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Drew Barrymore's hack for calming summer-time toddler tantrums

Her secret weapon is probably on your kitchen counter.

Drew Barrymore's hack for calming summer-time toddler tantrums

Summer days can be so fun, but they can also be long, hot and overstimulating for toddlers. When your toddler is melting down faster than their popsicle, it can be challenging. It can be hard to stay positive, or choose compassion when the words on the tip of your tongue are neither.

The next time life hands you that kind of meltdown moment, you may want to try using the hack Drew Barrymore loves: Just blow some bubbles.

The mom of two recently regramed a post about the tantrum calming potential of bubbles by The Seedlings Group, a parenting support service Barrymore has worked with since her children were born.

Drew's Instagram-inspired advice

"You cannot tantrum if you are breathing and you cannot blow bubbles without breathing. You can't tantrum while smiling and you can't catch bubbles without lots of smiles. Quick distraction to get back to calm," the experts at The Seedlings Group captioned a photo of a child blowing bubbles.

Bubbles aren't the only good distraction

Keeping bubbles handy in case of toddler drama may be new to Drew, but the idea of temporarily redirecting a tantruming toddler's energy with a positive distraction isn't a new concept for experts.

Holly Klaassen, founder of The Fussy Baby Site, previously told Motherly that some tantrums can be tamed by redirecting a child's energy in a positive way. A parent can match a child's intensity by pointing of a cool object, and change the mood from "intense meltdown" to "intensely interested." "After the flood of emotions has passed, there's time to talk about feelings or to deal with whatever caused the meltdown," says Klaassen, who recommends parents address the reason for the tantrum once everyone is feeling a bit calmer.

Bubbles can be good for mom and dad, too

When a toddler is having a tantrum they're often not the only one who could use the kind of deep breaths you take when you're blowing bubbles. As founder of the nonprofit Fireborn Institute, Katherine Firestone is dedicated to providing parents with practical strategies for educational success.

She suggests parents don't tell an angry toddler to "calm down" because they don't yet know how to regulate their emotions. Parents, however, do—although we may not know that we need to. "In the moment the tantrum is happening, most parents don't realize how much the tantrum is affecting them–their tone of voice, their feelings, their body language," Firestone previously told Motherly.

In moments like that, blowing bubbles may be just what mama needs to regain her chill.

The power of passing on parenting hacks

Barrymore credits The Seedlings Group with providing the kind of advice "she really needed as a new parent and I still marvel at them." By amplifying this excellent hack, she proves that you don't have to be an expert to pass on the parenting tips that work for you, and that social media is a great way for parents to do that.

Thanks to her, we now know the bottle of soap next to the sink could be the secret to turning a meltdown into a bonding moment.

[Correction, June 28, 2018: Corrected URL for Holly Klaassen's website]

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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