When we become parents for the second or third time, one of the most common experiences (that people often don’t talk about) is the grief parents feel for their big kiddo and the changes that are about to rock their world. That is just one of the many emotions, challenges and joys that come with expanding our families.
Here to talk about what it was like for her to transition from one child to two, is model, mom and co-founder of Wander Beauty, Lindsay Ellingson.
From growing her family, navigating sibling dynamics, finding a work-life balance, learning strategies for the inevitable toddler tantrums and making time for self-care, this conversation is a relatable look at motherhood today.
One thing I really learned is that everything you’re feeling is so normal and that made me feel better. I’m like, why is it making me feel so anxious and sometimes angry? Like, why am I getting these big emotions when he’s having a tantrum? And so it made me feel better to know that this is normal.
Dr. Sarah (00:21):
It can be so reassuring and validating to hear from other real life parents to see how they’re navigating parenthood and striving to find their own sense of balance. As they juggle all the crazy chaos and beauty that life throws at us. I’m so excited to be joined today by jet setting supermodel and mom of two Lindsay Ellingson. Lindsay is the co-founder of Wander Beauty, which makes clean cruelty, free, effortless, everyday essentials, perfect for moms. And she’s here to talk all things motherhood. From growing her family, navigating sibling dynamics, finding a work life balance learning strategies for the inevitable toddler tantrums and making time for her own self care, this conversation is a relatable look at motherhood today.
School has started. The routine is in place and kids are settling in. So why are you seeing more tantrums now? This is actually a concept we refer to in psychology called restraint collapse. Kids are smart and even very young children understand that there are different expectations in different environments, and they know that at school, they need to hold it all together and they’re on their best behavior or at least trying to be. So when they get home to you, their safe person, they let it all out and you can see some epic meltdowns. If your house is anything like mine, you could probably use some support surrounding regulation, co-regulation power struggles and effective discipline strategies right about now. So that is why I’m having a flash sale on my course, the Science of Tantrums! I’m offering you 30% off with promo code “schoolscaries” at checkout.
Having strategies and tools so you know exactly what to do before, during, and after your child’s tantrums, not just to get them to stop, but to reduce the tantrums in a way that actually benefits their development, their mental health and their relationship with you means you’ll be able to get your child back to a place of calm connection without yelling, without giving in, without making it worse. Go to drsarahbren.com/tantrums. That’s drsarahbren.com/tantrums and use code “schoolscaries” to learn the most effective tools to reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of tantrums all for 30% off. But act fast, the sale is only around for a limited time.
Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. In this podcast. I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting journey and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting insights. So you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting voice with confidence and calm. This is Securely Attached.
So hello. I’m super excited today. We have really special guest on the podcast day. We have Lindsay Ellingson. Who’s a mom of two, she’s the founder of Wander. And I’m so happy that you, that you’re on the podcast today.
It’s so great to be here and I’m excited to chat with you. We’ve chatted a couple times before, and I always enjoy it and excited to share my experience.
Dr. Sarah (03:50):
Yeah, so we it’s like an interesting story, how we ended up connecting because it was actually through a mom’s group.
Yeah. So we actually, you were you were chatting with us on my mom’s group. It was Just Hatched Again with Nicole Katz. I connected into that mom’s group through Union Square Play, and one of the sessions was all about behavior and tantrums. I had a tantrum question and just by coincidence, you launched your tantrum course, like shortly after that. So you really helped me cause I was feeling so anxious at the time I had just had my son, he was four months old and I also have a two year old. So we are right in the middle of that tantrum phase, just kind of starting. And it was making me really anxious. So it was so helpful to connect with you and connect with other moms who were going through the same thing.
Dr. Sarah (04:45):
I’m so glad that was so fortuitous. Cuz like I do, I like we’ll do these, like drop-ins on mom’s groups. And answer questions and I love doing that because that’s like my, I feel like I get the most insight into like what is happening in the life of parents when I do those groups because people are so honest in mom’s groups, it’s such a safe place.
It really is. And honestly, like I had never done a mom’s group before, but the timing was so perfect. I had just had my son and everybody was in the same boat. And I think going from going from zero to one is like, for me it was really a lot of anxiety and just everything new going from zero to or so one to two in some ways it’s easier cuz you have like, you have your routine, you know how to take care of a baby. The baby is so easy. What was harder for me was my toddler yeah. And just adjusting to having two and spreading my love and attention to both. And so connecting with other moms in the same boat, it just like gives you peace of mind and you get such great advice from everybody. So highly recommend it. It was very helpful.
Dr. Sarah (05:52):
Yes. And I think you bring up a really good point, which is part of what we wanted to talk about today, about on the podcast. Was this transition from one to two and how it’s it’s different. It’s not just one more like one more child. It’s a very big shift in the way we have to show up as parents. It’s a huge shift for the new big sibling. Like it’s not, you know, you, when you’re, when you just have from zero to one, you have for Mo for a lot of parents, not everybody, but for a lot of parents you have kind of unlimited space for them in your life. Like they are the, the only thing you have to keep alive in that moment and right, you can really do on them and you can really kind of give them everything.
And we all get used to that. We all, all three of us or however many people are in the family system get used to that undivided attention for the baby. And when you bring in a second child that doesn’t work anymore and we all have to sort of mourn the loss of that dynamic and have to adapt to a very different one. And it’s very, it’s very painful for, I experienced a tremendous amount of guilt when I had my second and I think parents really underestimate how much they, they think. I think they know that it’s gonna be, be affecting the big kid, the new, the big sibling. And they put a lot of emphasis on hopefully appropriately supporting them to that transition. But I don’t think a lot of us realize how much we struggle with that.
