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Minimalism with Kids- Mission Impossible?

Minimalism with Kids- Mission Impossible?

Natalie Oman, LA based mom of two daughters and a yorkie, encourages moms to take 5 minutes (or less) to improve their lives at her Instagram @5minMommy.

Minimalism is all the rage- documentaries on Netflix, Tiny House plans, Facebook Groups and Meetups all dedicated to the practice of minimal living.  BUT if you have children, this may seem like mission impossible. 

Kids have an uncanny knack for picking up, receiving, holding onto, emotionally attaching to, being obsessed with THINGS.  The amount of things my 3 year old encounters on a daily basis are mind boggling.  I don’t even understand how 3 year olds didn’t die of boredom before toys. Just kidding.  I know how they didn’t die- they developed attention span, relationships, and creativity to play with their environment not toys.  It’s crazy though in this world to live like that, right?!  I mean, we aren’t living in caves with only sticks and rocks.  We want our kids to have the good stuff in life!  We want them to enjoy life and not be disadvantaged compared to their peers.  BUT do toys, clutter, and more STUFF accomplish those things?

Whelp let me tell you what has happened in our household… Like so many other new parents, we didn’t know what to buy, what we would need, how we would raise our first little girl.  So we took the advice of others, received countless hand me downs, and filled up our house with toys and kids books and DVDs and parenting books and all the other things that young families NEED…or do they? I am so grateful for all the gifts lavished upon us when we were building our family.  HOWEVER, I wish I had embraced a minimalistic and clutter free way of life before bringing kids into this world – kids who observe my every move.  LITERALLY every move.  When we moved (5 times in 4 years), I was stuck packing box after box after box of STUFF that I didn’t need, use, or even necessarily want. I remember parking my 18 month old baby girl in front of PBS kids so she wouldn’t need me to hold her every second so I could pack boxes.  She wasn’t interested in TV at that point but she gained an interest because mommy was busy with stuff.  She realized TV could entertain her and “hold her hand” when she was bored/lonely/etc.  Now I’m all for teaching your kids to help, but at 18 months the desire to UNpack is greater than the desire to pack…

I wish I would have created a play space outside of the bedroom that my girls shared when we moved into our first house.  Instead all the toys were kept in their room but when the littlest was sleeping, the oldest would watch TV because she didn’t have her own space to play.  I wish I would have “thinned the herd” of toys BEFORE we moved.  I wish I would have made donating toys a regular weekly/monthly habit, not a traumatic, once-in-a-great-while thing.  I wish I would have had my girls practice making gifts/cards instead of buying our friends and family more toys/things.

So needless to say, I am on this journey with you.  Starting is the hardest part.  Here is what I have learned on the first part of my mission to live Minimalist with Kids.

IMG_6676Communicate Your Why

Children have an incredible capacity for memory.  If you repeat your reasons, your positives, your mantras, kids will learn them.  They are subconscious little sponges that soak up and apply everything they hear.  As they are watching TV, attending school, and live in our consumer-obsessed culture, they are absorbing and implementing that culture in their own life.  How much MORE do we need to refocus them on our new family practice of minimalism.  Write notes on the mirror saying “people not stuff” or post in the kitchen “joy not clutter” or in the car say “contentment not consumerism”.  

Remind them of the joy of giving and donating.  Travel and show them the poverty that surrounds them so they can be grateful with what they have.  Watch documentaries or listen to podcasts about intentional living and minimalism.  Make up songs, repeat catchy sayings, and fill your home with posts reminding your family of the WHY.

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Teach By Example

Kids are pretty smart- when it comes to implementation, they can catch a hypocrite red-handed.  Part of the reason to Communicate Your Why is to have them keep you accountable.  Show them how you ENJOY purging, selectively buying, choosing your obligations, putting away your few possessions, decluttering, stressing less, and embracing minimalism in your own life.  If you don’t ENJOY it, how can you expect them to want to do it too?  When you purge the house of your own useless belongings, kids will notice a difference.  Start with your own adult possessions, move onto office/kitchen/living rooms and let kids see how it affects your life and demeanor.  

