WARNING: Rambly and inspiring post.
We all have different priorities when it comes to parenting, when it come to life.
I think a lot about what I want my children to learn, to know when they are adults. It’s often met with curiosity and concern when I tell people. Most just don’t get it and that’s ok. It seems that my goals are quite different than what most people think about. If you’re still reading, hooray! I’ll tell you more about me…
I want my children to be able to take care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually regardless of circumstance.
What does it mean to me to be able to take care of ourselves physically?
To me this means that as humans we can produce, source and prepare our own food locally. This sounds like an incredibly daunting task but it doesn’t have to be especially if you can connect with other people interested in this. (I will be blogging a lot about how to do this in the very soon future.) My children have followed my lead to real food and take great interest and pleasure in growing and harvesting food, going out to farms, hunting, butchering our own meat and being in the kitchen with me. I see a great value in being able to provide nourishing and convenient foods for yourself. If your food is hurting you, all other areas in your life will be harmed. It’s amazing what people that are well nourished can accomplish. It improves morale, motivation and energy for life. Many, many people do not know how to feed themselves anymore. One of the saddest things I experience is when I go to the grocery store and see elderly people or busy parents with grocery carts full of processed convenient foods. I don’t feel judgmental (anymore) but rather I see what they are missing out on; Flavour and harmony within their bodies. It feels amazing to be nourished by a steaming bowl of homemade soup or stew. It’s something that I wish for everyone. If you’re in need, come over to my house for a bowl and a cuppa. With eating well, we are more aware of our bodies and our needs and it leads us to be able to access alternative forms of health care with great success. It also means that we trust when we need medical advice/help from a doctor.
What does it look like to take care of ourselves mentally? To me this means that a person owns and takes responsibility for their life. They don’t blame and they don’t go looking for external things to make them anything; happy or sad. That’s right, people do that, I do that! I go LOOKING for situations to make me upset so I can limit the good in my life because I’ve hated myself so much. No more. I’ve been saying no to that now and it’s working.
Taking care of ourselves spiritually to me means having purposes that remain a touchstone in our lives to bring us back from our own despair. I often need to re-commit to the process of growth, of love, of good food, sustainable living, peaceful parenting and all the other new age hippy cliches. It’s wonderful to remind myself and rediscover the beauty and the magnificence of my purposes after a spell of momentary mommy insanity. It’s sweetness in action.
Are my actions coinciding with these goals? I ask myself that all the time and often it’s “no”. But I move on, growing and getting closer and seeing the beautiful results. More importantly, I’m enjoying this one life. What else is there to do but enjoy and take it all in?
What are some of the things you think about for your children?
Did you know that traditional people and much of the world’s people now have used or do use elimination communication to take care of their infants needs to eliminate waste? Can you imagine what would happen if China suddenly all started using diapers? Oh, the horror!!! The mountains and mountains of diapers would kill us all! Anyways…
Here is my first video on how to start using EC (elimination communication). I am going to keep it simple, because EC is just that; simple. I will also provide tips and ideas (below) about how to easily EC. I’ve read many books on the subject and have experience with my five children. I have often found the books to be confusing and overwhelming. EC is not confusing or overwhelming at all, it’s easy and very natural.
I’ll give you the video spoiler, in case you’d like to avoid watching it.
How to begin EC? offer the potty. That’s basically the premise, plot and climax of it.
Why use Elimination Communication?
Everyone will have their own reasons but here are mine:
No diaper rash. This is a big one for me. A diaper rash is not only unbearably painful I imagine, but it’s unhealthy. It upsets their natural flora and could be setting them up for a lifetime of problems. Without being exposed to their waste constantly, babies that eliminate in the potty most of the time, do not get diaper rashes.
Another reason is that baby is happier going in the toilet! I’ve experienced this as have others when they start using EC. Some parents discover that their babies “fussiness” is really just them communicating their need to eliminate.
Connection. I remember a distinct strong connection with my first daughter as she stared into my eyes and easily pooped while sitting on the toilet. It was like she was thankful for the opportunity at only six months old.
Less diapers! EC also makes using cloth diapers a breeze as they are soiled less ad fewer diapers. Also I can usually catch the poops, which are the worst to deal with in cloth.
I find that I am more aware of their elimination needs when doing EC even when I miss one. I notice right away an promptly change her.
