Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Centered, Finding Balance
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they stay centered and find balance. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
When I’m discussing attachment parenting with other moms I often say that the most important attachment parenting principle is the last on the list and the most often overlooked: Balance.
Balance is the principle that allows attachment parenting to be possible
An overworked and overwhelmed parent will not be able to continue to provide the level of emotional attachment and physical demands that the rest of the attachment parenting principles require.
Balance is often glossed over because it is so complex
The source of balance is so personal and varied that finding balance is much more difficult to tackle than deciding how to choose the best baby carrier or co-sleep safely. Every parent brings their own history and personal idiosyncrasies to their experience as parents, and that means that what one parent needs to stay in balance might be totally and completely different from what another parent needs.
Balance is fluid
Nobody, no matter how zen or dedicated to the cause of parenting they are, stays in balance all the time. We have bad days and good, we get sick and healthy again, we have times when our career demands more of our attention and sometimes we step back from outside work. We are always moving in and out of balance, and that is part of the challenge.
Balance is about moving in the space between two polar opposites
Balanced parenting is about managing to be firm yet gentle, powerful yet loving. It’s about paradoxical needs: I need to be fully present for my kids and I also need to have time and space for my own interests. My children need to have a strong attachment with me and the space and time to be their own people. Balance is finding it inside myself to be patient and present with my misbehaving child when I know she’s having a tantrum because I’m a bit distant and that scares her. Balance is walking away from my scratching, nipple pinching, biting toddler when the thread of my patience snaps, and letting her dad take a turn putting her to bed.
Balance requires momentum
The ebb and flow can’t happen properly when you’re standing still. Like riding a bicycle or swimming in the ocean, you can’t learn how to balance by reading a book or waiting until you are sure you can do it perfectly before you try. Balancing takes self-awareness, lots of trial and error, and a willingness to do things differently next time.
There are some needs that must be met before balance can be achieved: sleep, nutrition, healthy relationships, time to recharge, interests or work outside of parenting and the home. But balance goes deeper than that, to a spiritual level.
Finding my balance as a parent feels like being in the middle of a vortex that is spiraling around me. It’s the sweet spot of peacefulness and meaning and connection and empathy and joy in the midst of the whirlwind of details that incessantly spirals around and around us: untrimmed fingernails, phonics lessons, finding lost library books underneath the couch. For me, true balance comes from practicing peacefulness and humility, from recognizing when I’ve fallen off my bicycle, brushing myself off and getting right back on.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated October 12 with all the carnival links.)