Author Archives: Dawn Baggett

About Dawn Baggett

Welcome! I'm Dawn and I LOVE helping people! I blog at yesterdaysorphan.org which is targeted specifically to parents and caretakers of children and youth who have traumatic backgrounds as orphans or with parental loss of some kind (even if temporary) and who may be struggling with what I call orphan mentality. I'm an adoptive parent and seek to help others who are parenting outside the box from lessons learned with my own experiences as well as my research and learning from others' experiences. If you are one of these parents, you know it! And you are welcome here as well as in our closed support group specifically for the Families of Yesterday's Orphan: on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/YOparents/ My other passions include orphans & orphan ministry; holistic Christian living and Biblical teaching; and nature-based health and wellness. I believe that my faith in God should permeate every area of life. Want to connect? See my virtual business card!

Life Lessons from Baby Shark

Life Lessons from Baby Shark

What makes Baby Shark so catchy? It’s a children’s song and a top 40 hit that appeals to kids and adults around the world. It has spawned dozens of variations and its own line of toys. It’s been viewed more than one and a half billion times on YouTube.

By now, you’ve probably seen the video regardless of whether you have any small children at home. Maybe you’ve even danced along as the family of sharks goes hunting and cheered for the happy ending where everyone winds up safe.

Besides the FUN factor, there’s plenty of unpredictable “magic” behind any internet sensation. However, you can tap into some of the ingredients that make these little sharks such a success, starting with these 3 basic principles.

The Value of Simplicity

The song is only 1 or 2 minutes long, and most of the lyrics consist of repeating the sound DO.

 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

Seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first and foremost, what could be simpler than that!? We tend to stress, strive and strategize over so many other things. But putting first things first – – prioritizing God in our every day living is the number one way to simplify your life.

Free up your time, save money, and reduce stress by getting down to basics.

Use these strategies to simplify your life & model simplicity to others:

  1. Buy only what you need. Studies show that experiences rather than possessions contribute more to happiness. Develop a hobby instead of shopping for entertainment.

  2. Clear away clutter. Take a look at the possessions you already have. Put aside things you can donate or sell. Owning less stuff means less time spent cleaning and maintaining it.

  3. Be mindful. Forget about multitasking. Instead, focus on doing one thing at a time. You’ll experience less stress and the quality of your work will increase.

  4. Give thanks. Appreciate what you have rather than longing for more. Make a list of the things you’re grateful for.

  5. Set priorities. Your values and beliefs are foundational to making choices for living a meaningful life. Schedule your time so that you put God first, and allocate the rest of your time and your other resources where he leads.

The Importance of Family

Baby shark sticks close to his parents and grandparents. The quality of your relationships plays a big part in determining how happy and productive you are. Put the time and effort into building and maintaining quality relationships, remembering to put your relationship with God first and foremost. Always give space for the other person whether your spouse, child or someone else in your life to start fresh and reconnect. You may know you aren’t holding any grudges, but do they still feel a disconnect? Let them know that even after a blow up, your relationship is on solid ground.

Try these techniques to strengthen your family bonds:

  1. Talk more. Listen closely to each other. Describe your dreams and express your feelings. Help each other to feel valued and understood.

  2. Eat family dinners. Sit around the same table for a meal at least once a week. If dinner is difficult to coordinate, make it breakfast or lunch.

  3. Spend one on one time. In addition to family outings, plan activities that you can do separately with each child and your partner. You’ll create a closer connection and lasting memories.

  4. Share decision making. Giving each family member a voice in the process increases the enthusiasm for working towards shared goals. Vote on where to go for your next vacation. Let your child decide which homework assignment to complete first.

The Power of Repetition

Major accomplishments usually require many small actions. Repetition helps important lessons to sink in.

Follow these steps to make small changes with big results:

  1. Clarify your thinking. Even when a subject seems basic, reviewing the matter may deepen your understanding or reveal new facets. You could wind up with a stronger business plan or a scarier shark costume.

  2. Pick up new skills. Expertise is usually developed through extensive practice. Persistence and patience pay off.

  3. Form positive habits. It’s easier to make constructive choices when you make the process automatic. After a month of jogging each morning, it will seem like the natural thing to do.

