World Breastfeeding Week 2018

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Monday, August 6, 2018


Disclaimer: My tone in this post is angry and at times sarcastic because I'm FED UP. Proceed with caution.

For any mom out there that did not breastfeed at all or as long as they hoped I honor your journey.

World Breastfeeding Week is great for us in the Northern Hemisphere because it's during the summer and often when breastfeeding is more visible. Like all times of the year, babies have to eat in the summertime. And to the shock of some in America, some of these babies do not appreciate eating under a tent of cloth. And so everyone loses their mind. 

Recently in some LDS mom groups, I noticed a mom reaching out for support and perspective because some in her congregation were upset her baby needed to eat while at church. As she updated the posts, it became clear that things were getting out of hand. As reported in The Exponent II, the issue was voiced to her stake president and he was not supportive of her and her child. It's just all so disappointing. How absurd that it was anyone else's business to begin with! Tragically, her ability to attend the temple, sacred sites of learning and growth for Mormons, has been put into question. 

I did write our female leadership and respectfully ask that they consider the needs of the worldwide church and create a breastfeeding policy that would welcome the feeding of infants and children in whatever way the breastfeeding dyad (mother and baby) requires.

Some have chosen to push back against this story and deny its legitimacy and even go so far as claim the sister is an exhibitionist. I have enough personal experience from breastfeeding for a total of 4.5 years that these troubling opinions exist. Whether or not this particular story is true is of no consequence. American culture objectifies women and when women use their bodies in the way that God designed, our culture often takes issue with it. I believe that when the rising generation is able to witness women’s breasts being used as they were intended, a healthier culture is born. We can shed the over-sexualization of women’s bodies. We can create a healthy culture that values the nourishing contributions of women to their families.

A detail from Stanisław Wyspiański’s “Macierzynstwo” (1905). via

Since THE BEGINNING OF TIME women have breastfed their babies and young children. They didn't need covers or blankets or hot, stuffy, stinky rooms. Everyone around them knew what boobs were for and didn't bat an eye because boobs are for nursing.

But they're sexual! They're inappropriate for public! What if an unsuspecting young man sees a nipple?!  I hear you. I really do. But guess what else is really sexual? My neck. My husband loves to kiss it and I enjoy it too. But because I have a brain and so does (usually) everyone else around me, I know it's real purpose is to hold up my head. So I don't feel the need to cover it when in public. Isn't that great? Aren't our bodies amazing? Their parts can have more than one use! Astonishing, really. And if a young man sees an exposed breast, thank God it will be in the context of nourishing a child and not in the context of seeking a man's desire. See how that's different? It's all about the context. 
great quote from Beauty Redefined

gym-nurstics does not fit under a cover

Now I don't need to go into all the reasons why breastfeeding with a cover isn't always an option. Others have done that rather well already (ScaryMommy, Mommyish). And not every mom wants to and that's okay. What is important is that she is supported in whatever she chooses because a baby's need to eat supersedes an onlooker or passerby's comfort every time. My choice to breastfeed without a cover started with my oldest. When Bridger was a baby, I was much more timid about breastfeeding and while in my parents' living room, alone, I covered him with what was close by, a rather thick baby blanket. A friend came in to chat and so I felt the need to keep my chest covered. Yall, that poor baby had sweat drops like crocodile tears. After that, I started questioning why I felt the comfort of others was more important than my baby's. 


And if you think for one minute that your (incorrect) opinions about the need for women to cover up while breastfeeding are your own, you're kidding yourself. This idea is the culmination of decades of propaganda, marketing and I personally believe, Satan's lies. Propaganda and marketing from formula companies to increase their profits (see more here). As a woman of faith, the proof that Satan is trying to destroy motherhood isn't in moms postponing starting their families, it's in the social pressure that our bodies are not our own. That they are here to be held, owned and objectified by men. Breastfeeding (and for many moms, birthing on their own terms) is a means to break that cycle. It provides a path to understanding the gift and power that our bodies have for all humankind and for ourselves. Get out of the way with your patriarchal ideas about woman's place. We have no need for them. 


And for all the concerned Mormons out there, I sure hope yall cut this image out of your Book of Mormon Stories (published by the Church). Don't want anyone to know what boobs are actually for now would we?