Yeah. I totally agree. Like I remember the morning that my water broke and it was, I was three weeks early and I just felt like I hadn’t mentally prepared enough for our baby boy to you know, join us. And obviously it was such an incredible day, but I remember saying bye to Carter, my older son and just saying bye to him for the last time as like our only child. And I was like kind of sad it’s so it sounds so weird and crazy, but I feel like other moms might be able to relate to that. Oh yeah. I felt so sad and guilty and I’m like, oh my gosh, your whole world is gonna change and you have no idea. And so I just, you know, but it is what it is. And you know, I was so impressed by when we brought home Rowan, our littlest, he was so loving and sweet and he’s always been so loving and sweet to Rowan, but he shows his his frustration.
And he, I think last time we were speaking, we were talking about the indirect ways that they can lash out. And show their emotion in other ways. So, you know, it’s when he’s eating, when we’re getting dressed and I’m trying to do his hair like where he starts acting out some more. But I think we got very lucky in that. He’s so sweet to his younger brother for the most part. Just wait till, wait for another year when they’re both like at each other and fighting, which will be also very cute and fun.
Dr. Sarah (08:50):
Yeah. That’s where my kids are right now. They’re like there, cause ours are how, how far apart are Roman and Carter?
They’re 18 months.
Dr. Sarah (08:58):
Okay. So mine are 19 months apart. So like I had very similar like, whew. I was like, my baby was still a baby when I had my second baby. You know, it’s it’s I think, you know, when you, when you were, when your first is a little older, when you have your second it’s, it’s a different set of challenges. I actually think in some ways it’s easier for a 19 month old or an 18 month old to adapt because they just have less exp they less, they’re less rigid in their, what they’ve expected the world to be at that point. In some ways. But I think that when they’re such a small baby still like 18 month old, 19 month old they’re they need you so much. They’re not that independent. And so it can be really like, we can have a lot of guilt around it.
And like, I actually think you saying that you felt sad saying goodbye to Carter. Like I felt I, that I totally relate to that. Like, I felt so much grief for my son. Who’s my older one. Cause I was like, everything’s gonna change. And I’m I felt, I was like, I’m doing this to you. And I had to remind myself, like I’m also giving him something that is going to be amazing for him, like to have a sibling and to have to share his life with this other person is like a gift. But in the moment it’s hard.
Mm-Hmm. I think that, I think you are the one that said that in my mom’s group you said something like this is the best or the greatest gift that you can give your child is the gift of a sibling. And so I kept reminding myself of that, that, you know, this is the longest relationship that he’s gonna have is like with his brother and the fact that they’re so close in age, like in my mind, they’re just gonna be best friends for life, which is so cute. And I love that. So it’s I, I’m starting to see like he’s realizing the benefits of it. I do think, I think he’s like very happy to have his brother and he loves him so much. But yeah, it’s definitely, it’s definitely hard. And I try one thing that I really try to do and my husband as well is we try to give Carter a lot of one-on-one attention.
And we do find that if he like last week, he had a really tough week and he takes like a, he takes an art class and a music class and our nanny takes him to those classes. Cause I’m, we’re both working. And he was not listening. He’s running around. And part of me is like, is this just like a two year old boy is just like, is this normal behavior or is he lashing out? And is this something behavioral or psychological? Because he’s feeling a lack of attention from us. So over the weekend, Sean, my husband was like, I’m gonna go take him to get donuts. I took him to go get his haircut. So we’re just trying to like give him that one on one attention and love. Instead of disciplining him, we’re trying to show him more love, which is one thing, you know, I also learned in your tantrums course is that one on one time helps to prevent these episodes. So working on that, it’s, you know, nothing’s ever perfect. It’s a constant work improv or
Dr. Sarah (11:57):
Yeah. Well, and I think that’s, you, you know, you’d bring up the tantrum course I have. And I think a big part of that course is setting expectations for parents. There’s a lot of interventions in the course where we like actually give you like step by step things that you can do when your kids having a tantrum or afterwards, and those are important. But I think the beginning part of the course is more important, like explaining what’s happening when your child’s having a tantrum so that you actually like don’t freak out when it’s happening with like this whirlwind of like negative thoughts being like, what’s going on, what’s wrong? Am I doing something wrong? Is there a problem here? Or like, why are they doing? Like if we can get out of that that a thought spiral and just be able to say like, I know exactly what’s happening.
This makes sense. I understand. What’s like what is going on in their body? So I can like use interventions that actually meet that need. I think we can, we feel, we feel calmer. And then we also have like more realistic expectations of like, well, what’s, what’s going on under the surface. Why is this tantrum maybe happening? What, what needs aren’t being met? What frustration are they experiencing in this moment? It doesn’t mean you have to meet every single need you can’t possibly. But to just know, there’s probably some reason this is happening. I might not be able to prevent it from happening because let’s say they have a new sibling. I’m not gonna send the kid back. Like, it’s, this is gonna be a frustrating time. They’re gonna have a lot more feelings about how much their life is changing. Did you find that, did you find that Carter had more, like, was there a shift in his tantruming or like just acting out or dysregulation after Roan came in? It
Seemed like, it seemed like maybe a coincidence. The timing, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe it wasn’t, but it seemed like as he’s, you know, turning to he’s like, cuz he was 18, 19 months old when Roan was born, which happens to be around the time that tantrums start too. Right. Is that true? Yeah. Yeah. So it was hard to tell. I think it’s like a mix of everything and I think having, you know, his younger brother join us is just kind of added to that, those, those feelings and just, it just disrupted everything for him. So yeah, I mean, and when the tantrum started, I just wasn’t ready for them cuz I was not sleeping well. Yeah. You know, it’s for me personally, I think I had to do more work on myself just to prepare myself for those moments when he has a tantrum.
