Tantrums and It’s Really Inconvenient That All Kids Are Different

We have three kids. And you would think that by child number three would have some things down. Bedtime routine, dinners that please young palates, and a surefire way of dealing with outward demonstrations of internal frustrations or, tantrums, if you will.

Unfortunately, I think the only thing we really learned, is that all kids are different. This is true no matter your circumstance, but particularly ours given that we have one with ADHD, one with autism, and one who is now typical, but hardly “typical”. (But then what does typical even mean when you’re talking about kids?)

Our four-year-old, who is our youngest and are “typical” child has been having the year of the tantrum. She was a lovely compliant child until about the age of three when she suddenly realized that she could have an opinion and not just do what mommy and daddy said.

Fortunately, having two older children we were prepared. To feel like we had no idea what we were doing.

I remember before I had kids I used to judge people whose children through fits in public. Surely, I thought, their kids were like that because they were spoiled. Then God blessed us with our oldest son. And a blessing he is, don’t get me wrong. But he also humbled me, and challenged my perception on what tantrums were, and why they were thrown.

With him tantrums often stemmed from a lack of impulse control. They were not necessarily attempts to manipulate. However, I had to learn that. I also had to learn that trying to talk to him while he was throwing a tantrum was unfruitful. Offering ultimatums is also something that doesn’t work. Not with him. The very best thing I can do, from the time he was to even to now at the age of seven, is to have him go to his room and work his way through the fit. Once the tantrum has run its course I’m usually able to communicate with him and have a reasonable conversation.

Then there’s my middle child. I don’t think he’s had a traditional tantrum once in his whole life. He will go into periods where he cries, but it’s often not related to whether or not he’s gotten his way but usually connected to some kind of sensory issue. In many ways, he’s the most easy-going of the three and while his autism certainly present some challenges, tantrums are not one of them.

And we come back to the four-year-old. I think her tantrums of the most classic in nature. Some of them are genuine outbursts of upset, and others are definitely designed to manipulate us. Her most recent trick is to tell her she’s scared. Anything she doesn’t want to do from swim lessons, to going to bed, has her wailing “Mommy, I’m scared!” This is much more effective than throwing herself on the ground screaming. And for a while it was effective. Until we figured it out.

So now we often end up carrying a wailing, screaming child, through a store while she shrieks “I’m scared!”. Good times. With her, the best course of action with the tantrum seems to be to power through and do whatever it was we were going to do in the first place. But her tantrums come from a different place that our oldest son’s do, and she does it for a different reason.

It was an interesting thing to realize and definitely something I’m still getting a handle on. So much of parenting seems to be trial and error. Giving in when we sometimes shouldn’t, digging in when it may not of been wise. Yelling when we should have ignored them, and being too lenient when it was time to get tough.

All that to say, I often feel like having three kids should make me feel like a more experienced parent. When in reality, while you certainly gain more experience in some things it doesn’t change the fact that what I’m dealing with his three distinct personalities. They do things for different reasons, they want different things, they like different things. They all develop at different rates. And they react to things differently.

This is why I think all parenting advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Advice is generalized, based on what kids typically do and why, but it’s never the be-all and end-all. Kids are as different from one another as adults are from each other.

In the meantime I’ll continue to try and get a handle on my daughter’s tantrums, probably just in time for her to grow out of the phase. Have you handled your kids’s tantrums? And did you, like me, find the different methods worked for different children?

*This post was brought to you by Maisey using Dragon Dictate. If there are screwy typos, and by that I mean more than usual, that’s why.

Servant Leadership

servant leadership

As a person, a professional, and a mom I try my best to live as a servant leader—doing for others, keeping others’ needs in the forefront. I have to admit, I feel a sense of satisfaction when I’m able to help someone, whether it’s something small like opening a door for a person whose hands are full or spending hours in one-on-one time helping a student improve a scholarship essay that could potentially help them pay for college (a big life changer).