Ironically, the same week the controversy was blowing up with the woman who was asked not to nurse in her church building, LDS Charities was celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with the above post. Is what we do around the world good enough for us back at home? I think so. Breastfeeding needs more support around the world to meet necessary breastfeeding (public health) goals. But in many countries, openly breastfeeding is as normal for breathing for everyone involved (and not involved). At church, women around the world nurse while bearing testimony, while giving lessons and while listening to the missionaries. We are doing our children a disservice (in many ways) by not normalizing breastfeeding in our culture as well. 

Lest you think everyone has an issue with this...
I've nursed in many Mothers Rooms as well as Sacrament meetings, Sunday Schools and Relief Society meetings without issue. More than one mom has thanked me for nursing during church because it gave them the courage to do so as well. Makes any discomfort worth it for me.


Further reading
The first article I linked above has gotten loads of attention and here are some follow-up articles. 
  • Addendum. Answers some of the FAQ about the original post. 
  • An Open Letter to the Stake President Concerned About Breastfeeding. Loved this one. The tone is at times snarky, but many of the suggestions are great: 
    • "Institute a special Sunday school class on godly manhood that includes material on reversing the harmful effects of the world’s philosophy that men cannot conquer their base desires. Emphasize our doctrine that we must transcend our carnal state through the power and mercy of Jesus Christ (Mosiah 3:19).
    • Acknowledge that porn addicts and teenagers have little control over the public environment, and that they will encounter female bodies in many forms and contexts, and will therefore be tasked with regulating their internal condition.
    • Encourage all able women to nurse their babies without pressure to cover or hide in an effort to further renormalize breastfeeding for the rising generation. This will teach them what normal breasts look like and what their primary purpose is (refer to church-published A Parent’s Guide, Chapter 5). As little boys see their mothers and their primary teachers and their friends’ mothers nursing, they will grow up with a healthy concept of female breasts, and will be less likely to google “What do boobs look like?” because they will already have learned this within the sacred and appropriate context of motherhood. Removing taboos around women’s bodies will combat lust and porn addiction."
  • Audio interview with the mom. More about her story and what has happened with her church leaders since. My favorite part? The stake president said his wife had heard about the story and corrected him. When women stand up for other women, the world gets a bit better. 
  • The Tale of My Saggy Middle-Aged Breasts. I loved this portion from the end, "I would love to see the community reach out and help, rather than judge and shame for the choices she may make in trying to meet her family’s needs. If a woman makes a choice different from yours, do you feel threatened? If you see a woman breastfeeding in public, why not champion her? Speak up for her if others are shaming? If the sight of a woman feeding her child with her breast disturbs you, why? And do you think the mother and baby should be uncomfortable instead of you?"
From A Parent's Guide, a pamphlet for LDS families, published by the LDS Church: "The scriptures often refer respectfully but plainly to the body and its parts. There is no embarrassment and often there is sacred symbolism. It is the world that makes the divinely created body an object of carnal lust. For example, it makes the female breasts primarily into sexual enticements, while the truth is that they were intended to nourish and comfort children. It promotes male sexual aggression in contrast to Christ’s example of tenderness, long-suffering, kindness, and steadfastness in the home."

Nursing a Sexually Wounded Culture explores how our culture of objectification affects our views on breastfeeding. Great read.

Breastfeeding and Following Jesus explores modern Christianity's obsession with modesty and how it affects breastfeeding. 

Some instances of breastfeeding in LDS art. My favorite is the THREE DIMENSIONAL mother breastfeeding with her entire boob out that is ENCASED IN BRONZE at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Someone go put a cover on that lady! The painting that is mentioned first is also in the new Provo Temple in the chapel. I saw it while touring it during the open house. Just lovely!

This post on breastfeeding in LDS American culture has some better images and has some great discussion as well.




The Politics of Breastfeeding opened my eyes to many of the sources of our modern issues with breastfeeding.

Unlatched is another great book about the modern history of breastfeeding.


Victorian Era moms posing for portraits while breastfeeding.