Because I think in your tantrums course, one thing I really learned is that everything you’re feeling is so normal and that made me feel better. I’m like, why is it making me feel so anxious and sometimes angry? Like why am I getting these big emotions when he’s having a tantrum? And so it made me feel better to know that this is normal. So the, what I’m doing doing now is just trying to breathe through it. And I show him love. I, what really works for me is just to offer him a hug and just say, I, and just reiterate, like I know you’re frustrated, I know you’re upset and just like offer him a hug. And that usually works cuz he’s in a, a very affectionate little boy. And you know, when I wake up in the morning, I’ll cuddle with him and spend some one on one time with him cuz he likes to wake up earlier than, than our baby still, which is a lot of fun. But it’s, it’s a great time for us to spend some one on one time together. But yeah, I mean it’s, it’s definitely, it’s helped me to stay calmer, just understanding that it’s normal and just having these tools in my back pocket for when it does happen.
Dr. Sarah (15:37):
Yeah. And like the, I mean you bring up a really good point, which is like our own anxiety or fear or anger in the face of like it’s really, and it’s maybe it’s just even overstimulation too. Like it’s really overwhelming to be in the presence of a tantrum because if you think about it, like we’re we have the, we are using the same brain and body equipment as our kids. So if our kids are really dysregulated, our brain is going to read that incoming stimulation as a, as like a potential danger. And it’s going to activate our own threat response, our own fight or flight response. And we are gonna get very easily, could get really activated by that. And so like if you know that if you know how that system works and you understand the nuance of it and you know, how your body like, you know, what your fight or flight response and your tells are like, I know for me, like I get a really tight chest and I start to get like really hot, like right under my, like my neck. Like I’m like…
Dr. Sarah (16:38):
And that’s like my cue to be like, okay, I’m getting revved up here. Like I’m getting over stimulated by the input I’m or maybe my thinking like is making me angry. Like you are, you’re actively doing this, you know, just to piss me off. Which I totally have those thoughts and I have to catch ’em and say, okay, no, they’re, they’re not doing this on purpose. They are having a really hard time right now. How do I find my empathy? How do I like calm my nervous system down enough to like be sort of a, a calm presence that I can share my calm with them. Because if we come in hot, we end up pouring gasoline on their fire and it just makes everything last a lot longer.
Yeah. It’s so true. And like knowing that they can’t control the way that they’re feeling is also really helpful. So I’m the one that can control the situation by staying calm. Like all of that has really helped me when he’s having a tantrum and the overstimulation. I totally feel that cuz I, I feel like because I’m a more introverted person, I think that I get over stimulated very easily. So I just have to make sure that I’m constantly ready for it. Cuz sometimes it catches you off guard and you’re like, oh my gosh, I can’t take this right now. You’re like I have a million emails to do. And you’re just like, I can’t handle this one other thing. So it’s just really working on your own like center and peace and calm. It’s a constant, it’s a constant work in progress for sure.
Dr. Sarah (18:05):
It is. It is. And it’s like stuff we have to practice outside of the heat of the moment too. Just like we wanna help our kids practice emotion, regulation skills outside of the tantrum. We have to practice them. Like I have to make myself do my head space app or like I have to make sure that I’m doing things that are like outside of the hot moments. Like, am I getting enough water? Am I getting enough sleep? Which is always the answer to that is no, cause I’m a, you know, we have little kids, but like where can we build up our, where can we like fill our own buckets a little bit? So we have more resilience in the like, what do you do for like outside of the hot moments? What are you doing to keep, you know, maintain regulation?
So for me I’m I’m so we’re so lucky that we have our nanny who’s incredibly supportive on the days that I’m not working for wander or if I have like a day off, she’s always reminding me, go get your pedicure, go do like, she’s always like pushing me out the door to go do something for myself, which is incredibly sweet. I feel very lucky to have that support system cuz yeah, I think sometimes I do just need to do something for myself, whether it’s a pedicure or whether it’s I go to this place called Higher Dose. And I do like these like infrared sauna sessions do like little meditation while I’m in there. Just like helps you sweat it out and just makes you feel so much better. Just these like little moments of me time or gray working out is another one.
I try to make time a couple times a week to work out. I wake up early. I wake up before I, so, Carter wakes up around 6:00 so I have to wake up at 5:30 just to have like my cup of coffee and peace and like I’m also still pumping. So I like to like get up and get that over with before the boys wake up. So having that little bit of me time just to kind of set some intentions for the day to just be quiet and like sit in silence for 30 minutes is so nice. Yeah. so I do that. But yeah, like the support system, we don’t have family near us, so to have our nanny with us helping us, you know, cuz we both we’re both busy outside of the home is incredibly helpful for sure.
Dr. Sarah (20:16):
Yeah. No, I think that like finding little things and like the bigger like structural supports are so important like it is a very hard, especially if your family doesn’t live nearby, it’s really hard to do this, but it’s hard to parent in a, in like a silo, like you really needs community.
Yeah. And we also live in a two bedroom apartment. So we also have a small space. But luckily, I mean we’re in Williamsburg and there’s so many amazing now that the weather’s nice. They’re outside all the time. There’s amazing parks. And you know that, I know that play time is so good for Carter just to get out. We also, oh, I think in your I think it was in your tantrums course that you guys, you recommended doing like a dance party. So we put on a song and he’ll dance. What is it Shake My Sillies Out by Raffi. Like I love it and they can listen to the words and like dance. Like that’s another great way to like, just either, sometimes it’ll like stop the tantrum, like mid tantrum. If I just put on a song, he’ll just start laughing and just playing and dancing.