I try to model “doing for others” with my girls, especially so as they were growing up. Now that they’re older and off on their own, my prayer is that they remember my example and continue to see that in me. I tell ya, it’s a beautiful thing when I see or hear about something they’ve done to make another person’s day or week or whatever, a little more positive.

And I really enjoy hearing about others who strive to bring good and do good in our world and communities.
Over the weekend, while watching the Sunday morning news, I learned about one such person: Ariel Nessel, founder and board member of the Pollination Project.


Since its inception in January 2013, the Pollination Project has given “$1,000 seed grants to individual change makers, every day of the year, emphasizing projects that expand compassion in the world.” According to their mission statement, they believe in the “power of ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”

Wow, what a motivational statement!

Now, I’m not a vegan, so I have to say that I’m not 100% on board with all the organization’s ideas, but I love how they value “compassion consciousness.” Thinking about how your decisions and your choices affect others and the world around you. How many times have I reminded myself of that or mentioned a similar idea to my girls?
We could all benefit—heck, the world, our countries, our cities, our neighborhoods can benefit—if we all tried to sharpen our compassion consciousness a little more. At least on some level, in some manner.

As a mom, I strive to be an example of this for my girls.

In my day job, I strive to do the same.

As a writer, my hope is that a reader’s day will be happier or a stress in her life forgotten for a little while because she’s chosen to spend some time with my characters.

Servant leadership: to me it’s an important value.

I’d love to hear some other values you live by and try to instill in your kids. And if there are any other non-profits you participate with in some manner. There are so many great ones out there, let’s spread their good word today—and every day! 

Saturday Book Recommendation: A Mother for Choco

motherforchocoSeveral years ago, when The Professor and I still lived in Tennessee my sister sent me a book when she learned we were working toward getting home study approved for domestic adoption. We were always open to any ethnicity and this book is perfectly geared just to that. But it certainly works for all forms of adoption and it’s great for non-adopted kids to learn about families that don’t necessarily all look alike.

Now, both our girls love this book. They know it’s a special book and it reminds them how special our family is. I want them to always recognize our differences and embrace them and not feel excluded because of them.

So Choco is this funny looking bird & he’s looking for his mom. He goes up to all these animals to see if they’re his mom because they share features (walrus & his big cheeks) but he can’t ever find anyone who looks like him. Then he stumbles upon Ms. Bear and she comforts him and brings him home for pie where he meets her other kids – three different animals. It’s charming and sweet and one of our favorites & I wanted to share it with you.

24 Hours of Happy

Hey all, sorry but I’m putting up a bit of a filler blog post! I ended up with pretty major revisions coinciding with my lovely editor headed out on maternity leave in just a couple of weeks so I’m head down and working my tail off to get finished in time.

BUT if you haven’t experienced the glory of 24 of Happy, I encourage you to do it. Because it’s amazing and hey, we could all use a little happy!


(I promise to be more insightful when next I blog!)

Odd (wo)man out

MjAxMi1kNjhhMjI4MjZlYzc5YWNjInevitably it happens. You’re out in a social setting with other women and someone brings up pregnancy or birthing stories. Four years ago this was particularly difficult to me as I was sans children. But even now, after being a mom for nearly three years, it happens, and no matter how wonderful the company and how kind and generous they are, when the discussion turns in this direction, I feel left out. A bit like the weirdo. Yes, adoption is super popular these days and I can speak, which authority, on many aspects of adoption or parenting a child of a different race or dealing with CPS visits, etc. But when it comes to pregnancy and birthing, well, I never got past 12 weeks so I’ve got nothing to share.

I try really hard not to feel strange, but I feel like suddenly there is a giant blinking arrow above my head. ATTENTION: Here sits a woman who has failed at the fundamental purpose of womandome. Okay, that’s a bit exaggerated (not to mention a made up word), but you get my drift. It’s nothing that anyone says or does. I know that no one is trying to leave me out. But it happens.

