Tantrums Get You Nothing…or Do They?

I cannot count how many times I have told kids, be it my own or my students, that tantrums accomplish nothing and will get them nowhere. Something I failed to recognize until yesterday was the inaccuracy of that statement. Tantrums do accomplish something. Whether that something is getting energy out, expressing a feeling, or learning a lesson about self or life, ultimately something is gained. What is gained may not always be positive but it is still something.

So how did this change in understanding occur for me? What prophetic moment sparked and brought this topic to mind? I wish I could say that it was just something that popped into my head, or that it came up in conversation, but both of those things would be a lie. The truth is, it came about because I, yes me, a grown ass adult, threw a tantrum yesterday.

Okay, so what was this tantrum over?

Well, it was over my workout at the gym. Yes, that is correct, I threw a tantrum at the gym.

What seems like forever ago, but in reality was just 12 short weeks ago, I had major surgery. A hysterectomy at 26 where not only my uterus was removed but pounds, yes pounds (12 to be precise) of scar tissue was removed. This scar tissue had attached itself to my uterus as well as my bladder, causing my stomach to expand as my bladder was slowly ripped in half as it was being stretched across my body.

During the time prior to my surgery I had been working out through my pain and hoping to keep energy and momentum in order to get healthier. I was proud at my progress and found determination in hitting awesome benchmarks. The one I had found myself most proud of was being able to complete a 3 minute and 9 second plank.

Cleared and feeling good at 8 weeks post surgery I went back to working out. Frustrated at a huge amount of weight gain my body experienced post surgery I was ready to get back at it. I had gained over 30lbs. For me that type of gain was unheard of. To be fair any gain was unheard of. Prior to my surgery I had to actively focus in order to not LOSE rapid amounts of weight, gaining weight for me was impossible. Post surgery that is definitely not the case.

So back to that tantrum.

Here I was at the gym. 12 weeks post surgery. I came in ready to push myself and feeling confident. It was AB day. Push-ups, planks, bicycle crunches, planks, burpees, planks, leg lifts, planks. That was my workout. For an hour. 90 seconds a piece. 2x.  And there I was unable to even make a plank for 30 seconds. I found myself comparing myself to pre-surgery me. I could do over 3 MINUTES before surgery and now I couldn’t even make 30 seconds. I felt defeated. I felt sad. I felt ultimately like I was failing because post surgery me couldn’t plank like pre surgery me could. And no matter how much prior I had heard, “you just had major surgery, you’ll get there” I couldn’t get that to make me feel any better. I felt as though if I wasn’t making that then I wasn’t trying hard enough.

The 2nd plank hit in round one and I dropped to my knees about 20 seconds in. I felt the tears coming. They weren’t sad tears. They were angry tears. I was getting angry. By the end of the first set I was pissed. The 2nd plank was worse than the first and I decided that if I couldn’t do those than I would put everything I was feeling into my other exercises and so I did. I hit my burpees with anger, with determination, and I think in the hopes of somehow telling myself it was me making up for something I felt like I was failing – my planks. I slammed my feet into the ground hard with each burpee I hit just trying to work out the extreme amount of pissed off I was feeling and when that 3rd set of planks came around my trainer called me aside, and called me out on what ultimately had been a bit of a tantrum.

He reminded me again that the body takes time to heal, it had only been 12 weeks, and that I can only do so much right now. And I hated those words because I knew it wasn’t what I could do. I had planked for 3 minutes before I could do more than 20 stupid seconds. I felt fine so why couldn’t I work like I was fine? Why wasn’t it showing? That is when I said that I was feeling defeated but bottom line I was feeling like a failure. Like I wasn’t pushing hard enough because I wasn’t meeting previous work expectation. And to me that meant I was failing. Failing myself and failing him. That it meant I wasn’t working hard enough because I wasn’t back to where I knew I could be. He reminded me that I needed to work to my CURRENT level to avoid injury whether I liked it or not and I finished my workout with that in mind.

So what did my tantrum get me?