Also, decide how minimal you want yourself and family to be.  Are you going to only have one chair in your living room and 3 t-shirts to wear?  Are you going to have a limit on how much you store in the garage/basement/attic?  Are you going to focus on the purging or the selective buying?  One size does NOT fit all when it comes to Minimalism.  Each family is different so you have to choose what works for you.

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Make it FUN not a chore

“Fill this box with toys to get rid of” and “clean up these toys or I’m throwing them away!” and “I’m giving this away because you don’t like it” are all phrases that have come out of my mouth in the frustration of decluttering.  Does that seem like a conscious choice for my kids or a dictator deciding for them?  Would you want to declutter if your mom is a stressed out crazy person wielding the power of throwing away toys willie nillie??? As the previous steps explain, they need to understand the WHY and they need to see your EXAMPLE.

Try giving them a purpose for decluttering.  We had a friend with a new baby that we were going to give some toys to.  I showed my girls a picture of the little newborn baby and told them to fill up a small box of things that this new baby could use or like.  It was amazing how fast they filled up the box.  I’ve also asked for toys to be donated to school/church so that they can play with those toys when they go there.  Much easier to get rid of a toy in their room if they can see it when they get to school/church.

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Have a Plan

As with any new habit or lifestyle, you have to have a plan.  It is fine to declutter at Spring Cleaning, but if you want to LIVE a LIFE of Minimalism, you need to have a plan on how to implement it on a daily basis.  Cleaning up toys before dinner, weekly house decluttering, monthly donations, volunteering with the poor, traveling to see other standards of living, cultivating your lifestyle with like minded people.  Figure out what you want to do when the kids receive gifts, gather nature items, get hand me downs, take home artwork, get party favors.  Write a new list of gift ideas for birthdays and holidays that include more experiences, memberships, savings plans, clothes, and toys that will grow with them.  Teach them how to save and buy something they really want- the patience and sacrifice required will teach him about the value of money and bring them more joy when obtained.

Embrace and enjoy a life of minimalism.  Lead your kids with your own lifestyle and show them your own enjoyment and contentment.  Minimalism with kids is a MISSION POSSIBLE but it will look different for every child/person/family.

Nanny Tips and Tricks for Back to School

Nanny Tips and Tricks for Back to School

Ring, Ring! We are official Back to School! To set our families up for success, we’ve compiled some nanny tips and tricks for back to school. Nannies play an important role in transitioning from summer vacation to the school year.  Summer vacation is highly anticipated, but the start of the school year might be partnered with some initial excitement and also some fears.   

Drop-Offs and Pick-Ups:  There is a YouTube video of a teacher from North Carolina, Mr.  White, who greets his students with a unique handshake at the beginning of each day.  The video shows him bringing joy to each student as he does individualized handshakes with each student. How fun would it be to create a handshake when you drop-off and/or pick-up the children in your care at school?  Like Mr. White, you will connect with the child’s heart, bring a smile to their face, joy to their day, and memories to last a lifetime.  

Lunch:  To express your care throughout the day write a joke, riddle, or encouragement on a piece of paper and include it in their lunchbox.  Does the child your caring for like puzzles or games?  Put a puzzle piece in the child’s lunchbox each day and he will look forward to watching the picture come together as the days unfold.

Engaging After School.  When you pick kids up from school you want to know about their day, but instead of asking a generic question like “How was school today?” which often elicits a one word response, try asking specific questions like, “Tell me about the student that sits next to you in school,” “Who is the funniest person in your class?” or “What was your favorite part of lunch?”  Make a game and by writing questions down on paper, put them in a jar, and have the children pick a question out and answer it.  This would also be a great time to follow up with the joke, riddle, or puzzle piece you put in their lunch as well.

After School Plans:  The first couple of weeks of school are very exhausting, and children are buzzing from the new experiences, challenges, and routines.   Plan the week so kids know what to expect but leave room to be spontaneous.  Make sure to gauge their need for stimulation versus time to rest.  

Do you have your own tips and tricks?  We invite you to post on Instagram and tag Educated Nannies.  We want to hear from you!