For me, there was no labor pain, instead I had years of failed fertility treatments, failed adoptions and then bureaucratic hoops to jump through for my girls. For me, I didn’t fail at breast feeding because I never got the chance to try, instead I had a colicky 8-month old who drank the most expensive formula they sell and still didn’t sleep through the night. Instead of sweet-smelling baby soap and the little plastic bathtub, we had a toddler who was terrified of baths so we got a baby pool, put it in the backyard and we’d strip her down, squirt some Johnson’s in and let her swim around.

My experiences at motherhood were different from most women’s, and yeah, I feel it sometimes, but I know that it doesn’t make me less of a mother. It just makes me a different mother. And that’s okay. Despite that longing for the whole pregnancy/birthing experience (that I suspect will never go away), I wouldn’t have built my family in any other way.

So how about you? Ever had one of those things that always makes you feel left out? How have you handled it?

81OJEsNbx5L._SL1500_-2On a much lighter note: I have a new book release that I want to share with y’all. It’s the first in a new Regency-set series, No Ordinary Mistress. It’s only $0.99 so I hope you’ll check it out.

I’m Robyn DeHart, AKA Basket-Case Mama, but not because I’m crazy (though really, what mom isn’t?) but because I have a slight obsession with baskets, well containers really. I’m a bit of an organization nut and I love to containerize stuff. And yes, I’m authorized to use words like that because I am also a writer. But back to the kids, so I’m mom to two ridiculously beautiful little girls and I can say that without bragging because I didn’t actually make them. The Professor and I adopted said little lovelies from the foster-care system here in Texas and now we’re a big happy forever family. Busybee is five and so full of joy it just oozes from her. Babybee is a three and is too smart for her own good.  www.robyndehart.com

Life’s “Anchors” in a Fast Moving World

Why good morning there!

Zeerrrp, hold it right there. Let’s get honest. We can say whatever we want on social media or here on the blog, and throw up whatever “front” we want. “I’m so happy! And exceedingly NORMAL! I’ve got it all TOGETHER!” 

In truth, it might not be such a good morning. It might just be an … okay morning. I do have coffee, so that’s a great start. But back to being honest — things have been uber loco for La Vida Loca Mom lately and you know me, I like order and structure and schedule. All those things are my comfort and my rock. Not to be overly dramatic, but lately, I feel like a lot of my rocks have gone tumbling down the mountainside.

For most of my life, I’ll admit, things have been charmed. No, I’m not wealthy, or a huge NYT bestseller and I don’t have the looks of a super model, but…life has always been really good for me and my family. We’ve been so blessed. And I’ve always felt SOOOOO in control. But I’m in my early 40s, and…things have started to change. For the past two months, there’s been a lot of change. Dear friends and family members have suffered life changing tragedies, and encountered frightening health issues. They say bad news comes in threes? We’re up to the tens at least, with all the associated ripple effects. Mind you, these aren’t MY tragedies or health issues, but you know how it is when those we love are hurting. You hurt too. Those new realities weigh on your mind, and you want to fix or at least help where you can. While all this is going on, it’s become very apparent that my kids are REALLY GROWING UP (cue the dramatic music, heavy on the violins!) and my son is getting a driver’s license and he’s being so independent and…starting to break away. I feel like in a blink, both he and my daughter will be grown up and gone and it’s all just happening too fast. On top of this, there are book deadlines and a full time job and all the other responsibilities that aren’t at all so complicated when life is easy and good. Yesterday I walked outside to see that my neighbors had apparently been foreclosed on, and had abandoned their house in the middle of the night, but not before making a huge destructive mess in their front yard (with a very interesting arrangement of Halloween plastic pumpkins), I guess to thumb their nose at the bank? I don’t want to know what the inside of the house looks like. That stayed in my mind all day. It unnerved me. I know that despite their anger, they must be upset and afraid.

Soooooo….you know, I’m experiencing completely normal stuff. Things that happen to everyone! Life changes. These things are just part of growing up. 

I know you know what I’m talking about, because you’ve been through big life changes too. Haven’t you?

