the things you are buying.

Let him play solo while you sit on the floor and pay bills.

Make dinner with him. My little guy loves to stir spoons in pots and pans while I cook.

Be creative and you’ll find a way to meet his needs, your needs, and the needs of the household. Just remember to be gentle with yourself. Sometimes we hold ourselves to the highest standards.

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama April 13, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I think at some point in every mama’s life, there comes a moment when she has to reassess her priorities and lower her standards ;) I know I did. I have also recognized the benefits of dirt in my son’s diet. There’s a couple of poems written about the fact that our kids won’t remember that the house was clean, but they will cherish the moments we set aside our work to play with them. Remember that raising a healthy kiddo is the important part – having a clean house is just bonus!

Thomasin April 13, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Well, I am a maniac, but not in a good way. ;-) When I was home with my daughter after she was born I followed the “don’t try and have a clean house” advice. I just sat and nursed and gazed into her eyes and napped. And by the time I went back to work I really hadn’t developed any kind of skill allowing me to balance both baby and house. I had Wednesdays off of work this past year and they weren’t especially productive. I might get a few meals cooks and frozen but only at the expense of the bathrooms. I might sweep/vacuum the floors but then have nothing cooked for dinner. Basically: I wasn’t very good at this stuff at all.

And then my husband was laid off. I went back to work full time and he’s at home with our daughter full time. And I’m AMAZED by how much he gets done. I think he’s discovered something that I overlooked: he involves her in his projects or he distracts her with something fabulous. How old is Axel? My daughter is 17 months and is happy to help Daddy cooking (some pots/pans on the floor, with maybe some peas to “measure”), washing dishes (stick her on one side of the double sink and let her splish-splash away), cleaning floors (give her a small broom or a wet cloth and she’s sweeps/mops away!), and gardening (he bought her a small set of tools and she digs away in her own little plot). When he needs to keep her away from what he’s doing (like the hot oven) he’ll put her in the high chair (which we really haven’t used otherwise) right next to him in the kitchen so he’s always in sight and he’ll give her a snack to eat.

Obviously, you can’t do those things with a very young baby, but I wonder what other ideas he might have come up with had he been home with her full time when she was younger. She’s happy now to be included near his projects most of the time (he allows her the space to be doing her own thing) and it allows him to get so much more done than I ever was able to. Maybe it just has to do with age?

Anyway, I don’t know if that’s helpful (I ramble!!), but at least know that I had a very difficult time with the balancing act too. And I firmly believe that if it comes down to cuddling a fussy baby or scrubbing a toilet, the bathroom can wait. Oh, can it ever wait! But your baby won’t be a baby forever. Rejoice in the moments with Axel and let the dusting go for a while.

Cave Mother April 13, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Can I just rewrite Lauren’s response above? It pretty much says it all. I went overboard when Cave Baby was about 6 months as well.

I am lucky that my daughter takes a good long nap in the middle of the day and that is when I can do a bit of cleaning, have lunch and go on the internet. I try to do housework when she is awake. When she was little that meant having her in a sling. Now it is more likely to mean leaving her in front of the TV (oh dear, bad mummy), giving her a meaningless but time-consuming job to do (“go and get me some books”) or encouraging her to join in. She loves cleaning the floor with a cloth. Shopping is a good learning experience for her – I just leave plenty of time so I don’t get too frustrated if she wants to wander around the supermarket.

Finding ways to do boring jobs when your baby is awake allows you to make the most of the time it spends asleep.

I know what you mean about the to-do list buzzing around your head. I have days like that, and it makes it much harder to fully engage in what I am doing with my child. My other bit of advice is that if something threatens to encroach on your family time, drop it. If I ever start to care more about blogging than playing with my daughter, I stop for a week.

I enjoyed your post! Hope you find more peace soon :)

Lauren @ Hobo Mama April 13, 2010 at 10:19 am

Oh, Sarah. Seeing as I sit here surrounded by trash and dirty dishes and other disgustingness, I feel I am well qualified to tell you that I do NOT do it all. If I ever gave anyone that impression, I apologize.

I really wish I knew the secret of putting more hours into the day and finding balance. It’s a daily, weekly, minute-by-minute, lifelong journey. There are so many things we want and need to do, and only so much of us to spread out among it all!

I knew when Mikko was a newborn that I really had to let go of unessentials and just concentrate on surviving and parenting. But when Mikko was about 7 months old, Sam and I started feeling a little more human, a little more able to add things back in — and we went way overboard! I totally burned out. I had to go back into survival mode and just lower my expectations. Since then, I have been able to add more and more back in along with parenting, but it’s always hard finding the right balance. I wish I had an “answer,” but all I can lend you is support as you also find your center.

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