Dear Mom with Toddlers,
I salute you. The struggle is REAL. Toddlers are like lap dogs that think they are Rottweilers. Gone are the days of long naps in the bouncer...when they were all precious and immobile.
Now, they are ready to take over your land and place their flag upon your soil.
Hang in there my friend.
One time I was alone in the store (yes, the heavens were open and I could hear angels singing.) I caught myself mindlessly watching a little girl melt down about a toy she couldn’t have. I briefly made eye contact with the frazzled mom and I instantly recognized her embarrassment. “I have four!” I quickly said, “My daughter was screaming because she couldn’t strip naked in this line just yesterday.” She visibly relaxed and we laughed. I have a theory that more people have “been there” than we realize. Many people are doing a lot more sympathizing than judging.
Manage your self doubt.
Crazy, brain frazzling behaviors are a normal part of toddlerhood. Tantrums in Costco, check. Ripping off diaper and painting crib with poop, check. Coloring all of face and body with permanent marker before going to a fancy production of the Nutcracker, check. These are probably not signs of bad parenting or a “spoiled child”, they are signs that you have a two or three year old.
Have a sense of humor.
I get uptight when I’m stressed, but my sister-in-law taught me a trick for my own sanity: laugh it off. Public fits are especially stressful. It’s embarrassing, and it’s easy to feel judged. There is not much you can do about your screaming kid in a check out line—they are going to keep on screaming, but you can wink at the person behind you, laugh, and say, “She’s very soft spoken.”
Usually I find people will relax and laugh with me.
Hold the line with things that will keep you sane.
There are a some things that I won’t budge on for my own survival. One of those is letting my toddlers walk in the grocery store. I have discovered that releasing them into the wild mostly means me chasing them down aisles, saying “No, not today”, and picking up canned goods off the floor. After about ten minutes I’m all done, but since they’ve tasted freedom—getting them back in the cart is like capturing a wild cat. So for me, the cart seatbelt stays on. If there are things you can do to save your sanity, it’s worth it for you and them.
Pacifiers and Potty Training.
There are some things to focus on and some to let go. My wise cousin Grace told me, “You know they aren’t going to still be doing that in kindergarten, so don’t worry about it”.
A lot of things will work themselves out; don’t stress about milestones happening too quickly.
Figure out what works for you.
Not all child-raising truths are created equal. Just because your BFF cuts up one-thousand veggies a day to keep in the diaper bag does not mean you have to, and vice-versa. For me, it’s easier to grab a box of snacks off the shelf and rip it open than to prepare ahead. Do what works for you.
Find your moments.
The toddler years are a lot of work, but are also a lot of fun. Don’t forget to laugh at their shenanigans and hilarious use of verbiage...and then go and book yourself a massage #MUCHdeserved.
My friend, you’re doing great. The craziness of toddlerhood is not a reflection on you as a parent. Some kids pass this stage gracefully, others, like chimpanzees on catnip. Either way, you’re not doing it wrong—this, this IS toddlerhood.