Miss Kinley is 1 year old and we have officially hit toddlerhood. Heaven, help me! It seems like kids change so quickly from being babies to being toddlers, and I wonder where the time went? On the one hand, this is one of my favorite stages! I love seeing her learn so much every day and start to do things on her own. It’s amazing to see a child who was primarily crawling a couple weeks ago pretty much take off running this week! She is also trying to feed herself with utensils, which at our house means “one bite for me, one for bow-wow (our dog, Berkeley).” If she doesn’t really like something, it’s more like “all for bow-wow” or a huge mess on the floor! It’s so neat to see her doing new things and developing her personality.
On the other hand, it’s also one of the most exhausting stages. Now that she is walking she can get places faster, which means more chasing around for me! It also means she absolutely refuses to sit still…which makes going out to eat, sitting in church, or pretty much doing anything in public virtually impossible. Bribing her with snacks only buys a short amount of time before it’s a full-on scream fest until you let her down. And it’s not enough to just let her down…we have to come with her wherever she goes!
In addition, with toddlerhood comes curiosity, and in Kinley’s case, downright orneriness! This is something I have noticed in her for a while, but it is really coming to light lately because she is starting to understand the word “no,” and wants to see what happens if she continues to do that which she has been told not to. Usually she looks at me, smiles, and then does it anyway! Also, all this curiosity and orneriness usually lead to a BIG mess! I do not remember our older daughter getting into things as much as this little girl does, but it seems that everywhere she goes she is pulling everything off of shelves or out of drawers, and throwing it ALL over the floor! It drives me CRAZY! Being a hugely pregnant mama, it’s not so easy for me to run around after her and pick everything up! Plus, when I do, she just pulls it out all over again! It’s a never-ending cycle.
For me it seems like toddlerhood is the stage that brings the most amount of change, in the shortest amount of time. With that change and all those developmental milestones comes a lot of celebration. But it also brings a lot of frustration for moms, even if you have the best-behaved child. If you are the mom of a well-behaved toddler, PLEASE feel free to send me a manual!! But for the rest of us, I’ve put together a few tips to help us all survive toddlerhood, or any stage of parenthood for that matter
- Embrace the mess. This one is hard for me. I really hate having toys and stuff everywhere. But at this point in my pregnancy I’m pretty much out of energy by mid-morning. So I am just resolving myself to let her make her mess and pick it up at the end of the day. I just don’t have energy for the cycle. So you have been forewarned, if you come over to my house you’re just going to have to be prepared for a mess!
- Babyproof. For safety, make sure that everything on her level is ok for her to play with…there aren’t any breakables or hazards. Outlets have covers, cleaning supplies and other chemicals are out of reach. Toilet paper is out of reach. (This one isn’t babyproofing…it’s just to save your own sanity.) Also, you’d be surprised at how high a little one can reach…so beware of food and other items close to the edge of a table or counter, especially if they’re hot.
- Teach your child to help. Toddlerhood is a great time to start teaching your child to help you do things. Your child is constantly watching you, and wants to do what you do. So if you’re cleaning up the kitchen, give your child a towel or baby wipe and let them “clean” things too. When you’re picking up toys, have them throw things in the basket. Attempting to make dinner? Have a drawer in the kitchen just for them filled with things they can also use to “cook.” Frankly, this is going to take much more time and probably cause an even bigger mess than just doing it yourself. But if your child is having fun and learning while doing so, then you’re much more likely to be able to get that task done than if they’re just screaming for your attention. (In the interest of full disclosure: the screaming may still happen regardless of how much fun you’re trying to make emptying the dishwasher seem).
- Remember, you’re the expert on your child. No matter what stage of development your child is in, there are experts with all sorts of opinions about the best way to raise him/her. This is especially prevalent in the transition to toddlerhood. There are lots of questions: when to wean from the bottle or nursing, what foods to feed your child, crib or co-sleep, when to take away the paci, etc. It seems like so many experts have conflicting opinions and it’s hard to know whose advice to follow. When it comes to health and safety concerns, it’s important to consult with your doctor and get their expert advice. However, for more minor questions it’s important to do what works for your family. You are the one who knows your child best; and while it’s great to read all these baby books and get advice (solicited or unsolicited) from family and friends, in the end you need to do what makes your child happy and healthy.
- Seek out support. Raising children is the hardest job in the world. Every child is different, so even if you have ten kids the experience with each one is going to be unique. It’s important to have friends you can talk with, to share the joys and the frustrations of parenthood with! If you don’t have many mommy friends or don’t know anyone in the area, come to one of our meet-ups or our Mom’s Night Out that is coming up on June 3rd! These events are a perfect place to meet other moms, and make new friends that know exactly what you’re going through!
- Take a break. That sounds SOO good right about now, doesn’t it? Being a parent is extremely rewarding, but it is also extremely exhausting. Sometimes you just need a couple hours, or at least a couple minutes, to take a breath and clear your head. Especially if it’s been a particularly rough day. Get your spouse to take the kids for a while, hire a sitter, or find a friend to trade childcare with. Take some time to go for a walk, head to Barnes & Noble and look at gossip mags, or enjoy a nice, hot shower without having someone banging on the door or screaming for you to come out! (Unless it’s your husband in need of a break already!)
These are just a few tips, but I KNOW you all have more. So please share the benefit of your wisdom with us and leave a comment with a few tips of your own for surviving toddlerhood!