Crunchy parenting. What?

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If I had to tick off boxes based on Are You A Little Crunchy Too’s “What is Crunchy Parenting?” post, I’d say I’m preeeeeeeeeety crunchy. LOL. Want to find out what being a crunchy parent means? Read on to find out!

Here’s a general list (found on the link above) of the things a cruncy parent would do. And I’ve put my answers (in bold and italic) next to the questions.

  • Attachment Parenting checked
  • Co-Sleeping checked
  • Baby Wearing checked
  • cloth diapering nope
  • Elimination communication barely there
  • natural birth checked
  • home birth nope, not thaaaat crunchy
  • water birth checked
  • delayed cord clamping checked
  • breastfeeding checked
  • extended breastfeeding checked
  • delayed vaccination checked
  • selective vaccination nope
  • vaccination exempt checked
  • holistic medicine checked
  • alternative health checked
  • Veg/Vegan nope
  • Tree Hugging drug free Hippy Mama 99% there
  • Homeschooling/Unschooling checked almost there with alternative schooling
  • Natural Products checked
  • Toxin Aware checked
  • Plastic Free 50% there
  • No Cry It Out checked
  • No Spanking checked
  • Peaceful parenting checked
  • Minimalist most of the time
  • Free Range Children checked
  • Child Led learning checked
  • TV Free almost there
  • Limited Media checked
  • Eco-Friendly Home 50% there
  • Buy WAHM checked
  • Buy Small Business checked
  • Buy Local checked
  • Travel Green (On foot or Bike or bus) *guilty* nope
  • Organic Gardening LOL NOPE, no green fingers here
  • Buy Organics First checked
  • Poison Free Homes almost there
  • Midwife Care checked
  • No Circumcision we have no sons but we don’t agree with circumcision
  • Handmade checked
  • Activism checked
  • Human Rights / Animal Right 50% there
  • Active Parenting checked

Now that’s quite a few “checks” there and add the “half way/ nearly there”, I realised I have somehow unknowingly fallen in to the “phenomenon” of crunchy parenting. To be honest, I never knew there was an actual term for parents like me, until I keep sighting the term in one of my parenting forums.

My parenting style has always been a “controversial” topic within my side of the family, alternative methods and mainstream ways don’t seem to get along somehow, but that’s another story for another day. Despite that, I have over time learned to trust my own maternal instinct. I didn’t just decide to jump on the crunchy parenting bandwagon, but most of what crunchy parenting depicts are what I’ve been practicing all along anyway.

I was having a meaningful conversation with a dear friend the other day and we got into the topic of parenting. She asked, “how do you know if you’re doing the best you can for your children?” If I was asked this question a couple of years back, I would have pondered on it, come up with a thousand ‘what ifs’ and begin doubting my capability as a mother. Fast forward 4 years, after numerous ups and downs in my parenting journey, I answered her without a second thought, and I said, “There is no perfect parenting, you just have to do your best to nurture them according to their natural needs, and that’s the best you can do for your children and as a parent. No one else knows your child better than you, not even your parents, your grandaunt, nor your doctor.” And I think that is exactly what crunchy parenting is about.

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All those baby wearing, breastfeeding, no crying it out, co-sleeping, etc are really about nurturing according to nature. Babies are born to be loved, cuddle close to mom (or dad), and drink human’s milk (of course if under unfortunate circumstances a mother is unable to breastfeed, she shouldn’t feel guilty about it, because life is never perfect). I’ve been told I’d be spoiling my babies by carrying and wearing them all the time, and not giving them enough nutrients if I extend breastfeeding (apparently nutrients in breastmilk depreciates after six months according to doctors… Well then, everyone should stop drinking cow’s milk because cows are milked for more than a few years in average, and mass market milk are filled with unnecessary antibiotics, pus and what not. Ugh. Again another story for another day).

