Toddlers are crazy. Straight up crazy. They kind of remind me of that drunk girl at the bar. The one who can’t walk straight, mascara is running down her face, and she is asking you to help her in the bathroom because she just can’t. Having two toddlers in the house now I have come up with 7 toddler proclamations.
Nothing in your house will ever be the same. We are in dire need of new couches. We are at the stage where you find a big blanket and just hide the couch. However, I can’t bring myself to spend the money on a new couch while I still have toddlers in the house. The couches have marker, pen, and paint all over the backside. The cushions are constantly being jumped on, made into forts, and don’t forget the spills. The other night my daughter was in her room going to bed. Or so I thought. Turns out she had a black crayon in her room and decided to make her bedroom artwork. The door, the walls, the little pink Pottery Barn chair, her wooden toy box, all now covered in black crayon. I could go on because every room in our house has been touched by a toddler tornado. This sucks and it is so frustrating, but remember this: Messes can be cleaned up!! I can wipe up toothpaste that has been squeezed all over the sink, I can fish out the toilet paper shoved in the toilet, I can buy a Magic Eraser and scrub the wall. I can’t get back this time in their life when curiosity and actively engaging in their world reigns supreme. Think of this a great time to do a lot of sensory play to develop creativity and imagination. While I can’t stop these messes, I can allow for areas and times when they let their imagination grow and messy play is allowed.
Naked and free. I am not sure about your house, but here being naked and running free go hand in hand. This is not always convenient. When trying to get other children dressed and ready for either school or sports I find that at the exact moment I think we are ready to go, I notice a naked toddler smiling with glee, arms spread wide, opening the door to the backyard and running wild. Time for bed? Toddlers nowhere to be found? I often find them hiding in the closet naked and laughing so hard. Time for a dance party? Better do that naked. There is nothing like shaking a bare booty. This isn’t always cute and fun, but try to remember they are learning boundaries, they are pushing limits, and being naked does feel good. How many of us love to take off our restrictive clothing at the end of the day for some stretchy pants? Remember not to overreact. If time allows, let them be naked. If they need to be dressed, try dressing them in clothes harder to remove like overalls. Also, take pictures so you can embarrass them later in life. This is just a stage and by the time they are in kindergarten they won’t be so ready to run around naked.
Food is just food– repeat. I am making spaghetti because kids love spaghetti. Nope not tonight. Tonight my kids think it makes a nice body scrub and hair gel. Tomorrow they will be asking for spaghetti for lunch and crying that there is none left. I buy American cheese for my kids because for awhile it was the only cheese they would eat. Now one of my toddlers will beg for it, cry and cry until it is in hand, and as soon as he puts it in his mouth he opens his mouth and just lets it fall to the ground. To add a little something extra, he likes to then rub his toes in it. I know you all have similar stories. The pouring out of drinks, throwing food on the ground just because, wanting fruit snacks for every meal, loving bananas and suddenly just hating them for no reason, or just not eating at all. Food refusal is totally normal. Some speculate it is a way for toddlers to not poison themselves in this newly mobile and curious stage. Though any person who has seen some of the things toddlers eat may not agree with that! Toddlers are also leveling out in growth so they may not be hungry. If they aren’t hungry but you keep putting food in front of them they are going to play with it. It is like a whole plate full of sensory learning. Remember do not pressure your child into eating because the more you demand they eat they more they will say no because they are learning how to assert themselves and take control of things in their life. If you say no they will say no right back— food should not become a power struggle.
It is gonna take you forever to go anywhere. Time for dance class? As soon as I get my daughter dressed and turn around she is laughing and taking off her clothes. It seems like she just knows we have to be somewhere. Be prepared for a game of chase or hide and seek. At that moment they will want to color more than anything else in the world. Time to go pick up siblings or make it to a doctor’s appointment? It will be this moment they are so hungry, so thirsty, decide to throw a fit, and will have to change clothes. It is always something with toddlers! Toddlers need more time to transition from one activity to the other and the faster we try to rush them, the more they are going to rebel. Give them ample time, let them know in advance what is going to happen, and just build in an extra 30 minutes. You can help out the situation by having everything you need packed and ready before you start getting your toddler ready. Be patient!
Why do they always have to run? I am leaving the gym and my toddler runs ahead, out the door, and straight toward the parking lot. I kick it into high gear and chase that kid down. Of course, he thinks this is a game and just keeps running. When I sternly tell him no and repeat it more than once he innocently gazes up and says, “No?” He has no idea this is dangerous. It won’t stop him from doing it again. So what are some things to do? Show your toddler where they can run and allow them plenty of opportunity to run free. Sometimes they run because they are bored, so when out in public bring snacks, drink, or small toys to entertain them. Sometimes we make walking around places a game by holding hands and pretending we are a train, if there are other siblings to participate it makes it more fun, and don’t forget to add the train noises— kids love that! Of course, sometimes you just have to make sure they are strapped in someplace and can’t escape, they have to be told why it is dangerous, and they need to be praised when they listen.
You gotta watch what you say. Toddlers mimic everything. Mommy using her cell = daughter pretending to chat, text, and take pictures on her toy phone. Mommy putting on makeup means at some point you are gonna find your son wearing lipstick and eyeshadow. Sometimes it is super cute when they mimic us. Then there are times when you let out an- Oh, sh*t! – and your son just can’t stop saying it. What about when you let your daughter try to buckle her carseat only to hear her say- D**n it!- when she gets frustrated. Well, I guess this is mostly on us as parents so we have to keep it clean or use ridiculous words like fudge and shazam. Try not to laugh or have them repeat it so you can get a video because it sends mixed messages. Be honest and say, “Mommy, shouldn’t have said that. It isn’t a nice word.” If the words are not quite so bad but still not appropriate (like calling someone stupid or a fart face) make sure to explain those aren’t nice words, they can hurt feelings, and try to help them come up with better ways to express frustration.
Enjoy them. Relish the moments when they hug you, grab your hand, and say I love you. Toddlers can drive you up a wall, make you lock yourself in the bathroom, and drive you to day drinking, but they are also so loving and affectionate. If my son and I are playing and he is having a good time, he comes over and gives me a big kiss and says he loves me. My daughter will just grab me out of the blue to hug me and say I am her best friend. They are so quick with a thank you for the smallest thing. They will snuggle up with you, ask if you are ok, and just give you unconditional love. It is the best feeling.
They are like that drunk girl in the bathroom because she is a hot mess but if you help her out she will throw her arms around you, tell you she loves you, and declare you are best friends for life. Toddlers are so much work but if you put in the time, take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment they make it worthwhile.