Toddlers, Whining, and Shark Music

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I first planned to write how challenging my 15 month old is due to her developmental stage, and how it doesn’t coincide with how our adult world functions.

After talking through my feelings with my husband, I realized I needed to change my attitude and reframe her behaviors as her needs opposed to my inconveniences.

So, I decided to write about changing my perspective and having more compassion for Charlotte.

This morning, I tried to get ready for Bible Study and the frustrated Mom came out once again. I felt crazy, like I was on a roller coaster.

Now, as I’m writing this, I can empathize. Charlotte feels the same way all the time. She needs support all day long to organize her feelings. She’s often disappointed because she can’t play with something (like an outlet) or feels frustrated trying to tell me something but she doesn’t yet know how to verbalize it.

She’s moving along in the world making new connections every moment and looking to me to guide her. Whereas I’m over here trying to get my tasks done and frustrated that her whining is getting in the way.

It reminded me of the shark music we talk about in the Circle of Security groups. Shark music is our triggers when our child expresses a feeling that causes us discomfort.

This discomfort with feelings stems from past experiences and the ways our caregivers responded to us. Now, as the caregiver, our children’s needs and emotions can trigger fear and discomfort in us, even when we can rationalize their need as safe. As a result, our children begin to fear their emotions instead of using them as helpful information.

Good news! We, as adults, can name and call out our “shark music” when it is happening to turn the volume down. We can put our discomfort aside for the moment and be with our children when they need us the most. Watch this short video to learn more about shark music! I love the illustration they’ve created.

Back to the story! My shark music is triggered most recently when Charlotte is whining because she’s showing a need and I don’t know what it is.

I feel helpless.

I want to give her what she wants, but I have no clue what she’s saying or pointing to. I worry she doesn’t say as many words as friends her age. I worry that I haven’t read her enough books, or taught her all the words. Or that maybe I’m not a good enough Mom that I can’t decipher what she’s saying.

I know, guys. These aren’t truths.

But in that moment when she’s whining, my shark music goes off and I say those lies in my head. Which causes me to act huffily (I thought I made that word up, but it is, in fact a word!) I bring her over to where she’s pointing and say “What do you want?” but it’s not my super kind: “What is it that you’d like, sweetie?”

By this time, I realize I’m upset because my 15 month old can’t articulate her needs and I’ve calmed myself down. I then apologize to her for acting that way. I don’t want her to stop coming to me when she needs something. I don’t want her to avoid my huffy self when she’s distressed!!

This is how things have been going in our house the past few days. A loop of whining, frustration, identifying shark music, taking deep breaths, delighting in each other, and repeating it all over again. I know this is just a stage. However, an important stage for me to reconcile my shark music so I can “be with” her during these pivotal moments.

These early stages set up her roadmap for navigating emotions and how she can trust I will support her even when her emotions are difficult.

I’m here to remind you to identify your “shark music” triggers. Call them out and put them aside when your child needs you. When you have the space, ask yourself what’s making you uncomfortable and get curious about where these triggers are coming from.

If you need support in identifying your shark music and what to do with it whe is surfaces, contact me to set up a time to explore this further and support you in Motherhood!


My cup runneth over

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I need to write about what’s been on my mind while it's still fresh. This past weekend David and I went to the Rise Together marriage conference in Austin, TX put on by Rachel Hollis and Dave Hollis.

It was amazing to listen to them discuss their marriage, what helped them, and how they continue to work on it daily. Dave and I were encouraged to share big dreams with each other, as well as things we were holding back or just trying to figure out inside our own heads.

We left the weekend feeling invigorated in our relationship and ready to continue the conversation. We talked about our core values, and what it looks like to practice them.

I could go on and on, but really, it was just so beautiful to spend a weekend together to dream and connect.

Something was said this weekend that really resonated with me and I want to share it with you.

Rachel gave a metaphor about us women each being a pitcher full of water. What we normally do is continue to pour the water out of our pitcher for our partners, our kids, family, friends, and strangers. We keep tipping over our pitcher to pour it out, until it eventually falls over and breaks.

The flipside would be shifting your intention to continuously filling up your pitcher, so it will overflow onto your kids, your spouse, family and friends. Picture that: your pitcher overflowing to everyone you love.