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Co-sleeping is one of the best thing we’ve decided to do
Eating organic? It’s not that we’re being hippy or OTT, it’s about going back to what is natural, what is basic. Our ancestors have always eaten organically grown produce from their own farm, it wasn’t until not-so-recently that farm crops became heavily sprayed with unnaturally harmful chemicals and pesticides (and you wonder why more and more people are dying from cancer). If you ask me, I’d rather pay the farmer for health that comes naturally than pay the doctor for health that comes in a bottle or syringe. But but but, having said that, it’s not always affordable to buy organic, we just buy whatever we can afford to, and it’s okay to not eat organic if budget is a constrain. We just do the best we can according to our own budget.
Unschooling/ homeschooling/ alternative schooling. Why do crunchy parents aim to stay away from common education systems? Reason is because our mainstream education system does NOT nurture according to nature. It’s a one size fits all, and all size fit one concept. Ken Robinson said in his famous TED talks on education, that schooling kills creativity. Why? Because mainstream schooling is about learning within a specifically set boundary. Unschooling/ homeschooling/ and some of the alternative schooling systems like Waldorf, Reggio, and Montessori offer a wider scope of learning experience. These “other” schooling methods actually nurture according to nature, embracing that each child is different and that it is best to work according to the child’s passion and interest so that they will become the best they can be in whatever they chose to be, instead of being a jack of all trades and master of none, like most mainstream school children are.
And with regards to holistic medicine or alternative health care, I find from my personal experience that alternative health care practitioners are generally more knowledgeable about your well being than medical doctors are. No offence to doctors out there (and the one in the house). It’s not that medical doctors do not care, it’s just that they are not equipped with adequate knowledge about preventive health care. They are trained to treat, not prevent. Many doctors think it’s absolutely fine to take paracetamol (acetaminophen) for everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. I clearly remember (when I didn’t know better) the nurses at the hospital prescribed me twenty strips of paracetamol to help me with my postpartum recovery. My father is a retired doctor, hence I grew up taking paracetamol for a lot of things and it just didn’t occur to me that twenty strips of it is actually CRAZY! Too much acetaminophen actually causes liver damage according to a Forbes article (and numerous other scientific studies). And to think that I finished almost all of it except for one strip. Sigh, if only I’d bother to read a bit more on my own instead of relying on medical professionals who almost always view our body’s natural immune system as flawed when in actual fact, it can be almost perfect if you know how to care for it.

Crunchy parenting is, in my opinion, overrated because really, it should be the basis of all parenting practices. Why? Because crunchy parenting is what feels natural, it is a way of life according to nature. Dr Andrew Wakefield once said in a radio interview, “Trust your instincts, maternal instincts in particular. The reason we’re on this earth now, is because of maternal instinct. It is one of the most powerful forces of nature. It has equipped us for survival, far more so than any public health, medicine, or anything like that.” My maternal instinct tells me I’m on the right track being crunchy, and to see my little free-range warriors growing up healthily and happily is all the indication I need to know that I am doing the best I can for them.

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Great (toddler) expectations

Most parents have great expectations of their children. But many don’t expect the same from themselves. Ironic, isn’t it? Parents expect their children to treat others with respect, to know how to share, and to act accordingly during playtime and sleep time (and all the time). But the real question is, do you (as a parent) even practice what you preach?

I’m a firm believer that all children are born pure and good. It is under the guidance of their parents that will eventually lead to the flourishing of goodness in their little big hearts. If you practice what you preach, chances are your child will follow suit.

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Don’t just tell a child to be kind, sharing and all things good; show them and lead by example. If you’re always arguing with your partner on who’s right, or snatching toys away from your kid when he refuses to share, you’re indirectly telling him that it is of utmost importance who wins in the end (in an argument or a fight), and taking things by force is an acceptable thing to do when things don’t happen your way.

Actions speak louder than words. When you portray negative behaviour in front of your child, they will learn. And trust me when I say, they will learn FAST. At two years of age, my little munchkin is absorbing her surrounds like a sponge. Children learn best by imitating you, the parent. Andwhatever that you do on a day to day basis will indirectly be how you mould your child’s character and behaviour. As Clarence B. Kelland said, “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.”

Don’t expect a kid to know the meaning of respect if you don’t raise him with respect. I’ve seen parents who smack and “publicly humiliate” their kids for the littlest of things. That’s not just disrespecting your child as a small human being, that’s just uncivilised in my humble opinion. You wouldn’t smack your friend over some small issue, but you don’t hesitate to do just that to your own child, that’s just stupid.

You can’t teach a kid the concept of sharing when the first thing you do is to snatch away his toys when he refuses to share it, with a stranger. Yes, you might be good friends with a fellow mother, but don’t expect your child to naturally be long time friends with her kids. And don’t expect him to be as willing as you are to share, because heck, even you might not be that willing to share your stuff with someone you’ve just met. So no, don’t expect something from your kid when you might not even be able to live up to that expectation yourself. Or like Sarah W Caron says, “Don’t be a hypocrite, mama!

