6.10.2011

authentic parenting – part 2: a peaceful home

Last week I wrote about authentic parenting – the first in what is shaping up to be a 4-part series. You can read that post here.

Having a peaceful home increases my ability to be an authentic parent. Fewer toys, none of them with batteries, less TV and less noise gives me space to be more myself, more myself as a mom, and more focused. I can hear my thoughts, better align myself with my values, have mental space to process ideas. If the Pie experiences calm and quiet at home, if we have a flexible schedule and do predictable things we have more space in our lives for being ourselves. If we try new things and accept falling down, make time for getting dirty and crying and snuggling, we will be living our lives more honestly, more openly, more true to ourselves.

Having more peace in our home makes more space for us. Having quiet gives us room to make the noises we want to hear. Having less advice and expectation swirling in my head allows me to be a parent in a bubble – doing what feels right, what works for my family. It allows me to quiet my mind, focus on my family, be more authentically myself and be more authentically the Pie’s Mama. The quiet space in our lives allows me to be the mama I really am, to be closer to the mama I want to be - without excessive outside interference, unwanted advice and chaos. I can parent without distraction.

I want to share those things that have become the cornerstones of my success in creating a peaceful home, and those things that allow me to parent more authentically:

Establishing my values is probably the single most important activity that created more peace in my home and more authenticity in my parenting. The Mountain Man and I played with ideas and values for our life, and came up with a list of concepts that we want to strive for in our lives. I now have these words posted in my hallway, and will someday create a more meaningful display… you know, when I have some time.

Peaceful relationships encourage a peaceful home. I feel that my relationships should be by and large positive, and yelling, name-calling, underhanded remarks and intentionally hurt feelings have no place in my home. I am in control of who I allow to be in my life and in my child’s life. Peaceful, strong, healthy relationships allow for a peaceful, calm, steady home.

Peaceful activities make my space, my mind, and my home calm. We sit and play with toys, we listen to music we crawl-chase around the house. We make noise, we explore. Peaceful activities are not all calm – some are totally rambunctious! But they are created by us, there are no noisy cartoons or electronic buzzing toys. They are self-directed, and I consider that to be peaceful.

Doing what’s natural as a parent creates a peaceful home. Trying to follow parenting advice that doesn’t mesh with my life or my values creates chaos in my mind and in my home. We’ve had nights trying to get the Pie to sleep, desperately clinging to someone else’s advice or values, as tensions rose. Doing what works for us, without too much regard for what others think, eliminates the tension of doing it “by the book” and allows for a calmer routine.

Flexible schedules allow me to get things accomplished before I’m overwhelmed, plan for the day/week/month and have the ability to be spontaneous. We have our loose daily schedule with chores & activities so we know when it’s work time and when it’s play time, when we can run wild and when we needs to calm down. We have the ability to change plans as needed, and the Pie sees and participates in the chores of daily life.

Minimizing playpen time, allowing crawling, climbing, bouncing, scooting, and getting into stuff ensures we use up some energy and don’t have hyperactive meltdowns later. Also, it keeps the playpen fresh & interesting when I really need it.

Allowing free play gives me a few moments to myself, and lets the Pie explore. I have made a safe little space in the main room of our home, and although I don’t let her go too far out of sight I do let her explore and play and find “hiding places”. We go outside in the garden, and she digs in the dirt and gets into things while I weed or sow. She plays alone (sometimes) and experiments with what she can do. As she gets older she’ll start to experience boredom and I think that’s OK. I don’t have to orchestrate, schedule and create entertainment for her day. She can entertain herself and I can have some peaceful moments.

Eating well makes us healthy and happy. We cook our meals and eat as a family. We don’t eat out of bags or wrappers, and we don’t eat from the drive-through (we did drive through a local gourmet burger place once this year… but we were planning to go out for burgers and the Pie fell asleep in the car!) We eat all together, and although it’s not always calm, it’s usually enjoyable and creates unity and harmony in our home.