Finding the Right Exercise While You’re Pregnant

Finding the Right Exercise While You’re Pregnant

It’s no secret that physical activity can improve your health and is important at every age.  If you’ve always exercised before you were pregnant, but now worry about how much to too much while your pregnant, 360 Fit Haus offers some terrific  tips.

Did you know that Pilates is one of the best and safest forms of exercise both during pregnancy and afterwards? We have seen an increased number of pregnant women turning to Pilates to stay fit and healthy both during and after their pregnancies.

In pre-natal Pilates, we focus on building up deep abdominal strength to support the weight of the baby; strengthening the lower back and pelvic floor muscles that are used during labor and delivery; creating postural support as the weight of the growing baby continues to pull the spine out of alignment; and doing targeted stretches for the hips, buttocks, lower back, and any other areas of the body that experience pregnancy-related aches and pains. Because Pilates can be modified for anyone’s ability, it’s safe to undertake if you haven’t been extremely active leading up to your pregnancy; or, we can continue with more athletic workouts as appropriate for your current fitness level. Additionally, pre-natal Pilates helps you calm your mind and improve your mind-body connection, learn how to breathe deeply, and increase circulation to the fetus. These are skills that will be helpful during and after labor and delivery. If you have never done Pilates before, it will be important for you to find a pre-natal Pilates class or an instructor who can give you a lot of one on one attention. It is not recommended that you begin doing Pilates on your own if you haven’t already worked with the fundamentals. Most Pilates exercises can be modified as your body and abilities change, so be sure to communicate with your instructor if you feel tired, out of breath, dizzy, or otherwise unwell.

Pre-Natal Exercices

Engaging Transverse Abdominal Muscles & Pelvic Floor 

The transverse abdominal muscles are the deepest layer of the abs, and are felt to be working at the belly button and below. These lower abdominal muscles are the ones you feel when you cough. It is very important for pre-natal moms to work on their TA muscles, especially if there is a risk of diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal wall). We like to use a ball between the inner thighs for these exercises to help engage the abdominal muscles along with the inner thighs and pelvic floor.

1. Using Breath to Activate Lower Abdominals
You should feel like your stomach muscles are pulling into the body, not pushing outward. Squeeze the ball so you can feel some inner thigh resistance, and take a long inhale through your nose for 5 counts. Exhale 5 short exhales strongly through your mouth. Aim for 5-10 sets of this breath work.

2. Finding and Strengthening The Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor muscles are the foundation for the core of the body. They both help stabilize the pelvis and support the organs of the lower abdominal cavity. This supportive hammock of muscles, tendons, and ligaments are at the base of the pelvic bowl. Despite being so important, the pelvic floor muscles can be hard to feel! While seated, think of pulling the two bones in the bottom of your bottom together and up, like you are drawing the energy from your inner thighs up through the center of your pelvis to your belly, and then out through the crown of the head. The muscles strengthen gradually, so try to contract 15-20 reps, 3-4 times each day.

3. Mini Roll-Back/Roll-Back with Twist


Squeeze the ball and press your feet firmly against the mat as you start to round out your lower back and curl back towards the mat on an exhale. Go back until you feel the abdominal muscles, inhale as you pause in that position, then exhale as you return to the upright seated position. 8-10 reps.

Add in a rotation to challenge the obliques, or the muscles you feel in the sides of the waistline. Rotate towards one side, then curl back towards the mat on an exhale. Pause in that position as you inhale, then exhale to sit back up. Alternate sides, 8-10 reps each side.

4. Side Lying Hip Work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lie on your side with your head on your arm for support. Use a small rolled up towel or pillow under your head if you need better support for your neck. Bend the underneath leg for stability and place your hand on the ball in front of you to keep some challenge in the abdominals. Make sure your hips are facing the same direction, as the top hip in particular loves to roll back in this position! Lift your top leg until you feel the glute and inner thigh muscles working on an exhale, then hover it over the mat when you come back down on the inhale. 10-15 reps on each side.