Baby Shark is so much fun that it will make you feel safe to go back in the water. Let this children’s song inspire you to simplify your life and create your own happy endings.

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I’ve found one way to simplify my life is with an all-purpose, natural, plant-based cleaner that really gets results and can replace everything from dish soap to laundry detergent to heavy duty cleaner and more.  This one bottle can wipe out an entire cabinet full of toxic cleaners for a real clean that is safe to use around kids, pets and anyone who wants to avoid artificial fragrances.

Connect with me above or with my virtual business card to find out how to get yours and plug in to a group of people who are serious about being the gatekeepers of their homes when it comes to the safety of the products they bring into their homes and use around their families.

Ask for the information about the Natural Cleaner when you contact me with my Virtual Business Card.

Pillow Presents

This is a photo of a pillow in my home office comfy chair. The Curious George pillow, lumpy and bumpy as it may be, is special to me. It was made (by my daughter) from a shirt that my youngest son had worn a lot. I didn’t want to get rid of it when he finally outgrew it. We felt like it was very fitting for him as he seemed so much like the famous little lmonkey character!

On this Mother’s Day Sunday I wanted to share an idea with those of you who have younger children (or even some older kids). They may require “help” in getting a present ready for next Mother’s Day (birthday or Christmas).

You can plan ahead over the course of the next few months or so and notice when your child outgrows a special shirt! You might suggest to him/her that you would like it and ask if they mind if you make it into a pillow and see their reaction.

Your child might be old enough and motivated to get in on the pillow project or even make it themself. If not, you could make it and let them give you the finished product.

For the how-tos just do a Google or Pinterest search for instructions.

Basically just trim the body into a square/rectangle shape (circles are trickier and would definitely require a pillow form) leaving enough fabric to form the sides and seams. Sew your seams inside out leaving enough open space to stuff with pillow stuffing or insert a pillow form to fit. Then turn right side out, stuff and stitch closed. And there you have it! Your keepsake pillow gift.

What do you think? Is this the type of keepsake that appeals to you? Do you think it might be meaningful to your child/children?

I do not tend to be very sentimental about things. There are just a handful. That’s probably a good thing with certain rabble rousing children. The idea of cherishing items from my children’s growing up years may not mean much to them right now. But hopefully in time it will be additional evidence that I love and cherish them.

Mother’s Day can be hard. It was hard today. But I was not surprised. I maintained my calm. Mostly. Lowering the pressure on ourselves and on the rest of the family to make Mother’s Day or any other holiday a picture perfect event can help.

My youngest daughter (whom I have had some extreme relational struggles with) had volunteered to make peach ice cream for Mother’s Day. I strategically waited until yesterday evening to take her to get the ingredients when it would be just me and her and not a regular grocery shopping trip. But the local grocery stores did not have fresh peaches yet and the produce stands were closed for the day. Yikes! But calm prevailed. I got up early and drove about 30 minutes away to “Peach Park” where I knew they would have fresh peaches. It was very much worth it in more ways than one! (Yum!)

Your child might be old enough and motivated to get in on the pillow project or even make it themself. If not, you could make it and let them give you the finished product. Helping them to participate in a way that says “we’re family” can dislodge another brick in the walls of resistance to relationship that may have been built as a result of trauma. There were some small (but huge!) Connections made today that could have been easily overshadowed if we had tried to pull off a larger event (that would likely have been an epic fail).

How about you? Do you have any helpful strategies for lowering the stress levels for holidays and events? Post them in the comments.

Is Your Child ELASTIC?

We know that something that’s elastic like a rubber band will, when stretched, return back to its normal state afterward.  That is the very nature of being elastic, the tendency to return to a normal state of being.  But what does that have to do with my child you may ask (?).

A securely attached child would feel uneasy and tend to seek to return to normal, having had a conflict with their parent, such as a reprimand or correction, a difference of opinion, a blow-up over a misunderstanding or disappointment over unmet or misplaced expectations perhaps.  This child might initiate an apology or “get over” a sour attitude and re-join family activities after a short time of sulking and re-grouping.  They may approach the parent for comfort and get assurance that the parent-child relationship is still intact.

