Whole Parenting Family

7 Ways We Still Practice Natural Parenting (despite having three kids)

whole parenting family natural family

Three kids. Oh. Wow. We have to adjust and adapt. Lots of this lately:

Baby wakes up and has wet a little through onto the bed. Spit up. On me. The bed. I remove his diaper and think–where’s a clean one–while I’m fumbling for it, his lovely water fountain of pee erupts like a happy geyser. Me wet. Bed wet. Pillows wet. Still fumbling for a clean diaper. Cursing my glasses as I can’t find them. Get new diaper. Before I get it on, the churning of the poo begins and then me, bed, pillow (wet), clean diaper, and freshly awakened husband sprayed by a hose of poop.

Then things like this happen.

Big kids in tub with me and baby. SuperBoy decides to dump water on his sister who in turn decides to practice her swimming kicks–in his face. They’re both crying, the baby in my arms is trying desperately to get away from me, scooting scootching toward them, the fight, the thrill, the fray. I’m hollering for AA to come get the baby so I can deal with the big kids. When we do all get out of the tub, dripping in annoyance with each other, and I put her on the toilet, she promptly forgets her head is her center of gravity and falls off. Splat. Right onto her head by way of a stool catching the corner of her temple. Screaming. Everyone. 

So you could say it’s a little busier around here.

We’re still determined to be as crunchy, natural, odd-ball as possible. Despite the new chaos, poooping, and scooootching. Here’s what we still have clung to. Or try to cling to.

As you read my blah blahings, remember that this isn’t a referendum on your parenting. Promise: It’s not.  I won’t personalize your parenting, so please don’t take offense at ours.

Being “natural” is a touchy topic for parents, moms in particular. Moms who when they work feel like they have to justify the hours spent at work, and somehow make up lost ground by having perfect organic lunches or Pinterest worthy living rooms. Mom who stay home and feel like they have to justify the hours spent without showering, just wiping up snot, spit up, and also need to have those lunches and living rooms.

1) Healthy food.

When we had our second, I still brought healthy food to friends’ houses to feed my kids, and to share if they wanted. More often I avoided going over during lunch time so as to not make them feel uncomfortable that we don’t share food choices. We still made baby food for SweetPea, we still didn’t feed SuperBoy processed foods or dessert. A rare dessert? Yes. Made with raw sugar? Probably.

Now we’re outnumbered two to three. Somewhere in there SuperBoy turned four, and he gets a tiny sliver of a treat periodically that is NOT ORGANIC. Not cheese balls, mind you, but more like homemade chocolate cake. SweetPea? She gets a lick or three of organic ice cream, but not that much. I plan on making the baby’s food from scratch, mostly because it’s less expensive, healthier, and I have the time as I’m at home with them.

2) Very limited screen time.

We still don’t have our kids watch TV. They may once in a blue moon watch something on youtube about lions eating gazelles. I’ve written about how I avoid the electronic babysitter. It’s taking new innovations now that we have three kids but still working!

At first I avoided screen time because of the health recommendations by the AAP. Now I see it would probably be just another tool to use if I felt I needed it–which means it would also be something SuperBoy & SweetPea would whine for and about, and probably tantrum about. So far that detriment has outweighed possible benefits. I can’t take another thing to fight about!!

I get it that moms need to shower, make dinner, and maybe poop in peace, so a little show goes on. If I can avoid it, I will continue to. Once they’re older, they can see a little nice show here or there, but there’s just so much to do beyond the screen! Like read baseball cards or destroy other people’s puzzles and towers.

3) Exclusive nursing.

We aim to nurse for at least a year. You know I don’t hate on formula moms, for whatever reason that’s been the case for them. If my kids want to nurse longer, lovely. SuperBoy was 14 months and SweetPea 19 months when they self-weaned. I introduce organic whole cow’s milk at a year. I like nursing. It’s worked for us. Even though both our first two had a rocky start, with the help of my very patient husband and awesome lactation specialists, we were able to meet our nursing goals.

This big ole baby of mine never had a single moment he didn’t love nursing–it must be due to his big big weight and hearty appetite! Thank goodness as my recovery was so rough.

4) Co sleeping.

Again, not for everyone. I used to think I could co-sleep because I don’t have to go to work in the morning, but now that we’ve done it with all three, I can say from my opinion, it makes nights way easier. Instead of getting up with a sad, teething, burping, diapering, screaming baby a room away from you, I roll over and nurse. I sit him on my stomach and pat his back to get a burp out. I double up on Bumgenius 4.0s so I don’t have to change a diaper at night.

The investment of a king sized bed has made co sleeping so much easier on my husband who does have to get up early and go in the morning. It’s a nice firm mattress and he can be allllllll the way on the edge like he likes and baby and I can be in the middle, like we like.

5) Frequent baby wearing.

I hardly ever wore SuperBoy when at home–he could easily be in arm, or set down as need be. When SweetPea came along, I quickly figured out my Sakura Bloom ring sling so I could chase my toddler while nursing my baby. Ditto to the third with BabyLoves. Without the sling, I’d have to spend 40 minutes in a dark room nursing him down, only to be awakened multiple times by his big siblings bustling in to check and see if “HE IS ASLEEP YET??” He passes out in the sling and can be laid down with ease. He is comforted. He is near my smell, heartbeat, and voice, just like when he was inside. He never cries {unless I’m in Texas at a conference.}

6) Growing & tending a garden.

