Unschooling ~ The Secret Ingredient to a Happy Childhood

A couple of months ago we went on our very first road trip with David, our two year old son. It was soooo much fun! While on the road I was able to listen to recordings of Eckhart Tolle and read a couple of books, one of which is called the The Unschooling Unmanual, a valuable little book generously given to me by Jan Hunt, who is the editor and contributing author. Her book has 11 essays and 8 different authors ranging from unschooling parents to philosophers, allowing you to receive a wide perspective on the subject. I knew, even before David was born, that I was going to do my own version of unschooling with him. I decided this after meeting my best friend Courtney and several other wonderful people who were unschooled as children and live very happy and fulfilled lives because of it. Unschooling, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, is a style of education which allows your child to direct his/her own learning. Unschooling takes place outside of a school setting (unless the child chooses on his/her own to attend school), and differs from homeschooling because there is no set curriculum. That is the basic definition of unschooling, but in reality it is so much more. Unschooling is a way of life, a way of interacting with and thinking about children which is respectful, loving, and kind.

Bird nest we found on our land with three baby cardinals

Reading The Unschooling Unmanual really helped me to understand, in a deeper way, my reasons for choosing to unschool my child. While watching David run naked on the beach, forage wild hickory nuts near our hotel, ride a trolley in downtown Savannah, and nap in our comfy hotel room bed, I felt pure joy in the moment and excitement about our future unschooled life, filled with lots of freedom, travel, time in nature, and family fun! I truly believe unschooling is the secret ingredient to a happy childhood. Inspired by the stories and information contained in The Unschooling Unmanual, I have made a list, in true Rose Goddess style, of the top 10 reasons why…

1. Respects Basic Human Rights. Unschooling is all about respecting and trusting your child. The fact that parents conceive and give birth to their children often leads them to believe they have the right to control them. Being able to pursue our own education and interests is something we take for granted, yet many children have had this right taken away from them due to their size and age. In my opinion, the relationship between parent and child should be viewed as a partnership. We protect them and help them navigate this physical existence while they teach us the meaning of life, love, and spiritual purity. Our job as parents is not to tell them what to think, learn, or do, but to help answer their questions, obtain information, and provide a peaceful and positive environment for them. Creating a positive environment is a very important part of being an unschooling parent. If your children have free access to junk food and video games in your home, for example, then the addictive quality of these things might rule their time. However, there is still learning that can happen from these things. Like an acorn that has all the information on how to become an oak tree within it, you do not need to force your child to grow, learn, and sprout. You help him/her become all s/he can be by providing the right environment, healthy soil, sun, water, attention, and love.

David eating a tomato from our garden last year

2. The Power of Now. School may teach children many things, but one underlying principle it teaches all children is to live for the future. Children will think what they don’t want to think, sit where they don’t want to sit, read what they don’t want to read, and learn what they don’t want to learn, all in the name of preparing for some bright and happy future. The only problem is, the future does not exist. There is only NOW. When the future comes, it will also be NOW. On top of that, all this schooling doesn’t necessarily mean a child will be happy and successful in life. Look around you. How many people do you know who are truly happy? People who live with passion, joy, enthusiasm, love, and a sense of adventure? How many people do you know who wake up in the morning grateful to be alive? Not many. Most people are continuously thinking about the past and future, and as a result are missing the precious, blissful NOW. Jesus said, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”(Matthew 6:34) Life is not something to prepare for. Life is to be lived. This, of course, does not mean you never set goals and take steps to achieve them. It does mean, however, that your goals and plans for the future should never prevent you from enjoying the present moment. Children who grow up with the freedom to follow their passions know how to live in the present moment. By allowing your child to live in the present moment you can be sure s/he will have a happy future, because s/he knows how to have a happy NOW.

3. Healthy Children. Most school systems are not set up to promote health. For example, children are required to eat on a set schedule instead of being able to follow their bodies’ signals for hunger (not to mention the lunch food available is mostly junk food filled with preservatives.) Children are cooped up inside for 6 hours a day instead of being outside, receiving life giving fresh air and sunshine. They need permission to go to the restroom instead of being able to follow their bodies’ cues on when to urinate and defecate. Also, children are made to get up early in the morning in order to be on time for school instead of being allowed to get a full night’s rest. This issue of sleep is way more important than some might think, especially for teenagers, whose brains release melatonin (the hormone that makes us sleepy) about 90 minutes later in the evening and morning than adults and prepubescents. (Yes, there is a biological reason your teenager stays up late and sleeps in.) This fact puts teenagers at risk during the drive to school and pressures them to fall asleep during first period. Learning this information convinced a few school districts to change their high school start times from 7:25 to 8:30. The results were amazing! Higher SAT scores, lower depression, and increased motivation. Despite this, changing start times is not a “convenient” thing to do for most schools so they opt to keep their early hours and sleep deprived moody teens. (NurtureShock)

Unschooling allows your children to get all the rest they require for optimum health and brain development. Your teenagers will be more of a joy to be around, as will your toddlers, who will never require to wake up early from a nap in order to pick up big brother or sister from school. Keeping your children at home also allows you to set up a beautiful, relaxing morning ritual for them. You can talk about their dreams and help them with interpretation, set intentions for the day, read a special quote or affirmation, give them a loving back rub and put on some uplifting music. This can be difficult to do if you are in a rush to get your children out the door on time.

David sleeping in the car on our road trip

Nananda Van Gestel, another contributing author to The Unschooling Unmanual writes that when her son was attending school he was coming home with one virus after another. “The whole family had trouble staying balanced because we all had to hurry, hurry, hurry just to keep up with the school schedule. And I believe that we are all more prone to illness when we’re emotionally out of balance. Now that we’re unschooling, we can set our own schedules. We’re free to listen to the subtle signals our bodies are sending us, those ‘inner voices’ that tell us how to stay mentally, emotionally, and physically fit. Illnesses like the flu and colds remind us that we need to slow down.” Nananda goes on to say “It’s natural for children to listen to the signals of their bodies and to live according to their own rhythms. If we encourage them to trust these feelings, they will be happy and healthy, and will learn in the most natural way.”

4. Strong Family Bond. John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, said “Between schooling and television, all the time children have is eaten up. That’s what has destroyed the American family.” School separates parents from their children and siblings from each other for a large chunk of time each week day. Although some parents find this enjoyable, many children do not desire such a long separation from their family, at least at first. I myself asked my mother to home school me when I was young and again asked to be home schooled when in high school. I was a very sensitive child and really desired to be with those I loved and who I knew loved me. I intuitively felt schooling did not help me focus on my emotional and spiritual growth. This was important to me, but since I had to go to school anyway I decided to focus on boys instead. Studies show that during middle childhood and adolescence, peers become a major influence in a child’s life. However, they are not as strong an influence on the child who has a close relationship with his/her family, who work and play together on a regular basis. The more time you have with your children, the more time you have to make beautiful memories together and get to know who they really are.

Unschooling helps us truly enjoy children because the way we interact with them is completely different than the way most people in our society interact with their children (not to mention that the school system is a big contributor to the problems we have with our children.) There is no need for yelling, punishing, bribing, and struggling to make them the way we think they should be. Instead, we are allowed to watch, observe, admire, and stand in awe of their brilliance.

Bryan and David exploring caves at Eisenhower State Park

5. Positive Values. Have you ever noticed that a large percentage of parents who choose to keep their children out of school do it for religious or moral reasons? In order to not offend anyone, God and prayer has been taken out of school. It is a taboo subject there (unless attending a religious or new age type of school.) Every day children are under a high degree of peer pressure to fit in and do what the “cool” kids are doing. As a parent you can never be sure what kind of values teachers are subtly conveying or the attitude they have toward your child. (I have heard some very mean comments from teachers about their students.) If children are allowed to grow up in a peaceful home environment they can focus less on pleasing their peers and fitting into the system and more on building core values and developing a strong connection to their divine nature.

David contemplating bugs and flowers

6. Love of Learning. The theory behind schooling is that children go to a specific place at a specific time to learn. Attendance is required and topics and books are selected. Frequent tests are given to determine progress. Bribes, rewards, and punishments are used to “motivate” children. This type of system is based on the belief that children need to be compelled to learn. Unschooling, on the other hand, is based on the belief that children are natural learners. Any parent who has a toddler knows how curious and fascinated they are with the world around them. Unschooling parents know that nothing special needs to happen at the age of 5 to switch on learning. They are already doing it. They are already living fully and absorbing massive amounts of information. At school children begin to learn that if it’s educational it can’t be fun and if it’s fun it can’t be educational. As Albert Einstein said, “It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.”

For unschoolers, learning is an integral part of life and play. Learning is fun! These children are able to retain the same enthusiasm for learning they had as toddlers. As Jan Hunt wrote, “Jason has learned much of what he knows through play, and has the same love of learning he was born with. He learned about money by playing Monopoly, about spelling by playing Scrabble, about strategies by playing chess, Clue, and video games, about our culture by watching classic and modern TV shows and films, about politics and government by watching ‘Yes, Minister’, about grammar by playing Mad Libs, about fractions by cooking, about words by playing Dictionary, and writing skills by reading P.G. Wodehouse. He learns about life through living it.”

