How I weaned my child

I want to preface this by saying that all children are different, what worked for me, may not work for y’all. But I wanted to chronicle this for myself, and for all the weaning caregivers out there.

My child has breastfeed on demand day and night from the time she was born up until I decided to wean. Once she hit age 1 ½, she learned to get what she needed faster, but she still nursed to sleep for naps and bedtime as well as during the night.

When she turned two I developed a nursing aversion which I remedied by cutting out nursing during the daytime. By 2½ my aversion was back in full force and I knew I was on the path to weaning her completely.

Because my child is very sensitive, loving, and cuddly, I knew our weaning journey would have to be slow and gradual in order to avoid a big dustup. Some caregivers can wean cold turkey, but I wanted the shift to be gentle both for her, and for my body and hormones.

I started out by reading books to her about weaning. My favorite being Sally Weans from Night Nursing because it had a black mom and daughter in it. We read it often for a few months, I talked to her about it, and told her soon, she would be like Sally and be done with nursing at night too.

In the mean time I cut out all morning and nap nursing times. She was unhappy, but I assured her that she could nurse at bedtime, and that typically got her through. She started rarely napping, but it worked out better because she sleep for 10 hours at night with no nap.  At bedtime as she was nursing, I would kiss her, and remind that soon, when she turned 3, “boobers” as we called it, would be all gone.

I also enlisted the help of my spouse, her godmother, and my friends to talk to her about it OFTEN when it rose up in conversation. So she good and well knew what to expect.

A month before her 3rd birthday, I began the process of cutting out night nursing. We nursed to sleep, and maybe again if she woke up before 11 pm. After that, any other requests for milk were met with a “I know you’re upset, I’m sorry, boobers is all gone for now” . Sometimes I offered water, or a piece of apple, but typically she fussed, sometimes even full out hollered, but I just stayed with her, acknowledged her feelings, and she would fall back asleep within 10 minutes. Only once did she stay up for an hour and half.

After two weeks of only nursing to sleep, other than the occasional dustup, she was sleeping through the night. I continued to read the book, remind her DAILY that on her birthday, that boobers would be gone. I even did 10 day countdown. I emphasized how she was a big girl, and we encouraged her to drink water to stay hydrated. I made sure she was getting healthy fats in the form of a DHA supplement.

Then the big day arrived, the night before her third birthday. I explained that this was her last boobers, and that tomorrow on her birthday , boobers was gone. I kissed her loads, took some pics, and she feel asleep on the breast.

The next day, the festivities wore her out and she passed out on her own without even asking.

Since then, she has only asked once, and fussed a little bit. For the most part, she sleeps through the night, outside of some annoying itchy big bites, or waking up for a water or some apple.

Getting her to sleep consists switching between lots of  active play in the evening to tire her out, backwearing, guided children’s meditation, back rubs, soothing music, soothing baths and lots of stern “we’re done talking, lets focus on sleeping now” from an exhausted mom or dad.

My kiddo has gone through lots of changes recently, transitioning to her own bed, potty learning, and weaning. I have had no engorgement or mood swings that sometimes come with weaning. I think taking it slow and being gentle with the both of us has been our saving grace. I am over the MOOOON to be done, I also feel a little guilty that she won’t have mama milk if she get’s sick to keep her healthy. But, I believe in myself, herbal medicine, and her immune system, I know she will be fine.

This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

I hope this helps someone!

Peace,

Farai

 

 

How to plan a sustainable children’s birthday party

We just celebrated my little on turning three a few days ago. How time has flown by! She keeps us on our toes. So sweet, opinionated, friendly, inquisitive, and hilarious.

Her birthday is meaningful to me because I love getting to celebrate her growth, and the anniversary of my foray into motherhood.

As a minimalist, I am always thinking about how to keep things simple, cost effective, and environmentally friendly.