My tantrum gave me some clarity and a whole lot of emotions. I am a still really frustrated at my inabilities right now. I hate feeling as though I am behind where I know I can be. And I hate feeling like I am not ever going to get back to what little strength I had had. I hate feeling like my goals are so out of reach because it makes me feeling like I will never succeed to my end hope. But I am recognizing now that failing is a choice but it’s also a perspective. I am at the gym and I work every moment to the best of my current, sucky ability. I push hard and I always feel my workouts in the morning. That means I have to be doing something right. If I was failing I wouldn’t be there at all. My scale backed up this budding thought process as I hit another 3 lbs down. This is leaving me at only 15 lbs from my pre-surgery weight and 20lbs from my goal weight. That’s progress. That’s progress even though I can’t plank for 3 minutes anymore. And progress is my goal.

The reality is, I may never get back to that 3 minutes ever. And I need to learn to be okay with that. Just like my mind is different today than it was even a year ago so is my body. A body that has been through a whole hell of a lot in its life and has a lot of healing to do. And I need to stop comparing who my body used to be to who it is now. My tantrum helped to remind me that even when I felt weak I wasn’t. It helped to remind me that when I feel like I am failing I am surrounded by people who remind me that I am maybe being a bit unreasonable with myself. It helped to remind me that I’ve been through so much, but there is progress being made inside and out that is positive and that I have to keep fighting for that.

In this I learned that tantrums, they do get you something. Sometimes good and sometimes bad there is always a lesson, always a reason, and always something to be gained. Now that doesn’t mean I recommend them, but it does me that I now respect what they have to tell me. Not just in myself but from my kids, from my students, from my friends, and from my family, because in them is always something more than just those hard landings during burpees, in them is some of the biggest fears, challenges, and struggles people hold in and don’t know how to express.

Thank you to my amazing trainer for never giving up on me. For always pushing me not just to be fierce in the gym but to be fierce in my soul and to recognize the connection between what’s manifesting outside as a result of what is happening inside. For smiling through my tantrum and taking that time to remind me again no matter how many times he has before, that I am not in competition with myself or others in this journey to health and that I am not a failure to anyone including myself. I can’t promise I will always have good days, but I can promise I will always work my absolute hardest, whatever that level may be in order to become a better and healthier me inside and out. Thank you for not giving up on me even when I wanted to give up on me.

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6 Tips for Handling Deployments

Deployment is hard no matter what, toss having children into it and it gets even harder. You have little minds that don’t quite understand what is going on, you have little emotions that don’t quite know how to express themselves which can lead to tantrums and power struggles, you have frazzled emotions as the parent which can lead to our own meltdowns. Your days can go from scheduled and functional to a disarray of intense emotions all it once. It is hard to balance.

So how does one organize their mind to ease the stresses of deployment for you and your family? Here are six practical tips for Parents and Children going through a deployment.

For You the Parent:

1. Take time for yourself: Easier said than done I know. In the hustle and bustle of  “Independent Parenting” find a time during each day, whether it’s first thing in the morning before the kids get up, or during nap, or in the evening when they are in bed, and have some YOU time. Relax about the stresses, plan out your TO-DOs and remember that you are strong for doing what you do. If you have a little extra time, splurge and do something nice for yourself. You deserve it.

2. It isn’t personal: Remember that deployment and distance is a strain and a change, there will be times where emotions are fried. Your significant other may be testy from being away from loved ones and the stress of their job, you may be testy from day to day hustle and bustle, your children may be testy from the change in their family dynamics. When those occasions come up remember that it isn’t personal, don’t let those moments ruin what little time you have to communicate or change the attitude of your day. I know it can be hard but try to see the separation from one another’s point of view so that you can maximize and enjoy the time you DO have together.

3. Set Goals: Setting goals during a deployment will not only help keep you organized and motivated, but it will help the time apart go by quicker. Set goals for yourself, for your family. Where you are now, things you want to accomplish Before the end of the deployment, things you want to do After deployment is over, where you want to be financially, etc. Write those goals down and every time you meet one cross it off, SEEING what you are accomplishing will continue to keep you motivated. Let your children set goals for themselves as well.