The actual term is to “re-attune”.  I think of a piano out of tune that needs to be tuned in order to have the keys sound the correct notes when played, so the music is pleasant to the ear.

But if our children are NOT securely attached, they may not re-attune very readily and may tend instead to stay stuck in an out-of-tune position.  An ingrained fear of adults can keep them from seeking out reconnection like a limp rubber band that’s lost its elasticity.

“As our children are often fearful of adults and may have had negative experiences, it is almost impossible for them to ‘re-attune” to the parent following an incident” says Sarah Naish in The A-Z of Therapeutic Parenting:  Strategies and Solutions.

She adds,

“A child who is fearful of adults, or overwhelmed with shame, is entirely unable to make the first move and will remain stuck, defensive and sad.”

This causes me to pause and recognize what big steps there have been for a couple of my children to initiate apologies recently, and to recognize that their steps of reconnecting, though they may look minor on the outside, are really so huge for them!

Recognizing this, I’d love to grab them up and bear hug them.  For one it would be ok perhaps – – except he’s asleep now and would jump out of his skin if startled!  For the other, it would push her away.  Note to self: Tread lightly, mama – – I am still learning!

I have to keep telling myself, it’s not about me.  It really isn’t.  It’s not about you, either.  They may not even understand it either.  But sometimes we may represent all the adults that have ever hurt them previously, and their brains just cannot – –  in that moment – – discern that we are safe.

But we can wait.  We can wait until their brains catch up and catch on.  Because that’s what we do as parents who love our children even when it’s hard.  Even when they don’t understand it or don’t believe it.

And with God, we can be patient and wait it out because we know that God is working it all out for good.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose”  Romans 8:28

Comment and let me know if this is something that you deal with in your family.  I’d love to hear any tips you have for reconnecting and keeping the door of invitation open to re-attuning with your children.

Mom, this is for you.

 

I want to express a few thoughts and see if they resonate with any of you.

You may know that within our family we have special needs, attachment disorder (and reactive attachment disorder which is the upper end of that spectrum) mental health issues in addition to that; language delays, social delays; just all these special needs type things going on, and Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and OCD , ADHD — and more alphabet soup!

What’s a mom to do!? I’ve learned that if you are all wrapped up in the family, the children, their special needs, and the relationships that attachment disorder has really put a negative spin on (with multiple kids and family members!) then it can really put you in a rotten space. If you have your own identity all wrapped up in the nature of being a parent of the alphabet soup, special needs, chronic illness and all that goes along with attachment issues that is.

The children are growing up and trying to forge their own identities. Some have additional issues with identity — identity crises — because of their past.

Now think about the parents. Moms in particular (and dads, I am not trying to exclude you but you know, I can relate most to moms).

What about your identity?

Your identity cannot continue to be wrapped up in the relationships and in the roles that you have — the roles that are changing — the roles that are up one day and down the next — the roller coaster ride that is this life, without some real damage, without losing yourself, without losing your own identity.

So, you MUST regain and/or hold onto your identity in Christ.

Your identity as God’s child.

Your identity as someone of value and intellect and purpose.

You can hold on to your true identity:

Whether or not a particular relationship goes haywire;

whether or not a particular illness continues or gets worse;

whether or not you have to deal with a mental health crisis that day;

whether or not behavioral issues pop up;

And whether or not other people judge you as someone who should handle things differently than you do, or should parent differently than you do, or is even the cause of some of the behaviors or issues with your children.

And so, who are we doing this for? Are we really just doing it for ourselves? No.

For our children? Yes! But not just for them.

If you are like me, then you agree we are really doing it for God.

And for our love of God.

And in obedience to God.

So we do it for our kids – yes, but as God gives us love and loves our children and our families through us he gives us the ability desire. And HE is the one we are really doing it all for!

He knows your heart.

He knows it all.

He knows these children.