7. Maximum Information Absorption. All of the grown unschoolers I know have a keen ability to absorb and remember large amounts of information. Their minds are not occupied with information that is meaningless to them, and they have not learned how to forget. Many children who attend school and are required to learn things they are not interested in will typically develop the habit of storing information in their head for a short period of time in order to pass a test or exam and then quickly forgetting it. This is an unproductive learning habit most unschoolers do not have. Because everything they choose to learn they are motivated to learn it is absorbed and integrated into their minds and bodies quickly and easily. Dr. silvia Bunge, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley says “When a child gets to choose, they presumably choose activities they’re motivated to do. Motivation is crucial. Motivation is experienced in the brain as the release of dopamine. It’s not released like other neurotransmitters into the synapses, but rather it’s sort of spritzed onto large areas of the brain, which enhances the signaling of neurons.” In essence, the motivated brain signals faster, operates better, and learns more. (NurtureShock)

David drinking raw coconut water and “reading” scriptures

School removes responsibility from children. They are told what to do and what to learn and are subjected to the control of someone else’s schedule and curriculum. Children who are unschooled learn to take responsibility for themselves. They are sovereign. They are motivated to learn. Instead of learning how to memorize information, unschoolers learn how to obtain information. This is a skill that will serve them throughout their entire lives.

8. Free Thinkers. In school, children are taught to think and calculate in a specific manner. These methods and ideas are often inferior and in many instances become outdated as science discovers more and more about how the universe really works. For example, Scott Flansburg, also known as “The Human Calculator,” is a math genius. He currently holds the Guinness World Record for adding the same number to itself more times in 15 seconds than a person can do using a calculator. On the day his school teacher was explaining how to add multiple digit numbers, he was not paying attention. His teacher realized this and called on him to do a math problem in front of the class. Looking at the problem he figured out the answer with a completely different method than the standard “carry the one” way children are taught. Even though he came up with the right answer, his teacher told him he didn’t do it correctly because she didn’t see him “carry the one.” Scott tells us now that he is glad he wasn’t paying attention in class that day, because it started him on the path of thinking and looking at numbers in a whole new way, a way which has made him faster than a calculator!

Unschoolers are free thinkers because they are allowed time and space to be creative and come up with their own conclusions about life. As Sal Gentile writes in a post entitled Is a liberal arts degree worth it?, “once artificially intelligent machines like Watson take over jobs in even advanced fields, like medicine, the jobs that will remain will require creativity and problem-solving, not just the rote memorization of specialized knowledge or proficiency in technical skills.” Unique thoughts stem from a well developed imagination. They stem from fantasy. Jan Hunt writes, “Fantasy requires time, and time is the most endangered commodity in our lives. Fully scheduled school hours and extracurricular activities leave little time for children to dream, to think, to invent solutions to problems, to cope with stressful experiences, or simply to fulfill the universal need for solitude and privacy”

9. True Wisdom. There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge, in essence, is information stored in our heads, mere thought forms and ideas on how life works. Wisdom, on the other hand, is a deep knowing of truth. It is felt and understood in every cell of our bodies. The way most children are taught in school involves a lot of sitting still and theorizing. They can receive knowledge this way, yes, but not wisdom. Unschoolers learn through play and hands on experience. As Einstein said, “play is the highest form of research.” It allows us to gain true wisdom.

David’s first snow man

10. Fulfilling Their Divine Mission. In my opinion, every child comes to this planet with purpose. As Florence Scovel Shinn puts it, “There is for each man, perfect self-expression. There is a place which he is to fill and no one else can fill, something which he is to do, which no one else can do; it is his destiny!” Our children come into this world fully equipped with all the information inside of them they need to activate and fulfill their divine mission. Truth is not found in school. Truth is found by looking within. Who are we to judge what they need to learn, do or think? We do not know what the world is going to be like in 20 years. Did our parents realize the important role computers would play in our lives today? Not likely. As Kahlil Gibran said, “Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He Loves also the bow that is stable.”

I realize there are circumstances where parents are unable to unschool their children, even if they really desire to. If this is your situation I recommend looking into alternative holistic education for your children such as Waldorf education, the Montessori method, and forest schools. Even though I am primarily unschooling David I have looked into these modalities and am applying my favorite aspects from them to the way I raise my son.

David and I at the Rethinking Everything/Unschooling Conference in 2011

If you can and do choose to unschool your children I highly recommend surrounding yourself with positive resources and influences. Because of the society and mindset many of us grew up in, it may seem “wrong” to trust our children so much. Questions and doubts may swirl around in your mind. If I trust my child to learn on his own will he read or write? Will he be able to get a job or go to college? What about my child’s social skills? Will they be able to fit in? How will I be able to get anything done or have my own personal time? How will I handle criticism and judgement from others? These questions can be answered by reading good books on the subject, such as The Unschooling Unmanual, or visiting Jan’s education section on her website, and reading authors such as John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn, Sara McGrath, Veronika Robinson, Dayna Martin, and many more. I also recommend joining meet-up groups or forming your own group of like-minded parents. People who will support you as you upgrade your consciousness and learn one of life’s greatest lessons… To breathe and to TRUST.

A Day in the Life of a Blissful Mama (6/12/12)

I’m back!! I must say, taking a vacation from blogging was an excellent idea! If you are a blogger I highly recommend taking a few weeks off from time to time. It is so rejuvenating and refreshing to unplug from the matrix and focus on what is real, connecting with nature, family, and friends. This summer I learned how to juggle, wrote a few songs, and ate lots of food from our beautiful garden. I also had my blog redesigned (if you didn’t notice) by the sweet and talented Amy Tuggle. Below I have recorded a sample day of my relaxing, stress free summer. This one is from June 12th, 2012, when my son was 19 1/2 months young.

Watermelon from our garden

6:15 am: David wakes up to nurse. I feel well rested because I went to sleep at the same time he did last night. Although I like my personal time in the evening to do yoga and write, sometimes I really enjoy getting 10 hours of sleep :) I look out my bedroom window to see clouds, sky, trees, and morning sun blending together to make a gorgeous, vivid, and colorful scene which looks more like a painting than real life. I breath deeply and try to take in the magic of it all.

7:10 am: Bryan comes in because he hears David. He has been up since 5:30 am to get a little work done before we woke up so we can enjoy more time together today. He is such an amazing man! We go outside so David can pee. Our garden is AMAZING!! It rained last night so I don’t require to water today. I thank God for doing it for me. We take our compost out, pee on our garden and play with Chula (my sister’s dog who we are babysitting for a few days).

7:30 am: David requests kale chips for breakfast. I do my 5 rites while he eats. David brings me his ring sling and asks for a “horse walk.” I put him in his sling and we go outside to see the donkeys, horse, and birds flying and landing super close to us. I have a deep connection with birds. Many times they fly near me, look at me, communicae with me, or land on my head when I am in a particularly high vibrational state.

8:00 am: Bryan goes into his office for his work conference call. I give Chula breakfast. I add a couple raw eggs to her food, which she loves. David plays in Bryan’s guitar case while I eat breakfast. Honeybush tea with lemon and apple slices with tahini, lucuma, salt and honey. David comes in and asks for cookies so I give him raw super ginger cookies made out of ginger, sesame seeds, date and coconut. I also share my remaining breakfast with him. David runs outside to go pee. He is fully house/potty trained. Yay for Elimination Communication!!

8:45 am: David tells me he needs to poop. He goes, I wipe him, and throw his poop in our compost pile. We have been composting his poop since we read The Humanure Handbook. David then asks to play with our hose so I turn it on for him and go inside to soak sweet potato leaves from our garden in olive oil and lemon juice. I go back outside to play with David. He giggles joyfully whenever he sprays me. We take a snuggle milk feeding break and then observe the grasshoppers, ants and roli polies together.

9:45 am: Bryan comes out of his office to start a load of laundry. He seems tense. I ask him about it and he says he has a lot of pressure to get things done today. Most of the time his job is easy for him. Many times he only requires to work 6 hours to complete what is required in an 8 hour work day. Other times his job requires a high amount of mental focus. His company relies heavily on his problem solving genius. I give David some goji berries and chlorella tabs to munch on (as a distraction) while I bring some raw chia crackers and hummus to Bryan’s office and give him a head massage with valor essential oil. I do energy work on him while he works.

10:00 am: David looks sleepy. I push him on his tree swing while I jump on my rebounder and say my daily affirmations. Mother, thy name is multitasking.

10:15 am: David is asleep. I take him out of his swing and to our bed. I drink water and coconut kefir as I write in my book for 45 minutes and then meditate for and hour and a half. Meditation is essential for blissful mothering. It helps me to be happy and present in each moment with David.

1:15 pm: David wakes up and nurses. Bryan comes out of his office and takes David outside to potty. I go out into our garden and pick basil. David picks a cucumber. I prepare lunch. Basil pesto (pine nuts, olive oil, lemon, basil, salt) on soaked sweet potato leaves, avocado, tomato and cucumber from our garden. We eat outside under our hackberry tree. Bryan and I have a New Earth raw treat for dessert.

2:00 pm Bryan answers some work e-mails while I read with David. I love watching his language develop and seeing into his unique thoughts. We take a walk with Chula and check our mail. I find a package by our gate! It is my sunorganic order with rose hip oil, macadamias, and lentils. I love shopping online. It feels like Christmas every time I get a package! David feeds Chula organic treats we purchased for her at Whole Foods.

2:45 pm: David snacks on some leftover goji berries and chlorella while I read. He brings me his Ergo carrier and asks me to wear him. I put him on my back and go outside to work in the garden. Soon he wants to get out and play with sticks and push his wooden wagon around our yard. I get a lot accomplished. I am only interrupted temporarily by a snuggle milk feeding and a few bugs David tells me I just have to see.

3:45 pm: Bryan takes David for a walk while I do some writing. I eat raw ginger cookies, drink water and beet kvass.

4:40 pm: Bryan and David come home and tell me all about their walking adventures. I lay on my hammock with David and nurse him while Bryan and I talk about our dreams. David gets up and goes over to Chula and pees on her fur. Chula looks up at David like “what just happened?” I cover my face to hide the fact that I am laughing hysterically while Bryan calmly tells David it is not appropriate to pee on animals. I wash Chula off with our hose. Poor doggy. We give her treats to make up for it.