For the Children:

1. Talk about it: Don’t let deployment be the “Elephant in the Room”, talk about it with your children. Even if they are infants talking to them about how mommy or daddy are away, but how much they still love them and miss them will help bring comfort to children in uncertain situations. Let them talk about it and share their concerns, validate their feelings and let them be upset about it. It’s a hard change, and not something that children can fully wrap their heads around so approach the situation openly. There is no right or wrong way for your child or you to feel about the separation. If you have multiple children be prepared for different ways of coping. 

2. Do Projects: Art projects, photographs, and letters sent to the child’s parent can help them feel no so far away. Set a time every day that is “project time”, in that time make something for Daddy or Mommy that is deployed. Talk about why the deployed parent would enjoy it, what it represents. That time together will be a bonding time for those left at home as well a memory time for the one that is away. Then make it a family event to box it all up and send a care package. Doing that as a family will help the children feel like their parent hasn’t just vanished but is reachable. For the little mind that can be a huge sense of comfort.

3. Embrace Technology: Technology is a huge part of our life now and is something that has made deployments easier in many regards than they were years ago when all we relied on was “snail mail.” Use that technology to your advantage, and let your kids too. Have Skype or Face-time dates whenever you can. Giving your children (and yourself) the chance to see your loved one and know that they are alright will be a blessing for your family and will open up more discussion topics for you to cover at home. Use the technology to make your children Daddy/Mommy Dolls  so that they can “have” their loved one with them all the time. It can be huge sense of comfort and they are pretty cute.

 

There are so many things we can do as a family to ease the strain of deployment and these six things are a great start to making that time apart a little less challenging.

Using Technology to see her Daddy.

 

When the Tantrum Monster Strikes…

Every parent has had to deal with tantrums, but have you ever wondered if there was a better way? Or even a reason why your infant or toddler is in a manic state of discontent? Are all tantrums the same? Do they all have the same consequences?

Here are some good tips and tricks to handling a tantrum.

1. Don’t have a temper tantrum about your child’s temper tantrum. While it is frustrating for you when your child is having a tantrum getting upset or angry with them won’t resolve the issue. Children need a calming influence in a tantrum and if you can’t get to that point right away, take a few deep breathes and wait to react until you are a little calmer.

2. Briefly tell your child you will “speak with them when they calm down”. By making this explanation your child will know that you aren’t ignoring them but that the behavior is not acceptable. Once they calm down, fulfill your obligation by discussing the tantrum as well as concerns on both your and your child’s behalf.

3. Why is the tantrum occurring? Is it just an attempt to get their way or is it an expression of a different emotion? Sadness? Frustration? Are they feeling unwell? Children don’t know how to express their feelings the way adults do and therefore something like a stomach ache and something like being sad about not having a friend around can both manifest in a tantrum. Understanding what is causing the tantrum will lead to a more appropriate resolution and consequence.

4. Avoid trying to reason with your child DURING a tantrum. Talking with a child while they are throwing a tantrum is fruitless. They won’t hear you, you will both become more aggravated, and nothing with get accomplished. Wait until AFTER the tantrum to talk. You both can learn a lot by discussing the incident afterwards. Explain why behavior is unacceptable, but also make sure your child understands that you love him or her regardless. Try to discover the cause of the tantrum if you haven’t already, and take the opportunity to discuss better alternatives with your child.

5. Don’t Physically discipline your child for a tantrum. Consequences for a tantrum are a good thing but physical disciplines such as spanking aren’t fitting for the situation. It will display to your child that you are out of control, and the biggest is that is shows them that feelings should be suppressed and not vented (an infant/toddler is expressing feelings in the only way they are able).

6. Do, take steps to keep them injury free. We all know that children can get creative when they are throwing a tantrum. Direct them away from harm. If needed gentle restrain them with a hug it can be comforting. Be gentle and reassuring, this is especially important if the tantrum is a result of sadness, frustration, or an unfamiliar environment.