And how do you define appropriate behaviour? Expecting a two year old to sit through a two hour dinner is like expecting a medical student to sit through a mathematic convention. If your kid can actually sit in his high chair quietly and obediently for two hours and not put up a fuss, that’s not normal, I’m serious, you probably need to get him checked. That maybe an appropriate behaviour for an adult, but it is not for a kid. Appropriate behaviour for a two year old is to want to run around, explore and parallel play. That’s normal. And really, even you might want to walk around to socialise with your friends during dinner functions, why would you deny your kid the same benefit?

Seriously, can someone please enlighten me will you? I know many of you aren’t like that, but I have come across some who are. Why in the world would you expect so much for a person who’s been around for less than two years, yet expect so much less for people who’ve been around for at least thirty to forty years?

See, even my little warrior is facepalming herself trying to understand this logic of toddler expectations… :p

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Reblog: Dear Children, let’s talk about men

Dear children,
The time has come where we welcome in a brand new year, which means we’ve survived another year as parent and children. Hopefully, we all have become slightly wiser too. It’s been a wonderful journey being your mother, and I hope I will continue to watch you both grow and blossom into beautiful young women.
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So, before we end 2015, I just wanted to talk to you a little bit about men. 20 years from now, you will probably meet someone. Someone who will sweep you off your feet, someone who will take your breath away. And then before I know it, you’d probably be telling me you want to get married, which comes to the first point I want to make. If the guy doesn’t even bother seeking permission from us before asking your hand in marriage, don’t marry him. Call me old fashion, but that’s how it should be done. It shows courage (that he’s brave enough to face your daddy who will be holding a rifle) and respect (that your then old woman has had to put in so much love and effort into raising you). But let’s talk about what you should look for in a man, before you even think about getting hitched.
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In all honesty, I can’t tell you what is the perfect man, because what is perfect for me, may not be suitable for you. But I know what qualities a man SHOULDN’T have, and if you notice any of the points below, then please just head to the other direction sweetie.

  1. If a man talks about himself more than he talks about you both as a couple, then smile and thank him, and WALK AWAY. Because he’s just given you a glimpse of how your future would look like – him being all about himself and you’d just be, well, you. Total separate entities.
  2. If you do get to talk about the future, about having children, and you get the hint that he thinks women should do all the work raising a child, WALK AWAY. Parenting is teamwork. If a man is not man enough to change diapers or cradle the baby to sleep, he’s not man enough to be a father. No man should ever tell you he’s not born to be part of parenting. And believe me, I personally know men who are like that.
  3. If a man constantly needs to have the last say, WALK AWAY. You are an educated grown woman who has a good head on her shoulders, you don’t need a male chauvinistic pig to burden you for the rest of your life. Marriage or life as a couple is to be comfortable enough to not have the last say. You should value laughter and happiness over being right. That’s how marriages last.
  4. If you get the feeling as if you’re a maid when the man is around, then you probably are becoming one. In this case, RUN. I didn’t raise you to be slave. I’m not saying that house chores should be shared equally between man and woman, I’m saying that a man should be comfortable doing SOME chores. In my humble opinion, women should still be handling most of the operations at home, but if done right and being showed appreciation accordingly by your man, you shouldn’t feel as if you’re slaving yourself away. Your daddy has always been hands on with everything that goes on in our lives – parenting, house chores, business, etc. And we ALWAYS get things done TOGETHER. The key word here is together. If you’re going to be a couple, you need to work like one.
  5. If a man gives you even a tiny hint that you need improvement in any way, accept his criticism and go to your room. Sit down in a quiet corner and ponder on what he said. Why or what is he telling you to change? Perhaps it’s your temper or bossiness, if so then it’s probably a good sign that he’s trying to bring out the better side of you. Perhaps it’s your boobs that are not big enough, or that you’re not thin enough, in that case you should probably thank him, and then kick him out of the house. Because what happens when 20 years down the road, you go out of shape after giving birth to your children? Is he going to constantly remind you how in need of improvement you are? A genuine man will only try to improve you mentally and emotionally, and give you the necessary support to self-improve physically if you should wish to. God knows how much effort your daddy has had to put in to fix me mentally and emotionally, and I’m forever grateful that he was willing to be with me through every step of my self improvement.
  6. Make sure he treats you well, but don’t let him fuss too much over you. You’re not a tofu, you’re not made of glass. Be independent, but at the same time, let him take care of you. Never let him substitute presents for presence. A Tiffany ring means nothing if he’s never present in your life, especially after you have children. Simple gestures such as peeling the prawn for you, saving the best part of a dish, helping you with the dishes, cooking supper for you, making you hot chocolate milk at 2am in the morning, taking the kids off your hands so that you can have some “me” time, etc tells you how much you matter to him. Yes, your daddy did all those, and more. And if you ever have kids, that’s the best way to show your kids what kind of gentleman to look for when it’s their turn to fall in love. Some of us never had any good examples to benchmark with, but you have had the privilege of watching and feeling first hand how a man should treat a woman, never let yourself be taken for granted.  You’re worth more than that.