If you're pro-life, would you be interested in saving 800,000 lives? Thought so. Increasing breastfeeding could save 800 000 children and US$ 300 billion every year. Our part to play in this is supporting breastfeeding moms. 

If you need a little help to feel comfortable breastfeeding in public, I wrote a how-to post about it for Lactation Link last year. 

This isn't my first soapbox on nursing in public, ha!

UPDATE: Great campaign happening: Let Babies Eat

And some final wisdom from my favorite internet dad...

Action steps: Energy Sources, Air Quality and Climate Change

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Friday, April 27, 2018


I wrote this for member education within Mormon Women for Ethical Government, might as well share it here!

“Living without fossil fuels is not only possible, it is better.” - Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist and author of Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, is deeply optimistic about the changes that need to be made to secure a livable planet for our children (his book is linked in the comments). He reduced his personal carbon emission from 40 tons per year to 1 ton per year! He says, “Obviously, reducing my own emissions won’t save the world: I’m one out of more than seven billion people. But it does do something critically important. It shows what is possible. It’s time for a new vision to emerge, a new way of living aligned with the biosphere.” Linked in the comments below are personal and policy level changes that you can make TODAY to create a better home for our future.

Personal changes

  • Contact your local housing authority or power company about an energy audit for your home. 
  • Commit to no car idling (parking lots, carpools, drive-thrus) 
  • Pick 1-2 days a week that are no car days for your family and use public transit instead. 


Policy & community changes
  • We see a lot of information about reducing our own personal carbon footprint, but just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of the world’s carbon emissions. We must support and vote for candidates that support carbon-reducing and clean energy efforts, via The Guardian.

The problem: Energy Sources, Air Quality and Climate Change

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With help from my friend Amber Jones, I wrote this for member education within Mormon Women for Ethical Government, might as well share it here!

Photo of mountaintop removal in West Virginia by Antrium Caskey, the entire photo series is worth looking at.

Just like water resources, our traditional energy sources are also limited. Since the Industrial Revolution and even more so since WWII, American energy use has exploded. For decades, we have extracted and burned fossil fuels-- natural resources that are limited. As a society, we reasoned that “American coal” was better than imported energy sources and became a symbol of American pride. Coal was cheap, both for consumers and the corporations that benefited from their extraction. Among coal and oil and gas workers, the high rates of black lung disease and preterm births (in surface mining communities), as well as the dangerous daily nature of extraction, have been a high price for this “cheap” energy. These workers should have been the canary in the coal mine. If those working daily with these energy sources were getting sicker, how would it affect our environment and broader public health? Every year, we gain more insight into this question. And the results are clear: we need to end our relationship with fossil fuels. There may never be the political will to completely cut off fossil fuels, but we know enough to do more than we are currently. The following are some general concerns with regard to fossil fuels.

The burning of fossil fuels is, of course, our greatest concern. Coal, for example, is mostly carbon. When it is burned, it reacts with oxygen in the air to create carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide released into our atmosphere is directly related to sea level rise, extreme weather, drought, species loss, and flooding. Natural gas is often hailed as a cleaner alternative to coal. However, the heat-trapping emissions would not noticeably change if we switched to a primarily natural gas. Furthermore, fuels burned in the combustion engines of our cars, trucks, and planes is responsible for 30% of all the carbon emissions in the U.S.


Other concerns with fossil fuel extraction include:
  • The extraction, processing and waster components of fossil fuels are energy-intensive before we even burn them. 
  • Both mining and oil and gas drilling is related to many negative public health outcomes.
  • Surface mining, such as mountaintop removal, permanently changes ecosystems and the flow of streams. 
  • Natural gas fracking can have negative effects on water quality. 
  • Boom and bust oil and gas drilling communities are hotspots for sexual abuse. 
  • Risks surrounding the transport of fossil fuels include oil spills, pipeline leaks and coal dusts. 

Air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is also a huge concern. Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (soot) are released into the air when fossil fuels are burned. Each of these is related to significant health concerns such as chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, premature death, premature birth and increase in heart attacks.