5:00 pm: From our garden we pick peppers, squash, ground cherries, and ripe strawberries. We cut up raw squash on a plate with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Delicious! David looks completely blissful. There is a cerain love that flows through when you eat food you have grown yourself with your hands while snuggling outside with people you love. More snuggling on our hammock, breastfeeding, and talking with Bryan ensue.

6:00 pm: Cleaning party! We play dance music to make it fun. David even joins in by sweeping our broom across the floor. He stops to snack on pumpkin seeds and mango superfood icecream (mango, ice, blue green algae, amla berry, hemp, lucuma, mesquite, honey)

6:45 pm: We take a family walk. There is so much to discover in nature, especially in the eyes of a 19 month old boy. We pick and eat greens from our garden. I watch David run around our yard with a stick. I could watch him for hours. He is so beautiful, strong, vibrant, confident, and comfortable in his environment. David poops in his little potty. Bryan wipes him and takes his poop to our compost pile.

8:00 pm: We pull laundry down from our clothes line and Bryan and David take a bath together.

8:30 pm: Bryan plays Teach Your Children Well on his guitar while I dance with David. He laughs and laughs when I spin him around in a circle. I take David into our bedroom and nurse him to sleep while Bryan serenades us with Ave Maria and Oh,Holy Night. I caress David lovingly, putting good thoughts and vibrations into his head while he drifts to sleep.

9:15 pm: Bryan lights some candles and we take a long, sensual, and relaxing shower.

10:00 pm: Bryan finishes up his work while I do yoga, then we both prepare for bed.

11:30 pm: Snuggled together with our son we quickly fall asleep.

Parenting Made Easy ~ 3 Ways To Make Raising Children Fun!

Motherhood for me is deeply fulfilling and rewarding. My heart smiles in warm fuzzy bliss every night before bed when I reflect on the joyful day I had, playing with and raising my cosmic son. At times motherhood can also be challenging, pushing me to go deeper into my heart and mind, healing unconscious patterns and tapping into an endless spring of patience, love, and understanding. Being someone who has done a lot of inner work (breath work, meditation, raw foods, yoga, traveling, journaling, space clearing, emotional upgrades, dancing, power of now, decrees, conscious language, etc), I can attest to the fact that motherhood is one of the most powerful transformational tools available. Ram Dass states, “If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.” Our children are our biggest mirrors. They bring to our awareness anything inside of us which is less than light and love. Because their emotions are so raw and uncensored they bring up our own buried primitive emotions in a way nothing else can. If we are conscious about it we can transform our deeply buried pain into joy and wholeness. If we resist or unconsciously react we only strengthen our limited patterns. By being a parent we not only have the opportunity to re-parent ourselves, healing negative generational patterns and altering the course of our DNA for eternity, we also learn what truly matters in life. To love, explore, play, grow, laugh and have fun! Having fun is important. It keeps us inspired, alive, and beautiful.

17 1/2 month old David

For the last week or two I have been feeling challenged with my 18 month old son. I find myself annoyed at him frequently. I am resisting his behavior and focusing too much on what others think than looking within and upgrading my own attitude and viewpoint. At times like this, when I realize I am not having fun, I take a deep breath, connect with my core, and ask myself how I can enjoy this moment fully. Today I desire to share with you the answer to my question. The following three principles are what I use to help make motherhood as easy and fun as possible.

1. Eat, Sleep, and Be Merry! Motherhood is most challenging when our children are grumpy, sick, and fussy. Agreed? A large percentage of this behavior can be attributed to hunger, tiredness, and environmental toxins. By feeding your child a whole foods organic diet, helping him/her create healthy sleep habits, and eliminating as many pollutants from your life as possible, you will be surprised at how happy and healthy s/he can be. First, let’s talk about food. My son, David, has never been sick once in his 18 months of life (only a few runny/stuffy noses from teething) and I attribute a large part of this to his healthy pure diet, and the fact that I still breastfeed him, which gives him extra immunity support. There is a lot of information on nutrition today. It is not for me to suggest what is best for you and your child, however, there are a few basic principles everyone should apply if they desire truly healthy children. Avoiding sugary and processed food is a must. Eating a diet rich in organic or homegrown fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, soaked and fermented whole grains, herbs, and superfoods is highly beneficial. If you do choose to consume animal products it is vital to hunt for it yourself or purchase from organic farms you can trust. We purchase our veggies from Paul, one of our friends at the Mckinney Farmers Market who does not use any type of spray on his produce. We purchase our eggs from a Mennonite family who we know treats their animals well. Sadly, even organic produce is sprayed with “approved” pesticides and animals who are raised “organically” are not necessarily raised lovingly. It is important to make sure your child is well hydrated and eating regularly (hunger can mess with your child’s hormones and cause unwanted behavior). Offer him/her fresh spring water, fresh squeezed veggie juices, and herbal teas frequently. Sometimes a child’s moodiness or inability to sleep or concentrate is related to allergies. You can either avoid common foods which produce allergens (wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and sulfites) or get your child tested for his/her specific allergies.

14 month old David enjoying raw superfood cookies made out of hemp seeds, coconut, lucuma, mesquite, and honey

The concentration of synthetic hormones, pesticides, heavy metals, and food additives in conventional food is truly outrageous! Children are particularly vulnerable to these toxins because their brains and bodies are still immature. Certain food additives reduce levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, resulting in hyperactive behavior in sensitive children. Many parents have attributed autism to heavy metals which disrupt bodily function. I recently watched a documentary called Homo Toxicus, which talks about the affect chemicals have on our bodies. In the Arctic, where they consume large amounts of raw fish (contaminated with mercury) there is an epidemic of ear infections in babies and deafness among Inuit youth. So much so that teachers must wear microphones so their class can hear them. Aboriginal families living beside chemical factories in Sarnia, Ontario, are suffering from infertility, miscarriages and a dramatic decline in male offspring. Farmers exposed to atrazine, 2,4-D and dinoseb, which are common pesticides used on crops, show high risk of infertility. Sperm count is low among many and some are unable to produce male children. Male frogs and fish around these agricultural sites don’t fully develop into males. They behave as females and can even be impregnated to produce male offspring. Bisphenol A (BPA), found in plastics, is easily absorbed in our bodies, mimicking our hormones and causing thyroid irregularities (especially in pregnant women), neurological changes affecting memory and mood, and earlier onset of puberty. These plastics can be found in water bottles, liners of tin cans, plastic dental fillings, polycarbonate camera bodies, thermal receipts (such as those printed at the gas pump or ATM), plastic toys (another good reason David doesn’t play with toys unless he is around people who own them), etc. Our entire planet is contaminated with thousands of chemicals and toxins. There is no where we can go which is 100% pure and protected. The best we can do to ease this burden on our children is feed them healthy food and pure water and live in a clean and green way.

15 1/2 month old David picking and eating juniper berries

Consuming a healthy diet and reducing toxic exposure will go a long way in helping children enjoy deep restful sleep. It’s also important to create a peaceful daily rhythm, give them plenty of sun, fresh air, and exercise, and soothe, nurse, or read them to sleep so their dreams are peaceful and serene. Contrary to popular opinion, the “cry it out” method does not create healthy sleep habits. I know several people who have insomnia who were left to cry it out as children. I am not saying this is necessarily related, I am only saying that it obviously doesn’t create long lasting results. It is a heartless technique created by “logical” men and not by woman’s intuition.

Sleeping blissfully next to mama

2. Wide Open Spaces: Children need space and freedom to explore, to get dirty, to connect with mother earth, to touch, taste, hear, smell, see, and think without someone constantly over their shoulder telling them what they can and can’t do. A young child’s brain system structures concepts from his/her direct sensory interaction with material things and the workings of the world. Parents who keep their children in confined spaces and restricted from physically interacting with their environment stunt their growth and go against their natural instincts. This creates inner conflict in the child’s emotional body. On the one hand he/she desires to keep the bond with his/her parents and on the other hand he/she has a strong inner drive to find out what this world is about. I love this powerful quote from Magical Child, by Joseph Pearce, “The parents (of the magical child) do not subject the child to situations in which arbitrary boundaries block his/her biological thrust toward exploration. They do not take the eighteen-month-old into a public restaurant for a few leisurely hours, because they know that s/he cannot interact with such a world for long. They know that s/he has no logical machinery for grasping the subtleties of a blocked situation, that s/he has only intent driving him/her. They know that situations blocking intent produce anxiety, so they do not tempt him/her with situations offering frustration. They are responsible for their child, and they recognize that his/her physical setting is as vital as the quality of his/her food.”

13 1/2 month old David exploring our land

Recently we visited some of our friends for a fun community event. They own a lot of things which are off limits for David to touch. Instead of enjoying my friends I spent the whole time following David around, telling him not to touch this or that. Obviously he did not like this treatment and within an hour or two he was being fussy, restless, and defiant. Realizing David required some fresh air and freedom, we left their home and went to the nearest park. When we got out of our car and placed David on the grass barefoot, he looked around, smiled at us and started clapping! In essence he was thanking us for understanding what he truly needed. When I think of how important it is for children to explore their world in a very physical way, I relax about him eating unripe blueberries off our bushes, picking up dried horse poop on our walks, playing with bugs that could potentially sting or bite him, and pretending to clean our toilet with the toilet brush. Who cares?!! He is learning through experience and that is what matters most :)

We are very fortunate to live on 17 acres of land with a big fenced-in yard which is completely safe for David to freely roam around. Many days I lay on my hammock and watch him play with bugs, pick up rocks, quietly contemplate nature, and make up games using sticks, flower pots, and water. This is ideal. Second best would be having a small yard which you transform into an interesting forest garden play area. Third best would be to enjoy long daily visits to an awesome park.