Another great tip, this is just making me think of all the great tips that I learned. Sean naturally just like is rough and tumble my husband, he plays with, with Carter and just like throws him around, throws him into some pillows, throws him upside down, makes him act like Spider-Man crawling on the walls. Like all these things and yeah, it’s so much fun. And I, he just does that naturally. And I realize that is like such a great, you know, tool for prevention also, or also just to kinda like stop a tantrum in its tracks. Sometimes they’ll just start laughing and it just is like a switch that turns off.
Dr. Sarah (21:51):
Yes, it’s true. I think rough and tumble play. There’s done so much research on like specifically with fathers because it’s very common for male parents to do this. Like it’s kind of like animal instinct. We like men just do this with their babies. Yeah. With their kids, they rough and tumble play with them. And there’s a lot of research. They like literally it’s like they call it RTP, rough and tumble play and it’s show they’s shown all kinds of social and emotional benefits and emotion, regulation benefits because what’s happening when parents do and women, mothers can do this too. We just tend to be more gentle. I think again, it’s, I think it’s evolutionarily based. But when we rough and tumble play with our kids, if we’re doing it well, you know, we’re revving them up. We’re engaging in this sort of rough wild, fun play with them.
It’s super engaging and connection building and just like endorphin and oxytocin producing. But also what’s happening is the parent kind of capping, capping be the, the level of dysregulation. So they’re showing the child kind of instinctively where the edges are. Like, if it gets too rough, the parent will usually say, oh, slow down. You can’t do that. Or, you know, oh, oh too rough. You know, that hurt me. You know? So that, there’s a way in which, you know, when, when two kids are playing, they might not be as good at showing the other child where the edges are. And that’s why we see like, okay, all of a sudden the wheels just came off and everyone’s crying and someone got hurt. And now we need to like take a cool down. But with the parent, the, the parent’s usually able to kind of show the kid where the lines are and that, that, that helps them learn. So it’s actually like, I love that. I love rough and tumble play for kids. I think it’s really actually a very important part of development in social learning.
Yeah. I love it too, because then it’s like, I get a moment to myself. I’m like, go outside, go to the park. Just go, go have fun.
Dr. Sarah (23:55):
Yeah, absolutely love it. No, we I’m a big fan. I’m a big fan of that. I’m a big fan of dance parties because I think it’s also a release. It’s an energetic release. It’s a big burst of like output sometimes we just need that. I mean, we need that, like you were saying, like, exercise feels good to you. You know, getting that in regularly is a release. And for our kids, they’re always moving their bodies, but like something really big and intense every once in a while the land just kind of like it’s a big release, it can feel really regulating for their nervous systems.
Yeah. And you know, a, a question I have for you, and I think I asked you this during the, the mom’s group is how long the tantrums last, but I think that, you know, so he’s two now, will they start becoming less, often less intense as he gets closer to like four or five years old? Or is there no period?
Dr. Sarah (24:49):
They often do. They, they tend to peak at like two, three. Okay. And then they tend to ebb around five or six, but I will put a huge asterisk by that because like, I still have tantrums, you know what I mean? Like, and when they’re teenager, they’re definitely gonna have tantrums. Like, you know, they never stop because we’re humans and we get dysregulated. We just, we don’t call grown up losing it moments, tantrums, but it’s the same structurally what’s happening in the brain of the body is the same thing when we lose it, when we lose our cool, when we blow up at, you know, our partner or when we like blow up at our mom or, you know, something, you know, like when we just lose it, that’s a kind of the same thing as a tantrum from a, from a neuroscience perspective, from a neuro biological perspective, like we’re moving into a fight or flight mode, we’re losing access to the part of our brain that helps us think through what we’re trying to do here, what our goal is in the moment and how to stay calm and collected and get our point across.
and we just explode. And so when little kids do it more frequently, it’s usually because their prefrontal cortex is under developed. It’s just, it’s, it doesn’t stop developing until 26 ish years old, old little earlier for girls than boys typically. But still, it’s just not, it’s under construction and it’s under construction very heavily in the teen years in adolescence as well. That’s why I think adolescents often show so much like, sort of, it doesn’t look like I’m kicking and screaming on the floor, like a two year old does, but it’s like, I don’t think things through, I do risky things. I make sort of poor judgments. I’m impulsive, I’m doing other things. And I, and I am like super moody and I’ll like freak out and slam the door. Like, that’s, that’s the same stuff going on in the brain.
But typically we do see around five to six, a slowing down of the tantrums just because when you get into latency age, which is that space between toddlerhood and adolescence there’s just, there’s like a, a bit of a PLA not plateauing, but like a slowing down of the exponential growth of the brain so that the prefrontal cortex is still growing. It’s still developing, but it’s not under such rapid growth as the toddler years. And then it’ll pick up again, very rapid, like transformational growth in the adolescence. Which is why you see more dysregulation in those age groups, because that prefrontal cortex is going through massive shifts and you lose some of the regulation that comes with that part of the brain.
That’s so interesting. And I’m wondering too, like, can you, is there any way to predict, like how, I don’t know if these are the right words, how bad a tantrum face is gonna be? When, like, for instance, like my, my son Rowan who’s six months old, he seems to have, he’s like such a sweet baby, but he gets set off so quickly by the littlest things. Like when he was baptized and the cold water went on his head, he was so pissed and he cried so loud and for so long and like, couldn’t calm himself down. He just seems to have a bit more of like a, I call it a temper. But I’m like, is this gonna, is this a, like kind of a peak into like this tantrum phase? Like, can you tell at this age, I don’t know. Very curious.
Dr. Sarah (28:17):
I would say it’s hard to say so. Yeah. How old is Rowan now?