Despite all of these egregious concerns, this administration has vowed to remove the United States of America from the Paris Climate Agreement and become the ONLY nation in the world to not sign on. The Paris Climate Agreement is a historic coming together of world powers to mutually agree on a path to a lower carbon-emitting future. While our president continues to court the failing and dirty coal industry, states and cities across the nation have signed onto the agreement and are making strides to lower carbon emissions in their areas. With French President Macron’s state visit this week, we have hope that he can convince President Trump to remain on the Paris Climate Agreement to ensure our children and grandchildren have a livable planet. References and more information in the comments. Stay tuned tomorrow for an action post with many ideas for personal and policy changes.

Statements based on work created by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Further reading:

“[A] report says loose standards for ozone and fine-particles lead to more than 200 people in the Mountain West dying prematurely each year. And the pollution would make 500 fewer people sick each year if EPA adopted the stricter air-quality standards recommended by the society. http://kuer.org/post/report-shows-less-pollution-means-healthier-longer-lives#stream/0

In Salt Lake and Utah Valleys for example, pregnant women have been encouraged to leave the valleys entirely during bad air days. http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=3534955&itype=CMSID

Schools with large numbers of students of colour are routinely located near major roads and other sources of pollution, with many also grappling with other hazards such as lead-laced drinking water and toxins buried beneath school buildings Grineski said there were a range of consequences. “We’re only now realizing how toxins don’t just affect the lungs but influence things like emotional development, autism, ADHD and mental health,” she said. “Socially marginalized populations are getting the worst exposure. When you look at the pattern, it’s so pervasive that you have to call it an injustice and racism.” Source: The Guardian

More about how cars influence climate change and air pollution from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The fossil fuel industry has another dirty side: a connection to an increase in sexual assault and murder, via Sierra Club.

Good news about Apple and renewable energy!

Climate change according to a kid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv7OHfpIRfU

Love for libraries

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Friday, April 13, 2018

I wrote this in my journal recently and when I realized it was National Library Week this week, I wanted to share it.

I remember the old brick library in downtown Chipley.
I remember its musty book smell.

I remember the old KMS library. The top shelves covered in diaramas of Indian homes and solar systems. I remember the faded carpet we sat on. The stern librarian might have turned many kids away from books, but not me. I remember the large mural of book spines.
But mostly I remember the tall stacks on the far edges. I remember a story of a young girl in the Depression. She learned to make bread and sell it. She became the literal family breadwinner.

I remember the book fairs. So many shiny new books. Mostly I remember the 4th grade book fair with my stack of new books. Waiting in line. I waited until I should not have waited anymore. Afraid to lose my spot in line or my pretty stack of wonderful works and new places; I don't know. I waited til my body said "run!" Still I waited. My warm wet jeans told everyone that I waited too long! (I'll venmo you $5 if you have a more embarrassing story from 4th grade.)

Better memories came in fifth grade. I spent the night in the library with my nerdy peers. I slept in my sleeping bag, under a table next to my favorite stack.

Summers brought trips to the new county library. Its icy coolness welcomed us.

In middle school, my AR points quickly acheived...I wandered to the tall stacks again. These new stacks taught me new wonders and horrors. Here I first grasped an understanding of social justice as I read about Auschwitz. I read all the books in those tall stacks about the Holocaust and WWII. My friends read the Babysitters Club. I did too and then I read Anne Frank.

In high school, the library was for AV club and the computer lab.
But those earlier libraries had done what they needed to.
I was a voracious reader and spent my own money on books.
Mom let us loose in Books-a-Million and I read Pride and Prejudice. I read about heartbreak and loss. I read and read and read.

The Chipola library was for studying and avoiding old boyfriends.
The BYU library was for digital research but I still enjoyed its musty smell.

As a new mother, libraries came to aid again. I learned to breastfeed because of a library. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was my angel, rescuer, lactation consultant.
Later, at a loss for how to spend our days, we clapped and sang with a cheerful storyteller.
And I brought home stacks and stacks of colorful picture books. A deeper love for children's literature was re-born.

Again, I wandered to those tall stacks. This time I dipped my toes in environmental justice. In new parenting methods. In going back to local foods. Pregnant again, I pushed a stroller through the tall stacks. I found the books about natural birth. About midwifery. And in the woods, a new path opened up and I took it.