POST-NATAL EXERCISES

Pilates is beneficial post-partum in terms of helping you recover from the physical and emotional demands of childbirth. Due to Pilates’ focus on pelvic stability and correct abdominal engagement, we can gently strengthen the pelvic floor and abdominal wall muscles that got stretched out during pregnancy. We can also work on re-engaging the deep abdominal muscles if you delivered by C-section. This focus on correct abdominal engagement and pelvic floor recruitment will contribute to a flatter stomach, a trimmer silhouette, and bladder control. We also work to quickly build up arm and upper back strength for bending, lifting, and carrying your baby. Post-natal Pilates will increase your athletic endurance, help you release stress and sleep better, and improve your overall emotional and mental state.

Cat Stretch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start off on all fours. Line up the shoulders over the hands, and the hips over the knees. On an exhale, round the spine up towards the ceiling without moving the shoulders or hips. On an inhale, stretch the spine as if the chest is pulling towards the fingertips and the tailbone is reaching towards the ceiling. Repeat 5-6 times.

Quadruped Plank

Start off on all fours. Line up the shoulders over the hands, and the hips over the knees. The spine and pelvis are in a neutral position, so the ribs and belly are lifting away from the floor, while the shoulders are pressing apart to engage the lat muscles under the armpits. Without moving the hips, ribs, or supporting thigh bone, slowly extend one leg out behind you on the exhale, letting the toes stay on the mat. Inhale to return to your starting position. Alternate 8-10 reps. This is a great exercise for learning how to stabilize the new shape of your hips, as well as strengthening the upper body to carry the baby. Modification: If your wrists are uncomfortable with the arms straight, drop down to your forearms.

A qualified Pilates instructor (look for someone with a Pilates Method Alliance-approved comprehensive teaching credential) can help you prepare your body for the changes it undergoes during the prenatal period, the rigors of childbirth, and the needed rehabilitation after your baby is here! Experience a fit and healthy pregnancy and beyond with Pilates for Moms at 360 Fit Haus. 1400 Colorado Blvd. Suite C Los Angeles, CA 90041. info@360fithaus.com / 323.474.6315

 

 

How to Give Medicine to a Baby

How to Give Medicine to a Baby

Dr. Agnes Scoville, MD, is a mom, a doctor, a veteran, and creator of Pacidose. Here is a guide to safely and accurately give your child medication

How to give Medicine to a baby

Giving liquid medicine to an infant can be very frustrating.  If you are having difficulty with this, you are not alone!  Many medical studies show that babies frequently get the wrong dose of medicine, in part because they spit it out.  This article will give some helpful hints and other general information about medication safety and will show you that there’s a new way to get the medicine to go down, fuss free, with Pacidose.

What is the best way to measure the right dose of medicine for my child? 

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) both recommend that liquid medicine for babies be given in milliliters only.  Use a standard oral syringe to measure the medicine.  Teaspoons and tablespoons are confusing and inaccurate.  The syringe on Pacidose has one side for milliliters (mL) and the other side for teaspoons (tsp) because some doctors still use teaspoons.

Avoid transferring medicine between devices because some will be lost in the process.  That’s why an oral syringe plugs directly into Pacidose—no transferring.  Also, other standard syringes from pharmacies should fit in the same connector.  The Pacidose syringe is 5 milliliters (5 mL).  A 10 mL syringe will also fit, so if you have an older child that needs more than 5 mL in a single dose, you can ask for that in a pharmacy or from your doctor.  You can also ask your doctor if the medication comes in a higher concentration so the volume you give is less.

Always measure twice.  After you draw up the medicine, check the measurement again. Apply a piece of tape to the outside of the syringe to help you remember the exact dose. This makes measuring really easy in the middle of the night.

Now attach the oral syringe to Pacidose.  You are ready to give medicine to your infant the easy way.

If you do not have Pacidose, you can try to put the medicine in the side of your baby’s mouth, but the taste will be strong and he or she might spit the medicine right back out.

How else can I get my baby to take the medicine without a fight?

Give the medication when your child is hungry.  And remove any distractions from the room.  Sit down in a chair and hold your baby so you can easily introduce Pacidose.  If you are relaxed your baby will be relaxed.