Here are some ways I incorporate these values into party planning:

  • Plan ahead- save yourself the stress rushing, and anxiety that party planning sometimes comes with.
  • Avoid plastics, I used compostable plates, cups, and cutlery as needed.
  • Think small
  • Support local businesses. When I have outsourced our baked goods, I hire local small business women. This year, we purchased  fresh fruits and veggies from the farmers market and the meat came from a local sustainable beef farm. The tortillas came from our local tortilleria.
  • Have a potluck if you can.
  • Write lists to stay organized.
  • Borrow if you don’t have it. I borrow large drink dispensers for the lemonade from close friends every year. We only use them this one time a year , and we all love to share.
  • Delegate if you can to save fuel. My sister in law who was driving from the east side of town stopped to grab my tortilla’s on her way to our house so that they were fresh and I didn’t have to make an extra trip.
  • Ask for no gifts if you need nothing, or ask patrons to make a donation to the child’s education fund. I also ask friends to visit a locally owned toy store as opposed to heading to a big box store if they feel inclined to get a gift.
  • Ditch the wrapping paper (we used play-silks that we will reuse each year) or reuse the same wrapping paper until it falls apart.
  • We don’t do party favors, but this year I did get the kids dance ribbons to play with in our backyard and take home with them.
  • Take advantage of your local parks. Find one that’s fun to play in, age appropriate, has shade, good seating, and have your party there! Its free, nature is amazing for children to play in, and its supporting local parks which I am all about.

This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

Peace,

Farai

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Our little bloom 

Why We Still Babywear

Black Babywearing week is upon us, and it love what this week gives homage to.  Babywearing is sacred to me. Not only is it a beautiful part of my journey as a caregiver, but as a black woman, I join the legacy of the women who wore me.

Babywearing doesn’t have to end in toddlerhood. If you are able to bear your toddler’s weight, I would make the argument that it is just as important and useful as in infancy.

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Almost 3 and over 30 lbs!

No matter how independent and adventurous toddlers get, they still crave the closeness and security that comes with wearing.

As my babe approaches 3(!) and weighs over 30 lbs, I see no current end in our babywearing journey. 

Here are 4 reasons we are still babywearing in our house:

Closeness/Bonding

Toddler’s have big feelings. Wearing them allows them to self-regulate by being close to you. It fosters secure attachment, allows them to feel safe, and cared for too. 

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Gotta wash dishes and wear your cool toddler sometimes

Safety and Security

Toddler’s be running. Sometimes i’m in less than ideal places like carnivals or crossing busy streets. Wearing reduces my worry as I can keep her close.

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Someone fell asleep at a wedding, no beds here, so up she goes!

Comfort

I’d much rather strap my kiddo to my back , than navigate a stroller in and out of my car as I run errands. Also, as a minimalist, I prefer to travel simple. A carrier and a bag is typically all I need when spending all day out with my toddler. 

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Back wearing at the thrift store

Convenience

My kid is on a shoe strike, and prefers to be barefoot all the time, sometimes in inconvenient places like the grocery store. Toddler’s also sometimes have meltdowns or want to be carried everywhere. Wearing helps in several different scenarios. It is so convenient. 

Fun side: All the carriers i’m using in this blog post are from Bijou Wear, a Kansas company who I love very much. I own two, but the rest of these of these carriers are borrowed from friends, or from Bijou’s own lending library. 

Happy baby-wearing

Peace,

Farai 

Let Black Babies Be Wild and Free

Excerpt from an essay I wrote for mater mea entitled Let Black Babies Be Wild and Free

“When I got pregnant my last year of undergrad, I began to reflect on my childhood and how it shaped me as a scholar and as a person. I thought about my identity as a Black woman in America. What experiences did I want my offspring to have?

I had felt so much pressure living in a world that expects us to work twice as hard for half as much. I decided to unplug from that narrative and live life on my terms. It felt almost like a matter of life and death, and for many Black people in America, it is.

“I’m going to give them the freedom to be their whole selves outside of me. ”

After moving to the States I noticed the pressure that Black caregivers and their children are under in a world that considers them less than. Our kids must be well-groomed and well-behaved at all times, even at the expense of their childhood. There’s a scene in the Netflix movie Nappily Ever After …”

 

To read more, please visit the mater mea here .

Peace,

Farai

I am a Part of Nature

A few years ago, Kansas weather used to affect my mood in a drastic way. Born in tropical Kariba, Zimbabwe, and raised in the hot, semi-arid climate of Gaborone, Botswana- I preferred the heat through and through.

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Carrying my baby on my back like my Shona mama did me. I love this picture

Snowy weather left me feeling isolated, cold, and put out. Rainy weather left me feeling sluggish and dreary. Somewhere along the line, I realized I am a part of nature, and instead of feeling ostracized by the weather- I felt included. Each cycle of weather has a purpose. The dying leaves of autumn decompose in the ground, providing food for  the microorganisms that live beneath us and feed the plant life above ground.

This past winter snowfall was brutal, but I was grateful I get to live in the land of my settler ancestors and watch it melt deep into the ground and nourish the thirsty roots of the trees who struggled in the extreme heat of last summer.