I noticed that when I began pottying Aayla at 3 weeks old, I was offering her the potty when before I was offering her a boob. It turned out that she did just need to pee those times when she was complaining.
Using less diapers means less money spent and a healthier environment.
Less money spent means less time required to work or more money for tv, junk food and video games. 😛
EC also means that baby is less exposed to chemicals that could be in plastic diapers. Think, chemicals combined with acidic urine and feces. Not good, me thinks…
My tips for EC:
Newborns go a lot more often in the first month of life. Like every fifteen minutes at times. Offer the potty as much as you and babe are comfortable with. The point is for baby to associate the potty with happiness and your desire to help them eliminate. When they are very upset, I hold off until they are a bit more comfortable being naked in a squatting position. I started at 3 weeks old with Aayla (our youngest) and 2 months with Nova.
Some people use a cueing sound like “shhhh” or “psssss”. I did that with Nova and it worked well. I’ve heard of people shushing their babies and getting peed on though. You may also want to avoid “sssss” if you have snakes.
We have been using a cueing song and it’s so much fun! When I put her on I sing the song (which I will post later on YouTube). When I see her going I make a “psss” sound. Once she associates that with her going, I will use it in the future to prompt her.
Aayla’s cueing song.
You can use sign language to cue pottying. . You can use it just as you do the vocal cues.
*When baby is in the wrap, I take her joy when she starts to squirm and I pot her on the potty. I put her back in the wrap immediately and many tem she will go right back to sleep. It’s quite surprising and amzing.
*I did mean that I take her out of the wrap when she starts to squirm. However “taking her joy” was such a funny auto-correct that I couldn’t stand to fix it*
Possible times you would offer the potty:
-When waking. I find sometimes it’s best to offer her the potty before she becomes too fully awake and realizes she is hungry. This could change though as she gets older and you will figure it out as you go along.
-before a feed and after a feed. Sometimes during a feed, but only when necessary because I don’t want her to associate pooping with nursing!
-when diaper has been dry for a while.
-when baby squirms and makes faces, you will begin to recognize these.
-when baby is changing positions. It usually isn’t until I stand up that I realize I need to pee!
-when going to Tim Hortons. I take my baby out of her car seat when she wakes and I offer the potty over a toilet even when traveling.
Dressing baby for easy EC (matching not required):
Long sleeve shirts (winter is coming) and leg warmers. You can buy or make leg warmers. You can buy tube socks and cut them and hem, or not. I’ve also used the sleeves of felted wool sweaters and I used the rest of the sweater as a vest. She is also wearing a diaper with the inserts removed making them like a small pair of padded underwear.
Split pants! These are what they use in china. When you position the child
In squatting, the pants open up. My friend Andrea made these pants adjustable split pants. I’m thinking that if you contact her, she can make you some too. I’ll provide her info at the bottom. If you’re crafty, there’s lots of tutorials online. A good pair of split pants can fit newborn to 18 months or more.
Having easy access to the diaper area makes me not so lazy about taking her to the potty!
Close up of split pants, these ones are fleece as winter is here:
Important things to remember:
There is no one way or right way to EC. You will develop what works for you and your baby.
Remember that EC is effective even if only offered once a day. It is ok if you’ve been unable to offer the potty. It’s important to be happy and not to stress about when missing your babies need to eliminate. A miss does not mean they will never learn or it won’t happen or that you’re a horrible, rotten parent. Just change them immediately and start again. It will get easier and they will use the potty more and more as you offer it. 🙂
Ways (positions) to EC, that I’ve tried:
My favourite position is sitting in bed with the potty between my legs and baby on potty. It’s so lazy and comfy!
I also like sitting on a stool in front of potty, holding her over. Or standing with the potty on the counter on top of a towel to prevent potty sliding all over.
Oops. You caught us…. I washed that sink out before you came over…
What are people saying about EC?
My dad, from Cranbrook:
“Awww, wish somebody would EC me, many a flower bed suffers for the foolish antics of old guys that drink wine. I feel a song coming on so later …..”
“Bunka”, my mom in Gravelbourg:
“It’s very cool and environmentally friendly. I like how you do it too. As soon as she’s upset, you take her off.”
Arielle from Gravelbourg:
“I love that he is happy. Before we tried EC he would cry and squirm. Now if I see these signs I know it’s his way of telling me, “I have to pee!!”