What if my baby won’t use a Pacifier?

If your baby does not use a pacifier, introduce Pacidose by loading the syringe with something familiar to your baby first.  Let him or her drink the familiar liquid first, and get used to it.  When comfortable with that liquid then load Pacidose with the medicine.  Pacidose is still easier than a hard syringe!

Why can’t I just put the medicine in my baby bottle?

Here’s the problem.  What if your baby then doesn’t drink the whole bottle?  Then you still have the same issue:  you don’t know how much your baby got because it’s now diluted with other liquid.

What if I ask the pharmacist to flavor the medicine for my baby?

Flavors work for some babies, but not all.  And, if you’ve ever tasted them, you’ll agree it’s still not easy to get it down.  Also, some flavoring agents contain dyes and other chemical agents.

Are there other ways to disguise the taste of medicine for my child?

Sure, you can do a few other things.  Give you baby a Popsicle before the medicine to numb the taste buds.  The same goes for the medicine.  Put the medication in the refrigerator.  Cold liquids don’t taste as strong.

Pacidose bypasses most of the taste buds and places the medicine on the back of the tongue.  So you can chill the meds, chill the mouth and use Pacidose for a triple whammy to minimize rejection.

What if my baby spits up even something easy like Tylenol?

Try all the techniques above.  If your baby has actually swallowed the medicine and is vomiting it back up, it becomes a little trickier.  Most liquid is absorbed from the stomach in about an hour.  If that time has past your child likely retained the full dose.  If less time has passed, call your doctor to determine a re-dosing schedule or ask for a suppository.

How to give medicine to a toddler?

Older kids can sometimes be harder to medicate than infants because they are stronger and want more control.  A toddler who refuses medicine can be a real challenge.

You can do three things.  First, tell them the truth: they need the medicine if they want to feel better.   And it may not taste good, but they need to take it.  Once a child is about 3, he or she can understand logic so this sometimes works.  You can also play the grown up card. “Being a grown up boy or girl means you have to do things sometimes that are hard.”  Third, give a little control.  Your toddler can choose when to take it, (before or after bath time) or choose which liquid to drink after the dose.  You can offer milk or juice in Pacidose or from a cup as a chaser.  Or a palate cleanser, as I liked to call it.

Are there any other tricks to help my older child take medicine?

Don’t forget the Oscar awards.  Your child can play the doctor and give a stuffed animal the “medicine” (water).  You can help your child draw up the liquid and give it to a stuffed animal.   Miraculously the stuffed animal will dance around with joyful health.

What about over the counter medicine for cold and flu to my baby?

Avoid over the counter medicines for your young child.  Many studies show that cold medications for kids under 6 are not helpful and may be harmful.  You should check with your doctor for any medications that are not specifically recommended.  A better way to treat runny nose, cough, and congestion is lots of TLC, fluids, rest and room humidifiers.

Lastly, it goes without saying, but I will say it.  Keep all medicines and nonfood items out of reach of your kids.  Be smart with you little ones.

 

Why RIE?

Why RIE?

A guest post by Betsy Smith

Betsy blogs about respectful parenting and homeschooling her two children (ages 2.5 and 4) at www.bugandbabygirl.com and chronicles some of their many adventures on Instagram at @bug.and.babygirl

Before I had ever heard of Magda Gerber or Janet Lansbury, my son demanded to be a RIE baby.

No one told me to expect a baby who was so decidedly his own person. But, from the day he was born, it was undeniable that my son had his own ideas and preferences, his own likes and dislikes… which, as a scared and exhausted first time mom, seemed to boil down to disliking everything and liking to cry any time he was awake! But the more I paid attention, the more I noticed he was consistently calmed by being laid down on his back to wiggle and look around, by being spoken to conversationally about what we were doing, and simply by being outside. He didn’t want to sit in a swing. He didn’t want gadgets, gizmos, and entertainment; he wanted connection, respect, and freedom.

He wanted this crazy, new world to slow down long enough for him to take it all in. He wanted me to stop worrying about what I was supposed to do with a baby all day and just put him on a blanket beneath a tree so he could gnaw on his hands and watch the light peeking through the leaves.