Dr. Sarah (28:21):
Yeah. Well, I don’t know, like it’s, every kid’s really different and some kids are like super chill babies, and then they hit toddlerhood and they get really sensitive and they become really reactive and it takes them a while to come back down. So, and, and other kids are, you know, have like colic. And like, for example, actually my son that my kids are actually a good example of this, actually. So my son, when he was born, he had colic. He was so hard to soothe. He was, would cry for hours. It was really hard. He is my chiller child. He just is he for temperament wise. He just, he’s quicker to warm up. He’s easier to cool down. He like, you know, I mean, warm up with socially, he doesn’t get particularly anxious. He’s a little bit more gregarious he’s but he is things just roll off of him more easily.
He’s also the kid that when he is tantruming and he’s very sensitive, emotionally, he cries very easily and like gets upset, but can then reconstitute quickly. And he’s also the kid that when he’s upset, comfort and physical touch is very soothing to him. Hmm. Which I think is easier for parents. Right. If you can help your child by giving them a hug that feels really gratifying to both people. And we’re like, this is, this is pleasant. This is some mutual. Like I could, I feel good about my ability to help you co-regulate. And that could be very rewarding. My daughter, who I have like such deep respect for her, because she is really, really assure of herself. And like, she is my super independent second kid, like textbook, like does it on her own? Does everything on her own don’t help me. She was because she was so independent.
She was pretty, she was like relatively chill. When she was a little kid, she would just go off and play and do different thing. And like, I’d be like, where’s Sadie. She’s just, and she’s just playing in a corner doing her thing. But then at a round too, she started getting really dysregulated. Like, I call them like exorcism tantrums, like arched back, like swats you away. Like, won’t let me touch her. I cannot physically soothe her. I’m not, she doesn’t like that. She doesn’t want it. It’s dysregulating to her. Even talking to her when she’s in the throes of a tantrum is dysregulated to her. It’s over, no input can come from me. It just doesn’t help. And I’m helping her. And I know I’ve learned how to help co-regulate with her, given her unique, nervous system and the way that she responds to stimulation when she’s at her peak, but it’s taken a while and it’s not pretty.
And it doesn’t feel gratifying to me. Like when I can like, just, you know, scoop my big kid up and like just squeeze him. That feels so good to me as a parent, I’m be like, I’m doing my job and it’s working. Right. I feel like this is the way everyone describes co-regulation and this is what it should feel like. Okay. Right. With Sadie. It’s not like that. Like, I can’t do that with her and I’m still co-regulating, but I have to kind of understand. It looks my ability to co-regulate, which just means I am helping her amygdala not read threat. That’s it? That’s all really, if you really wanna boil down what co-regulation is, it’s just trying to hit that, get that threat response, detect that threat detector to not continue to pull the fire alarm to just say there’s, it’s safe here. So I just do that by like being a calm presence. I can’t do a lot of the typical co-regulation skills with her. They don’t work.
Do you just let it ride, like let her have her experience? Get the emotions out.
Dr. Sarah (32:08):
Yeah. Yeah. And I stay nearby. Sometimes I actually leave her alone in her room because she’s screaming, screaming at me to go away. And it’s, it’s really hard. I mean, she’s three now. She didn’t used to do that when she was younger, you know, it was just screaming and she can, when her tantrums can last, like sometimes 40 minutes, maybe even more. Like that, she has a very intense, like, I’m glad that I’m her mom, because I know, I know that it’s it’s okay. And I’m not, and I know what I’ve studied this enough to be like, okay, I know I’ve gotta really focus and pull out every single tool in the toolbox that I teach parents, cuz like I’m being like, I really have to test this theory really, really hard with her. But like I do, you know, and I think a lot of parents always ask me like, but I have a kid that co-regulation doesn’t work for them.
And my daughter would be the perfect example of, of a situation where I think a parent would say co-regulation does not work for this kid. And I don’t believe that’s true. I believe I am co-regulating with her. Even though I’m not doing the, the classic get low, get close, validate using your words and offering comforting touch. Like those don’t work for her, but me helping her know that I’m here and she’s safe. That’s really what co-regulation is. So I can do that by saying, I’m gonna give you some space. I’m gonna be right outside your door. I’m gonna come back in in a few minutes and check on you. I’m here and let, let her emote and have some privacy for that. And then come back in. She’s not ready. I go back out, come back in. Eventually something always seems to the way she like her tantrums usually end very suddenly. And then it’s like literally like a button got pressed or a flip got switched. And like she literally will just run to me, curl up in a ball in my lap and just like kind of clinging to me for a few minutes.
Dr. Sarah (34:08):
It is. It’s actually really beautiful. And there is that part that feels gratifying to me. But during it, it is brutal. It is so stressful and so awful. And all I can do is just be like, I talk, I literally talk out loud to myself. I breathe. I do all the things because it’s really hard. And I get over stimulated. I get angry and frustrated. Sometimes this is happening at like one o’clock in the morning happened the other night because she wet the bed and was upset. And then it just sort of turned into a tantrum and it went from like, I think it was like from like 12:30 to like 1:15 in the morning. And I’m like, I wanna go to bed. Like this has gotta stop. But I think in those moments, like just knowing, I know now at the end of this, if I could stick this out, I will be able to comfort her again.
And I want to be there for that. Like that’s the part that makes me kind of stick it out. Cause I’m like, I know that I wanna catch her when she’s done with this and help her feel safe again. And so, you know, I’ve just had to learn my kids’ tantrums. Yeah. That was not an answer to question, which is how long do do they last? But so for her, I think I would be surprised if she was done at five. You know what I mean? Because she has these really acute dysregulation episodes. And they last a long time. I don’t think by the time she’s five or six years old, we’ll be seeing the end of these. I don’t think it’ll happen as frequently. And I don’t think they’ll last as long. And as much as they’re happening, they’re very, they can be long in duration. I do believe that I have helped support her in reducing how often they’re happening and how long they do last. Like I think they could go a lot longer if we weren’t doing it the way that we’re doing it. But I think, yeah, I think that different kids will have a different arc.