Library visits brought substance to our days. My two and then 3 small children cut their teeth on library board books. On Patricia Pollaco, on Cynthia Rylant.

Now in a new state, the library was our first outing. As home educators, it is our social scene, our playroom and it is our curriculum.

God bless libraries.

If you really care about life...

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Monday, March 12, 2018


Here are some things (other than posting pro-life memes on social media) that you can do to help support new mothers. Let’s start off with the quick reminder that the number 1 reason women list as why they are choosing to abort a pregnancy is NOT “I don’t believe in the sanctity of life.” It’s actually about money. It’s about not having the resources or support to support a(nother) baby. If you want fewer abortions happening, we have to address the systemic issues that contribute to abortion. In my opinion, it comes down to supporting women and mothers. So please keep preaching about the importance of life. But UNLESS you are willing to do any or all of the following, just shut up and sit down:

  • Offer to adopt the pregnant mother's baby (if willing to do this, you must agree to the following as well):
  • Pay for all of the mother and baby's medical bills
  • Drive her to all her prenatal appointments
  • Pick up her prescriptions
  • Help her obtain public assistance in the form of WIC and food stamps (or more if needed)
  • Offer to cover the cost of her groceries and any other needs related to her pregnancy like a new maternity wardrobe.
  • Help her get a restraining order from her abusive boyfriend
  • Offer her a safe place to live
  • Convince her employer to NOT discriminate against her because she is pregnant
    • If that doesn't work, offer her a job
  • Convince her employer to give her *at least* 6 weeks of paid leave after childbirth in order to heal from PUSHING A HUMAN BEING OUT OF HER BODY. IT HURTS LIKE HELL AND YOU BLEED OUT OF YOUR VAGINA FOR *WEEKS* BECAUSE YOU HAVE AN INTERNAL WOUND THE SIZE OF A FOOTBALL. Plus she might want to get to know her baby and learn how to breastfeed.
  • Pay for a doula of her choice to attend to her emotional needs during and after labor. 
  • Get qualified lactation support for her if that is her choice.
  • If you are in a position of power, ensure that your company has paid leave for new mothers and fathers. (Dads need to be home supporting mom and baby too!)
If you aren't willing to do any of those things, I've got another list for you, pick any:
  • Shut up and sit down.
  • Lobby for paid sick and family leave at your local city council.
  • Call your state and Congressional representatives and tell them you demand paid family leave or you will find a candidate for the upcoming midterms that does support it.
  • Call your state and Congressional representatives and tell them you demand maternal mortality quality review boards or you will find a candidate for the upcoming midterms that does support it.
  • Call your Congressional representatives and tell them you demand universal healthcare or you will find a candidate for the upcoming midterms that does support it.
Feminists and others who actually care about women and babies, what have I left out?

Motherhood is all I can do

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018



Disclaimer/reminder: My choices are not a judgment of your choices.

On a quick sailing trip last summer, I learned a lot about motherhood in a single moment. We launched the boat, all 3 kids and both adults in life jackets, into a small lake. Our boat is small but roomy enough (it has a small cabin) for our family. This was our third time out, first time at this lake. I was getting excited to learn more about sailing and help Nate with raising the sails and maybe even steering. We have a small motor to get us going if needed. We motored out a ways to raise the sails. We gave the boys some food to keep them occupied in the cabin and I set the baby down at my feet so she could toddle over to Nate who was steering while I started raising the sails. Everything quickly fell apart. The baby was screaming to nurse because she was scared in these new surroundings, the boys were fighting and climbing out of the cabin. The wind was blowing the sail all over the place, the boom fell and almost hit Riah and Nate in the face. Nate and I are both screaming at the boys. I'm yelling, "I can figure this out!" It was all very stressful. I wanted to show Nate that I did care about this, that I wanted to learn.

Well, I did not figure it out. We pulled the sails down and all took a breather.