It went against everything I had been taught about parenting, but I started to listen. I started to do less and trust more. I started to follow rather than blindly lead.

When I discovered RIE, shortly before my son’s first birthday, I wanted to exclaim, “This is it!! This is what you’ve been trying to tell me!” It was so affirming to find an entire philosophy that supported the choices that he had pointed me toward. And the discovery couldn’t have come at a better time: right at the onset of the toddler stage, when the RIE emphasis on consistent, respectful limit setting has transformed a notoriously “terrible” phase of development into one that I absolutely delight in, and in advance of the arrival of my second, allowing me to implement the fundamentals of RIE from birth with her.

There are plenty of sources for a more informed and articulate overview of the principles of RIE than I could provide, so rather than fumble through an amateur answer to the question, “What is RIE?,”  I would rather tell you why RIEwhat about this style resonated with me as a first — and then a second — time mom and why it has worked so well for our family.

1. The notion that babies are whole people

I once had a woman, toting an infant carseat, chase me down in the parking lot of Target and say, “I just wanted to tell you that I love how you talk to your kids like people.” I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but the frequency with which strangers feel compelled to comment on how I speak to my children “like people” makes me want to ask, “How else I would talk to them?!”

It has made me realize how countercultural this perspective I’ve come to take for granted – that babies are people – truly is. In the mainstream parenting world, we refer to our babies as “blobs.” We give them kisses that they pull away from. We swoop in and pick them up when they are intently focused on something, without a word and without the slightest reservation about what we might be interrupting. We talk about them (and even about older children) in front of them as if they aren’t there. We dismiss their feelings and their ideas. In those, and countless other ways, we treat babies like we would never treat other people. Certainly not people we respect or care for.

2. The belief that children – even babies – deserve respect 

At my baby shower, I was given a pacifier that said NO WHINING. The uproar of laughter it elicited from the group made me uncomfortable in a way that I wasn’t yet able to put my finger on.

That feeling was my gateway to RIE; that nagging sense that this baby deserved more respect than our culture had tried to make me believe.

I do my damnedest to treat everyone I encounter with respect. Why wouldn’t I treat my own child that way?

It isn’t as if it’s terribly radical. It simply means that I speak to and with my children rather than at and about them. I acknowledge their feelings and preferences (even when I can’t or won’t accommodate them). I do my best leave them undisturbed when they are focused on an activity. I say “please” and “thank you.” I give them the benefit of the doubt. And, in general, I treat them how I would like to be treated.

3. The reminder to trust 

This is a scary one… or at least it can be for me! Parenting has become as competitive as anything else in our culture and it is hard to ignore the “earlier is better” messages that we are bombarded with at every turn, to let go of the temptation to compare our babies to others, and, instead, just trust. Trust that they are capable; that they know themselves; and that they will walk, talk, and learn their ABCs when they are ready.

We have convinced ourselves that our babies can learn only what we teach, ignoring completely the curiosity, ability, and drive to make sense of the world that they all come to us with. Trust asks us to give that back to them, to let go of the race to be first, to take a backseat and wait for them to show us what they are working on and what, if any, support they need.

4. The view of children as capable 

At our old house, we had a steep driveway that my son would run up and down nearly as soon as he could walk. Neighbors used to marvel at his balance and coordination, asking how I taught him to navigate the incline.

I didn’t teach him, I told them. I just let him do it.

We do our children a disservice when we default to assuming they can’t do things, or that they can only do them with our help. Children are capable of so much when they’re given opportunities to try…and opportunities to try again when they don’t get it “right” the first time!

My children are confident that they have the ability to master new skills because their experience and my attitude have affirmed that. They are also extraordinary helpers because I’ve never questioned whether they are capable of putting their own clothes in the hamper, cleaning up toys, carrying in groceries, or wiping up spills!

5. The role of limit setting 

There is a common misconception that respectful parenting is permissive. It isn’t. I would go as far as to argue that permissive parenting is disrespectful because it ignores a child’s desire (or, frankly, his need) to make sense of the world around him, something that becomes nearly impossible without predictability and limits.