15 1/2 month old David playing on our land, wild and free!

3. R.E.S.P.E.C.T: Respecting your child means viewing and treating him/her as a sovereign being, sent to this planet already equipped with a blueprint for how to fulfill his/her divine mission. It means using clear communication with him/her and allowing him/her to make as many of his/her own decisions as possible. Picture this… You have in your arms a beautiful newborn baby boy. He is absolutely perfect! Well, except for the fact that he wants to be held 24/7 and nurse all day and night. He also requests to be rocked to sleep for all his naps and before bed. He even prefers for you to sleep with him at night because he doesn’t sleep as well when you are not close to him. When he starts crawling he gets into everything, touching and putting anything he finds in his mouth. He doesn’t like you to dress him and actually prefers to be stark naked and diaper free. As he grows older he wants to be tossed in the air, twirled, pushed on the swing, and taken on walks one hundred times a day. He tells you no and hates being in the car seat. Instead of eating a good solid meal he snacks throughout the day. He is stubborn and desires to do everything himself, from putting his clothes on to helping you around the house. This makes getting things done take 10 times longer. He talks incessantly and asks a thousand questions a day. As he grows older all he desires to do is play, play, play. He hates going to school and asks you to read him a story for an hour before bed. When he becomes a teenager he becomes obsessed with playing his guitar and “hanging out” with his friends. He rebels against school and authority figures because he just cant understand how the things he is being taught will apply to his future.

How do you feel about your perfect child now? Is he still perfect or in need of serious discipline, shaping, and correcting? In western cultures, especially, the common thing to do with a child like this is to train him, show him who the authority figure is, ignore his desires, and teach him that life is full of disapointments and he can’t always get what he wants. They do this because they feel it is “best for him,” but in fact, every single thing I mentioned above, every behavior and desire this child had is vital to his optimal physical, emotional, and intellectual growth.

Am I still perfect Mommy?

Some advanced societies actually view their children as a type of deity. Jesus said, “Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). We as adults have in many ways forgotten our connection to life and the divine. Children can see through our lies and social niceties. They live life in a non-judgmental and joyful way, following their heart and intuition. We would be wise to allow our children to influence us more than we influence them. I have so much more I could write on this subject, but since this post is already super long, I will just say that good things come to us when we take into consideration our children’s feelings. For example, when my son was 11 months old he HATED being in his car seat and going on car rides. He would scream inconsolably most of the way to and from our destinations. I finally stopped resisting his behavior and took a deep look into what my son was experiencing. He had just taken his first steps 2 months earlier and was really perfecting his walking skills. With his new found freedom and range of motion, being strapped in the car seat was the last place he desired to be. Bryan and I decided to go on a 2 week car strike. We didn’t take him anywhere and allowed him free play inside our car every day. This was the very first time I went grocery shopping on my own! After our car strike we slowly started going places again. To our delight and surprise, he was calm and content in the car seat! Those two weeks saved us months of torture!

14 1/2 month old David calmly enjoying hackberries in his car seat

When it comes to raising children, a step back may be a step forward. Studies show holding your newborn all day and sleeping with him/her at night makes him/her more independent in the future. Allowing children to engage in rough and tumble play actually develops higher brain functions and the ability to handle strong emotions when older. And giving them more choices as a teenager enables them to be more confident and make better choices when they are adults. When we honor what our children ask from us, we not only make our life easier because we are not resisting or fighting against their will, we are also giving them what they truly need to become the intelligent, happy, and amazing people they are meant to be.

P.S. To learn more advanced parenting techniques click here for books and information on how to raise a super being.

Baby It’s Cold Outside ~ Rewild Your Child

Alright, so it’s not really cold outside. Spring is basically here in Texas. Elm and redbud trees are budding, the ground is covered with filaree, dandelion, henbit and periwinkle flowers, and our peach, pear, apricot trees and blueberry bushes are blossoming!! We have been doing a massive amount of seed planting lately, preparing for our paradise garden. Hence the absence of a post last week. Although this winter has been mild, we still had a few cold days and below freezing nights. We used this unique opportunity to rewild ourselves and rewild our child.

Many of you may remember from this post that we keep our son naked most of the time. Even in the winter he is happily running around in his birthday suit. Although we do put more clothing on him when it is cold outside, and especially when he expresses a desire to be warm, I would estimate he has been naked about 80% of the time this winter. Because we didn’t over dress him and because we allowed him to experience the elements uncensored, he is now completely comfortable playing outside naked in 40 to 50 degree weather! I think this is amazing because he didn’t start out this way. The first time a cold front came through David ran inside as fast as he could! I know there are babies who can withstand much colder temperatures though, even playing naked in the snow! Who knows, maybe David (and I) will get there some day too. :)

David playing outside naked in 50 degree weather

Don’t get me wrong! I am in no way a subscriber to the eagle dad method, where you force your child to run in the snow for his “own good.” I feel children (and adults) should only do what they are ready and willing to do. This is the only way true learning takes place. For example, in The Continuum Concept, Jean Liedloff explains how the Yequana people, from birth, train their babies and toddlers to navigate dangerous waters, all the while respecting their children’s will and comfort. “The yequana take advantage of the babies predisposition to this sort of performance and, keeping his rules and respecting his go ahead signals, dip him into more and more challenging waters. A daily bath is routine from birth, but every infant is also dipped into fast rivers; first only his feet, then his legs, then his entire body. The water goes from swift to swifter and on to plunging rapids and falls, and the time of exposure lengthens too, as the baby’s response reveals growing confidence. Before he can walk or even think, a Yequana baby is well on his way toward expertise on judging the force, direction, and depth of water by sight. His people are among the finest white-water canoeists in the world.” I also read somewhere a while back that in South America, mothers will prepare their babies for consuming their normal spicy cuisine by adding just a tiny amount of spice to their baby food, increasing it little by little until the child is ready for the kind of intense spiciness the adults can handle.

How we “trained” David to handle cold weather was first to keep him naked inside where we kept our home warm. Then we would leave our front door open when we went outside, allowing David to stay inside or follow us at will. At first he would choose to stay inside and watch us through the window as we played or hung laundry up on our clothes line. Little by little, because of his desire to be with us, he would step one foot out the door, then another. Soon he was hanging out on our front porch. And eventually playing barefoot and bare bottomed in our yard. In the beginning we witnessed him squeezing his muscles and grunting a lot. We realized he was learning how to warm himself up from the inside. Sometimes we would carry him outside for short bursts of time, like when we would take our compost out or check our mail. He was naked, but also snuggled next to us in our arms or in a sling and never seemed to mind. Last year, during his first winter, it was colder, and that is when we began to prepare him to handle cold weather. I would keep him naked or only lightly clothed next to me in the moby wrap. My body temperature would warm him up and keep his temperature regulated without over heating.

Me and David outside during his first winter. Here he is wearing a hat and light shirt and no pants

So why in the world do I do this? What is so special about being cold hardy? You may be wondering. Well, first of all, there is a reason nature provides us with cold weather. She is an intelligent one you know. Exposure to the cold, if done right, has the ability to strengthen our immune system, keep our skin and hair young and healthy, improve circulation, relieve depression, and increase fertility (come to think of it, David was conceived in the winter ;) ). As mammals, our bodies have the ability to regulate their own temperatures, but only if we allow them to. In 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, Cody Lundin explains that “repeated exposure to cold increases the amount of mitochondria within your cell!… The more mitochondria you have, the more heat can be produced.” In essence, activating our self regulating potential is important if you desire to be self sufficient and sovereign. Plus, it is excellent for our health! And you know I am all for that!

P.S. To learn more advanced parenting techniques click here for books and information on how to raise a super being.

Ecstatic Parenting ~ My Interview With Courtney Clay ~ Part Two

Here is part two of our interview with Courtney Clay on Ecstatic Parenting. We are going to cover some awesome topics today such as discipline, schooling, unassisted birth, and health care! If you have yet to read part one click here first. Enjoy!

Courtney, our honored guest

RG: What are your views on discipline or training?

CC: I view my relationship with my son as a partnership. The key, for me, in maintaining harmony in our relationship is clear communication, and seeing him as my ally. I try my best to understand him, and his reasons for doing what he does… not just so I can know, but also (and especially!) so I can help him consciously understand his reasons! I try my best to determine the cause of his actions, rather than scolding (or praising) the visible effects of that invisible cause. For example, if he is acting out in some way, I will see if I can determine what he wants to communicate to me, and shift my focus to what that might be, rather than being resistant/offended/righteous about a certain behavior and letting it distract my focus from what’s really going on with him. I might not figure it out right away, but just being open to finding out shifts my energy into more peacefulness and compassion. I still communicate to him about the behavior itself (why I don’t like it, and what I will do if he does it again… like remove the thing involved, take him somewhere else, etc), but I try not dwell on it.

So often, acting out is related to tiredness, hunger, pain, boredom (lack of the stimulation of the learning opportunities someone requires at that time), or loneliness… remember that this is true for children AND adults!! If I have a feeling about why he is acting out, I will ask him about it, to assist him in becoming aware of his own feelings and motivations, so he learns to understand himself. Then our communication turns into a mutual seeking of understanding. My son is still a toddler, and since becoming a toddler, I have noticed that often, the strength and “bigness” of his emotions scares him! Often, when he has an emotional outburst, he will immediately ask to nurse… like he lost control and scared himself, and needs comfort! So my number one priority in those situations is to help him understand himself, and for ME to be calm and compassionate so he can see that I’M not scared or provoked by his outburst, so he doesn’t have to be, either. Not to say that I always feel calm or compassionate in those situations… that is certainly not always the case! But that is another opportunity for deepening our connection. When I am able to come to a calmer place, I also share with him what I was/am feeling (having it be about me, not blaming my feelings on him), so he can see that I, also, navigate through really big emotions… so it’s another connection point between us. Love, understanding, communication… that’s what it’s all about!