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Well, enough said about men, talking about them takes a lot of energy away from me, and there’s too many to list in one article. Now I would like to also give you some advice, from one woman to another woman. You might agree with some, and not agree with others, and that’s okay. Because what is right for me, might not be totally right for you. You work out which ones resonates and makes sense to you.
  1. Never ever degrade or complain about your other half in public. You may talk it out with him in the privacy of your own room, but never in the eyes and ears of the public. Why? Because doing so, not only tells others that he’s a jerk, you’re also indirectly telling others that you’ve been stupid enough to fall for a jerk. Internet memes such as this one, “Dear Mother-in-law, don’t teach me how to handle my children, I’m living with one of yours and he needs a lot of improvement” is just plain foolishness. You can’t choose your family, but you can definitely choose your spouse. So if you are telling the world that you’re living with someone who “needs improvement”, you’re basically telling the world that your husband is not good enough. So then, why marry him in the first place?
  2. Value laughter and happiness over being right. Women tend to nag and find faults in men. Doing so won’t bring you any closer, in fact, it will only push the men further away until they find some other woman who will show them smiles and laughters. I see too many divorces happening because the minute the man steps into the house from a stressful day at work, the first thing he sees is a sour-faced woman, and the first thing he hears is an earful of complains. Always smile, because it’s always the smile that leads us to fall in love in the first place. The rest (complains) can wait, at least until a few hours later.
  3. Life as a couple will never always be smooth sailing. But if you are lucky to meet your soul mate, then the journey will be a lot easier and enjoyable.
  4. Be happy. Happy wives equals happy husbands and happy kids. Make  parenting a joyful thing for your spouse. Make them look forward to spending time with the kids. Tell them how wonderful the kids are. Teach the kids to make something heartfelt for their daddies – be it a simple drawing, some cupcakes, a lego creation. Always tell them how awesome their daddy is because that’s how it should be. Never argue or fight in front of your kids. They need to see a united front in order for them to grow up positively. Save the arguments for the bedroom.
  5. Always know that you have a second home with us, no matter what or when. When you marry someone in the future, your home will always be where your husband is. It is expected that at some point of time (and if you marry the right person) you will be more comfortable with your husband than your parents, because that’s who you chose to spend the rest of your life with. You can’t choose your parents or siblings (so we must accept the fact that not all family members get along), but you can definitely choose your other half, so choose wisely. Take your time. Live in together for awhile pre marriage, and please use the necessary precautions. At least then, you get to see each other’s true colours before signing the papers, because courtship is very different to marriage. Your first love might not be your last, but that’s perfectly okay because if you’ve never been through a few, how would you know that you’ve found the right one? Go ahead, and test the waters.

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Anyway, I think this letter is long enough for now. I need to go catch some sleep before you both wake up from your slumber, otherwise you’d probably won’t be able to recognise your zombie of a mother. Having said so, please be prepared for another letter sometime in the future my darlings. Mommy and daddy loves you to the moon and back.

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Thank goodness for Daddies!

Both warriors have been down with the fever today, a fever that started just this morning with no prior indication whatsoever, not even at 6am when I checked since I co-sleep. This sudden onset of body temperature meant that all plans were ruined today, and that I was really in big trouble because I hadn’t thought of storing any fresh produce to cook for the warriors since they were due to go spend the night at their grandparent’s place. Worse, I just Googled and the nearest supermarket opens only at 10am. Gulp. Duke has his work appointment at 10am and needs to leave the house latest by 9.30am. Double gulp. I guess I would have to wait till the girls were up (they went back to sleep after waking up to a fever at 8.30am) then take both together with me to the supermarket for a quick run of grocery shopping.