So lately, I’ve been relying more and more on my “anchors” in order to feel like the world is still solid beneath my feet. Anchors are small things, really, that make home feel like home, and make my life feel like it’s still my life. Some of those things are:

1. I grew up eating dinner with the family, and that’s something I’ve continued in mine. Usually we eat on real dishes at the dining room table, but on really busy days, corn dogs on paper plates in the living room (while watching reruns of The Walking Dead) will do! Food is a comfort and brings people together, so even on the craziest of days I might take five minutes to mix up a box of brownies or (haha, remember Maisey’s post a couple of days ago?) throw some ingredients in the bread maker for homemade bread. Or put out olives, hummus and pita chips, if I’m feeling guilty about the brownies and the bread.

2. Good morning and good night kisses. It makes my day feel right to give everyone a hug or a kiss at the start and the end of each day.

3. Pets. We have two dogs, and two cats. They really are therapeutic! No matter what’s going on, they are waiting to say hello and that they love you. I’m having difficulty just getting this post typed up, because I’ve got Tango the Cat wrapped around one of my arms, trying to give me kisses. Aw!

4. Phone calls and texts to family members. These have really gone into overdrive lately. To my consternation, my Dad will never, ever get a cell phone, which makes him a man of mystery at times, and I think he likes this.

5. All I have to do, in order to feel lucky and blessed, is watch or read the daily news. After I see what’s going on in the world, I really have nothing to complain about.

6. My faith. Not to preach, but having a spiritual life really does help me keep things in a healthy perspective, and to find the wealth of blessings in every day life.

Just typing out that list had a calming effect! Despite everything that’s happened lately, I do have to say, life is good. It’s just changing.

So tell me, what are some of your “anchors” that you rely on to keep you grounded in changing times?


Delayed Gratification

delayed gratification 3

Delayed gratification, aka deferred gratification. Somehow neither term sounds very fun to me. And probably to a lot of other folks in this instant access, info and connections at your fingertips world we live in, the word doesn’t sound too positive either.

Have you heard of it before? If not, let me fill you in briefly. Delayed/deferred gratification is having the ability to resist an immediate reward because you know you’ll get one (maybe even an bigger one) later down the road.

Here’s the wiki definition, which I found quite enlightening—and led to a bit of self-evaluation on my part.

Whether you’ve heard the exact term before or not, it’s a concept that you’re probably familiar with. As parents, we might be interested in the studies that prove the higher success rates of kids and adults who have mastered the skill of delayed gratification. Check out this article I found interesting: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201207/the-power-delaying-gratification

I like that the author mentions a term I’ve used when talking about raising kids and in reference to myself: impulse control.

Sure, we’ve probably all talked with our kids about it in a general way. As in, “No, sweetie, you can’t have dessert now. You need to finish your dinner first.” Or, “I’m sure you want that toy today, but maybe you should put it on your Santa list, instead.”

But when I read the study referenced below, I took a mental step back. Had one of those “Ah-ha” moments that validated the meaning behind the saying: patience is a virtue. Something I’ve said to my girls probably far more often than they’d like.

As an individual, the self-evaluation I did after reading the wiki definition, and again after reading the study information, made me realize that even as an adult, I still struggle with delayed gratification from time to time. It’s not easy. Whether it’s the dessert I don’t need, not because it’ll ruin my dinner but because my jeans are already a little tight. Or, when I find that dress or pair of shoes I’ve just got to have, even though I’m trying to save for a writer’s conference or a family vacation.

What I loved about the article on the study is that it offers tips on how to improve your delayed gratification skills. Much like I try to do as a mom, or when I critique a fellow writer’s work, rather than simply point out how something is wrong or problematic, this article shared ideas for how I as an individual can work on improving in this area. Tips that, as a parent and as a college administrator, I can share with those around me, especially those I mentor.

The tip or trick the article offers? Distraction.