I suddenly felt like a mother trying to go back to work after having a baby. You want to prove to yourself (and perhaps the world) that you can handle this. What's different about my little experience and mothers going back to work postpartum is that going back to work is a necessity. When really, it shouldn't be. You should be allowed to "just" be a mom. To "just" hold that baby a little longer. To "just" engage with your older children and reduce conflict. Being fully present as a mom takes all you have. Your whole heart, your whole mind and certainly both your arms. It seems absurd to make a mother go to work when she is clearly so needed by her children. As absurd as I was trying to raise a sail while everyone was screaming and the wind was blowing. At least while they are little, our children do not want or need anything but their loving parents. We are their world, their guiding North Star. And so we should make them ours. We can "have it all" when we realize they are the "all" that we need.

For this particular season of my life, I have chosen to end my career and educational pursuits to focus on my family. Being fully present and preparing to be the primary educator for them are big goals. I feel such peace in simplifying my goals to focus on them.

We did not sail that day. We set down our anchor and swam in the beautiful deep water. Just holding my baby and fully engaging with her in the simplest ways was the peace we needed.

Many women feel true fulfillment when working out of the home. I also find fulfillment in paid work that I am passionate about. Rising inflation, rising home prices, and our modern lifestyles require most households have two working partners. And too many women are forced to work low paying and unfulfilling jobs when they would rather be with their children. As I stated before, it is no secret that our children need us. It is time we acknowledge that from a policy standpoint. Having the choice to stay home with your children shouldn't only be an option for the rich and privileged.

So how can we help mothers who want to stay home with their young children? Here are some ideas that have been discussed and some that are used in other countries:

-Paid (even partially paid) family leave for a year or more after the birth of a child or adoption (more info)
-Universal basic income. More info on this from the BBC podcast, People Fixing the World
-Mothers at home receive pay for childcare the same as government subsidized childcare.
-Onsite daycare. Patagonia has been a champ at this for 30 years. (It makes sense financially too.)
-Increase the minimum wage and wages across the board (wages have been stagnant in the US for decades)  so couples feel less economic pressure to have both partners work away from home.
-Reduce housing costs for the same reasons as above
-Make college more affordable and eliminate predatory student loans.
-Normalize career breaks
-Improve job training and career entry support after a break in job history so mothers feel they will be able to successfully re-enter the workforce after a time at home.

I don't think any one of these is a silver bullet. And much of what is listed requires a cultural change. But if any generation can do it, our's can. I think a multi-faceted approach will have the best results. But any one of them would be a good start for the U.S.

"Mothers belong at home" is something I would never tell anyone because it reeks of sexism. But saying women belong with their children is something different. I've written about this some before in my post, "How to Really Help Families." Erica Komisar, a social worker and pyschoanalyst has been outspoken about this. I'm excited to read her book, "Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the Frist Three Years Matters."

I think this is actually an issue that conservatives and liberals can come together on. We all want to do what is best for our children. And giving women an actual choice on being home with her children is something liberals might agree with. I do worry about the way we sometimes are martyrs for motherhood. Because we want to be with them as much as possible, we forget our own needs. Since adding our third child to our family, I've realized just how mentally difficult it is to be a mother. I've had to take more breaks for alone time and self-care. Evolutionarily speaking, it is 100% normal and natural to keep your children close to home. But the way we live--away from extended family, in disjointed neighborhoods and one parent working miles and miles away from home every day--is 100% unnatural and not at all normal, evolutionarily speaking. We don't live in close-knit villages anymore. As much I want to run away to a commune and live off the land, we can't. We have to find ways to re-create the village for all families so each child is given what they deserve: a strong attachment.

What are your thoughts on this? I know this can be a tender subject for many. I genuinely want to know what you think. I strongly believe that each mother knows what is best for her family and will fight like mad to do that thing. Like I said at the beginning of this post, my choices are not a judgment of your choices. As a feminist, I believe that women should be the primary decision-makers of their lives. And as a maternal feminist, I believe mothers should be supported in real tangible ways to stay home with their children (if that is their choice), especially in the first year postpartum. My point is, right now, too many women do not have a choice. Can't wait to hear your thoughts...

Edited 3/12/18 to share some more thoughts. I really appreciated this article from the Washington Post: We need to change the conversation about moms and work to consider other perspectives. I loved this, "My decision honored generations of women who went before me. The fact is, the role of stay-at-home moms is often undervalued, not because it isn’t valuable work but because it is not a role traditionally held by men. The idea that women have been freed from the chains of full-time motherhood to pursue more meaningful work is sexism disguised as enlightenment, and it’s an insult to generations of women who dedicated their lives to full-time mothering and homemaking. I never want my children to see SAHMs as less interesting, intelligent or hard-working than other moms. Rather, I want my sons and my daughters to realize that stay-at-home parenting is as valuable and worthwhile as any paying career to which they could aspire."

