Top 10 Things That Have Helped Me Become a Natural Parent

Welcome to the Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

The Accidental Natural Mama’s Top 10 List
1. Breastfeeding support group: Prior to giving birth, I had never been around breast-feeders and was not breastfed myself. I didn’t really know how the whole thing was supposed to go—the only images that I had in my mind of nourishing babies involved bottles and cans of formula. When I was knocked upside the breast (left breast, to be exact) with mastitis two weeks post-partum, I made my way to a local breastfeeding group at the hospital where I had delivered my daughter. It turned out to be one of the best choices I ever made. Not only did I find the support I needed to continue nursing, but I also made some wonderful friends who have become an integral part of my life as a natural mama.

2. Alfie Kohn: Let’s face it—ever natural mama needs some Alfie in her life. Kohn’s book Unconditional Parenting: Moving From Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason was a game-changer. I’m serious—this book changed my life. I read it; I loved it, and now I live it.

3. Moby Wrap: For the first six months or so of my daughter’s life, the Moby was our best friend. Not only did it keep her snugly, close, and safe, but I was also able to write the first three chapters of my dissertation while she snoozed cozied up against me. I was also able to do some more basic care things, like eat and move around the house. I visited New York City with my daughter wrapped in the Moby! Heck, I even scrubbed baseboards once. Don’t worry, though, that one didn’t become a habit!

4. Playgroup: Remember those friends I made in the breastfeeding group? Well, we formed a playgroup. Finding like-minded mamas has been so meaningful for both me and my daughter. We share ideas, books, support, food—what more could you ask for? I realize how isolated many women are—parenting can be such a lonely act. Having a consistent group to call my own has been invaluable.

5. Google: Let me just put it this way—thanks to Google, I now know what a Lotus Birth is. See—you are going to Google it, aren’t you?

6. Facebook: Oh, Facebook—how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…In all seriousness, I am continually amazed by the amount of natural parenting content on Facebook. All I have to do is “Like” a page or add a friend, and I am immediately linked into seemingly limitless information. Not too long ago, I was using Facebook to keep track of old pals’ weekend shenanigans. Now, I use Facebook to keep up with the latest in the natural parenting world. Okay, okay, I still may do some light cyber stalking.

7. La Leche League: The LLL Toddler Meeting has been really helpful in particular. I think it is really helpful to hear about a range of experiences that are situated within a parenting framework that is similar to my own. I know that when I bring up a topic at LLL, I am going to hear feedback from people who are coming from the same general space that I am. Even if there are some differences in parenting, the underlying philosophies tend to be the same.

8. A Child-Friendly City: I live in Athens, Georgia, which is known for a great music scene, a large university, and lots of bars (not necessarily in that order). What I didn’t realize before having a child was that Athens was also great for raising a family. I feel like I have a wealth of resources—a great kids’ program at the library, a fabulous conscious parenting network, several parenting centers that cater to the natural set, an active breastfeeding community, a vibrant homeschooling culture, a farmer’s market, and more. If you know where to go, natural parents can find lots of folks to chat with about cloth diapers, nursing, doulas, and more. I know I am really lucky to live in such a place, and I have truly enjoyed getting to know a different side of the town!

9. A Supportive Co-Parent: My co-parent happens to be my husband, Luke. He is so supportive and has really been willing to join me on the journey towards natural parenting. Nothing melts the heart more than watching your burly husband enthusiastically use Baby Signs in the middle of a crowded restaurant or defend my nursing in public or boast about the merits of co-sleeping. Alexandra is really lucky to have him as a Daddy, and I am proud to have him as a husband. Okay, mushy stuff over.

10. A Great Family: My daughter and husband are fantastic, but I am also referring to my extended family. Okay, so my mom isn’t crazy about the nursing in public thing (yet) and my mother-in-law might not totally be convinced about the “try to avoid the word ‘no’” bit, but I think that we are slowly yet surely revealing the magic of natural parenting. I would like to believe that our families see that even though we are doing things a little differently, we aim for every action and utterance to be filled with love, empathy, and peace.

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