Courtney spinning Cedar

RG: What are your views on child education?

CC: I believe that all humans are born already equipped with a deep, all-consuming, biological drive to understand and develop proficiency in the place in which they find themselves, and this drive begins in full force at the moment or birth (or the moment of conception, really). Babies and young children practice unrelentingly, and eventually master, basic physical movement and methods of communication with those around them. As toddlers, they unrelentingly imitate those around them, feeling deeply that the way those around them are acting, and the things they are doing, indicate the most important things about this place they were born into — therefore, the things they MUST explore thoroughly for themselves. If they are prevented from following this drive, they throw fits, because this drive to become proficient is SO strong. If they are told that they should be doing something other than what they feel deeply driven to do (which is what school curriculums do), it will not make sense to them, because they are already equipped with a mechanism within that shows them exactly what they REALLY need to be doing to develop proficiency as quickly as possible. There is a method of childhood “education” that supports this view of human nature, called child-led learning, self-directed learning, or unschooling. An accurate way to perceive unschooling is learning by living, rather than school’s effects of separating everyday life from “things you will need to know, someday, for some reason, although most of us still aren’t sure why”. Public schools SEEM to teach about so many subjects… yet, how many of us learned the most basic things about life in school? How many of us learned in school about optimal nourishment, food preparation, how to grow food for ourselves, tree and rock climbing, thermoregulation (body temperature regulation, which is essential for survival outside of the climate-controlled boxes we live in), how to purify water for drinking, how to make basic things like clothing or simple furniture… and those are just basic things every human should know (and used to know, in the not-too-distant past), to keep ourselves healthy and comfortable in any situation. These are the skills that used to be passed down in families… practical skills. The main purpose of modern schooling seems to be all about learning how to follow orders, conform to a schedule, and learn skills that will make us useful as another cog in the wheel of an unsustainable societal structure (so we can “get a job”).

I have never been to school (besides 4 years of community college, where I studied only exactly what I wanted to learn). When I was young, my parents decided to keep me out of school, since neither of them perceived much benefit from their own schooling experience, and felt there was something much more ideal they could do for their children. For most of my childhood, my sisters, my friends and I were immersed in imaginative, creative play, with a wide variety of “practical life skills” woven into our play. I learned to read at a young age, because I had early interest in reading. My two younger sisters’ interest in reading came much later (when they were 9-10), but when they got into it, they skipped all the “children’s books” and went right for grown-up books like The Bible and A Wrinkle In Time (each of which were one of my sisters’ “first books”!). They have both been avid readers ever since.

Learning and observing all the time

As a child and teenager, I learned from living… I still learn from living, and I always will. The best thing my parents assisted me in learning was how to learn. If one understands how to learn, how to access the information and resources they require to follow their interests on a subject, anything is possible! The way my parents “taught” me how to learn, was when expressed interest in something, my parents involved me in finding out resources and answers, so I observed them doing that. I have taught myself so many things. It was usually a combination of personal experimentation and seeking help from those with extensive experience who were willing to help me. I never had schoolteachers, but I have had so many inspiring, memorable teachers in my life. I also learned a lot from the environment I grew up in… my parents ran their own home business during my childhood, so I learned how to be an entrepreneur. I have owned 3 of my own successful businesses so far. My sister now makes her living as a highly sought-after music teacher (piano & violin) in California. My other sister is an accomplished ballerina and a talented graphic designer.

From an unschooling perspective, “school-age” begins at birth. With my son, since the day he was born, I have paid attention to his cues about what he is most ready for and interested in exploring, and I help facilitate his learning. Obviously, sometimes, there are things he is interested in that he is not ready for (like playing with sharp knives). But learning that he is not ready for something (and the reason for it) is part of learning about it! I try to ensure that if I do prevent him from doing something he wants to do, I have a really good reason for it, and I communicate that reason, and then do the best I can to give him a similar option that works (like using a duller knife to practice cutting vegetables himself).

Self-directed learning (unschooling) just makes sense, when human nature is deeply considered. Babies naturally have an internal motivation to learn to sit up, crawl, walk, run, talk, and have conversations. We don’t have to convince them that they need to learn those things… it is obvious. The best thing we can do is support them and encourage their efforts, and help them out when they ask for it. Along that train of thought, would it not be the same for more “advanced” skills like reading, writing, calculating numbers, learning about computers, how to repair things and make things, etc? Of course it is!! Children/teenagers/adults, just like babies, naturally have a keen observation of the world around them that tells them exactly what they need to know at all times. If a child identifies a good reason in his environment that makes him really want to know how to read, he will be motivated by an unstoppable force, with single-pointed focus… and when that motivation is present, I have seen (and experienced myself, as a child/teenager/adult) children learn a subject 10-20+ times faster than a child who is told they should learn something by someone else, yet they themselves do not fully understand the practical and meaningful application in their own life of learning that thing. There is no separation between learning and life. Learning IS life.

Cedar learning how to make food by watching/helping Courtney

RG: You had an unassisted home birth. Will you talk about this a little and share what effect you think this had on Cedar?

CC: Yes! You can read the full story of my pregnancy and birth on my blog, here:


Giving birth to my first child, in my home, with only my husband and my mom present, was definitely the most intense experience of my life so far! He was born 28 hours after my first gentle contractions began. My husband caught him, and I heard the voice and looked into the eyes of my perfect little creation. I was ecstatic beyond words, I felt triumphant beyond comprehension, and caught a momentary glimpse of the vastness of my power. I have been very different since then.

All throughout my pregnancy, I felt deeply called to give birth in the most sacred, intimate way possible… for me, that was about being in my comfortable sacred space, surrounded only by my husband and my mother. I knew it had the potential to be a profoundly spiritual experience, if I could create the conditions that would nurture and support that state in coming forth. I did, and it was crazy intense.

I think the effect it had on Cedar was one of empowerment and triumph… we did it together, the only two people who could have done it for us! I breathed into it, dove into the all-consuming intensity, even when I really thought I couldn’t do it. As my son was born, my perception of myself was reborn.

I also think it created an immediate powerful, intimate bond for us as a new family. Cedar, Isaac & I have a closeness, a resonance, that I rarely observe in families I see, especially families who choose more mainstream child-raising methods. I feel so grateful to experience this level of intimacy, harmony, and unspoken knowingness (which often feels very telepathic) within my amazing small family!

Courtney, Isaac, and Cedar sun gazing at White Rock Lake

RG: I know Cedar has rarely been sick in his 2 years of life, but what do you do to help him heal quickly when he does feel less than ideal?

CC: Cedar has had only a few mild “bugs” in his life so far, and they always came at times when we were under some form of stress (often the good kind, excitement-stress!) and around lots of people… like both times we attended the Rethinking Everything conference, where we sleep at a hotel for 5 nights and participate in group activities and sessions for many days, and are around hundreds of people! Both times when we got home, he had a mild cold for a few days… I just saw it as his immune system having been suddenly bombarded with a huge amount of new information, and he was taking some “down time” to integrate all of it! He has never had an ear infection, a fever, or any childhood illnesses (even though he is not vaccinated).

In the instances where he is having some “down time” in this way, I take extra care to ensure his environment is calming and more quiet than usual, and we usually spend a few days by ourselves around our house and outside on our land. I usually will evaluate my own life at this time, to determine if there is any imbalance that is trying to get my attention through Cedar’s condition (which always ends up being the case!). I make sure I am extra available for him (attention and nursing), and that I am nurturing myself plenty, as well. When he was younger and mostly nursing (not eating much food), I would eat extra medicinal mushrooms, vitamin C, and other immune system supporting herbs, and cut back on expansive/stimulating foods, and foods that require lots of digestive energy… then he would benefit through my breastmilk. Now that he’s eating more, I just add more of those things into his food. Mostly I just focus on relaxing more, clearing any unnecessary activities out of my schedule, and being really present with myself and him.

Courtney comforting Cedar

RG: Cedar has never been to a doctor or pediatrician in his life. Please share how you feel about children and medical care.

CC: A decade ago, I took responsibility for my own health. I decided that if I wanted to experience a particular level of health, it was up to me, and I learned that my state of health is directly related to my lifestyle and emotional state. Even when I was a child, my sisters and I rarely saw doctors. We were all born at home. Being my parents’ firstborn back in 1981, they knew very little at that time about the harmful effects of vaccinations, so when they took me in for a routine vaccination when I was just over a year old, I pulled the needle out of my butt. That was the last vaccination I ever had, as that incident caused my parents to rethink the vaccination issue and do some research… so my younger sisters never got any!

In my experience of reality, there has never been a reason to go to a doctor, outside of real emergencies. I didn’t see a doctor or midwife during my whole pregnancy, and haven’t since, either. I know enough about natural foods, herbs, and caring for my body, to at least have an idea of what to do in any situation… and I feel confident with acting on what I know. Even if I don’t know everything I might need to know, I feel confident than my intuition will serve me well, and that I probably already have more of a clue than most doctors.

Most people go see doctors because they don’t know how to care for their own bodies, and/or they don’t trust themselves. I’m not talking about broken legs or uncontrollable bleeding… but minor things like colds, flus and ear infections. Those things are so easy to resolve with awareness, knowledge of how our bodies work, knowledge of natural foods and herbs, confidence in our ability to care for ourselves, patience, faith, and the ability to look honestly at where we are off balance in our life. I empower all of us to claim these qualities as our own!

RG: Are there any additional words of wisdom you would like to share on parenting and nourishing our children?

