How to Find Your Mom Tribe

The following post was written by Guest Contributor Crystal Harris.

Let’s be honest for a minute – mom life can be hard! Sometimes it can feel like nothing more than paying bills, making meals and herding children from one place to the next.

To help us get through all the ups and downs of mom life it’s so important that we have a “mom tribe” – a group of friends we can call on for support as we raise our tiny humans.

At 3am a Facebook group may not be as helpful or supportive as you need it to be. We need real connections with people in our everyday lives who can be there for us when things get tough.

With that in mind, here are my three tips to help you make and nurture friendships with other moms as you build your tribe.

Skip the Qualification Round

Have you ever wondered why we call it “making” friends? Think about it. We don’t say “happening upon” friends or “stumbling across” friends or “earning” friends.

When is the last time you heard someone say, “I earned a new friend today”? Most likely you haven’t, because that isn’t how it goes down.

Have you ever noticed how good children are at making friends? With few inhibitions (and sometimes a lacking sense of personal space!) they’ll confidently walk up to another child on the playground and say, “Want to play?”

We should all take a cue from our kids. You want to find have a tribe of mom friends? You are going to have to step outside your comfort zone, approach another mama and ask, “Will you be my friend?”

You’re going to have to take the first step at making that friendship, which depends a lot on what your definition of friendship looks like.

If you define a friend as someone you can tell anything, then start sharing with your new friend! And don’t stay comfy and safe in the shallow end, sharing things they’ve probably already learned about you when they Instagram stalked you before agreeing to meet for coffee.

Choose to be open and share things in confidence. The right people will honor your vulnerability with friendship.

Take it As it Comes

Don’t get hung up on trying to find lifelong friends. Think about the story of the Good Samaritan. If the man who was in a tough spot and needed a friend had hesitated, wondering if he the Good Samaritan were going to be lifelong friends or not, the story wouldn’t have ended up well for him!

The same goes for us. Maybe the friend you meet at La Leche League will still be your friend when your kids go off to college. Or maybe she’ll help you through the toughest bout of thrush that gentian violet has ever encountered, and that’s the extent of where that relationship will go.

But guess what? You had the benefit of a friend and supporter through the worst bout of thrush that gentian violet has ever encountered – and that counts for something! Enjoy what you can, while you can. 

Also – don’t make the mistake of waiting for “just the right time” before reaching out for community. Get out there and get connected with other mom friends who can support and love you right where you are now.

Don’t wait until your house is clean or your roots are done, or until you perfect making crème brulee in your Instant Pot. Take it as it comes!

Be Honest & Loyal

When it comes to building your mom tribe, remember the golden rule. Remember to model the type of friendship you expect by being the type of friend that you want.

I personally want my friends to be totally honest with me. So, I make sure to always be honest with them.

I also want my friends to be loyal. Like Thelma and Louise loyal. Like stand next to me and burn it down to the ground and tell me I was in the wrong while we are fleeing the scene loyal.

A dear friend of mine and I actually have a code word: lavender. We always default to complete and total honesty in our friendship….like, “You know your teeth look yellow in that lipstick” kind of honesty.

However, if one of us mentions the word “lavender” we switch into the kind of loyal friend mode where for a minute or two, we tell the other person exactly what they want to hear.

Everyone has moments where they need to hear that it is ok that they taught their kid how to Pop Tart and Netflix so they could stay under the covers for an hour longer on a rainy Saturday morning.

So, the next time you see that mom with the cool sunglasses at yoga class who stays in child’s pose as long as you do and carries her mat in an Ikea bag, you’ve got a plan!

Building your mom tribe is so important to your happiness and fulfillment as a mom – so don’t delay! Get out there and make some friends, mama.


Headshot - Crystal HarrisThis guest post was written by Crystal Harris, creator of the Brauxiliary Band, a hands-free pumping band for breastfeeding mamas! She has made it her personal mission to make life easier for pumping moms. She nursed her two sons while working from home, but returned to work in an office setting after the birth of her daughter. This led her to invent the Brauxiliary Band! Her gorgeous children, John IV (5), Bennett (3) and Josette (1) look and act just like their amazing mama! Crystal is married to her husband John III, a man who understands and celebrates her particular neurosis; church, Dunkin Donuts and solo grocery trips. Fun Fact about Crystal:  All three of her children were born on Sunday mornings, which make Sundays her favorite day of the week. She and her family reside in Charlotte, NC. To connect with Crystal social media, check out her Facebook and Instagram accounts @Brauxiliary or visit http://www.Brauxiliary.com.

