As children, we play and tinker, dreaming of new possibilities. For people like Hannah Shone, Publisher and Founder of The Natural Parent Magazine, the feeling never goes away.
At Well Made Mama, we like to write about the benefits of creativity for Mothers. We know that when we create, we can joyfully lose track of time as we get to do what we do best. The more time we spend creating, the happier we can become, as we are afforded the opportunity to see our work completed and reflect on its strength.
And what Hannah has created by starting up the first magazine of its kind in New Zealand and Australia (lucky us!), is to bring perspectives and real-life stories about natural parenting to the mainstream. What the Natural Parent Magazine also creates is a sense of belonging for parents which, as we are also fond of pointing out, is a fundamental requirement for a happy and healthy transition into this new role.
Hannah graciously gave up some of her precious time (in the wee hours of the night when Mothers usually get stuff done) to share with our Well Made Mama readers.
We’ve been a fan of the Natural Parent Magazine for quite a while now! What first drew you to the principles of natural parenting?
Like many first time mothers to be, when I was pregnant I had this idea that I would be back at work three months after giving birth. I thought that my baby would sleep in her own room, that she’d be at daycare and I would go to work. Once I had my baby these sentiments changed dramatically. I realised instinctively that all this little one wanted and needed, was to be with me.
I am also naturally a bit lazy so breastfeeding was the best way to keep her happy (it was incredibly hard for me to get breastfeeding going well I will point out - mastitis and 6 months of pain!) When we eventually got into the groove, breastfeeding was a life saver. Being together was an easy and happy situation for us both. Along with that, came co-sleeping (safely).
By the time my daughter was two she still wanted to be carried in a carrier, breastfeed and co-sleep, and more and more people began to comment: “Isn’t she too big to be carried?” And at mothers groups, “are you STILL co sleeping?” This irritated me enough to think – hang on, this feels natural, why should I stop carrying/breastfeeding/co-sleeping?
That’s when I started reading perspectives on breastfeeding and co sleeping and all of the things we were already doing, and of course discovered wonderful articles written by Robin Grille, Genevieve Simperingham, Lauren Porter, Pinky Mckay, Sarah Buckley, and Pam Leo to name a few. One of the first articles I read on the topic that made sense to me, is now on our site I love it so much! Read the full article here.
And that’s how it began for me.
We love that NP is a magazine promoting conscious parenting - how important was it for you to see it created?
Once it occurred to me that there was no other magazine offering conscious parenting articles in our geographical location and I could support people to parent gently, it was like a nagging ache that wouldn’t go away...It took me two years to take the plunge with the magazine and I turned myself inside out during this time not knowing whether I should (could) do it or not. Finally, I felt it was too important not to do something and that I might regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t just get on and try! In 2010 I started the ball rolling with the support of my partner and my parents (our daughter was 4yrs old at this stage.)
What has been the biggest lesson learned when starting your own venture?
That working for yourself is one of the most liberating things a person can do. Starting your own venture gives you hope, freedom, confidence; that anything is possible, even with young children.
You and your team have created a place rich in content for parents who want to tap into better and more instinctive ways to parent their children, as well as a safe group for parents to belong to. What have you learned from your readership and contributors?
We are a tiny team – just myself, Tim my partner, and since 2016 our online editor Hannah Schenker. I feel like the magazine has been part of a bigger world movement towards conscious and gentle parenting and perhaps conscious and gentle living as a whole. Our contributors are incredibly inspiring to me. I would say that I’ve learned from them that treating our children with love and respect can be world changing and hopefully we will see this in the next generation.
If there was one healthy change that you could inspire mamas to make in their lives, what would you want it to be?
This might not be quite what you would expect me to say, but this is my advice: Exercise. Get outside and go for a walk with your children. Make it a habit every day and everyone will benefit from it! Even when you don’t feel like it – push yourself to get outside. Through exercise clarity and happiness will follow.
If we weren’t inspired enough, we asked Hannah to share a bit of her manifesto with us - what does a homeschooling, social change maker and entrepreneur want the world to know about what makes her wake up in the morning and take a giant bite out of life?
I believe...that breastfeeding until children wean naturally is the biological norm and is healthy for both mother and baby.
I wish...that parents would treat their children with love and respect.
My goal...is to continue the growth of gentle and conscious parenting throughout NZ and Australia. To make gentle parenting the norm.
My one piece of wisdom…
"One generation of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world." - Charles Raison, M.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine
We thank Hannah for inspiring a generation of Mothers and Fathers to tinker with alternative ways to parent and live their best most natural lives. xx