CC: If you have interest in learning how to use superfoods, wild foods & nutrient-dense raw foods, I will be publishing my first book in September 2012! Recipes for Ecstasy: 55 Delicious & Deeply Nutritious Culinary Creations using Superfoods, Raw Food & Wild Food.

My increase in appetite since giving birth has inspired the creation of an astonishing amount of delicious recipes! Follow my blog to stay tuned:


Also, visit my blog if you are interested in my further musings on subjects related to conscious parenting, and let me know what you think!
~Courtney Clay

Courtney and Cedar on their five acres of land

Good work Courtney! As usual, You ROCK!

P.S. To learn more advanced parenting techniques click here for books and information on how to raise a super being.

Ecstatic Parenting ~ My Interview With Courtney Clay ~ Part One

I have a very special treat for you today! I decided to interview one of my best friends, Courtney Clay, on her views on parenting. The way she interacts with her son Cedar is both Radical and Refreshing and very different from the way people in our society normally raise their children. I hope you find her as inspiring and adorable as I do!!

And now, without further adieu, I introduce to you Courtney Clay…

RG: Your son, Cedar, has been slightly advanced to very advanced in almost every milestone so far in his development, from physical coordination to talking. How much of this do you attribute to the way you nourish him?

CC: I feel his nourishment has enhanced and accelerated his development in all areas. A lot of children these days who grow up on processed food have a variety of challenges… the main ones I’ve noticed (common in many young children I have observed) are regular runny noses, colds and ear infections multiple times each year, digestive issues, tooth decay, stunted growth, requiring a lot of sleep (longer naps and more night sleep than Cedar requires to be fully rested), and a general sluggishness, moodiness, and/or rebelliousness… all of which are absent in Cedar. When a child doesn’t have to deal with all those things, they have far more energy to grow, explore, and become proficient in their world. That’s my perception on how my son’s health has affected his development.

Also realize that what our culture views as “developmentally advanced” is only advanced compared to the norm in our culture, where low-grade, chronic sickness IS the norm. In many indigenous cultures, whose diets are nutrient-dense, and who live close to the earth and live in family/community, the development of their children is quite a bit more accelerated than even what our culture views as advanced!

RG: What foods are you currently giving to Cedar (or what are his favorite foods)? And which foods do you feel are the most important for children to consume for optimum development?

CC: The qualities of food I emphasize in Cedar’s (and my own) diet, which I see as my responsibility to provide for him, creatively encourage him to eat, and be an example of enjoying them, are:

1. Nutrient-dense … grown in richly mineralized soil, and varieties that are wild/heirloom/minimally-hybridized.

2. Fresh … for fruits and veggies, this means they were picked as soon as possible before eating; NOT the 1-2 week-old “fresh” produce from the store! (although we do buy organic produce from the store sometimes, for variety’s sake) For nuts/seeds, it means they have been cold-stored to keep the oils from going rancid.

3. Minimally-processed … we do mildly “process” some things, via our blender, food processor, dehydrator, and buying high-quality packaged superfoods… but all of these are a HUGE upgrade to the way “processed foods” and fast foods are processed!

Courtney, Cedar, David and I picking up fresh produce at the Saturday morning farmer’s market

I feel best about him eating the freshest, most nutrient-dense raw foods I can possibly access. His diet currently includes:

  • Wild-harvested local spring water
  • Nutrient-dense fat & protein sources … he really goes for the fatty stuff, as a rapidly growing child should! He loves avocados, macadamia nuts, chia seeds in the form of homemade chia crackers, coconut, fresh pecans from our trees, raw egg yolks, pumpkin seeds, cashews, crunchy chlorella tabs, dulse, nori, and superfood treats I make with lots of hemp seeds and algae.
  • Wild foraged foods … he can identify a dozen or more wild foods on his own, and eats them regularly! His favorites are wood sorrel leaves and flowers, wild arugula flowers, and various wild berries and fruits.
  • Fermented foods … he loves my homemade pickles, kombucha, water kefir, beet kvass, and lacto-fermented sodas.
  • Mineral-rich herbal tea infusions … his favorites are nettle and oatstraw.
  • Mineral-rich fruits … he loves berries, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, and many wild fruits including wild persimmons, juniper berries, hackberries, gum bully berries, wild pears, and dewberries.
  • Fresh veggies … he doesn’t eat many leafy greens at this point, but he loves celery, wild wood sorrel, and enjoys leafy greens or any other veggie as part of the delicious salads we make.

By the way, he is still breastfeeding many times daily (and a couple times during the night) at this point (he is 28 months), which I know adds so much to his health! He also enjoys raiding my supplement cabinet. I only eat food-source and superfood supplements, so he’s welcome to anything we have. He loves to chew up probiotic and enzyme capsules, DHA (golden algae source) capsules, take droppers of marine phytoplankton, drink angstrom minerals, and he sometimes even eats reishi mushroom capsules!

I feel medicinal mushrooms are some of the best food-herbs for children to consume. They are non-toxic in any amount, and are immune-system tonics/modulators. So I regularly make a few recipes that contain mushrooms for him, like our Super Blueberry Popsicles: blend blueberries, a little water, a bit of honey or raw coconut sugar, medicinal mushroom powders (usually reishi and/or chaga), high-vitamin-C berry powders (like camu, acerola or amla), and maybe wild blue-green algae and/or a super supplement like Bone Renewal from The Synergy Company (which contains food-source calcium, magnesium, silica, vitamins D3, K1, K2, and herbal synergists… great for growing bodies!!) … blend, then add to popsicle moulds! The blueberries really balance out the bitter and tart flavors of the mushrooms and vitamin C.

Young Cedar eating a blueberry popsicle

My diet is really similar to Cedar’s, except I eat a larger percentage of herbs, vegetables, seaweed, and raw chocolate :)

All that said, it is essential to note that I do not view the structure above as a dietary regimen; it is not a fixed idea of what the perfect diet is. I am constantly evolving, and if I were to identify my Self with a specific way of doing things, I would be disempowered… the picture I painted above is only a snapshot of what I am currently inspired to provide for my son and am drawn to for myself. It is my current perception of my healthiest choices in the realm of food at this point in time. I am not recommending that you do all/any of those things… I do recommend that you continually explore new ways of nourishing yourself, broaden your culinary horizons, and always seek higher levels of health and happiness. Pay attention to what resonates with you, inspires you, gets you feeling excited, and DO THAT! Also pay attention to what you might be doing currently that is holding you back, and consider letting it go. Whether your inspiration is ignited by something I am doing, or something someone else is doing, or a vision that comes to you in a dream… whatever, it doesn’t matter. Do what makes YOU feel ecstatic!

RG: How important do you feel being in nature is for children?

CC: Essential for optimal health and happiness. Think of it this way: What IS nature, anyway? Nature is all that exists naturally on the planet we were born onto. Our bodies are living organisms made completely of earth substance; our bodies are intelligent, self-sustaining and self-repairing ecosystems in themselves. Our bodies are designed to exist within and interact with the greater ecosystem around us, which is also intelligent, self-sustaining and self-repairing.

In our modern societies, we have tried so hard to distance ourselves from the natural world. We have tried to control nature; to subdue it. We have created artificial ecosystems that are NOT intelligent, self-sustaining and self-repairing: they require constant maintenance from us, and are always in danger of falling apart. That in itself is fine, it could be a fun game… except that we have become dependent on these systems. Most people, these days, would be terrified if they had to live outside of their climate-controlled boxes, away from the stimulating/sedating processed food they are used to, and suddenly completely responsible for providing for themselves all of their basic needs like shelter, food and water. Any other animal on earth (except maybe our domesticated pets) would be instinctively confident and resourceful in this situation. Most people in our society would not be able to survive on our very own planet, if these man-made, fragile structures fell apart even temporarily!

So nature is our natural home. We are one of many living organisms that are part of the natural world, and we are interdependent. Modern man has become arrogant, to our great detriment. Indigenous people who have lived out their whole lives intimately connected with nature would not even consider doing anything which would cause harm to the ecosystem in which they live, because they recognize this larger ecosystem as their body’s life-support system! When we look at it this way, it can seem like the greatest form of insanity possible.

Cedar climbing trees and enjoying the natural world around him!

The earlier we can begin to discover our place in the natural world, the more deeply we can develop a meaningful connection with all life, and maybe discover a greater sense of purpose in our life.

The benefits I have noticed from children being in regular contact with the natural world: They are calmer, and more alert, focused, and engaged with what’s going on around them. There is constant movement in the natural world, a constant rhythm, and interesting changes and cycles. The terrain is more varied and more challenging, so they have an opportunity to develop much greater physical proficiency (which automatically develops mental proficiency) by navigating hills, rocks, mud, sand, trees, spiky plants, weather extremes (which fine-tune our body’s adaptability and immune system) etc. The air is fresh and full of oxygen, which balances their energy and mood and sharpens their minds. They have the opportunity to observe where their nourishment really comes from: food and water originate in the natural world, not in a store. They can discover the joy of interacting with a variety of different life forms, like animals, insects and birds. They are exposed to sunlight, which is essential for healthy growth, bone development, happiness, contentment, deep sleep, and hormone regulation. Children are naturally more active when they’re outdoors, because there’s so much more space, and so much to explore. It’s a way for them to channel their high energy in a constructive way. Nature makes toys, too! Sticks, rocks, and balls (fruits/nuts from plants and trees) of all shapes and sizes!

RG: You like to sleep outside with Cedar whenever the weather permits. What positive effect do you feel this has on him?

