Thursday, March 13, 2008


Back when I was pregnant with twins, I read a LaLeche League ( I know, I know, Juris Mater, take a deep breath) book called Mothering Multiples. One of the very helpful things that I learned from this book was that only you can breastfeed your child. Since breastfeeding takes time and energy, it can be helpful to look honestly at the tasks of each day and think about whether some of them can be done by someone else so that you will be able to breastfeed. To this end, I have charged my husband with making breakfast and engaged a cleaning lady twice a month. I worked hard in the months before the baby was born to train the children in some small, helpful chores. Recently, however, I realized that I needed more help and so I have invited some celebrities to come in and give me a hand with my read alouds.

This help is free and available to everyone in the form of Audio Books from the public library and we have been having so much fun. When I am tired, Stockard Channing reads Beverly Cleary and makes a pleasant dinner companion for me and the children, and I have become more sympathetic to my six year old as I have listened to Ramona's antics. I love my kids, and I love to read to them, but I just need to slack on something for a while, and this is helping substantially. At the end of the day, when I can only fit in one or two picture books before collapsing into my own bed, I sleep more easily knowing that my children have had plenty of books read to them that day by others. I have often wished that I could clone myself, and having Neil Patrick Harris read James and the Giant Peach while I drive the car or knowing that my Ipod is playing Tikki Tikki Tembo while I teach math lessons in another room does the trick.


B-Mama said...

Mary Alice, this is a wonderful suggestion for me as I look ahead to breastfeeding a little one, with two young boys running rampant!

We have also enjoyed stories on CD, especially the Thomas the Train tales read aloud by Michael Brandon, who uses ample voices for the different characters. The boys are always so amused... We listen to them at breakfast and lunch often (and usually many times through). I'm going to have to look into books-on-tape available at our public library. Thanks for the reminder!

In general, book listening hones the kids' attention, auditory skills, imaginations, etc. I love it and wish I did it more as an adult! And better than sitting them in front of the boob tube!

AWOL Mommy said...

Ok, first of all, what is Juris Mater's issue with La Leche League?! Inquiring motherminds want to know. Secondly, Mary Alice --I love it! Do you have the hard copy book with the tape for the kids to follow along?

Anne said...

Yeah love the idea of books on tape instead of the TV...I will file that away for when it will matter (my only kid so far is 10 months old).

And I am also dying to know what's the problem with LLL? I owe my fab nursing relationship to one of the LLL leaders who personally came to my house when I was exhausted, hormonal, and real sore and helped fix our latch. I love the meetings...sure most of the people there are total pagans but was a bunch of Catholics who started it, and it's named after one of Our Lady's titles..we have to take it back!

AWOL Mommy said...

I heard this news piece on the radio this morning about the over-stimulation provided by baby DVDs, and how we should be really careful about using these types of crutches - especially before the age of 2. As if we didn't have enough pressure already to keep them away from the, oh-so-tempting, boob tube. Here is more fodder:
I particularly enjoyed the over-simplified sentiment at the very end of this article:
I guess she doesn't have dinner to make or bathrooms to clean?

Juris Mater said...

Anne and AWOL mommy--sorry to freak you out and make you think there's some principled reason to be anti-La Leche League. They're an excellent organization. Here's the short explanation of what MaryAlice is referring to: my intro to the culture of nursing-on-demand/attachment-parenting dogmatism was through LLL's reading materials when I was expecting my first baby. I tend to recoil at any dogmatism in parenting philosophies, and die-hard attachment parenting particularly is not my style. Then I read Sheila Kippley's book "Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood" and learned that attachment parenting is the One True Way to Catholic parent. Disagreed.

As a result, in this group of Cathedral Builders, I (for better or worse) have a reputation for having an arsenal of sassy comments about dogmatic attachment parents who suggest that other ways of raising children are subpar. Truthfully, I think attachment parenting is one among a hundred wonderful ways to be a committed parent raising holy children.

This is a red-hot topic, I know! To reiterate from our sidebar--we adhere wholeheartedly to every doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, but the details beyond that, [including particular parenting philosophies like attachment parenting, Babywise, and the like], are grounds for robust discussion with friends!!

Mary Alice said...