This metaphor had me in tears.

Most times I put taking care of myself last. There’s always going to be a new need or cup to fill (literally and figuratively).

If I wait until everyone else is taken care of, I will never get to myself. My list of taking care of others is never-ending since there will always be something to do to make things right. If I take care of myself first, the excessive water will spread. I will have the energy, patience, and desire to give more to my family.

Honestly, I believe women are running and keeping the house in line whether you are home or working. If we don’t put our physical and mental health first, we won’t be able to show up for our families the way we want.

I talked about this the other day on Instagram, and I’ll share it here. Dave and I discussed some of the things we are calling our “non-negotiables”. These are the things we have to do daily to take care of ourselves.

For me, that looks like waking up at 5 to have coffee and quiet time, moving my body daily, fueling my body with real foods, and having a weekly date night. For you, it might be different.

When I pour into myself, it doesn’t take away what I have to give to my family. The irony is that I have more to offer when my needs are met.

And isn’t that what every parent and spouse wants most? To be able to love harder and give more to their families?

What are your “non-negotiables”? What are you going to do this week to take care of yourself so you can overflow to your loved ones?


Trying to Mom the "right" way


Is it just me or does anyone else feel like they are constantly asking for advice on what’s right for their child?

Since Charlotte was born, I tried to figure out the “right” baby accessories to have in our home, the “right” baby toys, and the “right” bottles to mimic breastfeeding. Then as she started to eat solids, I wondered when was the “right” time, the “right” first food, and how to serve it to her.

Maybe it was my enneagram 1 personality always wanting to do everything the “right” way. Or maybe it was just my Mom instinct wanting the best for my daughter.

What I found was that everyone said something different, and often times with great confidence. I would talk with one Mom, and they would tell me to do it one way. I would leave confident with the decision to do it that way.

Then, I would talk with another Mom that had opposing advice with the same confidence! I would then be entirely confused, because both things worked for their children. Which one was going to be right for Charlotte?

As I’ve grown to realize in 16 short months (I still have a lot to learn), every child is different. What worked perfectly with one child was a total disaster with another.

Thank goodness for the million and one baby products out there! I’m not just talking about baby products, though. I’m talking about the difficult stuff; handling the tantrums, meal times, drop offs, social skills, walking, talking, attitudes, and everything else.

Every child is different and therefore requires a different response from us in each situation. Raising a child, is a relationship and with each child, that relationship is entirely unique.

We have different relationships with everyone in our lives, why would our children be any different?

What works perfectly with one child, might not work with the next. This means sometimes we have to alter the way we handle a situation depending on our child’s need at a particular moment or in a particular situation.

It’s important for us to get to know our children, their personalities, love languages, things they like, and things they dislike. This helps to know what works best when our children are having a hard time.

One thing that helps getting to know what’s best for your child is spending 5 minutes of “special" time” with your kids each day. This time is child led play, whatever your child wants to do! Avoid questions or homework, and just follow your child’s lead on what they want to build or play! This is a great way to learn about the things your child loves and how they enjoy connecting to you.

Enjoy this special time with your child and tell me in the comments below what you did !


First days and Feelings


These past few months, I’ve been looking forward to Charlotte starting Mother’s Day Out. I’ve been leaning on a close friend, who has taken Charlotte on days that I was working, and the other days were spent with Charlotte’s wonderful Grandma and Gigi, coming for a week at a time to visit. I was excited for us to start a new consistent schedule.

For anyone not familiar, Mother’s Day Out is a program usually held at a church a few hours a week. It allows Mom’s to work, run errands, or have “me time” while their children learn, play and interact with other children their age.

I’ve been excited because I know how much Charlotte enjoys being with other children, and I know there are some gifts her teacher has that I lack. I have also been excited to have some uninterrupted time during the week to work, write, meet with friends and colleagues, or have a lunch-date with my husband!

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about traveling for work and not feeling guilty. I was hoping I’d feel the same this time around. When I was packing her lunch last week, the guilt started to creep in. I thought I was able to send her without feeling guilty, but I couldn’t stop the feeling from happening.