7.Have a Consequence or Coping Strategy. Once you have determined the cause of the tantrum determining the consequence is next. For a child who is having a tantrum because they were told no to a cookie that strategy could be “It’s to close to dinner but if you continue to be out of control you will go to your room until it is time to eat.” If you child accepts the ‘no’ praise him/her for listening “thank you for accepting no as an answer I appreciate that respectful behavior.”  If they choose to not accept it, walk them firmly but nicely to their room and let them remain their until dinner. If the tantrum is caused by missing someone a better approach may be ” I know you really miss your daddy but why don’t we draw him a picture to feel better instead of throwing a fit.” Never tell your child their feelings are not valid but that their actions are inappropriate. 

 

Little Miss had her first full out screaming, throwing herself down, full tantrum last week. It last for 47 minutes. I kept track. It was hard for me. From the second the tantrum started I knew the cause. LM was screaming for her daddy, she was missing him, and there was no other way for her to express that other than being upset. So I let her be upset. I let her scream and I tried to offer a few comforting words or touches but she was having none of it so I backed off. She cried – I am not going to lie I did too. It was heartbreaking for me to watch her be so upset.  Finally she crawled over to me and nursed. While she was calming down I spoke softly too her. Telling her how much I loved her and that Daddy loved her and then after she nursed we watched a video Daddy sent to us a few weeks ago. That made her smile.

For me it was a learning experience, a growing experience, where I learned that not all tantrums or consequences are the same.

 

How do/did you combat the tantrums? Did your children respond to one response better than another?

 

 

 

Revitalizing

Well – Where have I been, right? I’ve been swamped with a baby growing up and being VERY mobile, a baby brother (yes brother) being born, a flood of house guests, Tupperware fun,  deployment wins and woes and endless insomnia leaving me topic free.

My goal starting today however is to start getting back into this on a regular basis. But where do I start?

I am going to start with Tantrums – every parent has to deal with them but how do you respond to them? How does one affirm their child without affirming the tantrum? Tips and Tricks that work for chilling out a tantrum and tips for a frazzled mommy  or daddy.

Next I am going to go into Surviving a deployment with an infant. I talked before about how I am not a “single parent” but that I am Independently Parenting. The “independent” part can get challenging. Tips and Tricks for keeping a healthy and motivated mindset with your SO is away.

Then I am headed into some food reviews and checks as Little Miss is on a more solid diet.

From there we are going into Cloth Diapering when your baby is on a more solid diet, since it’s a whole new world from EBF diapers. I feel like I am relearning the ways of cloth 9 months in.

After that we will be exploring the variety of carriers on the market and what they can do for you? What ages they work well at and the biggest thing (at least for me) how much weight/pull they put on your shoulders and back.

With that somewhat aching topic covered I will introduce you to the wonder of Cranial Sacril Therapy and what this gentle realignment technique can do for you AND your baby.

After CST is covered I figured we would switch gears a little bit and go into a more family centered topic of, well, how to stay family centered. Balancing a common fast paced lifestyle with family obligations and how to not take on more than the family can handle.

Rolling with the Family theme I am going to cover 25 things you can do as a family for free or little cost that will build lifelong bonds and memories. Family time is something we don’t take enough stock in these days.

After that I am going to cover some great deployment gifts for your SO’s. Care packages make their days and are fun for us to make so I am going to discuss how to put one together, things that us Momma’s can put in them and awesome things our kids can add to them as well.

 

So this is where we are headed to give you a little bit of a look ahead. I am excited to see where it leads. Please feel free to email me or comment about any blog ideas you would love to see come up on D&D and I will get on those trains too.

With the blog getting back on it’s feet – I figured a change is needed so I will leave you today with a 9 month old Little Miss (wow- where has the time gone?) and my new look!

 

I decided to go a little lighter again. Naturally my hair is a more red with blond undertone. So the black is out and the blond is back and we are starting with some higher motivation.

Stay tuned for more!!!!

What do you think of the topics? What do you think of the change? Ready for an adventure?