As I face the last few months of toddlerhood with my third daughter, I know she will be my last toddler. With each child it got easier and more fun, and I think it was because I had more experience. I was also less concerned about a tantrum, a treat or a skipped nap by the time I got to the third kid. I don’t stress as much about eating, phases, sleep and those types of things.
All that said, navigating life with a toddler-in-tow has its challenges.
1 | Communication is Key. Communication, for me, is about managing expectations. Toddlers understand WAY MORE than they let on. This isn’t a manipulative thing, make no mistake, they just simply can’t always communicate with you in the way that you’ll understand them, but you can communicate to them in ways they’ll understand you. Talk in short sentences with clear expectations outlined. You can be sure that if you tell her you will take her to the play area in the mall later and you don’t follow through (because you didn’t think she understood you anyway), she may throw a tantrum. Communicate to her and presume that she is understanding you.
2 | Use Distraction. My girls fight amongst themselves all the time. The older ones get angry the toddler takes their toys and things, and they try to yank it out of her hands and oh boy, here come the crocodile tears. I tell my big girls to just give her something else that she can have in exchange, and she’ll happily pass you back your item. It works every time!
3 | Pick your battles. It’snot worth sticking to your guns if your two and half year old doesn’t want to wear the red socks today. He may have a favourite pair of pajamas he wants to wear every single night. Who cares! Wash them during the day – these types of ‘fights’ with a two year old are simply not worth your energy.
4 | Let go of the Frustration. I know it’s frustrating when they won’t go down for a nap. You had your heart set on some serious quiet time, your magazine all picked out, your to-do list or your blog post ready to be written. You depend on naptime for your sanity. I get it. Bedtime? Same thing. Put that baby gate up, let them play, don’t stress. These phases are tough and feel endless when you’re inside them, but they do pass. Then you’ll be on to the next lovely phase! One of the things we do when she won’t nap and I really needed her to, is put on her favourite show, Max & Ruby. We sit on the couch together, and I make her a chocolate milk. I might have my laptop on my lap (ok, always), but she’s resting and I’m getting stuff done. It’s all good.
I have to say, I have enjoyed this last toddlerhood much more than my previous two daughers’. It’s not because she’s easier (perhaps a little), but I’m definitely more laid back about all of it. Her non-eating phase (still happening) does bother me some days, but I look at my 8-yr old who was JUST AS picky, and now she eats almost everything we do. So I think it just gets easier if you can relax a little and take it all in day by day.
by Connie Peters, mom to three beautiful girls and co-publisher Urban Infant Inc. & Modern Mama Inc. founder.