The way this looks different in RIE than it does in mainstream parenting is that I don’t just set limits and expect my children to follow them. I set limits and I take on the responsibility of enforcing them. This allows me to hold limits from a place or guidance rather than one of judgment, frustration, or anger. This also means that, when a limit isn’t followed, I don’t heap blame on my child; I examine what I could be doing differently to better support and set him up for success.

It means, instead of saying, “Don’t you dare throw that ball in the house,” and then doling out a punishment when my toddler can’t stop himself, saying, “I can’t let you throw the ball inside,” then actually not letting him by calmly taking the ball and, whenever possible, honoring the impulse with, “Let’s go play ball in the yard.”

6. The value placed on observation 

There seems to be this expectation that mothers will instantly “know” our children when they are born; who they are, what they need, and how best to love them. That is a charming idea, I suppose, except that I don’t think I truly know anything that I haven’t taken the time to study. When I care about something, I want to learn everything I can. And that doesn’t happen by magic; it happens by asking questions, listening, and observing.

Sure, there are plenty of resources out there that tell us what most babies are like. But I’m not the mother of most babies. I am the mother of two. And the only way to learn who these two people are is to go to the source.

7. The space for natural gross motor development

Demanding ownership of his gross motor development by refusing to be propped, sat, and walked is probably the way that my son most clearly pointed me to RIE.

Even at five and six months, when so many babies love being propped up to sit, he would immediately throw himself back down and get up on his hands and knees. He had been “ahead” on every other milestone and (what felt like) the whole world seemed worried that he wasn’t sitting. Our pediatrician was adamant that I “teach” him but, even before discovering RIE, I didn’t feel right putting him in a position he so forcefully rejected, so I shrugged my shoulders and told her he seemed more interested in figuring out how to crawl.

And, sure enough, he sat up completely on his own within days of crawling…just like his baby sister did a year and a half later.

Once he could stand and cruise, well-meaning family and friends tried to take him by the hands and walk him but, every time, my RIE-hearted baby withdrew his hands. When they persisted, he sat, insisting in the only way he knew how that he would do it himself when he was ready…which, of course, he did.

After having that experience with my son and after trusting my second, from birth, to own her gross motor development, nothing seems more natural. Why on earth wouldn’t we trust our babies to know what their bodies are ready to do? Why wouldn’t we give them the confidence that comes from discovering, not only that they can sit, crawl, stand, and walk, but that they can do it on their own?

8. The importance of independent play 
This can be a particularly difficult idea for parents to wrap their heads around. We are told that we have to entertain our babies, that we have to stimulate their brains at all times, that boredom is a danger and stillness is the enemy of development. The notion that you would just lay a baby down on a blanket with one or two simple toys and say, “I’ll be right in the kitchen if you need me,” feels tantamount to saying, “I don’t care about my child’s development.”

But it simply isn’t the case!

I have been amazed at how they will entertain themselves, and would even as babies. Allowing them to play independently isn’t just not neglecting them; it’s actually serving them in so many ways. It communicates that their ideas and their pursuits are important and worthy if time. It allows them to focus on a task without distractions. It affirms that I see them as capable individuals.

9. The ability to be an ally 

This is not strictly one of the tenets of RIE, but has been a byproduct of the philosophy for our family. Instead of feeling like I am at odds with my children, with our desires or agendas in opposition, the foundation of trust and respect that our relationship is built upon allows me to be on their team even when we disagree. It allows me to discipline from a place of compassion and connection. I take seriously my responsibility to guide and teach my children, and RIE has made it possible for me to do those things as their ally rather than their adversary.

RIE has been a gift to our family in so many way, but this one is, perhaps, the greatest.

 

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As one of the premier nanny referral agencies in greater Los Angeles and as parents ourselves, the safety and happiness of children is always our priority. On this blog, we further our commitment to strengthening families by sharing resources and articles we hope you’ll find helpful. We will also let you know when we’re having upcoming events, because we’d love to see you! Thanks for reading!

 

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