Saturday, August 16, 2008

Don't let your child eat too much

... or they'll get taken into care.

Times article here

I become more and more persuaded that the State in the UK sees itself as responsible for the well being of all the children within its borders, with parents only allowed to play a role in the children's upbringing as long as they do not step out of the State Approved line.

I'm not saying that serious childhood obesity is a good thing. But removing children from their families as the solution???

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I just posted links to all sorts of UK Home Education groups/information sites/ campaigning organisations, because I am sick and tired of forgetting what is out there.

Are there others I should know about?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Moving away from being the constant presence

This was a messageboard conversation. A mother of a 16 month old who co-sleeps and still breastfeeds a lot is feeling the classic attachment mama burnout.

Without judging whether she was right or wrong to get into the position of being burned-out AP mother, what advice would you give her? (I'm sure at least one of my regular commenters will have something to say!!!)

This is what I said so far (criticism welcome)

If you want a longer gap between day-time feeds, and less of an assumption that breastfeeding is the default I'm-bored activity, try pushing the envelope so you are away a little longer than 3-4 hours in the daytime but the child isn't distressed. Beginn to find more interesting things to do than breastfeeding a lot in the day time - it might take a lot of some favourite food to be more attractive than the breast (chocolate mini milks?! Lots of good calcium in there!)

And then for the night time, if you are wanting to escape from being the only parent who will do at night time, I would think first in terms of giving a huge feed about an hour before bed time, and then disappearing to a cafe around the corner with a book so that your Dh can help your child go to bed. I'd recommend him lying down with the baby, and reading lots of favourite stories and then singing lots and lots of lullabies, giving as many cuddles as needed. No pressure on the little one to fall asleep, but just Daddy being there to help. And if it goes wrong, you can be called home to help, and try it another day! It would be a lot of work for your Dh to start with, but needn't be distressing for your child.

Same with the mornings - do whatever normal feeding happens at night and then any morning when you wake before your child, you just slip away, leaving water and biscuits or something even nicer to eat, and Daddy snuggled next to the baby, and see how Daddy does. Are there any foods which your child would take in preference to milk? Chocolate buttons? (this is at breakfast time, after all, you can always clean their teeth afterwards) And something to help them get out of dozy dozy mode really fast (a favourite DVD on a portable DVD player, maybe?)

All of this requires a lot of creativity on your husband's part. It might be that daytime naps would be a better place for him to start learning how to help your child to sleep rather than the night - get together with your husband and brainstorm like mad about things which are really comforting which aren't your breasts.

And Attachment Mama burn-out is really really classic. The big thing is to learn how to absent yourself so the Daddy can learn how to do some comforting and soothing.

I think the I-am-the-only-parent-who-can-comfort trap is particularly dangerous for SAHMs with WOHDs, because the breasts become the be-all and end-all so easily. It's much easier for those of us whose circumstances have meant that other care givers (the father, or a grandmother, or whoever) have been an accepted part of the comfort-giving landscape from the start.

Does anyone have any other wisdom about ways in which other care-givers learned to offer comfort without the magic breasts (while I still think that breastfeeding is the best possible start for a child, and that it should continue as long as both the mother and child are happy, I do think it's important to develop those other comfort options, and it can be harder for the wearer of the magic breasts to think of those options, since the magic breasts are always there in times of stress)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Here we are - linkage about opting out of EYFS

Spread the word among those with concerns...

nursery/preschool settings and childminders can apply for a temporary exemption (not sure what kind of timescale)

Parents can apply for an exemption on grounds of religious or philosophical conflict

the government site where you can get details

the EYFS lot, who are somewhat unimpressed

I think that concerned parents of children who are going to be affected by this need to start deluging Beverly Hughes and her Whitehall mandarins with requests for exemption...

Friday, August 08, 2008

An important Youtube from OpenEYE


The only bit I didn't like was when they wheeled out wossname Sigman to tell us that TV, DVDs and computer use are harmful for small children and stop them being able to concentrate for extended periods of time (has he never watched small children playing video games?)

But it's a professionally made film.

People in the mainstream seem to be just now waking up to the threat of EYFS, which is the new compulsory curriculum for under-5s in the UK, which must be followed by all nurseries, childminders and pre-schools. Montessori, Steiner/Waldorf and other "alternative" pre-schools are completely up in arms about it, of course, and there is growing discontent about the compulsory nature of EYFS among childminders and early years practitioners (I think they call themselves) more widely.

By the age of 5, did you know, British children should be writing simple sentences using punctuation.


Recent encounters with "potty training"

I recently encountered two stories.

1. Child, aged almost 4 I think, is "potty trained" and has been out of nappies for 6 months. But pees themself, every single day, several times a day, and the mother was wanting to get ideas about getting the smell of old urine out of the child's nice shoes. Mother did not want to go back into nappies because the child's pre-school setting is not supportive of children of this age not being "potty trained"

2. Child, aged 4 and a bit, I think it was, is also "potty trained" and has been for a long time, but every day hides themself in a corner of the house/pre-school in order to do a poo in their underpants. Fine to use the toilet for peeing, but not for pooing. Mother wanted advice about stopping it happening.

My apologies if these stories are somewhat TMI. I was horrified to encounter them. What would either of these children have to do to persuade their parents and carers that they are not in fact ready to use the toilet? The competitive agenda which seems among some parents to begin at birth (oh, what did (s)he weigh? Our little Jimmy was 8.8lb!!!) moves on, in matters like elimination, to extreme coercion and presumably humiliation for the children who just aren't ready at the "average" age, or the "competitive mum's moment of thinking it's time" age. Or maybe these are parents who are overwhelmed by What Will People Think.

It seems to me that having pull-ups either full time or to put on when needing to pee/poo would be a much more respectful solution. And taking the whole process at the child's pace rather than rushing them, since these particular children clearly aren't doing brilliantly well with the rushed approach.

It also struck me as very interesting that when people say confidently "ah yes, little Billy was completely potty trained at 18 months", they might not mean by that what I think they mean. I always thought that "completely potty trained" meant that a child knew when they needed the toilet, and would take themselves off to the toilet/potty, and then would shout for loo paper assistance if necessary. But actually, it is becoming clear to me now that a mainstream "potty trained" child is simply one whose parents have removed their nappies. Some of them are indeed "completely potty trained" in my sense of the word, and others are absolutely not. *deep shuddering sigh*

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Shouldn't (s)he be weaned by now?"

I hear of people having this conversation with mothers of nursing 3 month olds, let alone mothers of nursing three year olds.

I've recently worked out a potentially wonderful response which I am calling the Mona Lisa response.

When people say challenging things about breastfeeding, I think it is worth quietly continuing to breastfeed, and breathe calmly, and just feel the tension. Because the person challenging you is the one with issues, and they are trying to tranfer their anxieties to you. So take time just to feel their tension, not to act on it, but being aware and conscious and fully present in the moment. It's not your tension, it's just crackling around in the atmosphere of the room. You don't have to engage with it in any way.

And when they have finished their rant, smile, like the Mona Lisa, and say "ah well, horses for courses, it's what suits us for now" in the tone of voice which signals clearly that the conversation is now over.