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Biggest, happy earthworm from our backyard

All that snow caused a mast fruiting this spring which has me pulling baby maple trees out of my garden beds every day. I can choose to be annoyed, or I can marvel at the cycle of life and the infinitesimal role I have in it.

Today I watched a bird try to eat a piece of plastic, human beings in general have done a number on the eco-systems we are a part of. Without pollinators like bees, birds, and other insects, we have no fruits and vegetables. Without beautiful, green, lush, biodiverse earth, the cows have no food to give us our beloved beef. Our fish have plastic in their bellies too. How are we continuing to destroy the place that we depend on for our survival? It is counterintuitive, I acknowledge that I am a part of nature. When Earth is sick, I am sick too. When bees die, I die too.  

Instead of trying to separate myself from the seasons, I remember that I am a part of them too. In Autumn, I wind down, harvest, eat the squash and corn that is ripened in this season. In the Winter, I hunker down with twinkly lights, warm drinks, blankets, and hibernate. In the Spring, I perk up, I do the hard work that comes with sprouting, and learning, and growing. In the Summer, I do a little bit of everything while enjoying juicy summer fruit and remembering to rest.

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Peony from Tete’s house

 

I do not despair anymore because I know we have the tools at our disposal to make a difference. Conversations surrounding capitalism, climate change, our government, and the shitty corporations that brutalize people and the planet for their profit is bigger than what I want to get into in this post. I originally meant to share some prose about how I feel so close to this lovely flying rock I call home after thanks to weather, and yet here we are, I hope this helps someone. 

Small things I do to make a difference

  1. Don’t fucking litter
  2. Growing my own food when I can
  3. Eschew capitalism when I can
  4. Bartering when I can
  5. Supporting local farmers and makers
  6. Eating less meat
  7. Using less plastic
  8. Only buying grass fed beef  and pastured chicken when cooking  with meat
  9. Buying food that is in season
  10. Buying organic when I can
  11. Only getting what I need or really want
  12. Buying second hand
  13. Getting things repaired when they break
  14. Trading instead of buying

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Lilac heart from a neighborhood walk

I hope this helps someone feel less alone, and more connected like I do. Give a tree a hug and remember you need each other. I cannot believe I have lived so long yet failed to stop and sniff at a lilac bush, or crush some lemon balm (which smells like an actual loving hug) between my fingers and smell its heady aroma. We need each other, friends.

Peace,

Farai

 

Mother’s Day Mindfulness

According to google, Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” Most days my brain is going a mile a minute- writing lists, meal planning, remembering when the last diaper change was, whether or not I had a playdate scheduled, or when I need to wash the linens. Punctuate that with parenting a rambunctious toddler and constantly distracted by my phone and you have a very busy brain on your hands.

This May 12th marks my 3rd (!) year as a mama! I have been on a slow journey to tap into mindfulness as a way to reconnect with myself. I know that when I am nourished and well rested, that I am a better mom.

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Getting yard work done with my poppet

I attempt the habits I am about to share only when I can, and when they feel good. Never forcing anything.

Going on a small solo walk and talk to nature

My newest habit feels really good, I just walk down a couple blocks and point out the flora and fauna I see to myself. Sometimes I greet them, or thank the trees for the oxygen they provide me. This exercise requires me to focus and to be present. Which works great for me since I tend to live in the clouds.

Taking a hot bath with herbs, Epsom Salts or ACV

I’ll let you, reader, find out the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for yourselves. They are both a bath staple in our home. I don’t take baths often, I can barely scrounge up time for a shower, but I have been making a point every so often to slow down, put on a face mask, dry brush my skin, and hop into the bath for 15 mins or so. Sometimes with a book, sometimes with just my thoughts.

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Bath with epson salts and lilacs from my friends garden

Making a nourishing meal for myself

This one is hard for me, because a lot of my own energy goes in to taking care of the people in my families dietary needs, I barely have the spoons to eat something nutritious for myself when I do make the time to sit down and eat. Slowing down though and eating a meal rich in good fats and amazing spices or drinking an herbal infusion always hits the spot.

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Overnight cleavers cold infusion

Reading a daily devotional or journaling

Journaling regularly has always been a dream of mine. But the truth was I couldn’t get to it everyday, then felt ashamed at the large gaps between my entries until I had finally discouraged myself from even trying. Thankfully I released that hang up a few years ago and happily journal when the mood strikes. I have also been reading a couple of day books. I don’t get to them every day, but when I do, I don’t try to play catch up, I read the message for that day, because thats the one I need to see. I’ve been reading Simple Abundance a Daybook of Comfort and Joy, and 365 Tao Daily Meditations.