Yeah. That’s so good to know. I’m glad I’m preparing now for whatever Rowan will be bringing us in a year, year and a half. It’s so interesting. And do you find that your kids, do they ever have tantrums in school? That’s one thing I always wonder cuz Carter is starting twos in the fall, so I’m like, I’m sure the teachers know how to handle it, but I’m like, do they have less tantrums or more tantrums? Or how does that work?
Dr. Sarah (36:25):
I’m sure they will have tantrums at school. I think typically we would expect to see fewer tantrums at school than at home. Although I would say, and tantrums might not be the best word to even describe it. Right. But I think they could be dysregulated. Like separations can lead to dysregulation. I don’t think most people call that tantrums because they’re not like being thwarted, but they’re gonna get dysregulated and might take them a while to calm back down. And most teachers I think are really good at understanding separation, anxiety and distress around separation. And hopefully like what I always like to look for in, in a drop off, you know, is, is my child’s teacher validating their experience or are they like trying to just immediately distract them? You know, I want, I would love a teacher when my kid is upset when I’m leaving, I would love a teacher to be able to say, you’re upset.
Mommy’s gone. She’ll be back again soon. And then go, you know, Eva can swiftly distract. I don’t have a problem with that at all. I think distraction is necessary, especially at school because they have a million kids they’re taking care of and they can’t, you know, distraction is a very, and redirection is a really appropriate strategy, but I don’t want it to start that way. Like I want them to be like immediately, like even just that one sentence, you’re upset that mommy left. She will be back again at the end of the day and I’m here. Let’s go find something fun to do, right. Or, oh, look, your friend is here. Would you like to talk to them or look, who’s playing over here, like the then redirect. But I think that first acknowledgement and not just trying to say, you’re fine, it’s fine.
There’s nothing to be sad about. Like I think it’s important that we label that, but that’s more for separation. And I think that we do see more of that dysregulation when kids start school. But typically kids generally, I mean, I’m, I’m certain that my daughter has had tantrums at school. I’m certain that my son has had tantrums at school. I think it’s very common that kids do, but what, what we usually see is that kids tend to hold things in a little bit more during the day at school, cuz they just know it’s a different setting. It’s more novel, it’s less predictable. It feels a little less safe. It’s we want it to feel safe, but it’s never gonna feel as safe as home with mom and dad. So then we see what we often see is after school, when our kids get home with us, something what we, that was called restraint collapse. So it’s like they’re holding their restraining, keeping it together all day and getting home with you. My safe person, my, I come, my restraint kind of collapses and I melt down a lot. So you see more tantrums at home. This has really common when kids start a new school. So that’s also something to be like prepared for it and feel comfortable if it happens. Like it’s, there’s it’s again, like it’s them feeling safe with you.
That’s very good to know. Prepare for that.
Dr. Sarah (39:25):
Yeah, definitely do a little extra, you know, meditation before your kids will get home. Definitely. Well, I wanted to talk too about a little bit, cuz like, you know, you have this really cool business, you are an entrepreneur. You’re not like there’s so much, there’s so many cool things that you are doing and being a mom of two, like that’s a huge juggle, like there’s so many pieces to all of this. Like do you find that it’s harder to balance having two kids and this work?
Yeah, it’s definitely. So I’m co-founder and creative director of Wander Beauty and we launched about seven years ago, so it’s been seven years and it’s definitely a juggle, but having kids was so important to me and you know, I really pushed it off. I was before this, I was a model for about 10 plus years. So I really pushed off having kids until the last second. It’s really, it’s not the last second, but I am, I’m gonna be 38 this year. And you know, so I’ve just kind of felt this like pressure, this timeline to have my kids. And I’m, I’m so lucky in that Wander has been so supportive of me. They gave me I’m a maternity leave. Let me, they supported me through that. My te my creative team, they’ve been so amazing helping me really disconnect for those first few months.
And then I slowly started working again that fourth month and started creating content. So I create a lot of the content for the brand. Make sure all the, the assets are ready to go for launches, for emails, the homepage looks amazing. So and I love what I do. I really do. And I’m, I’m very much involved in the concepting of all the products. All of our products are created for busy women. Like just like us. So everything is a multitasker. It’s gonna save you time. So you can use less products in the morning, get ready faster, and then take them with you as you wander throughout your day. So the products are really like, as I’ve become a mom, I’m like, oh my God, these are even more like amazing because they’re saving me time. And I, I hardly ever have time to like sit down and like do my makeup, like I used to.
so, so I love what I’m doing. I really do. And I love having what feels like a passion outside of my home. I think it just makes me more of a complete happier person. And I have so much respect for women who stay at home and do it all. Like I have so much respect for them cuz I think that actually my days where I’m home with my sons are even harder than the days that I’m at the office working. I don’t know how you feel, but I just feel like cuz it takes, it’s so much more emotional. I think being around your kids and dealing with everything that’s thrown out, it feels like you’re like in a dryer, like constant, like whirlwind of things and multitasking. And just to be able to like focus on one thing and be in a flow is something I really enjoy.
So I kind of split my time. I have an, like I said, I have an amazing team who supports me on the days that I’m with my kids. So I’m, I typically work between two and three days a week. So I’m really, for the most part I’m able to like kind of separate the two and I really try to have the boundaries so that when I’m home with my kids, I’m present with them and that when I’m working, I can completely focus on that. And you know, our nanny it’s because of her that I’m able to do that. It’s it really comes down to that. Yeah. Like it’s so hard to do everything and it’s, you know, that pressure to do it all is just, it’s intense, you know? So yeah. I work, I work in the office one day a week and I love being around my team and being in meetings and just having that focus.