A few things:

On the LLL, I was just giving Juris a hard time, I am a totally "Baby Wise" parent, so attachment parenting does not jive with me, but I did find the book Mothering Multiples super helpful. For me, it was nursing on a schedule that made nursing successful for me, go figure, every mom is different!

About the books: we don't use a book to read along because we are listening to long chapter books, but I am now going to try to alternate with a musical listening series as my husband helped me realize that the children and I don't listen to enough music in the car(I agree).

On the subject of DVD's, I had "Baby Einstein" for my first, and he watched them often, and I have to say that he is a bit of an Einstein, which is to say very bright but with some social and sensory integration issues, perhaps TV is related to this, but I am not going to think to hard about it. With my others, I learned that I needed to teach them to play and then they could play on their own, toys in the high chair while I was making dinner, etc.

I still use TV as a babysitter sometimes, though, and also there is nothing that anyone could say that could make me not love Sesame Street.


Mary Alice said...

BTW, I just took out a video from the library called Playtime for You and Me which is basically a gymboree class that you do with your baby, but it tells you what to do. The idea is, I think, that it is almost an instructional video for parents, there is a segment on massage and it also tells what physical milestones you are working on with certain activities. I did it last night with the baby and I am going to let PT do it with him this morning.

Having said that, TV is relatively limited in our house most days (ranging from none to an hour a day).

Oh, and in response to the article posted by AWOL, it is interesting that Sesame Street is actually not "interactive" when compared with Dora or, say Blues Clues, both of which have my kids actually have my kids screaming at the screen.

I am in the process of taking the 80/20 rule for nutrition and applying it to parenting/life in general -- be a quality parent 80% of the time, there is still room for some TV, some skipped baths, etc.

I also am trying to recycle and use environmental cleaners, about 80% of the time, and spell about 80% of words correctly.

AWOL Mommy said...

Shoot, so I have to abandon my haphazard, "quasi-attachment" parenting in lieu of a more Babywise approach if I am heading in the direction of the large happy Catholic family?! Amen to the 80% rule.

Mary Alice said...

You don't have to abandon a thing! To be totally relativist about it, do what works for your family. There are happy, healthy Catholic families of all sizes at all points on the spectrum. We do what works for us, which is Babywise, but I will be the first to admit that what works for me may not work for others. Sleep is HUGE for me, I tend toward insomnia and I get really crazy when I don't have enough sleep, so getting my kids to sleep through the night is pretty much my number one priority as a parent, and for us Baby Wise gets them to sleep other people can have other priorities, which is fine.

I also want to throw out that I do alot of quasi attachment parenting myself, including nursing (I exclusively nursed twins), baby wearing (I love my ergo carrier), I just don't co-sleep and I don't feed on demand. I don't feed on demand once I switch to solid foods either, hence the no snack thing working well for my family. My kids are tall and healthy and I have never had milk supply issues, both of which have been factors in this decision as well.

Right Said Red said...


I think the outsourcing idea is great. DH loves audiobooks, which I find very funny, so he loved the idea of getting the kids "hooked" on books on tape.

As far as the La Leche League, we should have a post about attachment parenting (AP) sometime in the future--Juris Mater, maybe you are the one to do it ;-)

Seriously though, awol mommy, don't give up what works well for your family just because a bunch of us are not into AP. I'm not an AP parent, as I have my kids on a schedule, and I absolutely refuse to co-sleep or breastfeed on demand. None of these techniques worked for us, but I did try them out at first with Gianna. She never slept for more than 2-3 hours at a time, until I switched to more scheduled feedings during the day...and then I was a much happier mama!

Anonymous said...

Everybody knows that different people with different brains are supposed to have different studying, researching, and working styles.

So why on earth wouldn't people expect different mothers with different children, all with different brains and bodies, to have different parenting styles? People should expect _more_ diversity than they'd find elsewhere, not less!

Btw, don't forget that you can get a lot of audiobooks of public domain books on the Web, also for free. Most of us aren't actors, but hey, it's free! Librivox is very good for Oz books, for example. There are also some readalong books, where the screen shows the pages while the voice reads.

My Maria Lectrix podcast isn't doing much for kids' books. Yet.