Somewhere in between attachment parenting and laid back casual you will find our newest mom friend, Jessica Von Wallenstein. This mother of two under two loves her children, her husband, cloth diapers, alone time, and the gorgeous state she lives in. We had a chance to interview her recently, and we know you’re going to love her as much as we do!
So you are a New Hampshire Momma – Live Free or Die! Take me back to my home state and give the rest of the moms out there some insight into what it’s like raising a child in the Granite State
I’m an import into New Hampshire – we moved here in 2011 and immediately fell in love. New Hampshire just screams “outdoors” to me, and the kids like nothing better than playing outside all day. We get to show them so many beautiful aspects of nature – the mountains, the ocean, the lakes – and the community of people is simply amazing. Plus, they sell wine in the grocery store so it’s like every mom’s dream.
You seem to lean towards the “attachment parenting” style. What is this like for you and the kiddos?
We don’t follow AP precisely, but I subscribe to some of its philosophies. I love babywearing because it allowed me to snuggle while still retaining use of my arms. As a bonus, both of my kids would routinely fall asleep while being worn. It’s a win-win, especially with a toddler and an infant.
Most of the attachment parenting guidelines were things that just made sense to me – feeding on demand instead of a schedule, lots of snuggling, following the child’s cues. But we don’t bedshare and I am comfortable leaving the kids with a babysitter regularly. I took the aspects of attachment parenting that worked for us and applied them, and I think it has helped me be a better parent.
Talk to me a bit about baby-led weaning. Do babies ever really want to wean?
Both of my kids started solids with fruits and vegetables instead of purees. The idea is that the baby is in charge of what and how much food they eat. I loved it because it exposed the kids to a lot of variety of foods early on and I attribute it to them being adventurous eaters.
As far as the actual weaning portion, I weaned Vicki when she was 15 months old. I was 3 months pregnant at the time and I think that helped her give it up. Luke is currently 13 months old and still loves nursing, so we’ll see how it goes. I am eager to be done, but I don’t want to rush him.
They think it’s a little… intense. But I am a big proponent of following your own philosophy. If it works for you, then it works. I try really hard not to judge anyone’s parenting – we’re all in this together and everyone is just doing the best they can for their family.
You also lean more toward the natural/organic route. Why is this?
The crunchiest thing I do is cloth diapering. I initially started it for environmental reasons – did you know it takes a disposable diaper 500 YEARS to decompose? I wanted to minimize the number of diapers we were contributing to landfills.
I have also found that cloth diapers don’t blow out like disposables do. We use disposable diapers when we travel, and I hated it because I would end up washing baby poo out of clothes in the hotel room sink. I have had only 1 blowout with cloth diapers in almost 3 years of using them.
Do you find the natural way to be more expensive?
The start up cost is higher, but it evens out in the long run. Our cloth diapers saved us hundreds just with the first kid, and even more with each kid that uses them after. I have used the same diapers since 2010 and they’re still going strong.
As a Huggies/Pampers momma, I have to know more about the whole cloth diaper trend. Give me the details, pitch me….
The cloth diapers today are not what they used to be! Some people still use the squares that you clip in place, but there are so many more options now. My favorite diapers are the BumGenius 4.0 – they are shaped just like a disposable diaper and are super simple to use. As I mentioned before, they are stellar for containing the mess. Plus, my kids almost never got a diaper rash.
The biggest objection to cloth diapers is dealing with the poop. But let’s be honest – you’re going to deal with poop no matter what. It’s a lot less gross to flush it down the toilet than to let it sit in a trash can. Washing the diapers is no big deal – the machine does all the work. It’s really simple and the savings and environmental benefits are worth the extra effort.
What is your super mom power. We all have one… think hard.
Communication. I think the key to minimizing tantrums has been teaching my kids to tell me what they want. We started with baby sign language and then just expanded from there. I talk to them constantly and have been able to anticipate their needs before they start screaming (usually). Of course we still have tantrums, but for the most part they are short lived and easily resolved.
Both of your children are under two years old. Have you lost your mind yet?
Not yet! There are certainly crazy moments where everyone is yelling and/or crying and I just want a moment to pee alone. But there are also times where they scamper off to play together and I get to enjoy my coffee while it’s still hot. I try to plan our weeks so we have a few days of activities (errands, playground, seeing friends) and a day or two where we can just be home. Knowing that there are times where we have nowhere to be is very relaxing and helps keep me calm when the crazy sneaks up on me.
How do you find time for yourself?
I used to be SO BAD at this. My husband has pushed me and pushed me to take time for myself and I fought it for a long time. I don’t even know why. Now I have a babysitter come one day during the day so I can write, go to the gym, eat a meal without anybody throwing food at me, and go to any appointments. I have started to take better care of myself and I return eager to see the kids and dive back into parenting. It makes me a better mom.
How do you meet mom friends?
I am very fortunate that my husband’s company has a lot of people at the same stage in their life, so many of his coworker’s wives also have young children. I have also met a few friends from message boards online. Recently, I joined a Mom’s Club locally and have been attending their playdates and meeting other moms there. I’m excited about the prospect of Mom Meet Mom in my area as it would eliminate a lot of the awkwardness in the beginning.
What about your love life. How do you keep the spark alive with your hubby?
For the first year after my daughter was born, I left her with a babysitter maybe 3 times. She basically tagged along with us on all of our dates. While that was fun, I have since realized the value of getting away by ourselves, without kids, to relax and reconnect. We have a standing babysitter one night a week and we go out to dinner or see a movie together. I can’t even begin to tell you how much this has done for our marriage. When we can’t go out, we recreate a date atmosphere at home by turning off our phones and computers and sitting on our deck, talking and looking at the stars.
Tina Fey – she really seems like she is grounded and obviously has a fabulous sense of humor. And we all know that you need a sense of humor to raise kids.
What advice would you give to new moms?
Relax and breathe. This too shall pass. Every challenge is just a phase and every adorable moment is fleeting. They grow up so quickly, so enjoy where they are right now. Trust yourself and your intuition. And when all else fails, reset the day with a walk or a bath or a nap. You got this, mama.