And then I’m shooting, I shoot all the content. I do that a lot of that from home. So I used to shoot it right in my apartment, but that’s not possible anymore. Especially with a two year old who’s interested in cameras and once sit in there and get involved. Sometimes I do let him like assist me and that’s a lot of fun for him, but I’ll do a lot of our shoots like outside in our little courtyard and you know, so I’m able to kind of juggle both yeah, with the right support. And again, like I said, I’m very lucky, but I do, I have to be very conscious of separating the two. So when I walk into the door in our apartment that my phone is down, my emails are done and that I can be present and focused cuz like I was saying before, if my mind is somewhere else or if I feel like I, my to-do list is just so long and I’m just like still focused on that, then I don’t have the patience. And like the mindfulness to then, you know, handle whatever Carter may throw at me. Whether it’s fighting about the food, fighting about, there’s always a struggle, like a power struggle with lately. It’s like food doing his hair and his clothes. And so it just takes a lot of patience. Yeah. And if my mind is somewhere else, then I’m not as patient as I usually am. So I definitely have to have those, those clear boundaries and like just put it to the side and focus when I’m with my kids.
Dr. Sarah (44:36):
Yeah. Do you have like a system for doing that? Like what, what are some of the strategies like to actually execute that kind of focus? Like anything you sort of say to yourself or like any sort of mentalizing that you do before you get walk in the door? Or is it like, even like from a business perspective, any like structural things that you do to make sure that like I have set this aside and I’m not revisiting it until I’m done with this other part of
My life. I, I think it’s, and I’m not perfect, but I do set, so I, you know, when I’m, when I’m home, I say, okay, I won’t revisit this until the kids are in bed. And I tell myself, okay, I have an extra hour. If I need to get more work done, when they’re in bed, I have that time where I can completely focus. And so I might be getting slack messages. I might be getting emails and WhatsApp messages and all this stuff, but I’m like, I gotta put it aside, cuz what’s most important right now are my kids. So it’s kind of just like compartmentalizing the things that I have to do. And then also in the morning when I wake up earlier and I’m having my coffee and pumping, I create my to-do list and I prioritize that list. I’m all about lists. I have so many lists and notes on my phone just to get through like the essential things that I need to get through that day and prioritizing everything. And then when I need help, I ask for it. I think that’s also important too.
Dr. Sarah (45:51):
Yeah that’s and do you, do you ask for, for help from your work team or from like other supports?
It could be my work team. It could be my nanny. It could be my husband. It just, any, anything I need at the moment, if I feel like I’m like maxed out and I just can’t handle everything on my plate, then I know that I have to start asking for more help. Cuz I, I tend to do that too, where I just try to do everything myself and then it’s, you know, that doesn’t ever work.
Dr. Sarah (46:19):
I know, I feel you. I feel, I feel the struggle cuz I too, like, you know, I used to just, just see patients and come home and that was it. Like, that was my work. And since I started doing pretty much since the pandemic and like started doing the podcast and social media stuff and creating content about parenting for parents outside of like my clinical practice, I’m like, oh wow. I have to like learn about marketing and I have to learn about networking. And I, I like, it just is so blurry. Like the, like it’s not like I go into the office, I see five patients. I write up my notes and I go home and I’m done for the day. Like the work is, I think in entrepreneurship when you are building something there’s this blurriness to the where the lines are like it nothing’s ever done.
So I could be working, I could work 24 hours and like, and I can’t cuz I, I want to be with my kids. And so I feel like that is a big I’m pulled all the time. I feel pulled all the time and I have to really consciously and I’m, I struggle with this. Like I really have to like, these are things that I work on regularly to improve but to learn where the boundaries are of like where work ends at, where, where family begins. I think it’s also kind of become a big issue in the pandemic in general when people are working from home, because it, for sure those, those crystal clear boundaries of work time and family time, they’re not so crystal clear anymore. They’re just not so concrete.
No, I, I totally feel that. And you know, beyond my work with Wander, I’m a content creator and you know, constantly sharing my life on Instagram. And so one thing that I do, it’s like my little way of trying to be present while also sharing my life is I’ll save all the images. So for the weekend, basically I’ll, I’ll be taking images, but then I put my phone down and I’m not on there trying to edit and add photos to my story, to my feed. I just like, I take the photos, save ’em for later. And then on Monday morning when I’m by myself is when I’ll, I’ll post it and share it because that’s a, that’s one way to save some time so that I’m not on my phone in front of my kids be taking the photos with them, but then I put it away and just save it for later. Or you can like favor the ones that you wanna favor. Cuz I think everybody now is like, there’s, they’re doing so much personal content creation and always on their phone and on Instagram or social media. So I feel like don’t feel that pressure to like post it right. Then wait till later when you’re by yourself or when you have some time when the kids are asleep to, to do that, that’s definitely helped me too.
Dr. Sarah (48:56):
Yeah. I think that’s smart. Cause I also think people who are, who are consuming your content don’t care if you’re at the park and you’re posting on Monday night that I’m at the park today and they’re like, it’s not sunny out right now. Like I don’t think anyone’s paying attention to like the timeline that’s very, I think that’s really good advice. And I think it’s very validating too to parents. Like it is hard to put your phone down. It’s hard. And there are ways to make it a little easier by like take one of the reasons it’s hard to put your phone down is cause we always feel the sense of urgency. Like whatever I’m doing right now. I just, one more thing just really quick. I’ve gotta do this. It’s really urgent. And I think if we can let go of that sense of urgency and, and actually check in and be like, is this urgent? Do I have to do this task right this second? Can this Amazon order, wait, can this email response, wait, can this fill in the blank? Wait an hour to two hours. Like chances are, I probably can.
