So I’ve told you my kid is odd, we eat healthy, and don’t watch watch TV, but if you need more reasons to know we’re abnormal then here’s a few more.
When Nick and I had been married around a year, maybe a bit less, I realized I knew nothing about raising kids. I had barely ever changed a diaper. Being the natural learner that I am I began to research, and I read a LOT. Until then I never knew about attached parenting, though I did now about cloth diapers and intend to use them, even if that meant making them myself. At that point I already used cloth maxi pads (maybe TMI, but it’s true) and I figured if I could make those then a cloth diaper wouldn’t be to hard. I knew I’d breastfeed. I was just in it for the environment. But when I learned about the chemicals in disposables, the creepy stuff in formula, and the expense I knew I’d use no other route. Then I learned all about Attached Parenting and it made a LOT of sense, stating things I already considered but had never seen anyone do. I’d been saying for years I’d have a “natural birth” meaning unmedicated but the term has sadly come to mean vaginal delivery. Women had been doing it for thousands of years, and surely more women bit a washcloth over the years than had an epidural.
So by the time Blu was born we knew we’d cloth diaper, co-sleep, wear him instead of using a stroller, breastfeed, and more. I called a midwife as soon as I got a positive test (though I later switched to a different midwife before I ever had even my first appointment.) Blu was born after 2 weeks of labor, a few hours of pushing (he had a very large head, and did NOT want the water birth I was trying for.) It was completely unmedicated, and no washcloth biting was necessary.
Honestly, it was a good thing we already planned to co-sleep and baby wear, because we would have lost our minds trying to adjust to Blu otherwise. Even as newborn he never slept, and couldn’t be more than inches away from us. If we had tried to have him in a crib down the hall we could have gone insane from sleep deprivation. I wore Blu pretty constantly, and even nursing him in the sling while grocery shopping. I swear that boy was always attached, and I mean literally, he was a nursing champ!
Attached Parenting did amazing things for us. Adjusting to Blu was enough, without trying to pump and give him a bottle, or trying to have him in a stroller. I can’t imagine grocery shopping any other way. The funny thing was that Blu was so anxious, even as a baby, that he’d barely cry in public. When I couldn’t hear him cry another minute without losing it I’d take him to the store. If he hadn’t napped in four days and I couldn’t take another minute I’d walk the store nursing him in the sling until he took a good nap.
We could not have survived without it, and I mean that.
Nowadays Blu usually goes to sleep in his own bed. Then during the night usually he comes in our bed, sometimes I sleep in his bed, and rarely he sleeps through the night. We’re in a queen size, and he’s in a twin, and it’s not working out so well. Our plan is to get us a king size, and give him our queen. Then I can sleep with him comfortably, or he can sleep with us and all of us be comfy. Right now he sleeps sideways, and since he weighs nearly 1/2 of me he usually forces me out of bed. Also him having a big bed will open up options for us if we have more kids for naptime and bedtime. A baby and I can still sleep with him if everyone and the bed is carefully placed, and that will make for good naptimes, or bedtimes.
With the AP lifestyle comes discipline without spanking. Because spanking and discipline do in fact mean two different things. I remember once when Blu was quite young and I was at my wits end I smacked his hand, he immediately smacked mine back. Children have no idea what spanking and physical punishment is for. Honestly as a grown up I don’t understand it myself. We do time-out, and our system does NOT use a minute per year of age like many people. We’ve had time outs last for hours.
When sent to time out Blu first screams, rants, and used to even throw furniture. The nearest table used to go flying every time I put him in time out. Now we do time out on the stairs, there’s nothing there he can throw. Our time outs last as long as Blu makes them last. First he has to settle down, stop screaming, stop flailing himself about, then he has to be ready to do whatever the consequence is. He has to be ready to hug and say he’s sorry, or to clean up a mess, or to share. And he sits there until he says that time has come. Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes he takes over half a hour to calm down, then another half an hour to be ready to say he’s sorry.