I hope you find the time this week to celebrate yourselves in one some way. I leave you with the words of Asia Suler:

“No matter who you are, what you’ve done or what you’ve yet to accomplish — you are seen, cherished, and welcomed into the fold. The Earth, and the family of beings to which you belong, cares about you as an innate part of the whole.

You are as precious as the winged seeds of the maple, as beloved as the first cherry-colored blossoms of spring. As integral as the bee, pollen-dusted and in love with everything. You are seen in the same rose-tint as the bee sees the bloom and the soil sees the seed.”

Peace,

Farai

 

Earth Friendly and Minimalist Easter Practices for Kids

Happy 2019! I hope this blog post finds you, reader, in good spirits.

So let’s get right to it. Easter stuff is already everywhere you look. I purposefully tried to avoid all small holidays in the USA the first few years of Thandiwe’s life because it just seems like a giant excuse to ply kids with candy. But now, as my little one is getting older and has shown interest in things like birds, bees, bunnies, and mushrooms, I see an opportunity to use Easter to teach her about rest, renewal, and the beauty of transformation.

Christian Easter will be celebrated on April 21st, but we are tying our Easter celebration to the Spring Equinox which will be on March 20. Whatever beliefs you have, I hope you find time to find the beauty in the green blooms that will be coming out to say hello.

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The Easter Basket

Reuse a basket/box you already own or go to a local thrift store and get a wicker one for cheap.

This is the perfect time to get your child spring and summer items they may have outgrown. Each season I go through Thandiwe’s wardrobe to find out what she has outgrown or needs repaired. In her case, she had outgrown her swimsuit and water shoes.

Other ideas include

  1. Raincoat
  2. Rainboots
  3. Hat
  4. Umbrella

Since she has an obsession with mushrooms (like her mama!) I reached out to my IG friends who recommended so many good books, but I liked this one the best. Our lesson this Easter will be around the life cycle of mushrooms.

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Instead of Easter grass, I will be using a playsilk that I plan on dyeing with blackberries. Really any scarf will do. Scarves are great open ended toys because they can become a cape, bandana, tutu, or baby sling. I have a post about toys here.   You could also use newspaper or craft paper to make your own compostable easter grass.

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Play silks I made her last year
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If I had any crocheting skills, I would make these myself, but instead I pay my lovely talented friends instead.  Here is a link to the Etsy store pattern for these . You don’t have to add toys to the basket, but Easter isn’t only about bunnies and chicks, there is ample opportunity to chat about nature in general. 

The Easter Egg hunt

I got a bag of the plastic eggs from the thrift store to use. I spent some time researching biodegradable and recyclable ones (there are not many options) before decided to just buy some second hand and take care of them so we can use them for many years to come. Luckily, the ones I found were slightly bigger than a standard size, so if I chose to fill them with something bigger in the future I am set.

Ditch the candy if you can. Instead use

  1. Coins or cash (kids love money)
  2. Crackers
  3. Yogurt bites, or yogurt covered nuts/ fruit
  4. Gummies that aren’t full of gross stuff
  5. Marbles
  6. Lip balm/Nail polish/Lip stick for the makeup loving kiddo in your life
  7. Rings/ Beads and string to make jewelry
  8. Homemade playdough
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I hope this gives anyone searching, some ideas. At the end of the day all our babes want is to connect with us.  I look forward to restart our walks in the neighborhood where we point out all the cool flora and fauna that is local to us. She recognizes spots from last spring/summer where the bunnies hid and where mushrooms sprouted and she searches for them whenever we do make it outside. I love this graphic from Little Oak Learning. 

Peace,

Farai

A Word on Thanksgiving – Stop the Candy Coating

I am reading There’s no such thing as bad weather to prepare myself for outdoor activities with my little one as winter approaches. In the book, the author talks about how in Sweden and other Nordic countries, that educators are honest with the students about the human impact on climate change. Fearing that the information is too scary for children to hear, parents in the U.S. often complain when American educators try to follow suit. However, in Sweden- these practices have produced little environmentalists who are adamant about composting and other eco-friendly practices. In essence, these children know the truth and strive to make a better world for themselves and the Earth.

How can we do better if we do not know better? I look forward to homeschooling my child because she won’t have to unlearn the candy coated history of America when the time comes for her to study it.