He knows their background and he knows their needs. And furthermore, God is able to take them, continue to work on them, and maybe do it through you or maybe through other people or other ways. So it’s not all on your shoulders. Put it back on his, where it belongs.

That’s all of my rambling thoughts. I hope you ae encouraged. If you are, feel free to share and follow Yesterday’s Orphan for more.

Self-Care Parent “Bucket List”

How do you get your own bucket filled so you can pour into your family when you’re feeling like there isn’t much left to pour out?

 

Below I share a few ideas for quick pick-me-ups to help when you’re running on empty.  But I am fully aware that there can be such a deep dark pit that it takes more than just a few quick bucket-filling ideas to make much difference.  Please do not give up hope and do not give up searching and reaching for the help that you need.  It’s there.  Keep looking and keep looking up (to God and his help and ginormous love for you)!

 

I found some things were not so helpful before things began to be noticeably different.  Some things were helpful, but it took a while.  If you are interested in more of what helped me rise up out of the deep, dark pit I found myself in not too long ago, please reach out.  I know not everyone’s situation is the same and there will be different needs.  So I don’t presume to know exactly what your situation or needs are.  I’m certainly not a medical person so nothing I say here is intended to diagnose, treat or cure.

 

But I do know everyone needs Jesus.  And he is the great healer.  He can use all manner of resources or none at all!  That said, here are some quick and easy ideas for bucket-filling on days you need a little pick-me-up.

Self-care “Bucket List”

Dawn’s TOP Ideas for Re-filling a Poured-out Parent’s Bucket

As a mom of seven, I am familiar with the constant need for parents to pour themselves out for their families.  I’m also familiar with the feeling that you are running on fumes. That bucket is feeling pretty dry at times.

 

We sometimes tend to feel like we are being selfish to do something for ourselves that is more than tending to basic needs.  I’ve felt that way myself at times. But I’m learning that I am my own best resource. And taking care of me as a good steward of my resources is necessary to offer the best I can to those I hold most dear.  When taking care of yourself means taking better care of your family, I don’t think that’s selfish or self-centered.

 

What exactly is Stewardship?

 

“stewardship expresses our obedience regarding the administration of everything God has placed under our control, which is all-encompassing. Stewardship is the commitment of one’s self and possessions to God’s service, recognizing that we do not have the right of control over our property or ourselves.”  ~ Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics    

 

When our self-care is from a motive and perspective of stewardship rather than selfishness we can then understand that taking good care of ourselves is our responsibility.  As a Christian, I know that I am not my own. I belong to God and have a responsibility to him to do the best with what he has given me. If I am an emotional wreck or sleep-deprived shell of myself, I may need to do some adjusting.  

 

Without further ado, here are a few of my top ideas for getting that parent bucket filled.  You can use this as a jumping off point to add more ideas of your own that will likely be even better as they are personal to you.  This is by no means an exhaustive list.

 

#1 Connect with a (non-judgmental) friend.

If you can do it it’s great to connect face to face; otherwise take a few minutes to connect in the best way you can whether that be a call, text or video chat.

#2 Let something go so you can get more/better sleep.

However you do it whether you go to bed a bit earlier, sleep a bit later or slip in an afternoon nap it’s ok to get some rest!  Do you know that sleep time is very important for certain hormone production?

 

At night, I like to use essential oils to help me relax and get some shut-eye:  One of my favorite sleep blends is Cedarwood, Vetiver, and Lavender together in a diffuser or roller bottle topped with a carrier oil like olive oil or in a bedside cool mist diffuser.

 

#3 Read or watch something lighthearted.

Laughter is good medicine and can be just the thing to lighten your perspective.  Watching a fun movie with the family can be a good way to soften built up tensions with a shared experience.

 

#4  Indulge in a special snack.

It doesn’t have to be the most calorific snack or anything guilt-laden.  But just as a snack can diffuse the “hangry” in kids, it might help us too!

 

#5 Deep Breathing.

At one point, during a particularly stressful time, I set alarms on my phone to take a few moments and do some deep breathing throughout the day.  . . . In 2, 3, 4 . . . out 2, 3, 4 . . .