Thanks for reading and remember, people… I’m funny!
~Nadine LeBean the ECing machine.
This blog is provided free of charge and free of advertising, mostly because I can’t figure out how to advertise. 😛
If you’d like to support more stuff like this, you can!
Your donation goes to support my years of research and my having many babies and my reading of tons of books and compiling it all into one silly, little, informative blog post just for you.
I’m also available for free EC consultations and quick questions. You can email me or contact me on Facebook under “Nadine LeBean and the life humblings”.
For donation On paypal or by email transfers (preferable):
Andrea’s split pants, on Facebook.
Your children have become ill, maybe an incredibly sticky wet mess has been made or possibly the incessant screaming over seemingly nothing will surely cause your head to explode. Now is your time to shine. Now is the time in which life is built. Maybe your so absolutely exhausted that you can barely work your muscles enough to pick up your new baby or your children are acting violently towards one another and no amount of talking, separating them or punishing ever pulls them out of it. This is your moment to shine. It’s your opportunity to embrace your loved ones when they need it most and express what matters most.
We’ve been told that we need to react and control the situation. It’s not true. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be true. You can wrap yourself in their little arms and kiss their wet cheeks even when they’ve “misbehaved”. It’s ok to indulge in their love and it’s bottomless. And I think you’ll Find that your own capacity to love is endless too. They really just want to be with us and be loved and accepted. But don’t we all?
Being a mom of five has offered me many of these challenging opportunities. Sometimes many of them all at once while on a car trip far from home, looking for a gas station after our bumper was destroyed by a fender bender. And those words came to me:
This is my moment to shine.
Deep breaths. Warm eye contact and gentle, meaningful embraces gets us through. I’m done with the frustration and the desperation. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m choosing understanding, kindness and love. Living this way was harder to find and at times I could not fathom it. I’m so grateful for these opportunities and life is so much better. It’s heaven to sink deep into my exhaustion not trying to will it away with coffee, worry or regret. I allow my body to feel heavy and the children to be on top of it with my heavy eyes and an open heart. For I know this moment comes but only once. And I want to enjoy it all.
What is your moment to shine?
People are often curious about what we do all the time. If we don’t go to school and we don’t homeschool, then what do we do? Let’s take a look at what the kids are doing…
This is my oldest son, Michael. He is twelve and has been mostly at home for his school years except for two months when he wanted to try out school and kindergarten in an alternative, open concept school. (which he loved, by the way.)
I’m absolutely astounded by the things that Michael is doing and that it is self initiate and directed. It is showing me that when people are given the space and the freedom to explore their passions, they can create and accomplish amazing things.
Michael made this outfit of the character Ezio off of a video game. The pieces are all sewn from material; made from scratch. It looks quite complicated from the creation of the hood to the red reverse appliqués (a term from Grandma) on the tunic. He also made the hidden blade with a combination of springs and other things. I see the way he gets an idea and follows through with planning, research and then production. His sense of self is developing as he finds the things that give him great joy. He is thinking about ways to use these joys as a means to support himself in the future. As a parent, the main thing I aim for is for my children to develop a life that is based on doing what they love. I hope they will never have to work jobs they hate simply to make ends meet.
Michael is also teaching himself to play piano and plays some beautiful and complicate songs from composers like Beethoven and Pachabel.
It turns out that I can let go and I can trust them to live their lives, gathering the information and the skills that they need to survive.
And this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
What amazing things are your children doing?
And just like that, without noticing, you’ll become what you’ve strived for. Your thoughts become less frequent and your heart more full. Colours shine more vibrantly and you exist less and less in a state of stress. You take it in and even allow the dark feelings to exist within you without judgement. A sense of acceptance of everything will wash over you and you’ll find yourself content and connecting with what you love. You have been asking for this. Did you believe that it could be this way? It’ll happen more and more, mostly with ease as you keep reaching and embracing for all the good. And there is a lot of good to be had. It is all good.
I still haven’t totally found my ultimate position on how to feed children. The main dilemma for me is what to allow them to eat or to give them total food freedom like a good radical unschooler. This morning really proved my lack of a stance on the position when I felt explosive rage over Mr.Noodles and brightly coloured slushies. I had been practicing a lot of food freedom before this, with occasional reluctance and sighs of grief.