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An Open Letter to Dads on Mother’s Day

Dear Dads,

Are you ready? Mother’s Day is just around the corner (you’re welcome for the reminder!)

My hope is that you noticed it on the calendar weeks ago and have been plotting tirelessly to make it an extra special day for the well-deserving mamas in your lives.

But just in case the dog ate your calendar and somehow the holiday is catching you unawares, I want you to know that I’ve got your back.

I’m going to let you in on a few little secrets that I hope will help you see the mother of your children in a new light and plan a truly spectacular day for her to enjoy this Mother’s Day.

Secret #1: We want to know we’re appreciated

Ever since those two pink lines showed up on that first pregnancy test, we have been making sacrifice after sacrifice for these tiny people we created with you.

We’ve sacrificed our bodies, our sleep, our privacy, our time, our freedom and even, on occasion, our sanity!

Here’s the thing: to us, all of that sacrifice is totally worth it.

We don’t regret becoming moms for one second, and will always be there to wipe those runny noses, kiss those scraped knees and change those wet bed sheets in the middle of the night.

We will continue to wake up every day ready to jump in and do what needs doing to make sure our families are safe, happy and healthy.

But no matter how much we logically understand the value of our own sacrifice, nothing fills our hearts more than when you and our children express your appreciation for everything we do.

We just want to know that you all see us and appreciate #allthethings we do, day-in and day-out, to keep the world turning.

So make sure to lead by example – let us know how much you love and appreciate everything we do, and encourage the kids to do the same.

This special day is like a recharge to our tired mama batteries. A little fuel goes a long way!

Secret #2: We don’t want to make decisions

Every single day of our lives we are faced with a million different decisions to make. Decision fatigue is totally a thing – and we have that!

On Mother’s Day the last thing we want to do is have you ask us, “So what would you like to do today?” Trust me, just don’t do it.

A much better course of action would be to think really hard about what you know we like….and make as many of those things happen for us as possible.

We don’t always need diamonds or trips or fancy dinners….we just want to know that you put care and thought into pampering us on our special day.

So make some plans (in advance!) that you know we’ll love and we will be totally thrilled to enjoy a wonderful day, free from having to think or make decisions!

Secret #3: We just want a break!

I would bet money that if you took a poll asking 100 moms what the #1 thing they wish they had more of in their lives is, they’d answer “sleep.”

Seriously….we mamas are just TIRED and ready for a break! This Mother’s Day try to get creative about how you can take things off our plate to make our day as refreshing and rejuvenating as possible.

And get the kids in on the action too – it doesn’t all have to fall to you! Have them help cook some meals or clean up the house.

Even better? Take them out for a bit to give us some much needed “me-time” at home. Truly, there is nothing like being able to use the bathroom in total privacy, or read a few chapters of a new book uninterrupted.

I guaranteed if you take each of these “secrets” to heart and respond accordingly, your partner – that beautiful, amazing, strong, selfless and incredible mother of your children – will feel like the most special person in the world. And that is the most priceless thing you could ever give her.

Don’t forget – we appreciate YOU, our men, our partners, the ones who make OUR world go ‘round, and we are so grateful to be on this journey through parenthood with you (which we can’t wait to celebrate on Father’s Day in just a few weeks!)

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Raising Mindful Consumers in a World of Excess

“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good I can do.” – Jana Stanfield

As parents, we have a huge responsibility to lead the way in teaching our children how to live well, in a way that promotes compassion and community.

From the moment our babies come into this world they begin looking to us to set a framework of expectations for life and the world around them.

Over the years, as technology and convenience have evolved, our culture has become significantly more preoccupied with “stuff”….and our kids are no exception!

Why Teaching Mindful Consumption is Important

Ultimately mindful consumption is all about developing the awareness to recognize how what you choose to consume, whether it’s clothing, food, books, toys, electronics, cars or utilities, has an impact on your community, society and the planet as a whole.

One of the biggest advantages we can give our kids in life is teaching them how to make mindful, compassionate, conscientious decisions about how they will to spend their time and money, and what they will allow into their lives.

There have been countless studies and observations made to show how excessive consumption can negatively affect mental health, our environment, our relationships and our creativity.

But it’s never too late to choose to right the ship and help our kids learn to do the same! Here are a few practical ideas to help you as you endeavor to raise mindful consumers in a world of excess.

