We discussed how to make sure our weekly meetings were friendly to toddlers and big kids and their mothers, as well as babies. We realized that there had been an expectation that the children stay (relatively) quiet, and remain in the part of the room with the toys, so that the mothers and babies in arms could maintain a (relatively) peaceful circle of discussion.
While this doesn’t sound outrageous, the very relationship that we encourage mothers to develop with their infants is just as valuable as the infant grows, learns to walk (and run) and talk (and yell). Because we want to avoid situations and environments in which our children must be disciplined to act in a way that was not easy for them, this group meeting was proving disruptive of family relationships for some of the moms.
So it was important to discuss what was expected by the church that hosts our group, what was necessary to make it possible for the mothers to share experiences with each other (the function of the group), what was important to the moms as far as freedoms and safety for their children and for the babies. By clarifying actual group expectations we could discard those we had assumed were in place that might not have been important to the group, and at the same time everyone in the group is now aware of what is expected of the kids. That way we all know what the rules are that the group is comfortable with and can choose to be part of the group without worrying about whether our children are too disruptive.
Along the way we concluded that interruptions by toddlers, and continual gentle mothering of them throughout the meetings was valuable not only to the mother and child, but to the new moms whose infants were still in arms, and to all of the other mothers as each interaction is an example from which we can all take or leave the elements that we see working or that appeal to our parenting styles.
We discussed cloth diapers for Jennifer who is pregnant now, and discussed nighttime diapering for Amy, whose son leaks through cloth or disposables at night (luckily another mom of a boy figured out the anatomical problem and solution).
We discussed wrapping (yay!), including what position a tiny infant’s legs should be in, Shelby wanted to get her toddler wrapped up in a back wrap cross carry tied over her new baby bump. Anna wanted instruction on a good rucksack carry. Jennifer tried out a front cross carry (Belle was happy to accommodate).