Prioritizing the postpartum period and the early years of our children is linked to our we view breastfeeding as well. If we truly believe breastfeeding is what all children need and deserve, wouldn't we do more than toss a breast pump in the mother's general direction? This article from Slate by Zuzan Boehmova does a great job of explaining why our current system of providing breast pumps is not enough. She offers some suggestions as well.

Screen-free(ish) kids

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Friday, February 2, 2018

This isn't meant to be advice, just an explanation of what's working for our family right now. I'm sure things will change and we will adjust as time goes on. Right now and for the past year, this has been working really well for us.

Screen-free(ish) kids 100% entertained by watching baked potatoes cook :D

Screens in our home:
My iPhone
Nate's iPhone
Desktop computer
Mini DVD player
TV

Friday Night Movie Night
So about a year and a half ago, we changed our family rules on screens and it has been going really well. Up until then, we had a couple alphabet apps for them and allowed a show or two just about every day. But every time it was time to turn it off, we had a complete meltdown on our hands. Can't remember what or who inspired it, but we started a weekly movie night and deleted all the kid apps. No shows, movies, Netflix or apps for the kids all week. This has been marvelous for our family. They look forward to movie night and no longer beg to watch a show. Meltdowns and tantrums have decreased. Their imaginative play has increased. They don't reach for my phone when they are bored when we are out and about. Instead, they play together. They make up games. And the boys know to bring a book when we leave for errands. 

Full disclosure
We are not super strict about this. A couple times a week I might turn on Daniel Tiger or Octonauts for them while I shower. But because we have developed this great habit of limited screens over the past year, they are fine when it's time to turn it off. 

Last week in the airport and hotel room, they probably watched Empire Strikes Back like 5 times. Whatever. I don't have any guilt for that. The great thing was when we got home, they willingly put away the mini DVD player and were happy to be back to their Legos. 

Minnesota winters are long and cold. We have had movie night more than once a week lately and we still feel really good about that. Especially when its a nature documentary. The important thing is, we made limited screen time over the past several months very intentional.

And we definitely use my phone and the desktop to show them videos or other things that we are studying.

The TV
When we got married, we basically said we would never get a TV. We saw no need for it. Cable is a rip-off in our opinion. Streaming works great for us, no need for a giant screen. Well when we moved here, Nate's brother upgraded to a bigger TV and gave us this one. I kept it in the basement until recently. One day we will get a sectional or something for down there. But for now, it's comfier on the main floor to watch our weekly movie. And Planet Earth is so much better on a big screen :). But I'm a dumby and cannot figure out how to use the old xBox to stream things. So we are limited with the TV to when Nate is home, haha. Works for me!

Adult screen time
Seeing how well the kids do off screens reminds us how important it is for us to do the same. I think it's impossible to be completely screen free. It's how we communicate with family and other adults. But it's obvious to both of us how distracted we can be with our phones. I've been aware I've been using social media too much for a long time and finally started pulling back recently. I don't know if I'll go back to Instagram. I miss seeing updates from friends there, but I don't miss the endless scrolling and the fakery and coordinated/posed photos. (I'm guilty of that too!) Nate doesn't use social media but streams Netflix a lot on his phone when home. He's made efforts lately to slow down on that and he loves the results. Both of us are trying to be more intentional together about making personal changes. Next up is deleting FB off my phone and only using it 1-2x a day like the old days on the desktop. 

Looking back
This is more or less what my parents had us do growing up! We weren't allowed shows during the week. We did not have Gameboys or any gaming system. No computers or TVs in our rooms. We totally snuck cartoons, and later, MTV before mom got home from work but overall, I think mom and dad's guidelines for us had positive results.

Resources
Great advice on screens: "Enjoy screens. Not too much. Mostly together."via NPR
50 Ways to Unplug
Screentime recommendations for children

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