CC: Every time I sleep outside, I notice how much more interesting the sky is than my bedroom ceiling :) I love breathing fresh air all night long (we open our bedroom windows every night anyway, even in winter, but actually being outside makes such a difference!), hearing the crickets sing at night and the birds sing at sunrise, and waking up to a beautiful and ever-changing panorama of sky! One time, we slept outside for a few nights, in a straw-bale circle we made (our usual outdoor sleeping spot), and there was a cricket that would hang out on one of the straw bales and start singing to us as soon as we laid down, for a few nights in a row! Our most recent night outdoors, which was a couple weeks ago, Cedar & I slept so deeply and when he woke up in the morning, he was so calm, gazing at the sky, and talking to me about the interesting cloud formations that were floating by. There is something so magical and grounding about sleeping outside, and I so deeply enjoy sharing this experience with my son!

Cedar napping outside

RG: What are your views on children watching television, especially under 3 years of age?

CC: I don’t believe that television, computers and video games are inherently harmful, yet for the Space of Love I am inspired to create with my family, these things play a small (computers) to nonexistant (television) role. My opinion on television is that it offers little value for a child’s early development. I feel that it can be somewhat confusing, distracting, and useless for young children, who are still constructing their basic worldview… especially most of the “programming” available on TV these days. I have never owned a TV in my life… when I moved out of my parents’ house, that was the end of it for me. I enjoyed a few TV shows as a child and teenager, but I don’t miss it at all, and I very much enjoy the silence and simplicity that remains in its place. The occasional YouTube clip gives me all the satisfaction I desire of that kind! Sometimes Cedar and I watch videos on the computer together… he loves the videos you make, Debbie! He says, “let’s watch a Debbie video!” In the past week, we also watched a clip about a little girl who is friends with many wild animals (Tippi… she’s amazing!!), and some little boys playing djembe drums and didgeridoos. So if we watch anything, it’s for a few minutes at a time while we’re together, and we usually spend hours daily outside and playing in other interactive ways… compared to many children these days, who only spend a few minutes (or no time!) outside, and many hours in front of the television daily.

The harm that I see associated with television and other media is in the way so many modern children use them: to fill an emotional hole caused by an unsatisfying life with too much artificial stimulation and materialism, and not enough natural stimulation like close relationships, imaginative play, and nature. To me, that’s very different than if a child (especially an older child) has a strong interest in a subject, and their interest leads them to immerse themselves temporarily in internet research, a specific game, or a related television program. The effect that an external thing (like television) has on us is greatly determined by the inner intention that is motivating us to interact with it!

So I don’t have any rules, I just follow my inspiration on which way to go, and pay attention to my feelings, and if I feel depressed or uninspired about a situation I’m in that involves media (or anything else), my inspiration is urging me to head in a different direction.

~Courtney Clay

David and Cedar lovin’ up on Courtney

We are not finished! I asked my friend six more loaded questions and she gave me six more brilliant answers! Click here for part two of this interview!

Have an ecstatic day!

P.S. To learn more advanced parenting techniques click here for books and information on how to raise a super being.

A Tribute to Babywearing

I LOVE baby wearing/toddler wearing! Why? Because it helps me to fulfill both my needs and my son’s needs at the same time (especially on his clingy and teething days). I am able to water our garden, do housework, and take leisurely walks with my hands free while David feels safe and happy snuggled next to me.

I first learned about babywearing years before I had my son when I read The Continuum Concept. Reading this book was an emotional and life changing experience. It gave me the insight and understanding I required to heal feelings of disconnection inside me. After David was born I carried him next to my body 22 out of 24 hours a day until he was about 3 months. I would only put him down in our bed for a couple hours at night while I had “me” time. I didn’t even place him on the floor for tummy time until he was about 12 weeks old. The first time I put him down he was able to roll from his tummy to his back, proving that carrying a baby around with you all day does not take away from, but only enhances their physical development.

David napping in his Moby Wrap at 1 month

Benefits of Babywearing (taken from Evie’s Kitchen):

  • The mother’s progesterone levels are increased through physical contact with the infant, leading to a more intimate maternal bond, easier breastfeeding and better care
  • Infants who are carried are calmer because all of their primal/survival needs are met. The caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, touched and tasted, and can provide feeding
  • Consistant motion is necessary for continuing neural development, gastrointestinal and respirator health and to establish balance (inner ear development) and muscle tone
  • Parental rhythms such as walking and heartbeat have a balancing and soothing effect
  • Infants are “humanized” earlier by developing socially. Babies who are closer to adults can study facial expressions, learn languages faster and become familiar with body language
  • Independence is established earlier (according to Desmond Morris in his book Babywatching)
  • You have two free hands to mothertask: do the laundry, juice the cucumbers and keep your baby content
  • Some slings are designed for easy breastfeeding, without moving or disturbing the baby
  • Slings take up less space than pushchairs

That’s what I’m talkin’ bout!

P.S. To learn more advanced parenting techniques click here for books and information on how to raise a super being.

Bryan wearing David (5 months) at the mall in his Sakura Bloom sling

Bryan wearing David (6 months) in our Ergo Carrier as we forage for mulberries

Bryan wearing David (7 months) in his Over the Shoulder Baby Holder on our daily morning walk

Me wearing David (8 months) during our Turner Falls camping trip

Me shopping at Whole Foods while wearing David (11 months) in his New Native sling

Book Review: The Natural Child by Jan Hunt

Ok, get this… I have over 70 books on parenting!! Obsession? I believe so. ;) A few months ago I finished reading one of my books called The Natural Child by Jan Hunt. I love her book! It is all about loving attachment parenting and respecting children. I especially love all her information on homeschooling/unschooling and how children learn. In her book she has a really great chapter entitled The Hidden Messages We Give Our Children which I feel sums up her viewpoints beautifully. I desire to share this with you today. I hope you enjoy!

David and I snuggling by the fire

The Hidden Messages We Give Our Children
By Jan Hunt, M.Sc


What we say: “You can cry all you want; I’m not going to pick you up again!”

What we think: “This is breaking my heart, but all those experts can’t be wrong.”

What the child thinks: “They don’t love me. They don’t care about my suffering. Mommy is perfect, so there must be something wrong with me. I must not be worthy of anybody’s love.”

What we say 20 years later: “What on earth do you see in Tom? How can you let him treat you like that? Don’t you know you deserve better than that?”


What we say: “No more nursing. You’re too big for that now!”

What we think: “I’d like to continue, but I can’t stand all this criticism from my relatives.”

What the child thinks: “I’ve just lost the most important thing in my life: the long periods of cuddling and the food that felt best inside me. I must have done something terrible. I must be a terrible person.”

What we say 20 years later: “Why are you drinking so much?”

Age Two

What we say: “You can’t come into our bed anymore. You won’t be lonely. Look, here’s a nice big teddy bear to keep you company!”

What we think: “Grandma thinks there’s something wrong with having you in our bedroom. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s more important for us to please her than to please you. Anyway, this teddy bear should make you happy.”

What the child thinks: “It isn’t fair! They get to cuddle with a real person. They don’t know me very well. They don’t care about my feelings. Oh well, at least they gave me this bear.”

What we say 20 years later: “I know you’re upset that Tom broke off with you, but is that any reason to overcharge your credit card like this? Will all this stuff make you feel better that someone left you? When did you become so materialistic?”

Age Four

What we say: “You know you’re not supposed to hit your brother! I’ll give you a spanking you’ll never forget!”

What we think: “There must be a better way to handle this, but it’s what my dad did, so it must be right.”

What the child thinks: “I was so upset with my brother I hit him. Now Dad is so upset with me for hitting, he’s hitting me. I guess it’s okay for adults to hit, but not for kids. I wonder what I should do when I get upset? Oh well, one of these days I’ll be an adult myself.”

What we say 20 years later: “A barroom brawl? Adults don’t hit people just because they’re upset. I never taught you to resort to violence!”

Age Six

What we say: “Well, this is a big day for you. Don’t be afraid. Just do everything your teacher says.”

What we think: “Please don’t embarrass me by acting up at school!”

What the child thinks: “But I’m afraid! I’m not ready to leave them for so many hours a day! They must be getting tired of me. Maybe if I do what the teacher says, they’ll like me better and let me stay home.”

What we say 20 years later: “What?! Your friend talked you into taking drugs? Do you do what everybody else tells you to do? Don’t you have a mind of your own?”

Age Eight

What we say: “Your teacher says you aren’t paying attention in class. How will you ever learn anything important?”

What we think: “If my kid never amounts to anything, I’ll feel like a failure.”

What the child thinks: “I’m not interested in the things the teacher talks about, but I guess she knows best. The things that do interest me must not be important.”

What we say 20 years later: “You’re 28 years old an you still don’t know what you want to do with your life? Aren’t you interested in anything?!”

Age Ten

What we say: “You broke another dish? Oh, never mind. I’ll wash them myself.

What we think: “I know I should be more patient with you, but at least this way the dished will get done.”

What the child thinks: “Boy, am I clumsy. I’d better not even try to help anymore.”

What we say 20 years later: “You want that job but you won’t even apply for it? You should have more faith in yourself!”

Age Twelve

What we say: “Go out and play with your friends – You’ll have more fun with them than hanging around here all day.”

What we think: “I know I should spend more time with you, but I’ve got so much to do. It’s a good thing there are so many kids around here.”

What the child thinks: “I want to do things with Mom and Dad, but they’re always too busy. I guess my friends like me better.”

What we say 20 years later: “You never call us or come to see us anymore. Don’t you care about our feelings?”

Age Fourteen

What we say: “Please leave the room, dear. Your father and I have something personal to discuss.”

What we think: “We have some secrets we’d rather you didn’t know about.”

What the child thinks: “I’m not really part of this family.”

What we say 20 years later: “You’re in prison?! Why didn’t you tell us you were having problems? Don’t you know there are no secrets in families? We tried so hard. Where did we go wrong?”