It’s true. Yeah. I’m constantly reminding myself that. And then the other day Carter actually grabbed my phone and threw it and I’m like, oh I need to be more present. Cause sometimes you just like, forget. You’re like, oh my gosh, like what was I doing? You know, you’re always, I’m always doing something. Whether it’s like ordering groceries on Amazon, like he said, getting a target delivery beyond social media. There’s just a million things as a mom that you’re doing every day on your phone, like essential things. Right.
Dr. Sarah (50:19):
Cause we’re usually also not just taking care of our kids and, or working a job. We’re also managing the family. Yes. Which is a completely busy full-time job in and of itself. And like, yes, there’s a hu that we talk about the mental load of motherhood or parenthood all the time. Like yeah. I do have a running list in my head of the Amazon orders. That must go out before, you know, camp starts like, like, you know, there’s so many things I’m holding in my head. So many inventories in lists. Like not just for me personally or my work or even like the day to day, but like just running the family.
It’s so true. I have the same thing. It’s a constant list constant. Right.
Dr. Sarah (51:00):
So I empathize so very much with parents who feel the urgency and still my guess is if you ask yourself this question, is this really urgent? Does this have to get done right now? Do I have a system for remembering to do it later? Cause I think that’s the fear is like, oh, I’ve just remembered. I’ll forget. I gotta just get this off my list right now. Like do you have a place to write it down or to put it so that you can come back to it? Like I love the idea of having this like 30 minutes in the morning where you’re reviewing your like to-do list. Because I think that probably is a really good way to say, like, there is a, there will be a time and a place to put this task and make sure it gets done so that you can actually feel like there is something productive about you. Can, you can the urgency in the fleeting moments when you, when it comes to your mind, like you can let that urgency go and say, I have a system for when I will check in on this again.
Dr. Sarah (52:00):
Yeah. Well, this is so interesting too. I love talking to moms who do so many different things. Cause I think we are, I feel like there’s no, no matter what, whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a mom who is building a business or a mom who is working nine to five or some hybrid of the, you know, of all those things, like we’re always doing so much and it’s, it’s exhausting.
It is. It is definitely a lot. I feel like, you know, having kids has, has just changed me completely and I really, as hard as it can be, I, I love the person that I am today so much more. I feel like I’m a much, I don’t know. I just, I think I’m a much stronger person for going through like lack of sleep, the endless to-do list, like all this stuff. But at the end of the day, I feel like I’m a much stronger person and I have these two incredible children that I love so much and we have this family. And so, you know, it’s, it’s definitely hard and challenging, but having those tools like your, your tantrum course is definitely helped me so much. And just being able to understand how to co how to co-regulate, what co-regulation is, all these things has definitely helped me. It’s one of those tools that I’m constantly pulling outta my back pocket.
Dr. Sarah (53:22):
Oh, I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful you took that course and found so many helpful things in it. I also wonder, is there, like, is there anything you would say to like a new mom or a mom who’s just had her second or a mom who’s juggling a business on top of parenthood? Like any, any words of wisdom?
I would just say that it, you know, I, one thing that I’ve realized with time, like some, when I was in it, when I just had Rowan those first, that first month I was, it was so hard and like the lack of sleep and I was pumping every three hours. It was just like so incredibly hard. It does get easier. And just remind yourself that, you know, in just a few months, it does everything with every month, it does get easier and you fall into a routine into a schedule. There’s so many tools out there. You know, I, I prepared so much for, for labor. I did hypno birthing and then I prepared so much for like the sleep phase and sleep training. And I took a course on that. And now being able to take this tantrum course has really, I feel like set me up for the next, it’s gonna be at least five years. At least five years dealing with this. So there’s, there’s so many tools. There’s so much education out there and it gets easier and you’re stronger than, you know, you really are.
Dr. Sarah (54:46):
Yes. That’s a good reminder. You’re stronger than, you know. We can, we’ll always surprise ourselves.
Yes, definitely. For sure.
Dr. Sarah (54:55):
Oh, thank you so much for coming on and people wanna learn more about the work that you’re doing, your amazing products, or just follow along in your life, like, and see your beautiful children. Like what, how can they find you
So you can follow me @linsellingson on Instagram. You can also check out Wander Beauty. It’s @Wander_Beauty on Instagram or wanderbeauty.com if you wanna check out our time saving multitaskers. And that’s it, it’s been so fun chatting with you.
Dr. Sarah (55:26):
Yeah. So great to have you. Thanks so much. Have a great day.
Thank you. You too.
Dr. Sarah (55:36):
I had such a great time talking with Lindsay. I love getting to meet so many of you guys in workshops and moms groups and hearing your stories. In the episode that we just talked about, you heard Lindsay talk about some of the strategies she learned from my course, The Science of Tantrums and how these tools helped her to stay calm and support her toddler through his dysregulation as he became a big brother. If you want to equip yourself with those same tools and learn the psychology of what is happening in your child’s brain and body, when they meltdown, go to drsarahbren.com/tantrums, to learn more about the course. In it I will teach you exactly what to do in the heat of the moment. And also before and after your child’s tantrums. This framework will help you not just reduce their tantrums, but to do so in a way that actually benefits their development, their mental health, and their relationship to you.
(56:32):And as kids get more comfortable with the new school routine, we often start to see an increase in tantrums. Because of this, I’ve decided to offer 30% off the Science of Tantrums course for a limited time. Just use code “schoolscaries” at checkout and get your 30% savings. But hurry, this is only active for a limited time! To learn more and to sign up for The Science of Tantrums, go to drsarahbren.com/tantrums. That’s drsarahbren.com/tantrums and use the code “schoolscaries” to get your 30% discount.
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