 

#6 Take a luxurious bath (or at least a long shower break)!

Self-care may be getting back to the basics if you’ve been in survival mode.  Using delightfully scented soaps, shampoos, and bath salts and following up with a light lotion or skin oil can make you feel pretty pampered.  

 

I like to use toxin-free soaps and shampoos infused with essential oils.  

 

#7 Get Moving!

Perhaps it’s not resting you need as much as to get moving.  Exercise, even just a little, can be a good pick-me-up. Plus, as an added bonus, exercise can even help you to sleep better —  provided it’s not too close to bedtime.

 

#8 Drink something.

Even slight dehydration can get you feeling yucky.  So drink water or another hydrating beverage to stay hydrated. *One of my favorites is Ningxia Zing!  

 

#9 Go Outdoors!

For eons, parents have known to send their kiddos outside for better health all over the world.  Guess what? It goes for adults, too! Fresh air and the sunshine vitamin (vitamin D) are necessary for each of us.

 

#9 – Listen to Happy Music!

Alone or better yet – – with the kiddos – – listening to music (and even sing and dance along) is a great way to bring on the smiles.

 

#10 Take time to read a Bible passage and pray.

This is important to me as a Christian.  The Holy Bible is God’s Word, his messages to us.  I speak to him through prayer and he speaks to me through his Word.  

 

Would you like to know more?  I’d love to share how you can become a Christian and have this personal relationship with one-on-one communication with The God of all Creation!  

 

And if you are interested in finding out more about how you can get started with essential oils and related products, let me know.  The ones I use and recommend have the Seed to Seal commitment that is an important quality control measure that puts them head and shoulders above the rest.  

 

See my Virtual Business Card for ways you can contact me for more.

~Dawn

 

Help! My Adopted Child is Terrified of Sleep

For the first year or so home, my youngest (adopted) child literally screamed himself to sleep.  One of my adopted daughters would often yell out in her sleep (still does occasionally after 10 years), never fully waking up and never remembering it in the morning.  Another one of our adopted children used to get to sleep okay, but get up during the night or wee hours of the morning, unable to fall back to sleep (and wander the house which also caused problems).

Adults may be able to self-talk and work through their night-time anxieties, but kids have less experience and big imaginations!  Even as adults we understand that worries, fears, concerns often loom larger at bed-time, weighing on us.  But children from traumatic backgrounds may have an even harder time with all of this.  It’s harder for them to separate what’s real and what’s not, especially at night.  And it can really affect their sleep which affects their days and the rest of the family, too.  The cycle can spiral downward if it doesn’t stop.

Lack of good, restful sleep on an ongoing basis can affect a number of things and can be detrimental to their health.  It is during sleep that our brains make a clean sweep of accumulated toxins, so among other things we can think clearer the next day.  It’s during sleep that production of several hormones rises, including growth hormone.  Ever hear that children grow in their sleep?  Lack of growth hormone can impact not only growth in height but even cellular repair.  Another hormone, lack of melatonin, the sleep hormone can cause greater sleep problems.  A strong immune system is supported by good sleep.

Sleep is should be restorative and our children need even more sleep than we as adults do in order to function optimally during the day.  I recommend making sleep a priority for your entire household.  Try not to deal with stressful issues near bedtime.  If you can table it until morning, do so.  If there is always conflict over pajamas or tooth brushing, drop the issue or do a workaround – – maybe brush teeth right after dinner so it’s over and done long before bedtime, for example.

We are super careful not to use supplements with food coloring or msg (an excitotoxin to the brain).  But using melatonin has helped so much, as well as other supplements depending on the person,  and specific essential oils that are beneficial for sleep either for calming or with a sedative effect or to help alleviate racing/troubling thoughts.  Some are effective to help with pain that may seem worse at night and be a hindrance to getting to sleep.  There are different ones for different issues.  With my large family, we have had lots of sleep issues which vary from person to person.  I know I personally cannot take anything that will up my blood pressure.  Essential oils have been a huge help to me, too as well as my kids.  Wish I had had them sooner!