David playing in leaves

Brilliant!! Right? If you desire more check out Jan’s book and website. She really understands that being a parent is the most important thing we will ever do. What could be more vital than the legacy we leave behind through our children? And what could be more important than ensuring the next generation is happy, healthy, and fully functioning? This is why it is soooooo important to THINK about what we are doing. It is not wise to follow the crowd or take the “easy” road on this one. I challenge each one of you to rethink the way you are parenting your precious little ones. Every word we speak and every action we take has a subtle or not so subtle effect on the rest of their lives. These amazing beings of light have entrusted their care to us. Let us live up to their trust and take our sacred responsibility seriously.

P.S. To learn more advanced parenting techniques click here for books and information on how to raise a super being.

Confessions Of An Un-Domesticated Goddess

I have a confession to make. I have a weakness. Yes, it’s true. I am not perfect. Shocking, I know. Today I am going to reveal to you a part of myself which, until now, has caused me shame. A part of myself which I have attempted to hide from others. I am what I fondly refer to as an Un-Domesticated Goddess, meaning, I suck at keeping my house clean! At any given moment, if you were to walk into my home unannounced (because I can clean up nice for guests ;) ), you would see dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor, random papers and other projects on my table, an unmade bed, and bathrooms in need of cleaning. This is something I have struggled with for a LONG time. I blame it on my right brained nature. Even in elementary school I remember spending my weekends trying to clean and organize my room. I arranged and re-arranged my furniture and possessions over and over but nothing ever seemed quite “right” and so I maintained an unkempt room. My mother, like 99.9% of the people I know, has a knack for decorating, organizing, and keeping her place spic and span. She would not let me go outside to play until my room was up to her standards, and so I spent many hours inside overwhelmed by mess when I so desperately wanted to have fun with my friends, playing outside in the beauties of nature (which my technocratic room could never emulate). Well, now that I am grown up, I do play. Instead of cleaning I generally choose to go on long nature walks, watch movies with Bryan (netflix has become our standard date night since David was born), talk with friends, nap, read, meditate, pursue creative projects, and enjoy lots of snuggles and quality time with my son. I never clean when David naps, except for rare occasions. I use my time for self-care, creativity, and fun.

David laying on my pile of clean clothes (I think the blurriness of this photo enhances the “undomesticated” look. What do you think?)

Some days I feel I should be living the life of Anastasia, from the Ringing Cedars series, or Adam and Eve, from the Bible. No house to clean, no food to prepare, nothing on my to do list except for contemplating the meaning of the cosmos, playing with my animal friends, and giving thanks for the abundance of food growing around me. In nature, everything makes sense. If I were to throw an apple on the ground I would not be cluttering my home (not that I actually throw apples on my floor…). Mother Earth would use this to enrich her soil. Nothing is dirty, out of place, or in need of sterilization. Everything is perfect. Everything fits into her eco-system and is used to create beauty and abundance. Instead, I live in a box, whose ecosystem would collapse (or eventually become part of nature’s eco-system) if I didn’t tend to it consistently. I love my home, I really do, and I appreciate the warmth it provides and the modern conveniences it contains. I am just saying, maybe we could come up with something more efficient for all us un-domesticated goddesses out there ;)

I believe our greatest weakness can be our greatest strength and inside our deepest shame and sorrow lies the most beautiful part of ourself. In order to change anything we must first embrace it. We must see how our weakness is serving us. We always have exactly what we need and desire, even when we think our life is far from ideal. Some day I really would like to be at least a little bit of a “Domestic Goddess,” but today, I celebrate my un-domesticated self! It has brought me so much fun!! So many moments when I should have been cleaning I have chosen to follow my bliss and invest time with those I love. I am grateful for my ability to relax no matter what my surroundings look like. I am an easy going mother because of this. My son is able to play with my stuff, eat on the floor, be diaper free, and get dirty without a stressed out mom. Today I make peace with my un-domesticated self, for my greatest weakness may just be my greatest strength.

P.S. Do you have a weakness? In what way does your weakness actually serve and bless you? I would love to know!

The Joys of Co-Sleeping

Several years ago I had a beautiful red headed friend named Miriam. She had a sweet husband and an adorable 1 1/2 year old daughter. I loved to be around them. I could feel they had a special family bond which I didn’t see too often. One day Miriam told me that her daughter slept in the same bed with her and her husband. I was surprised and thought the same thing most Americans who are uninformed about co-sleeping think. I thought that she should probably make her daughter sleep in her own bed or she would spoil her (actually, I thought she had already spoiled her) and never have private time with her husband again. I am telling you, every time I have ever made a strong judgment about anything, life has shown me the other side of the story. Flash forward to now. I have my own little man who turns one on Tuesday and has slept snuggled next to me in our bed every night since his birth. Well, technically he has been sleeping in our bed before his birth since he was with me in utero ;) The benefits of co-sleeping are many. Here are just a few reasons I choose to co-sleep:

David at one month

1. Co-Sleeping Fulfills A Baby’s Continuum: According to The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff, a baby needs to be in the midst of life (as opposed to separated from it in a lonely room) and next to his/her mother, especially during his/her most vulnerable period (while sleeping). This is important for his/her full developmental potential.

2. Co-Sleeping Gives A Baby Full Access To Nourishment When He/She Needs It Most: A baby’s brain grows the most at night and a woman produces the most prolactin (breastfeeding hormone) at night.

3. Co-Sleeping Creates A Safe Association With Sleep: Babies who have co-slept tend to have fewer sleep problems, night waking, nightmares, and night terrors as they grow up. In their subconscious they feel safe and they know their needs will be met. Co-sleeping also eliminates a parent’s ability to use the “crying it out” or “ignoring your child’s signal for help and comfort” method. Sometimes David will wake up during the night or from a nap and call out my name. Once he sees or feels me near he goes back to sleep peacefully. When children are young they really do need extra assurance of our presence and protection.

4. Co-Sleeping Helps Regulate A Baby’s Breathing, Temperature, and Heartbeat: When a mother is skin to skin with her newborn, her body temperature will rise or fall according to her baby’s need. Her baby’s breathing and heart rate also tend to sync up with hers. This is especially important in the first 3 months when a baby may have difficulty doing this on his/her own. Contrary to popular myth, co-sleeping significantly reduces the risk of SIDS. In countries where co-sleeping is the norm, there isn’t even a concept or word for SIDS because the mom is always there, able to help her baby at the first signs of danger.

David, five months, and I napping in our bed

5. Co-Sleeping Promotes Breastfeeding Ease: A mom and baby who sleep together share sleep cycles. When her baby wakes up to breastfeed, his/her mother will be entering a light sleep too. Then all she requires to do is roll to her side and give her baby milk. They both usually fall back asleep together and begin another sleep cycle. A mother who co-sleeps doesn’t have to stand up, produce adrenaline, go into another room, feed her baby, set him/her down quietly, and try to go back to sleep. She is able to fully complete her sleep cycles. A well rested mommy is a happy mommy.

Of course, there are many warnings about co-sleeping out there. “It will spoil your child.” (How? By giving him what he requires? Or by giving him too many cuddles and kisses? You can’t spoil a baby) “It is dangerous, you could crush him.” (um, I have never rolled onto or crushed my husband and I have never rolled onto or crushed my baby. Unless drugged up, we are always semi-aware of our surroundings while sleeping.) “It will ruin your sex life.” (actually, co-sleeping has brought Bryan and I even more snuggles and loving caresses. Plus, it’s fun to find creative ways to be together. Kinda like being a teenager). This article is a good one to read to clear up any misconceptions about co-sleeping. After re-reading The Continuum Concept(I first read it in 2007) and the article linked above, I firmly made up my mind. I was going to do it!! While still pregnant I “practiced” co-sleeping by placing a teddy bear between me and Bryan while we slept to get a feel for what it would be like to have a little person in between us at night. Needless to say, this didn’t even come close to the real thing. It’s so much more fun with an actual baby!

Chunky David at almost three months

In my opinion, co-sleeping is one of the biggest joys and most rewarding parts of early parenthood. I LOVE snuggling together at night as a family, especially when it’s cold outside, feeling yummy warm baby breath on my skin, sleeping well, waking up to groggy smiles and giggles, and enjoying a few more moments of family snuggling before beginning our day. 90% of the time, co-sleeping has been PURE BLISS for me. The other 10% consists of events which impede on my sleep, such as a random kick or punch, teething, growth spurts, and anything else which causes excess sucking, fussing, and squirming in David.

For example, last night, around 3 am, David started to nurse. After 20 minutes of sucking and squirming I began to feel annoyed. (I am spoiled because I am used to him sucking for 5 minutes or less and going back to sleep). I unlatched him (because I choose to feed him only positive emotion) and he started to cry. Bryan took over and bounced him to sleep. Within 2 minutes he woke up fussing again. We decided he might need to pee so we took him to the toilet. He went pee and started breastfeeding again. All in all we were up for 45 minutes to an hour, but David made up for it by sleeping in until 8:30 am :)

David, eight months, and I taking an afternoon nap

When David finally unlatched, he started talking, “na na (ma ma), na na (ma ma), daddy, daddy, dant oo (thank you), dant oo (thank you), dant oo (thank you), lu oo (love you).” And then he went to sleep. Now he may have just been practicing his words, but in my heart I know he meant it. “Thank you Mommy and Daddy for keeping me safe at night, for giving me extra skin to skin so my dendrites can develop, for giving me free access to milk so I can reach my full physical and mental growth potential, for comforting me when I cry so I have an easier time comforting myself when I grow older, for showing me I can get my needs met in life and I always have help nearby, and for including me in your bed and encircling me with your love.” You are welcome my son. You are so worth it! I love you too!

P.S. To learn more advanced parenting techniques click here for books and information on how to raise a super being.

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