SOS! I’m new to life with a toddler. It is NOT for the weak! My eldest daughter is loving, smart, empathetic, and oh, so sassy! She is two going on twenty-two, and I’m here for it (drinking wine through it).
In my career, I’ve worked closely with children and families, so I like to think I have a variety of experiences with toddler behaviors. But, boy, nothing could have prepared me for this phase of life! This is why I’m hoping I can share here what I have learned (so far) and what has worked for our family during these increasingly exhausting, exciting, and disagreeable times.
Perhaps to support other parents or stand in solidarity with those of you in the thick of it. Either way, may we all commiserate while remaining present and grateful for what we have (wine)—okay, just kidding (our kids and wine).
Here’s what I’ve gathered thus far about toddlers.
1. We’ll never do it perfectly, and that’s okay.
We are exactly the parent our kids need, and perfect is overrated! Besides, all you need is love.
2. Meltdowns are normal, and they will happen A LOT.
Let them. It’s easy for us as parents to be overly attuned to the emotions of others, especially those who may also witness our kiddo’s big feelings (aka all of Target, the neighbors, outer space…you know). It’s okay to let our kids feel; it’s healthy if other people don’t like it; too bad!
Wild idea, right? Wrong. Giving our kids the space to exist is more valuable than you think. This is why I bring the bare minimum everywhere we go and never offer electronics in a confined space (think anywhere with four walls that’s not our home).
4. Be together outside.
What I’ve noticed about these toddler years (year?) is that my daughter constantly seeks connection. It doesn’t matter if we spend every single minute together; she wants more minutes and moments and togetherness. I find that she is calmer, more regulated, and easier to encourage on the days that we connect in nature. We will never not enjoy time in nature together; it’s our greatest joy.
5. Remind yourself (and everyone else who needs to hear it) that these moments are fleeting.
You will NEVER have this day again. I’m not saying the days aren’t stressful, the nights aren’t exhausting, and the frustration isn’t real. I’m just saying. If we are here now, nothing else can truly matter.