So by 9.20am, Duke gave both girls and I a kiss on our foreheads and then left the house for work. Or so I thought. He called me at 9.45am to tell me he’s at the grocers and will get whatever I needed so I didn’t have to lug 2 sick kids together for the groceries. He’s even gotten 8 out of 10 things right in the trolley before I even had to tell him my list. Blessed him, this husband of mine! I was grateful that he postponed his appointment because it was tough enough having to tend to 2 cranky and feverish kids at home, let alone lugging them to a supermarket by myself. And it doesn’t end there. He then comes home with my dinner at 8pm, telling me how amazing I’ve been taking care of the kids, and helped me bathe them without me needing to ask. He then entertained the kids while I went to take a much needed shower.

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Which brings me to the topic of my article, Thank goodness for Daddies. Seriously, sometimes I think we don’t give the daddies of the world enough credit. Parenthood or the running of a household isn’t just a mommy’s job, daddies play a huge role as well, and I think both mommies and daddies deserve equal recognition in society as “parents”.

Duke, like many daddy friends I know, are equally capable of taking care of the household and their children. He doesn’t just bring home the cash$$, he (some obviously not everyday, but many a times):

cooks, hangs up the laundry, cleans the house, washes the toilet, does gardening, goes grocery shopping, fixes the lights and whatever problems at home, solves my personal problems, keeps me stay positive and patient when I’m about to explode, protects me from physical and emotional harm, supports my breastfeeding journey (even when other friends and family members have been discouraging), watches my chick flicks with me (in return I watch action films with him), goes into the birthing pool with me just so that I didn’t have to go through the birthing process alone…

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He also (all the time):

feeds the kids, takes them out alone to the park or mall (so I can finish my chores or work at home peacefully), stays home with them while I enjoy my outing alone, reads to them, chats with them, sings with them, ties their hair, change their nappies, bathes them, babywears them in a carrier, gives them the green light to do whatever mommy says they shouldn’t be doing (not necessarily a good thing)…

And the list goes on.

Most people (mainly the older generation, and certainly society in general) would have had their mouths hanging to the ground floor just by reading the previous paragraph. A man taking the kids out ALONE? Taking care of the kids at home ALONE? Really??!! Men can do that??!! Heck, even my own father was skeptical the first few times I left the kids with him and Duke. Seriously, whoever came to a conclusion that men (2 in his case) can’t handle 2 kids?

A man is capable of many things if he’s determined and passionate enough about it. Also, if only society didn’t brainwash the male population with the male ego and chauvinism thingy, I’m pretty sure many men would actually be okay to show their, for the lack of a better word, nurturing side. Wouldn’t it be great that men are given a chance to show the world what great parents they are, without being judged by silly social norms? That it’s not unmanly to be able to laugh with your kids, or to wipe their bum, or be kissy-huggy with them in public?

Men have been stereotyped since God knows when to be the breadwinner of the house, to work long hours of the day, come home to eat dinner at the table, ask the children about their day at school, and then go to sleep. Thankfully more and more men nowadays seem to have stepped out of that “norm”, and are now more hands on with raising their children.

In fact, did you know that kids fare better in life when they’ve had constant and strong father figures throughout their childhood? As found here, here and here, it seems that children who consistent and healthy fatherly contact have higher intelligence level and psychological security (assuming the father-daughter relationship is a healthy one anyway).

What’s more, do you also realise that fathers are the first man a daughter learns about the opposite sex from, the first glimpse of what kind of man a son will endeavour to be in the future? Therefore, what a father does in front of his children, will influence them for life. Be a loving husband, his daughters will know how she should be treated by her husband, and his sons will know how to love his wife. Be a healthy person, his children will likely be the same. Be charitable, his children will learn that it’s okay to give to the needy, because what goes around comes around. Be filial to his parents, his children will appreciate his filiality and return the favour when the time comes.

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Aren’t fathers just awesome? I really think we need to give more shout-outs to fathers around the world. Men need to know that we women and children appreciate their efforts in parenting, even if it means the children eats instant ramen cooked in yesterday’s left over chicken bone broth. And if I were to be very honest, I sometimes cook instant ramen cooked in yesterday’s bone broth too. LOL.

And really, thank goodness for Daddies, especially the hands-on ones. 🙂

 

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