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Image from Pixabay

The country of my birth gained independence from Britain 1965 and still has not recovered from the greed and decimation of colonial rule. My people were rounded up, murdered, and had western Christianity and ideals forced upon them. Their way of life was destroyed. I often think to what Zimbabwe would have been like if it had never been colonized. My people are brilliant, educated, funny, and innovative. And it fucking sucks that its such a hard place to live if you aren’t rich.

I can’t imagine the pain and anguish of First Nations people today. And for us to not have honest conversations about the genocide that this holiday is built on is a travesty. How can our children not do better if they don’t know any better?

Harvest season is great time to be grateful for the amazing blessings you have in your life. But we must not forget how we got here. The people who helped us, the bridges we burned, the people we hurt, and how we can do better. No more candy coating.

Peace,

Farai

Minimalist Holiday Shopping for Kids

It is quite hard to not get caught up in the buying frenzy that is in the air during the holiday season. My spouse and I take full advantage of the fact that our two year old is none the wiser and choose not to buy into the hype. However, we want to build meaningful tradition and ritual for our family and that includes thinking about what we want this time of year to look like for our family.

If you are feeling the pressure this holiday season with all the marketing and ads coming your way, Let me remind you that what your children want most is your time. Toys come and go, clothes are outgrown, but memories last much longer. If you must make purchases, here is a graphic to keep you in check.

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This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

With winter approaching we have been focused on getting our babe some open ended toys. What are open-ended toys you ask? Basically any toy that doesn’t have a fixed use and can be played with in a variety of ways. I thought i’d share some of the open ended toys that have been on our horizon for months now.

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Image from Sarah Playsilks

Play silks can become tutus, capes, headscarfs, doll slings, dresses, forts, and much more. The soft biodegradable material feels good on little hands too.

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Image from kickstarter

EarthTiles are made from sustainably sourced wood and these magnetic tiles are a beautiful way for babes to engage in STEM play.

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Image from urbanbaby.com

A kinderboard can be a balance board, a reading nook, slide, bridge, booster seat, and much more. I am probably the most excited to see all the ways she will play with this. Much like most open ended toys, it is an investment and will probably be in our family for a long time.

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Image from google search

Rainbow stackers are not only beautiful but are a lesson in math, science, art, and fun in general.

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My two year old unicorn ladybug

As for books, thrift stores and thriftbooks.com are still my favorite place to search for titles. Right now my wishlist is full of books about eating and enjoying food as I try to encourage her to eat more.

At the end of the day, my daughter is most happiest when both of us are playing hands on with her. No toy can match that. Our favorite thing to do right now is play with homemade play-dough and cookie cutters.

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Turmeric play-dough

I hope this holiday season gifts you with time to spend with those you love.

Peace,

Farai

My Green Beauty Basics

If you have been following me along on instagram, then you know our home renovation took a lot of steam out of my eco friendly engine. I just did not have the spoons (or a kitchen or bathroom) to stay as green as I would have liked. However, because my beauty regime is pretty minimal, I had no troubles in this department. I thought I would share my basics in case someone is looking for some inspiration.

Apple Cider Vinegar – In a glass bottle, this powerhouse can act as a skin toner, hair rinse and much more. It works great to balance out my low porosity hair, and added to a bath, it is incredibly soft and moisturizing for those with dry skin issues. I never go without.

Bar soap – Whether its for my body, or specifically formulated for my face. Unpackaged bar soap is what my family enjoys using.

Lip Balm – I have a compulsion to never ever have dry lips. Lip balm or lip stick  in a compostable or recyclable container make my heart and the earth sing.

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Lip balm in a compostable container

Rose hip oil – Not too long ago I realized that I needed to start taking better care of my skin. I tried to be a multi-product girl with the serums and the acids (all in glass bottles of course), but its just not me. Rose hip oil rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants which are essential in tissue and cell regeneration in the skin. After I cleanse my skin, I just throw this on at night and move on about my day. PS. It will stain your skin a bright orange, but it goes away as your skin absorbs it.

Almond oil – The least eco-friendly of basics, because I have only found it in plastic bottles (I buy the biggest size to make up for it). Almond oil can be used as a face, body, and hair moisturizer. It is my go-to make-up remover and probably the product I have used the longest.

Konjac sponge – New to me, this compostable face scrubby comes in clutch when I need to exfoliate my face.

Thats it folks! When I am scrubbed clean, and well moisturized I feel my most beautiful. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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Stanley and my naked, moisturized face

This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made.

Peace.

Farai.