One of today’s most popular diets is the Paleo Diet. If you are not familiar with the Paleo Diet, I would say that you’ve been living under a rock, but living under a rock is very Paleo. To eat the Paleo way is to attempt to mimic our “primal ancestors” (as Paleo followers refer to them) and eat mainly meats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. If Uggsnorf the caveman couldn’t eat it, then neither can you. Paleo has become so popular that it has turned into a lifestyle for many people, and that includes how they parent. Parenting like cavemen? Sounds dangerous and filthy. Tell me more!
In an article this weekend by The New York Times, paleo parenting is described as being founded on certain basics like attachment parenting, home births, and breastfeeding. No surprises there. But to fully embrace paleo parenting in a modern world, you can also eat your placenta without vomiting, force your child to throw out their Halloween candy and replace it with crystallized ginger and other healthy sadness, and allow them to participate in unstructured play.
Unstructured play? So…you mean, like playing? Yes. Apparently letting your kids play is all the rage among paleo parents. For example, as this mother says in the New York Times article:
Instead of overscheduling her 5-year-old daughter with cello lessons and science fairs, Ms. Phelps prefers to spend hours with her after school playing in a muddy creek near their house. “She loves bugs,” Ms. Phelps said. “She loves dirt. I think she’s going to be an entomologist.”
That’s some cutting-edge shit right there. But along with these natural, caveman-like practices, paleo is also supposed to help our bodies look awesome, which was indeed important to our unwashed ancestors. In her book, Primal Moms Look Good Naked: A Mother’s Guide to Achieving Beauty through Excellent Health (or, How Cavemen Got Those Amazing Abs), author Peggy Emch tells us that paleo nutrition and exercise can prevent health problems such as stretch marks, varicose veins, pregnancy-related depression, vaginal dryness, and morning sickness.
It’s always a comfort to know that among the many things in this world for which mothers are responsible, our own stretch marks and morning sickness can now be counted among them.
So what else do I need to do to mimic the parenting practices of our ancestors in my suburban Seattle home? Well, paleo parents recommend use of the Squatty Potty, which allows your children to poop the way nature intended and become hopelessly constipated in public school bathrooms.
Another of my favorite suggestions is that to improve your child’s sleep, their bedrooms should be pitch-black at bedtime, as though they were sleeping in a cave. That means black out shades, no electronics, and no night lights. That’s going to be tough for those of us with children who are afraid of the dark: “Stop screaming, Timmy. You’ll alert predators.” The paleo suggestion for dealing with scared children is to, of course, co-sleep, but if you don’t want to do that you can also put in a nightlight with a red bulb because that is the color of fire and is not harmful to us the way white light is. “Timmy. Don’t be afraid. There’s a small fire in the corner of your bedroom to keep you safe. Nighty-night.”
Finally, you can also encourage intermittent fasting for your kids which is healthy because our primal ancestors sometimes starved. I swear, people…
Paleo Parenting is not going to be happening in my house anytime soon, but if you have tried it and found that it worked for you (or didn’t) we would love to hear from you. Tell us about your experience in the comments!
(Photo: Esteban De Armas / Shutterstock)