We also sometimes do “Time In,” which is snuggle time instead. If he is acting out because he is tired, or not getting enough of our attention (but being an attention hog doesn’t count) then we snuggle instead. I really and truly try to step in before it gets to this. If I see it coming then I try to create a snuggly moment before it continues on it’s course.
I always knew I’d homeschool my kids, and convinced my husband the same. so now we “unschool.” Although I’m more inclined to call it something else unschool in a term you may know already. Essentially we don’t do school at home, we don’t use textbooks, we don’t have plans and curriculums, but a workbook is okay if he requests it. Blu isn’t officially in school yet, but works on a kindergarten level. We are not “radical unschoolers” people who usually (but not always) go as far as having no bedtimes, no limits on junk food, etc. Not because I necessarily think something is wrong with that lifestyle, but because I know it’s not going to work with Blu. Blu would never ever go to bed if it was up to him. He’d never say “Oh I’m sleepy it’s bedtime,” because he has sleep issues, and night anxiety. As his parent it’s my job to make sure he gets to sleep, getting past his issues, and being his best the next day. If your kid can set their own bedtime then by all means, go for it. I also don’t believe that kids will learn everything they need to know without help. Blu couldn’t learn to speak without help. I’ve seen kids in his special needs class who can’t move their mouth or drink water without help. Sure some kids can, some kids can teach themselves to read, write, do math, eat healthy, and more. My kid can’t. In fact even with help he seems to be able to remember only 5 letters of the alphabet at a time. Each time he learns a new one he seems to forget one he knew already. Learning disabilities are real, they happen, though they may be over diagnosed, and I’m not going to let Blu slip through the cracks while I wait for him to figure it out on his own.
- So how do we learn? We read a lot, Blu plays, we do experiments. When Blu has a question we try to figure it out, we may read, or watch a video online, or go somewhere and see. We once watched a live feed of baby Bald Eagles and Blu learned exactly how a baby eagle shoots his poop out of the nest. Which is amazing, if you’ve never seen it you should. Right now Blu is VERY into knights, and so we are reading tons of books about knights. Some silly, some rhyming, some true. Blu learned about jousting from “Donkey X,” on family movie day, and then tried it out by using a toy sword and a bike. He’s learning the parts of a castle, the names of various medieval weapons, the pieces of armor, and even different periods of history based on toy knights clothes.
We do math using a purchased curriculum. This year it’s Saxon Math for Kindergarten, my intention being to take two years to do the program. I only ask him to do one lesson a week, and he decides when we do it. He usually waits until the last minute, then he says he loved it and can’t wait to do it again. Usually I call it doing his math, which I think may overwhelm him (“Oh school!?!?”) so I’m thinking of just calling it his purple book. Or something similar. I also bought a “curriculum” for letters, phonics, spelling, and writing, but they are all taught mostly through play and it’s very easy going. Each level builds on the last level, and it’s all based on a series of characters for each letter. And we buy science kits or do experiments from books. (In the picture above we’re working on a color changing volcano.)
I do some “strewing” which is placing items where he will see them and do it. It works pretty well, but I don’t do it often. For example one day I put a dry erase letters workbook, a dry erase marker, and a wiping cloth on the table near where he eats. As soon as he finished lunch he announced “I’ll just do this for awhile” and he spent about 10-15 minutes practicing his letters.
Blu manages to teach himself more just by being interested than I do by trying to teach him. Last year he was interested in knights so I put together a unit study (an easy going pre-school one, I wasn’t working the boy to death,) and he wouldn’t do anything. He barely learned anything, if he actually did learn anything at all. This year he got interested in knights so I bought him one book, and he used it a lot, so I got him some library books, then eventually knights figures. Blu learned fish need fins to swim by watching our fish. He learned a little about moth metamorphosis by keeping a caterpillar. (Sometime I intend to do again in more detail one day.) I just give him time to learn, to be, to watch.
We just take it slow, take it as it comes, and take it one day at a time, and I think we’ll be just fine. As always I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tell me about your birth stories, homeschool, or even disagree with me in the comments below.
And while I could talk about how I dress funny, or do a LARP, I think I’ll conclude the Abnormal series, I have a whole blog about being weird, and time to tell you about all of it.