Three Tricks for Dealing with Moms Who Want to Tear You Down (or Why You Should Build a Blanket Fort

Three Tricks for Dealing with Moms Who Want to Tear You Down (or Why You Should Build a Blanket Fort
About a month into the coronavirus lockdowns, several of my friends were actively freaking out online as they struggled to work from home while also making sure their kids were getting an education.  Many schools hadn’t even decided on an online format at that point, and parents were rightfully concerned.  As I kept seeing the social media posts of parents on the verge of a mental breakdown, I put my years of homeschooling experience to use and made this simple suggestion:

Let them build a blanket fort.

If there is anything I’ve learned about my children being taught at home, it is this:  If momma is stressed, children pick up on it and often become stressed themselves, and no one can retain information in that environment.  While we’ve tried different tactics over the years, a tried and true one is to take a few hours (or even a day) off, and an easy distraction that gets them to still use their brain is building a fort. 

Well, several people supported my idea, most didn’t respond, and a couple … well, a couple acted like I had suggested they sacrifice their children to pagan gods.  Okay, maybe not that bad, but they were extremely rude, saying I didn’t know what it was like to work from home (umm, I have my own business as well as leadership roles in several nonprofits) and that I had never had to juggle my job with teaching.  (Been doing that for years, thanks.)  I didn’t respond in kind, though, because I knew these women were reacting from a place of fear. They weren’t really angry with me; they were mad and feeling helpless.   Still, they could have done better. 

And I’m not going to lie – their ugliness hurt.  Especially when about 6 weeks later, IKEA came out with instructions on how to build a fort in your home, and those same women were all over it. One even posted gleeful photos of how great the idea had been for her family.   And that’s when it hit me:  women should be even more supportive of other women now more than ever, but you’ll always run into the naysayers.  So here’s how to deal with it.

1. You don’t have to answer every question.  This was a hard one for me.  If they ask the question on social media, they want an answer, right?  Turns out, most of the time, no.  They are asking to have their own viewpoint validated.   So if you know your well-meaning advice is going to be attacked, save yourself the heartache and scroll on by.

2.  Surround yourself with people who respect you, even if your views are different from theirs.  We are fairly good at doing this in person, but most of us stink at it on social media … and that’s where people love to tear us down.  You don’t need a huge inner circle (in fact, mine is fairly small), but having people you can share anything with, even if you disagree, will keep your emotional and mental health in a good state. 

3.  Let it out. It’s okay to have a cry or get mad over being treated unfairly, as long as you work through that and find a positive solution.  I find it helps to have my husband or a trusted friend as a sounding board.  And getting upset doesn’t mean you are weak; in fact, it shows you truly care versus the person who felt the need to be a keyboard warrior. Those failings are on them, not you. 
If all else fails, I’m here for you. I know that hurt.  I’ll be supportive, but I’ll also be honest with you.   And I can give you some killer ideas for your next blanket fort.
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Three Ways to Help a Hangry Child

Three Ways to Help a Hangry Child
The other day, someone mentioned their hangry child to me.  I said, “Oh, I feel ya!  We went through that with our youngest, and it was so great to find tips to help her, especially the ones that made her recognize the signs for herself as a toddler.”   The other person gave me this bewildered look like I had discovered world peace, so I thought maybe I should share the “tricks of the trade” in case I can spare some other parents from the epic HANGRY meltdown.  

Our third child came out of the womb ready to rock and roll.  She wanted to learn from and explore everything, and making time to stop for something as silly as eating was not her idea of fun.  Sure, when I was breastfeeding, she was captive and I could get her to eat.  Once she weaned herself, that all changed.  I quickly learned to keep track of how often she ate, and I started trying out different ways to get a toddler to recognize her hangry signs.  After lots of trial and error, here are the three things that worked for us. 

1.  Feed the Child
Okay, if you are going DUH right now, you’ve never experienced a hangry child.   They get themselves so worked up and distraught that they pitch a full on fit about eating, even when that is exactly what their little bodies need.  I learned to make sure my child had a small, healthy snack every 2-3 hours.   I kept easily portable options in the diaper bag and my pocketbook for unknown occasions.  Perhaps most importantly, I taught her the “one bite” rule:   even if she didn’t want to eat, I needed her to take one bite of something, or we would have to stop whatever fun activity we were doing.  That one bite was usually enough to make her body and mind realize she needed more, and the meltdown was averted. 
 2.  Communicate the Feeling
Every parent knows how hard it is not to lose your own cool when your little one has a tantrum.  If both sides find a way to communicate with each other, you can easily deal with your hangry one.  The first step is for the adult to recognize the signs and verbalize to the child “your body needs some food” (or whatever you want to say.)  This will help the toddler put thoughts to the feeling, even if they aren’t verbal.  In fact, we used sign language with her because she didn’t have the words yet to tell us about emotions and a rumbly tumbly.  Empowering her with communication made a big difference! 
3.  Finding Emotional Support
This was the game-changer for us.  If you’ve ever been hangry, you know it makes your emotions topsy-turvy, too.   Imagine being a little kid and not knowing why you suddenly feel so distraught, angry, or upset.  You can give your child a quiet place in the house to sit and try to calm down (after you’ve tried the above recommendations), and you can teach them calm breathing/mediation techniques.  For us, the only thing that worked was emotional blends of essential oils meant to calm the body and mind.  Yeah, I know, it sounds wacky and woo-woo.  I thought so, too, until I saw a tantrum stopped in its tracks.  We had a new friend come over, and our youngest came running into the house in tears, grabbed an oil bottle, applied to herself, sat for about 2 minutes, and ran back out, all happy to play.  That friend looked at me and said, “I need a vat of that stuff.” I replied, “Sure, but it only takes a couple drops.” ;)

If you are ready for more details of how the process worked for us, or you want to keep up with our other shenanigans, I can't wait to have you join me here.  

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