I want to emphasize that there are a lot of reasons you or your child may have difficulties sleeping.

IMPORTANT:  I am not a doctor and nothing in this post is meant to diagnose, treat or cure anything.  Please see your healthcare provider for any medical issues.  I am not giving medical advice here.

And please don’t give up looking for the right solutions.  There ARE solutions and it IS important.

When you become your own sleep detective you may gain new insight as to what you can change in your daily routines for optimal sleep to take place.

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions. As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools. 

Contact me to request my free “Sleep Detective” PDF booklet to download.  It’s a fun way to help your child or teen start to focus on their need for sleep and empower them to be an active force in making positive changes.

And if you like the content on this blog you might like to check out Yesterday’s Orphan on Facebook with the link in the sidebar.

 

 

Independence Overload!

Does your child with a trauma history seem to go to ridiculous extremes to avoid accepting your offers of help?  Do they seem to value independence over relationship?  I can relate.  And it can be maddening to deal with!!!

When they seem set upon personal failure in order to avoid compliance or obligation to anyone, it can be hard to watch them fail.  But failing forward may be the best teacher.  They choose not to participate in a family activity?  They miss out – – but it is set up in a way that they aren’t going to ruin it for the rest of the family.  And hopefully, they can do it with room to come back around.  I think sometimes my kids dig themselves into a hole and don’t know how to jump out – – how to change gears.

This type of planning takes some thought.  Birthdays, holidays and any type of celebration can bring on negative reactivity from some of our children.  By keeping plans low-key and flexible I am able to make adjustments to avoid their controlling (and ruining) the celebration time for everyone else.

For instance, for our daughter’s birthday, I was keenly aware that she had been incredibly oppositional and was apt to opt out.  It turned out that we had several in the family with accomplishments that were worthy of celebrating so I planned a family outing (we are party-sized without additional guests) to celebrate all of them including her birthday at the same time.  She was teetering on not going to the restaurant at absolute last minute.  We didn’t beg or bribe but allowed for her to stay if she wanted.  I told her she would still receive her present and we would bring food home for her if she chose.  Earlier in the day, I had given her a heads up so it wasn’t a surprise, and when she started in negative, just told her she didn’t have to decide right then, that it would be that evening and she had all day to decide what she wanted to do.  Either way was OK.  I think that was key.  She ended up going after all.

Of course, our disappointment or disapproval of the behavior sometimes shows, but be aware that what they may hear is that you are rejecting THEM, unaccepting of them — not just the behavior but the person underneath.  Because of this tendency, efforts to pressure them to change behavior by showing disapproval backfires.  The more you explain how wrong or hurtful their behavior is, the more they internalize rejection.  (So why do I keep doing it??? Insanity, I know!)  They really do want to please and gain your approval. (I know . . . REALLY!)

As we move full force into the Christmas season, I’m reminded of lessons learned; the “normal” separation and independence-seeking of my children given their ages; and the over-the-top independence that comes from their backgrounds.

The need for family and togetherness that is often at the heart of this season cannot be taken for granted.  It is there, but often under the surface of an outward stance of fierce independence which is fearful of depending on anyone else for anything, no matter how small.  Fearful of being/appearing vulnerable.  We can help them.  Help them anyway.  We can chisel away at the fierce exterior – – a little at a time – – here and there – – over time.  And allow their independence, their confident independence to grow past the fake independence that is a cover for their fear of being hurt.

Setting personal boundaries and keeping expectations flexible in the midst of progress toward relational goals is my go-to mindset for this season especially.

How about you?  I’d love to read your comments on how you are planning to navigate the holidays!

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Kids from hard places can have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools.

I’ve gotten some great result in my own family since I’ve begun using premium essential oils.  Among the many benefits, they can make a big difference in dealing with overwhelming emotions, focus, and sleep.  

 

Hit Reply (if you are reading this in e-mail) or Contact in the menu above (if you are on the website) with “video” in your message to learn more about our premium essential oils and related products that you may want to add to your parenting toolbox.  

I’ll send you a short introductory video and then follow up to see what you think.  No Spam 🙂

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Dawn