Again, it’s something I did with my kids when they were younger. When they wanted something they couldn’t, I pulled toy or snack from the diaper bag to switch their attention. But somehow, I got distracted by life and this simple trick often seemed to get lost in the shuffle. That’s when I tend to show my lack of delayed gratification skills.

So, I’ve discovered another area of my life where I can improve. Another area I can provide some insight to my kids and students.

When I want to snack on something I really shouldn’t, I’ll be practicing ways to distract myself—maybe go for a walk, or pop in an exercise video. All in the name of improving my delayed gratification skills. And at the same time, continuing with one of my new year resolutions: get healthier; lose fat, gain muscle. I’ll delay eating that cookie, trying to remind myself that a much bigger reward is feeling good about myself and being healthier all around—and fitting into that little black dress again.

It’ll be a way for me to model what I’m espousing to others. Sure, I won’t always be a perfect example of delayed gratification mastery. I know myself too well to say that. But, I’ll be working at it. And just like I tell my kids, your best effort is all anyone can ask for. 🙂

Do you have an area or an issue that requires better delayed gratification skills on your part? If so, what’s a good distraction for you to use?

I’m all for sharing distraction ideas. Let’s see what you’ve got! 🙂 

The Can’t Win Feeling

I know we’ve talked a lot on this blog about ‘mom guilt’ and its fire breathing bad feelings of doom, but it’s something I always find myself coming back to. Why? Because it’s something I haven’t conquered. Likely, it’s something I’ll never conquer. Every so often and I have to reboot. Every so often I have to change my mindset – either to remind myself that I’m doing okay, or to remind myself to put down the iphone and eat dinner with my family.

Balance isn’t my strong point. And I know that. But back to guilt.

Mom guilt is a many-headed hydra, and just when you think you’ve defeated it, another, uglier head grows in its place.

This is the first year we’ve had two kids in school all day. Which has been wonderful on the one hand, but on the other hand, I’m struggling with a feeling of there never being enough hours in the day. School, after school stuff, homework and bed. And with all that, I just went on a big trip to England. And that’s only my first business trip of 2014.

There are four more. One that was just added unexpectedly, but it’s an amazing opportunity and I didn’t want to turn it down.

But with all that is this sort of underlying feeling that I’m never doing enough. That I can’t possibly do enough. (Hey, workout lady with the flat abs on Facebook who wants to know what my excuse is? I’ll send you a list. The file might be too large for your inbox though.)

I can’t do enough with my kids, or my husband, or my parents. I can’t workout and have a job, and watch what I eat and have a clean house, and have a social life, and make crafts and volunteer at school. Maybe some people can, but I can’t. Something has to give, but even with that, even maxing out the list, I sometimes feel deep anxiety over the things I’m not doing.

Someone once said to me that one of the biggest lies we’ve been told is that we can have it ALL. I found that really interesting. Because there is certainly an idea that we can. That we can one day find a magic balancing point where were have home-cooked meals, and abs. Where we can have successful careers, and happy children, and be a sex goddess for our husband’s, be a constant companion to our friends.

And that would be nice. But I’m not sure it’s realistic, and I’m not sure it’s self-friendly, and I’m sure it lends to the idea that we’re not ENOUGH because we haven’t managed to be all those things. At least not all in the same day!

Social media can really exacerbate the feeling. When a Facebook friend posts links to blogs preaching about organized lifestyles, organic, from scratch cooking, ‘upcycled’ furniture and the unmitigated joy of motherhood, when she posts pictures of her clean house and homemade bread, we might think SHE HAS REACHED THE SUMMIT. She is complete. She is all the things I am not. But social media only provides a snapshot, and a carefully chosen one at that. I sincerely doubt that even lifestyle bloggers are as together as they appear.

Heck, I blog. I’m not together.

I’m just trying my best. As are well.

Like I said, sometimes I need a reboot. Sometimes I need to reevaluate the way I’m spending my time. And sometimes I need to chill out and just let myself breathe. And say: I did enough today.

And so did you. 🙂