1. Lead by example

As we mentioned earlier, our kids start looking to us at a really young age and what they see us do greatly shapes their thoughts, beliefs and actions. The biggest step we can take in raising mindful consumers is to model what mindful consumption looks like.

Engage your children in conversations as you consciously make choices to embrace less in your life so they will take note of how you’re living and making decisions.

2. Ask your child questions

A fundamental part to living intentionally and making mindful choices is asking questions. Just as you would ask yourself questions to determine if you should really purchase something or do something, ask your child those same questions to help them learn how to ask themselves those same questions over time.

Examples of questions could include:

Why do you want this item?

Is this something you think you’ll use for a long time or just a little while?

How will owning this item change your life? How will it impact others and the environment?

Obviously you’ll need to bear in mind the age and level of understanding of your child. Certain questions they’ll be too young to grasp, but getting in the habit of asking questions sets a great precedent.

3. Let your child make their own decisions

The next step in a child learning to consume mindfully is allowing them to practice making their own decisions after working through their own questioning process.

As parents it’s important for us to guide them and sometimes point them in the right direction. But if we continue making all their decisions for them without ever allowing them to choose for themselves, chances are they will 1) grow to resent us, 2) never gain confidence in their ability to make good decisions, and 3) never experience the negative ramifications of making mistakes (which helps them learn!)

After challenging them to ask and answer questions about their consumption habits, allow them space to choose what they will or won’t consume and walk through those outcomes (good or bad) with them, highlighting the evident impact their choices make.

4. Choose experiences over stuff

This is a big one. As parents who love our kids it can be tempting to shower our kids with everything their little hearts desire. But oftentimes that can do a disservice to us, them and our community as a whole.

Instead of focusing on the “things” we want and enjoy in life, you can actively work to cultivate a family culture that chooses and celebrates experiences over stuff.

Get creative with ways to give your kids experiences for birthdays and the holidays, instead of more stuff, and emphasize to them that life is all about the moments we collect, not things.

5. Promote a culture of sharing

A great way to practice mindful consumption is to recognize and embrace the idea that you don’t have to own everything!

Here at The Sharing Exchange™ we are passionate about bringing families and communities together to share and fulfill needs by sharing possessions instead of collecting them.

This is something you can involve the whole family in by generously lending out your belongings to others who could use them while you aren’t (or even better, making a little extra cash by renting out those belongings to others who have temporary needs but don’t want to invest in purchasing those things to own!)

As parents, and as a community, we have the ability to join forces in changing our world – together. And we can start by raising our kids to think and do differently.

To get started with practicing and promoting mindful consumption within your family and community, you can go sign up for a FREE account on The Sharing Exchange™ and start lending or renting today!

Raising Mindful Consumer in a World of Excess

Leading by Example: Teaching Our Kids to Borrow & Share

We’ve all seen (and probably experienced!) it before: screaming fits and tantrums thrown by unhappy children who have just been asked to share their beloved toys.

Bickering back and forth between siblings over whose turn it is to choose a show.

Crocodile tears spilled over having to return greatly-loved books back to the library.

Learning the concepts of borrowing and sharing isn’t always easy or fun for children and their parents, but it’s a necessary step in a child’s development.

When it comes to teaching kids to borrow and share with good attitudes, it’s important for parents to start early and understand that the most powerful place to start is leading by example.

As our kids grow and develop they are looking to us to for guidance, and our words and behaviors are what will shape the standards of expectation they have for themselves and others.

When they see us setting a strong example of sharing, caring and helping within our communities the likelihood that they will follow in our footsteps is so much greater!

A Fresh Approach

No one is perfect – not even us parents! It’s important to remember that as you parent your children and to be honest about your mistakes and imperfections so they grow up holding themselves to a standard of grace over perfection.

Let them see you apologize for saying or doing things that weren’t the best as you seek to make things right.

This will build trust between you and your child, as well as show them what humility looks like in action. Doing so will better equip them to be teachable as they grow.

Instead of striving to be the perfect parent and turning every moment into a textbook learning opportunity for your child, we propose that you turn each moment into an opportunity to speak and act with purposeful intention.

As you go about your days, engage in conversations with your child that will help them begin to see what healthy sharing and borrowing looks like.

At The Sharing Exchange, we believe that not everything needs to be shared and it’s okay to teach kids to be discerning about what they are and are not comfortable sharing or lending.

In order for kids to develop a healthy appreciation for the place that sharing and borrowing can have in their lives and in the community, they should never be forced to share something they aren’t comfortable with sharing.

