By Katie Mercer @katiemercer_bm
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Videographer / director: Jon Dean
Producer: Charley Sutton, Ellie Winstanley
Editor: Marcus Cooper
Adele, 32, and Matt, 33, from Brighton, call their parenting style ‘Off-Grid Parenting’ and their children Ulysses, five and Ostara, one, are therefore both still breastfed, have never visited a doctor and will not attend a mainstream school.
When Adele, a writer, fell pregnant with her son, the couple’s controversial methods felt completely natural to them.
She said: “Off-grid is moving towards self sustainability and being a bit more free range and less institutionalised.”
Matt said: “We did collect a lot of information but essentially it was just this feeling.”
Adele gave birth to both her children, completely unassisted and with no medical intervention with only her husband Matt by her side.
The mum said: “The thought of giving birth in a hospital just didn’t appeal to me because of many reasons - mostly the observer effect.
“Also, the interventions I think can be gently nudged on you when you are in a very vulnerable state.”
Adele and Matt also decided to have ‘lotus births’ meaning the placenta and umbilical cords were not surgically removed at birth.
Instead, Adele carried the attached placenta in a cool bag - scattered with salt and rose petals to disguise the smell - around with her until it fell off naturally.
She said: “With both my births it took six days for the umbilical chord to fall away naturally.
“You wrap it up and keep it clean and it falls away and forms a perfect belly button.
“In my knowledge, it’s perfectly safe and it worked beautifully for us. I don’t know of any known cases where it’s gone wrong.
“I very much honour the postpartum-period and I didn’t go out at all during that first week. So it was just a matter of transporting it to the toilet or to the kitchen.”
Adele feels very strongly about full-term breastfeeding and her five-year-son still regularly feeds from Adele for comfort.
She said: “Ulyssess does still nurse from time to time. Since the baby came along it has decreased rapidly and we had to come to a mutual understanding that it needed to graduate down a bit, but then I wasn’t willing to say ‘no you need to stop now.
’I think its up to him to decide when he wants to move on from it
“It’s something that’s just as natural as a hug is, it’s a connection.”
Aside from a hospital trip with Ulysses following an asthma attack, the Allen children have never seen a doctor or received vaccinations.
Adele said: “I don’t really see that there’s any need other than using breastfeeding to supplement them.
“I don’t see any need to inject any foreign substance directly into the blood stream. That’s not how children will come into the contact with a germ naturally anyway, be it in the mouth or another way.”
Distrusting of modern medicine, Adele prefers to treat her youngsters' ailments naturally, squirting breast milk in their eyes to cure eye infections and serving them lemon juice when they have a cold.
She said: “If you use plants and herbs you target the bad without attacking the good bacteria as well.
“If I had something serious like cancer, I would definitely take the natural path. I whole-heartedly have faith in it now and I’ve experienced enough of it to know that is the way forward.
“The kids’ health is just as important as mine if not more so, and so again I would go with what I trust and for me, that is the natural path.”
Adele and Matt also believe in attachment parenting methods, such as co-sleeping and the family of four all sleep in the same room.
Adele said: “It works quite nice for us. Normally we put the baby down to sleep first. Uly pretty much picks up his own bed time, but as we don’t have a school routine in morning he is then able to wake up when it suits him.”
Ostara and Ulysses do not attend mainstream school and instead spend their days outside among nature, learning about plants.
The mum-of-two said: “We basically spend lots of time in nature. It’s more important to us for them to interact with animals and plants and learn about the environment than it is for them to have big sets of plastic toys.
“Ostara really likes to play with woodlice and in the mud. In the park, there’s a big herb patch and she likes to pick and eat the mint leaves. Already at this young age she is thinking about what she can pick from nature and eat.”
The parents accept that reading and writing are imperative life skills but do not want learning to be forced upon their children and five-year-old Ulysses can only recognise basic letters and numbers.
Adele said: “I don’t have an issue with that. There is no need for him to be able to read and write at this age anyway!”
Instead, Adele and Matt believe that Ulysses and Ostara are becoming curious about letters and numbers from seeing them out and about.
Adele said: “They see letters on drain covers and numbers on signs and then learning happens as a consequence of just being out in the world, rather than it being forced upon them in a classroom that is not particularly inspiring.”
And the parents don’t worry that their untraditional schooling will affect the children's future.
Adele said: “I think home school kids are very successful entrepreneurs normally because they have been educated in that way that, they do want to build their own business and not to be a slave to someone else.”
Despite spending most of their time outdoors, Adele and Matt have decided not to smother their children in suncream the way parents are usually inclined to do.
Adele said: “We don’t use sun cream. Not at all on the kids. We don’t believe it protects you from cancer.
Adele writes a successful blog on natural parenting and she and Matt are adamant, despite some negative comments, they would not raise their children any other way.
Matt said: “The whole process of doing it in a completely different way has been an amazing journey and a learning curve for all parties involved.
“I have got such a fantastic connection and bond with both of them and they know who we are - more than just being Mum and Dada - it’s a much deeper connection than that."
The family are currently saving to migrate to Costa Rica, to life an eco-lifestyle.
Adele said: “Our ultimate ambition is to move towards self-sustainability. We’re looking at Central America; somewhere we can get a big plot of land and grow food. Have the space for freedom and access to wildlife in it’s natural state.”