I do what I can to create a calm home. Calm doesn’t always mean quiet – I’m writing this very moment to the tune of a spoon clanging against a metal mixing bowl. The Pie is having her own play time, and is experimenting with noises and “toys”. We are able to make the noises we like because there aren’t uninvited noises. We are creating a culture of calm so that we can live more peacefully, more authentically, more happily. We have less so we can do more. We make our home peaceful so that our lives can be more peaceful and we can be more ourselves.

What makes your home more peaceful?

What makes you more able to be an authentic parent?

Still to come: comfort & authenticity, and using authentic parenting to combat mommy guilt.

5 comments:

  1. I loved this post, Megan; you are so right. A mother will be more effective and feel more secure in her mothering ability if she's operating within her set of values. For example, one of the things I found that is important for me is raising a more independent child who can rely on himself to keep himself entertained. So what I do is set him down (someplace safe), maybe with a toy or two (or sometimes none) and leave him to it. Not to say I completely abandon him; I'll still play or talk or sing to him, but I don't want him to be one of these kids who can become easily bored; I want him to engage his imagination and find fun in everything. This goes counter to the mothering styles of my mother and sister, who (IMO) feel that a child should be stimulated every minute of every day. I think that sets an unrealistic expectation for the child, because I think that by doing this the child will always expect the parent to do something with them or give them something to do instead of relying on themselves. But to each their own; if it works for my sister, good for her. And I do the same when I read parenting advice, since, unlike you, I tend to read a lot of it; but what I do is read it and analyze whether it would work for me. And sometimes I try it out and see if it works or not. But I try to make sure that the way I parent is authentic to me and my values.

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  2. Thanks Pamela! I really think that the best parenting comes from moms who are certain of their values and secure in how they are choosing to do things. I read so much parenting advice and how-tos and 37-easy-steps-to-get-your-kid-to-do-whatever kind of posts and articles and books, and finally decided that no one telling me what I "should" do knows me, my values, or my child. I still read stuff occasionally, but I have to be careful to not let it seep in too deep. I have chosen to be a bit of a "mommy in a bubble" because so many differing views and pieces of advice become counter-productive for me. I recently read an article about how not using a CIO method for sleep was "deeply damaging" to the child and was teaching the child to be manipulative... which was so counter to my own values I felt myself getting really worked up, so had to stop.

    You know what's best for you and your family - so keep doing that!

    I think you'll like this mini-series I've been working on!

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  3. I have to add: I really dislike people who state that anyone "should" do anything with a child. Parenthood is so much trial-and-error and inherently "learn-on-the-job"; how could anyone claim they know better than a child's own parent?

    And I AM looking forward to reading more of the series; if this is the first, I can't wait for the rest!

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  4. This has been a big topic of discussion for us this week as we've begun night-weaning and encouraging the kiddo to sleep on her own (it's working--woohoo!) I'm constantly surprised by the kind of Mama I'm turning out to be. Carving out your own values is hard work!

    And thanks for reminding me to turn the TV off. The baby is happily playing with (eating) a pile of her books on the floor, and it's so quiet I can hear the rain and my own thoughts. I forget what that's like sometimes.

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  5. Hi, this response is for Pamela (if she gets back here to read it, I hope):

    I believe you are 100% dead-on when you say that kids need to be able to entertain themselves. We are attempting to raise our 2 sons this way. They are now 4 and 7, and they play independently quite well for a long time because we started young with them, a couple months old. (I keep patting myself on the back: it's working!!).

    The flip side is some of my friends (let's call my one friend Susie). Susie has to entertain her kids 24/7, and as a result when they are at my house playing with my kids, they literally COME FIND ME (in the kitchen, or wherever) because that is not enough for them. The majority of their life is adult-driven and adult-directed so that they become (literally) unmoored when left to their own devices.

    So, the point I am trying to make is that I and my sons are LIVING PROOF that this method of teaching independence does work! And a big part of why we do this (my husband and me) is that we realize a LOT of life is waiting in lines and being bored and dealing with that reality.

    best,
    MOV

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