Our garden used to be my love. I loved buying big plants in May to plop in the ground. I loved how they grew quickly in the hot June, and how easily I harvested enough basil for pesto every week. And for Pizza Fridays around here! I loved the heirloom tomato vine smell on my hands after weeding the tomato patch.

With pregnancies, nursing, more pregnancies, and still nurslings, AA took over the garden. Imagine my joy when I realized how much satisfaction he derives from it! The kids plant, nurture, water, and weed with him. They start from seed indoors in the winter, hoping for a big big plant to plop into the ground. They eat beans, rosemary, and raw kale straight from the garden. And the raspberries? I’m pretty sure the fencing around them are for the kids more than the rabbits.

It is quite a bit of work, but we see it as a great gift to give to our children: lessons in appreciating what the earth can provide and respect for food and those who grow it.

7) Daily quiet time.

Life is more chaotic with three. The days zoom by. We want to be deliberate and rejuvenating each day by having a quiet time. For us, it’s often a time to pray or have quiet religious reading in the morning. For other parents it may be yoga or meditation or spiritual reading. After breakfast, and some rousing imaginary one-man baseball epic games in the backyard, we settle in for quiet time around 10am. At most it’s 30 minutes, somedays less.

We value demonstrating to our kids the freeing nature of prayer and meditation, and how grounding and coming back within yourself gives you greater energy and grace and love to share. It has been a persistent challenge to coral the bigs to calm down, and focus. But once we’re in the groove, I love the conversations that come up, about choices, life, death, and life beyond us.

Having a more children doesn’t necessitate losing sight of focal points that matter to you as a parent, as a family. We’ve found it takes adjusting, but given our children are still so young, it works for us to be this natural and crunchy at this beautiful season of life.


  1. Amanda on August 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Would love to do better with #2 in our home. The boys watch a show after coming in from play while I make lunch and same for before dinner if Dada has to work late. And, I love the idea of your quiet time. We don’t have any allotted time for quiet time, except for whoever wakes up from nap first is encouraged to be still and read. Love the other crunchy ways too. Reading this made me feel more crunchy than I normally think myself 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 18, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      It’s not a moral issue (another mommy war one, right?)–so it’s really about figuring out how we can maintain/retain our sanity while with our kids for looooooooooong hours. I think everyone’s more crunchy than they think they are 🙂

  2. Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany on August 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    This is great! I have fallen away from some of my early ideals, like no TV and no processed foods (we still keep them to a minimum, but they occur more than they did with my first bebe,which was none). I know a lot of people thought I was crazy to continue to use cloth diapers with my third, when my second was still in cloth diapers too, and all three were under 4 🙂 I love how you remind us all that one mom’s choices are not a judgement of another mom’s choices just because they’re different!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 18, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      Cloth diapers are the best! It’s so much easier and cheaper than disposables! It’s so important we don’t judge each other. Maybe I’ll look back at this time and think, what a luxury! Cloth diapers & organic food?

  3. Nicole on August 19, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Love everything about this, Nell – you’re still doing great! I found your site not too long ago, but we’ve got a lot in common, from letting hubs take over the garden to double-stuffing diapers. I actually just wrote a column on my cloth diaper experience not too long ago that you might enjoy >> http://nicolewelle.com/?p=422

    If you’re ever up in the Fargo area, I’d love to get together! You can come over for homemade energy bites and coconut milk. 😉

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 20, 2014 at 8:48 am

      Love the post! And would love to come over for your deliciousness!

  4. sarah marie on August 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    We definitely can’t afford all organic, but we do the best we can, and totally avoid those processed foods that are marketed to babies and toddlers. As for screen time, we were at none until I had a second hyperemesis pregnancy… and we introduced poor little Nell to the silver screen! I hope she survived the experience with minimal brain cell loss. 😉 You do what you have to do, right?

    Everyone raves about the Sakura Bloom slings! Tell me— worth the $$? Better than all other slings? I have an ergo and a {craigslist purchased} beco as well as a wannabe woven wrap (a.k.a. strip of fabric from the fabric store) and love using them all. Should I add a ring sling to my collection? Can I justify it? Please say yes. 😉

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 20, 2014 at 8:49 am

      You’re doing a great job making the best decisions for your family! No judgment here!

      YES THE RING SLING IS THE BEST. Later on, I’ll use my ergo for walks and stuff, but i use the sakura every single day. EVERY single day!!!!!

  5. Lauren on September 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    This is awesome. I was only able to nurse for 11 months (the stress of a cross-country move and pumping while house hunting didn’t fly- and my supply dried up in weeks) and I was devastated. However, nursing for so long and then becoming a formula mom (of course, Earths Best Organic!) opened my eyes to be a little kinder. So not all bad. 🙂 Can’t wait to try again with future littles. I still love my Boba soft carrier, but want to try a wrap or sling for the next one. I agree that parenting is all about what works for you and your family. Factoring in the myriad of unique things that make up a family. I’ve learned to be totally confident in my decisions if my girl seems to be doing well.

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 4, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      It’s so important to be kind to each other! These parenting decisions are so hard and we’re hard enough on ourselves. Love that you’re finding your confidence!!