Gentle parenting, attachment parenting and especially radical Unschooling talk about empowering children through letting them make their own choices. Not only do radical unschoolers let them make their own choices as to what to eat at home, but they bring the food that they want into the house. The idea is that if we control their food, they will sneak it, want it more and wind up being adults that will binge on all the bad stuff they were deprived as children.
I get that. I also get that they need to listen to their own bodies, but what if their body screams for more chemical induced food highs?
I also get that they are children and in the same way that I don’t want their minds manipulated by religion or school, I don’t want them altered by chemicals and neuro toxins.
Those words: neuro toxins. They kept flooding me this morning as I thought about the Mr.Noodles. In my rage, I tore out the little package of death inside; the flavouring. I hid it in my pocket and dwelled on how different the children act when eating these foods. I very lightly touched on the other reasons, in my thoughts, that radical Unschoolers give their children complete food freedom… Is my distaste for certain foods just mybelief? Should I investigate it? Am I not trusting them? Will it make them want it more? The thing I knew for sure was that I wasn’t getting the philosophies and faking it to be in a certain category was not going to work.
What I did know for sure was that if I could just get to a place of love and connection and have a decent explanation for the kids, that things would be better. But I wasn’t there and I accepted it.
I continued with anger directed towards companies that use ingredients banned in other countries.
Neuro toxins. MSG. Trans fats… I was beginning to get dizzy thinking about it all.
And as I asked “WHY would people make this and why would people eat this?!?”, I only got angrier. My mom asked what I needed. I thought. I told myself that it’s ok and it will teach me something later. What I need is not apparent.
Well, it’s later and what have I learned?
Do I believe in food freedom?
Do I want to control what they eat?
Does it feel good for me?
I left the house, alone, for an appointment and I continued to ask these questions.
I discovered that I didn’t have the answers; that I only knew and breathed this moment.
This moment asks of me,
What is the highest good that can happen?
What is the positive side of it?
What calls me?
I let the slushies and Mr.Noodles wash over and out of me. I drove to the grocery store and bought all their favourite healthy snacks. I was focusing on the good. I stood at the cash register with my palms open and let the love flood through me to the cashier who had lost her daughter to cancer. I knew she was hurting despite her hard work and friendly attitude. She even asked me how I was. I let it come through and I realized that I didn’t need to form an opinion. I didn’t need to plan the perfect article with all the perfect advice on how to feed kids. We have it all inside, we just have to be open for it.
We read the parenting books, consult with friends and idolize parents who match our chosen philosophy. Well, that’s where I am at least. I’ve found that peaceful and gentle parenting are for me. I want to live them over punishments, rewards and separation from the children. I follow these philosophies on facebook, in books, with friends, on youtube and I advocate for them on a daily basis.
But how much am I able to actually live it?
I think it is important to know that just because it resonates with me and I talk about it so much, it does not mean that it is always my reality. I struggle. I become frustrated, confused, angry. The philosophy means a lot to me and it makes sense but it’s not always what wants to come through me. The negative beliefs feel so deeply seeded at times that I wonder if I will ever break free of the urges to silence and control. I let that belief go…
Tonight I just watched it. I observed the tightness all over my body, especially my chest. One of my children was in one of those states where they are exhausted and unreasonable and nothing would please them, they just needed to be unconscious. I monitored my intense desire to yell out as loud as I could. I watched my thoughts that swirled around demanding to silence, spank and restrain into sleep. I began to wonder what could have caused such violence in me and I noticed the sadness creep in. I forgave myself immediately for being impatient and unloving and I lay in the dark letting the sadness flood over me while I stroked her back. After she finally settled, I cried and cried without much thought. Only unidentified pain that had been suppressed for who knows how long. Who knows why these things happen? Why would it feel so good to act against all I have learned?
When will my real beliefs become real? Maybe my false beliefs are still favouring negativity towards children, towards people, but I’m becoming more aware. Surely awareness can take me back to that state of just being? The state where love and acceptance of all situations is my usual state.
I have a daughter born into a family of three sons. She is completely different than them and if I do not focus on my own mindfulness and personal growth than things between her and I are not good. A clashing of egos occurs with yelling, crying and many hurt feelings. But I’m starting to really understand her and how I need to treat her, and it’s simple.