I started to think that maybe she was too young. I also started seeing other people post pictures of their kids on their “first” days, and they were older! I had the thought that maybe I wasn’t strong enough to make it until she was 2, or 3 or 4, or whenever I had deemed the “acceptable” age in my head. I thought maybe if I planned more at nighttime, or stayed up later working, or made more art activities for her, that maybe I could prolong her attending Mother’s Day Out.

Then, I remembered how much she loves playing with other kids at the church nursery. I remembered that she doesn’t yet know how to share, and that she often takes other kid’s toys. I remembered that it’s good for her to have more caregivers in her life. I remembered that she is learning lessons, songs, and social skills while she’s there. I remembered there are no rules or “right ages” for these decisions. I also remembered that I am a better Mom when I have time to myself.

That’s hard to admit. I absolutely love being a Mom, and it is hard work. It’s hard being on all the time. These 10 hours a week give me time so that when I pick her up, and we spend the rest of the day and week together, I can be refreshed and present. Today is only the second day, so I’m doing my best to both give myself grace, and make the most of this time.

I have to tell you, today, she walked right into the classroom, sat at the table and started playing with puzzles and smiling at her friend. I guess only one of us is struggling with the adjustment.

What were your kid’s first days like?


No No, Danger Danger!

Just Charlotte playing with wine corks...

Just Charlotte playing with wine corks...

The other day, after telling Charlotte “No, no, danger danger” at the outlet for what felt like the millionth time, I thought about what kind of parent I wanted to be.  Let me explain

I talked about what kind of Mother I am here, but I was thinking about how I wanted to handle discipline.  Was I going to be the type of parent that redirects? Or just says “No!” Or explains, “Hands are for playing with toys!”

Parenting happens so gradually, it’s hard to stop and decide what you’re going to do when you're in the moment.  I have to admit this. I think I went into parenthood being a little over confident in my ability to handle these situations. 

I have training in how to handle children’s behaviors covering the attachment style and the behavioral route. I felt like I was covered.  I’d even heard over and over by my colleagues and friends when I was pregnant, “You’re going to be a great Mother, you know all the strategies”. (HA!)

It felt like yesterday that we were just worrying about her eating and sleeping, and now all of a sudden I had to think about how to teach her safety in our own home.  It feels both all of a sudden, and sneaky, if that makes sense.  When did we turn the corner from laying in the Mamaroo, to getting into every single cupboard and climbing the stairs?

It just made me think of how we automatically revert to how our parents taught us things.  They never specifically told us how to parent, they just did it and we learned through experience.  How did you know to get dressed this morning? Did you think about which leg you were going to put in your pants first? No, you just did it.  That’s because it’s ingrained in your brain.  My point is, that I found myself saying “No, no, danger, danger” which are the exact words I heard my Mother say a million times growing up. 

After I heard them come out of my mouth, I wondered if I really wanted those to be the words I use with Charlotte. After reflecting on it, I didn’t.  I didn’t want to say that to her when she got to an outlet, or close to the stove.  In that moment though, it didn’t matter what I wanted to say, my brain just automatically told my mouth to say those words. 

Why? Because I’d heard them so many times I didn’t even have to think about it. It was automatic.  I realized that in order for me to parent Charlotte differently than I’d been parented, I had to make conscious decisions to do so, every time.   

It made me reflect on the other ways that I was parented.  It reminded me about how my Mom wasn’t comfortable letting me explore. My Mother wanted to keep me safe, so she was always with me, and reminded me of the danger in the world. 

This made me often choose the “safe” route.  I rarely took chances, for fear of getting hurt, or worse, failing.  I chose things I knew I was good at, and didn’t challenge myself because I never wanted to come up short. 

Now, I need to consciously make an effort to allow Charlotte to explore the world around her without fear.  I need to hide my discomfort of her exploration (as long as she is safe) which includes lots of deep breaths on my part.  I needed to let her fall, which is how she learned to walk!  I need to allow her to get frustrated, and express that frustration in order for her to figure things out on her own. And build trust in herself! 

As you probably can tell, I am a huge believer of developing an understanding of your upbringing when it comes to parenting.  I am constantly reflecting and checking in on how my past experiences are affecting my parenting and my relationships.  If this is something you'd like explore further, please, don't hesitate to contact me.  

What are some things you want to work on when it comes to parenting?