My 10 Tips for Raising Toddlers :: Lake City, FL Photographer

Ok. So I follow a few blogs. A couple nights ago I got the email for the update from a blog called, “The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.” Her newest blog post was, “My Top Ten Life Lessons for New Moms” which you can read here. It got me thinking…..first, about how many of those I wish I knew when I first had my oldest & what advice I would give……then of course, as my girls are 2 (almost 3) & 4, I realized I may do better writing about what I know NOW versus, trying to remember way back then….I know it’s not that far ago, but seems like it which is why the idea of another newborn scares me.

So, here we go on a completely non-photography related blog (but there will be pictures). Let me say, this is my opinion, take it, laugh at it, disagree with it, all okay. It’s just an opinion & kinda a way to remind me how to remember they are just toddlers…..

The Toddler Years....

My little monkeys

1) Expect the unexpected.  Turning the corner to find a streaking toddler? Been there. Poop on the floor? Yep. Climbing up the side of the staircase? uh-huh. They explore. It’s how they learn & grow & test their boundaries. So, anything is possible. If you’re lucky to have a mild mannered toddler the surprises may not be as much, but if you have a “strong willed” child be prepared for anything.

2) Tantrums happen….everywhere.  Again, while testing their boundaries they test you. In the car, at the store, everywhere. It can happen out of the blue because they dropped their cup or you said you were out of their favorite snack. Of course, it happens expectantly too when you say, “no” and other “mean mommy” things. What do you do? Well, that choice is best made by each mom for her family, but what I always did was ignore it as long as possible. Often this simple trick stops the tantrum faster as they are not getting the reaction they expected. If that doesn’t work, we did time out starting at 18 months with both girls. Yes, the tantrum continues in time out, but they start learning there are consequences for their actions & you learn by the end of the day & the 50th tantrum why some moms drink or lock themselves in the bathroom to soak in the tub as soon as daddy gets home (whatever maintains your sanity).The Toddler Years

3) Your days of going to the bathroom alone are gone…at least for now. That’s right. No matter what they are doing as soon as you close they door they find you to see what you’re doing, ask for snacks, drink refills etc…. That’s why this quote always cracks me up.

4) If you have two, buy two of everything. This is a lesson my husband has yet to learn. If you have two kids (especially the same sex), when you buy something for one, you have to for the other (excluding birthdays). Simply because you want to avoid said tantrums listed at #2. My hubby came home from the store Monday with a new chair for Cayden….yet was surprised when they fought over it & I asked if he got one for Kylie……????

4) You will be told your mean. This is towards the later stage, nearing preschool age (unless your younger one picks it up from the older like mine did). Whether it be in a look they give or they actually use the words, you get the message. You are a mean mommy. Granted, you put them in time out or took a toy away they were fighting over. How dare we? But, I was thinking the “I don’t love you anymore” my girls say (fabulous right?), wouldn’t start till pre-teen years, but yet we are already there. It doesn’t phase me & my response is always, “well, I love you.” I am tempted to cry next time & see if they feel bad, but I am not sure if that will warp them in some way….. Either way, it’s another way to test you & their boundaries. I resolve not to give in. Actually, the tantrums & things make me less likely to give in as it bothers (let’s say annoys)  me. But they have yet to figure out, “you get more flies with sugar” so this is where we are at.

5) They give the BEST hugs. Maybe it’s just me, but I think my girls give the best hugs. With full force, all they have (especially Kylie who gives you her full weight). I love it.  Everything listed above tends to disappear as soon as they hug me. I’m a softy that way.

6) The things they say will surprise you. Sometimes good, like when Kylie first said, “probably because I am hungry.” Or bad, those times they repeat words where you either have no idea (or sometimes know exactly) where they heard them….in front of other moms or worse, at church. With the Facebook revolution we tend to share the really funny or heartwarming ones with each other. Which I think is fabulous. Reminds us all we are not alone. 🙂

7) Potty Training is a Marathon, not a sprint. I realize there were some kids who did it in 3 days & never had an accident after, but for many of us it’s a daily battle. Cleaning poo out of underwear, pee of the floor, etc… Running to the bathroom mid conversation at a party because they “have to go pee pee”, but you do it knowing in the end, they will be potty trained & will go by themselves without you. Which is just a step closer to growing up.

The toddler Years

shaving cream painting

8) Anything Messy = FUN! Having a toddler seems to be controlled chaos. Messes everywhere. You feel like you are constantly walking around picking up, cleaning up only to turn around & realize the tornado hit again. Ugh. I have found if I introduce messy fun in a “controlled” way (for me at least) it’s easier. What do I mean? Yesterday I brought out the shaving cream. Not to shave, to play. I put piles of it on plates (outside of course), stripped the girls down & let them do what they wanted. Knowing it would get everywhere, all over them, all over me. But they loved it. Laughed, played, no fighting, no arguing, just fun. And since it’s almost June, it’s hot so I set up the small pool & they “cleaned off” in there. Cayden went back & forth covering herself with shaving cream then washing off & repeat. No mess in the house. The girls were outside. There were no fights & everyone had fun. I looked like a fun mom. Hooray!  I think later this summer we will do pudding painting (same idea, just chocolate & vanilla pudding….eating, painting, mess everywhere, but the hose ready to spray them off!).

9) “You want to go OUT to eat?” I have to say, when my oldest hit the toddler years, we basically decided to stay home. Mainly because going out to eat was a carousel of  picking up food off the floor, telling her to sit down, moving things out of her reach, etc… as she got older we gave in & did the whole “movie on the iPhone” thing which did work AMAZINGLY (& is still our go to tool for nice dinners out today), but before that it was hard. You couldn’t hold a conversation & once they were done eating you had to leave. Whether your were done or not. When number 2 came along, it only got harder……until recently. We see the light. There have been times where they have been great…..& times where I wanted to pull my hair out (this past Tuesday for instance…..man). But our job as parents is to teach them to act civilized in public right? So, to do that we must be in public. But man, I see why people often hate sitting next to tables of young kids (which is why if I’m out without kids I help those parents trying…..good for them). Now, my best friend’s oldest was amazing at restaurants. I was always in shock. Happily coloring, eating, playing. Not fair. If that’s your kid, you are so lucky! Just find what works for your kid & stick with it. My oldest LOVES stickers. We buy a new sticker book, cheap coloring book & she’s set until we are done eating. It’s great.

10) This Too Shall Pass. The toddler years can be hard. Wearing on you. Going places seems daunting, constantly being tested & everything else. But it’s all worth it. Like with the newborn zombie like state due to lack of sleep, this passes. It’s not all bad. There are some AMAZING moments watching your kids grow. There are moments where you “see the light at the end of the tunnel”. So as you are frustrated, give yourself some down time to relax & enjoy life. The little moments, big moments & crazy moments. It will be gone before we know it & they will be dating, asking for car keys & not listening for different reasons than they do now….well kinda. The toddler years

I read a quote once that “having a 2 year old is kinda like running the blender with the top off”….pretty much true. It’s messy, it’s crazy, but it’s fun. 🙂 That’s it. 10 things I need to remind myself daily of & remember when I consider number 3. 🙂

Thanks all!

xoxo

Melody

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