She gets into these moods when nothing pleases her. She is loud and aggressive. I happens when she is tired or hungry. It’s very difficult to encourage her to eat or sleep. My pleas are fueled by my knowledge that if she just eats or sleeps than all will be well. She will return to the pleasant and happy girl once her needs are all met. It doesn’t work for Nova that I ask or offer food or sleep. She needs to come to it in her own way. And so when she is not well, I stay with her in my slow and silent way. I know that it is part of the coming together. I say as little as possible while knowing that she has all that she needs to work this out. And she always does.
I also consider prevention on a day to day, hour to hour basis as well. Like
Creating the environment that provides opportunities to sleep/rest and eat foods she likes. I wasn’t thinking this morning when I took her to the grocery store before breakfast. Being hungry in a store full of all the stuff that won’t nourish us but will satisfy temporarily, it drives me batty as well. I waited at the grocery store, silent among the indecisive screaming. She didn’t know what she wanted but we figured it out eventually.
They’re born to us and we love them instantly. Then they have personalities and desires that challenge our love. It’s easy to adore the compliant and easy going child. But there’s something magical about learning to love the defiance in your baby appreciating the opposition is life changing. She’s taught me more than anyone I’ve ever known, including Ghandi and Mother Theresa.
So, I was making eggs for my children. We eat eggs a lot as a snack because I don’t like to buy processed foods, at all. I also don’t like to impose my beliefs or force on my children and so here is my dilemma: my children enjoy eating things that are not good for them and I only want to provide nourishing food. So I was making these eggs and thinking about how to further my quest to get them to eat healthy. And it hit me. Just tell them. Tell them my dilemma and see what they say.
Has parenting just been conspiring against? Am I just manipulating in the ways that I am adjusting my words and parenting methods to alter their behaviors?
So, I’ve left this post to discover more and I’ve returned with new information. I explained the situation to my children. I told them about my challenge and it turns out that they like the way things are. (I only fill the house with good food yet they get other stuff at parties and while out or visiting the city or with their own money).
So, what was I trying to manipulate anyways? My own guilt possibly.
I’m going to just keep putting it out there.
Explain the situation to the child.
It can go like this “You poop on floor. Mom steps in it. Mom yells and makes a face.” or “I spend a lot of time cleaning up toys. I would like to do other things sometimes.” and then pause and give them a chance to offer solutions.
no judgment, just information.
How easy I forget my first and most important belief: trust my children. Trust them to be thoughtful and considerate and capable of their own good. Their good is my good.
I have never asked my children to say please or thank you.
It is after all culturally expected and accepted that we “teach” our children manners; that we force them to say thank you so they can be grateful and polite. After receiving something, it’s common to hear the parent reminding the child to say thank you. But What if the child is not thankful? What if the gift is totally inappropriate for them? Are we teaching them to lie?
I don’t believe that an attitude of gratitude can be so easily forced. It’s something that comes from the heart and sometimes it takes time to process how we feel about what we are grateful for.
. I am not so sure that forced manners equal kinder, nicer and more grateful beings. They can be just words, mindlessly recited out of obligation. Is that gratitude? Is it polite?
Often to me formal language feels so disconnected and demeaning anyways like when a child says “May I have an apple?”. It makes me think they are groveling to get their basic needs met. I don’t speak like, do you?
I’ll also take the heartfelt hugs and in detail descriptions of how much they love a gift, over a thank you.
So, I think I’ll stick to letting their language evolve naturally in it’s own time without my judgements and constant corrections. There’s more to language than the words we use. There are facial expression and tones of voice and ones character and reputation will play into it too.
There’s been many times that I was tempted to, and honestly it was to make the giver, an adult, feel good. It’s not always easy though, I’ve crossed my fingers and thought “please say thank you.” What I have been doing is saying thank you myself. Not for them, but for me because I am thankful when people are kind to my children.
The best thing I can do is express and model my own appreciation and gratitude. And that’s going to mean not blaming or being judgmental. They, the children are going to learn about expressing their appreciation he same way they are learning to walk and talk; by being immersed in it. I love that my children have the freedom to use more than a meaningless thank you. Often they will come back later, after some thought, with a drawing or a card of thanks. When my children say thank you, it means a lot because I know it was unprompted and is a genuine gesture of their gratitude.