My baby has become a fully-fledged toddler. Now she has been two since April, but what I mean is that she is at that delightful ‘no I wont!’, ‘do it myself!’, and ‘I WANT to!’ stage – all with the accompanying meltdowns when she (usually) doesn’t get her way. She gets over her tantrums fairly quickly but I am all about avoiding them in the first place!
It is no accident that ‘the toddler years’ have had volumes written about them, and we need all the information we can get to keep the battleground as even as possible! Yet we still struggle (well at least I do ) with the daily hassles that doing nearly everything with a toddler can bring. So I am writing down a few techniques that I use not only for the purpose of this blog but also to refresh my own memory.
Whether it is the morning rush, heading out on a play-date or picking up the siblings from school, give yourself at least double the time. Any parents from my children’s school could tell you that I am nearly always making a mad dash to get there before the bell rings! Why? Because I still (somehow..) forget that jumping into the car and making the five minute journey is no longer an option. I need to add on 10 minute wake up and cuddle time (after nap), 3 minute change inevitable ‘stinky nappy’ time, 2 minute ‘explain what we are doing next’ time, and a good 15 minute put on ‘mine own’ shoes/coat time. So whereas I used to prepare for a 1.40pm pick up at 1.25pm, I really need to begin the process at 1.00pm. Next week I’ll be better I swear.
As time consuming as it is, letting toddlers do what they can on their own is not only brilliant for their personal development, it can also take the angst out of trying to get things done. Rather than battling them into their coats or hurrying them through a meal they don’t like, encourage some independence. For example, my little girl is growing less and less appreciative of naptime, manifesting in a regular ‘I AM NOT GOING FOR A NAP’. So today, as she was protesting all the way up the stairs, I finally said, ‘can you climb into your cot (*) on your own?’ Well she was delighted to show off her skills and once in was happy to have a song and snuggle down. Result! So, if they can do it, let them do it. If toddlers have an element of control of the situation they will be far happier to go along with the plan.
Talk to your toddler. Tell them the whys and wherefores of what you want them to do before it becomes an issue.They may not necessarily understand it but if you take the time to say e.g. ‘we are getting dressed because we have to go to the shops and then when we get home we will have a story’, at least you are explaining the reason why; just remember to read the story when you get home. Which handily leads on to my next point.
Don’t cut corners:
When all the ‘I won’ts’ start, it can become increasingly tempting to skip a few of the normal steps that lead to a happy day. This is because (a) you are exhauted from the constant ‘toddlering’ and (b) you want to grapple back some of your own time as much as possible. The other day for example after I had gotten her into the cot I sang her a quick song and got ready to leave. Normally I sing two songs but I had loads to do so thought one would suffice. She called me out on it, as is a toddler’s wont, and after trying in vain to wriggle out of it, I inevitably sang the second song – I saved no time and in fact it cost me more time! So if you have an established routine, stick to it even if it takes a little longer than normal.
Count to 10:
When all you really want to do is fall to the floor screaming and crying that ‘no it is indeed not fair’ – step aside! Removing yourself and counting to ten when either yourself or your toddler is about to kick off is the best way to keep calm – the power of deep breathing is phenomenal in these cases too.
So when I remember to use these methods we get along like a house on fire. Hopefully it will help you too!
Thanks for reading
(*) The side of the cot is put up after she climbs in and I am in no way advocating letting your children climb where it could be dangerous!
I love feedback . Please feel free to add any thoughts or insights in comments below.