Successful sharing and borrowing requires cooperation, which is a building block of healthy relationships, trust and community.

If your child feels like you have both worked together to decide what and when to share, they will feel respected and valued, which will create positive emotions surrounding the idea of sharing and borrowing.

Consider Your Language

The language you use every day has a huge influence on how your child sees and thinks about things. They are like little sponges and work really hard to process and absorb all the language they hear each day.

The word “share” can be a tricky and abstract concept to a young child, so we recommend using the phrase “take a turn.”

Empowering children the the language skills necessary to be successful in social sharing situations is so important! Regularly work on incorporating phrases like, “I would like a turn,” “I am not finished yet,” or “May I please have a turn?” into your regularly vocabulary when communicating with both your children and others.

Equipping your children with the skills to negotiate will help build their self-esteem, which will lead to them feeling comfortable giving someone else a turn.

Consider Their Age

It’s important to take your child’s age into consideration as you work through teaching them about sharing and borrowing.

You should absolutely begin laying the groundwork at an early age, but don’t expect a 2 or 3 year old to consistently and willingly offer up their cherished toys anytime you ask. Give and take is very hard at this age, as they are just beginning to understand the concept of “mine vs. yours.”

It’s not until between the ages of 4 and 7 that kids really start to grasp the concepts of empathy, generosity and kindness.

Other Considerations

You’ll also want to take care to effectively communicate to your child that there are two different types of sharing: lending and giving. If you try to frame all sharing and borrowing as one in the same, your child may wind up confused and distrusting.

Lastly, we highly encourage you to begin practicing regular generosity if you don’t already do so. Make a big to-do about every time you practice generosity in your own life, inviting your child to see what you’ve done, why you made the choices you did and what kind of result it led to.

A child will give as he is given to. If your kiddo sees you being generous with your time, attention, affection and belongings, the chances are much greater that he or she will follow in your footsteps as they get older!

Some Ideas to Get You Started

If you’re ready to start getting intentional about how you’re teaching your children to borrow and share on a daily basis, here are a few practical, no-fuss ideas to help you get started.

1. Plan a trip to the library

Invite your kiddo out for a date to the library and let them choose a few books to borrow. When you go to check the books out ask the librarian to explain the “rules” to your child so the expectations are very clear that your child will be allowed to take the books home to enjoy, but he or she must take good care of them and return them within the allotted timeframe. When the due date arrives, invite your child to be the one who gets to return the borrowed items.

2. Invite your child to cook with you

As you both set about whipping up a family meal together, use language that encourages the idea of sharing. Examples: “Would you please pass me that measuring cup,” “Let’s share responsibilities. You can make the toast and I’ll butter the toast,” or “May I have a turn grating the cheese?”

3. Have a purge party with your child

Schedule some time to go through your child’s clothing or toys with him or her, and together decide which things should be kept and which ones are no longer needed.

Gather up the stuff that is no longer in use and either rent it out to a family in the neighborhood who could use it or donate to a local charity.

4. Set up a sharing playdate

Invite a few of your child’s friends over for a playdate and ask them to bring a few of their own toys to share. When everyone has arrived label each person’s toys so they don’t get confused.

Then, pull out a timer and explain that everyone gets to choose one toy to play with for 5-10 minutes and when the timer rings, it will be time to trade toys.

At the end of the party you might consider seeing if each child would like to take home a borrowed or rented toy to reiterate the concept of properly caring for borrowed items and returning them at a later date.

For San Diego parents, The Sharing Exchange is a great place to facilitate the borrowing/sharing/renting of toys within your community. At the end of your ‘sharing party’ take two minutes to list your toys on the online marketplace then swap renting with a friend. This way no one will forget whose is whose and will also help keep track of when it is due back!

Even if you set your rental price at $5, it shows your child that we are “borrowing” and it will be due back soon! Very similar to the checkout process at the library.

No matter what approach or methods you choose, always remember to approach teaching your children with understanding, patience and kindness.

Sharing is hard, so celebrate the successes and work together to create a caring and supportive home environment. Developing a healthy ability to share will only improve as your child finds success and has positive experiences!

When you focus on doing the right things yourself your child will learn through osmosis and be well on his or her way to being a generous, compassionate human being.

Ps: Have you taken our quiz, “What is your child’s play personality”? This is a great way to better understand how your child plays! We even offer a free guide with suggestions for different toys and activities curated specifically for your child’s play personality! Click here to take our quiz.

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