Toddlers are a funny breed. They’re the most amazing little beings – exploring everything around them, exclaiming at the smallest things, finding joy in almost everything they do. I am truly excited to wake up every single morning to see what amazing new things come along with parenting a toddler.
And just as I am excited to greet each day, I am absolutely wiped at the end of it. Because toddlers, amazing as they are, are exhausting.
And I don’t mean that because she wants to run around all day, which she does. I mean because toddlerhood is an age of testing boundaries, making sure their opinions are heard, and battling you ever step of the way.
So, just over a year into this toddler-hood adventure, I thought I’d put together a little post on what helps me to keep my sanity at the end of a particularly trying day. Those of you with experience, feel free to chime in!
- Pick. your. battles. Cannot stress this one enough. I have to remind myself of this one every other week when I go down the hole of perfection. After a couple of hours of trying to stop my tot from painting with yogurt, spilling her water over and over again, and running around the house I stop myself from nagging, reassess and try my best (ok, I don’t
alwaysoften success) to only comment on things that are harmful. Painting her arms, the table, and nose with yogurt? Easily washable…pretend not to care. Jumping up and down on the couch? Has and probably will again lead to a fall…count to 3 and remove from the couch. Hitting the dog or her sister? That one earns a time out.
- With above – pick a punishment suited for the crime. If I sent my tot to timeout for every single thing she tested me on (oh, and she loves to test right now), she’d be living there. Instead I try to be realistic. Running, walking or jumping on the couch results in 5 minutes of not being allowed to go on the couch. Throwing food from the table in an attempt to hit the dog ends meal time (due to her weight gain issues, she does get one more try at her meal 5 minutes later). Hitting, biting, etc earns a timeout.
- Along with picking your battles, try your best not to react. Toddlers love to test you. A reaction, positive or negative, is exactly what they are looking for. So if it’s not harmful, try not to react to it. For example, throwing markers from the table and then watching to see if I’ll ask her to stop or get annoyed or go to pick them up, usually ends with me just staring off into space, pretending I didn’t see it. After a minute or two this gets boring and she moves on. However, painting her hair with yogurt which requires a long, thorough bath immediately after while attempting to hold on to the infant will probably gain the reaction she wants from me – which means that we do this often.
- When there is a positive behavior, do react…positively. We praise and praise the repeat, even if it’s something trivial like throwing out her trash or listening to me when I say “stop.” Making a bigger deal out of small things tends to lead to repetition of said behavior and who doesn’t want a little tot that loves to help out?
- Get out of the house, as much as you can. I’m a morning person and so are my kids (I’m not sure if that’s by choice but that’s a whole nature versus nurture argument I’m not having right now). By 9:30am we’re all dressed, fed, and ready to get out the door (except Sundays…because, you know, it’s Sunday). The park, playground, beach, a friend’s house, library…whatever. We spend the mornings out because it means (1) something else other than me holds her interest (2) she behaves better out (3) same ol’ toys at home get boring (4) it wears her out for nap time and usually leads to a happier afternoon. After nap time we reassess the situation. Often the tot is in a foul mood, it’s 4pm by the time she’s up from her nap, and all I can think of is how long it would take for Chinese food to be ready so I didn’t have to make dinner. On those days we take it easy, maybe watch a movie or just try to hang on until daddy gets home. Other days, if the afternoon tot is particularly happy, we go out to a store or
Ok, parents – let’s hear your tips & tricks for raising toddlers.