It has been over two years since I last mused on all I’ve learned as a parent of one. My daughter is now three and every day is a roller coaster of emotions and laughs. She’s spirited. Yes. We will go with that euphemism. Here are some things I’ve learned as a mom of a toddler. A lot has changed since my last list.
20 Things I Know as a Mom of a Toddler
- I know NOTHING. I have more questions than answers. Questions like, is this karma? Wait, we don’t spank anymore, right? Time out? Time in? When can she have bubble gum? Are we still waiting on molars? Which leads right into…
- I’m still addicted to Googling all things parenting. That doesn’t mean I listen, but I definitely still ask.
- She is simultaneously more, yet less, predictable. For example, in a zoomed out sense, I can tell you how bedtime will go each night. That was not so three years ago. That’s so satisfying to me, a creature of habit and sleep addiction. However, I could have never guessed that hugging and kissing mommy and daddy in the wrong order would cause a 30-minute meltdown. See, unpredictable!
- Tantrums. My girl is a pro. When I would ask my parent friends what they did in a tantrum situation they would say, “Sure, my kids have tantrums. Oh, wait, in public? No, they never do that.” Guess I’m just #blessed. Don’t worry about what other people think in that situation. Either they have been there and can empathize or they barely notice. Or they are silently judging (hopefully silently) and why do I care about that? Who are you?
- On my first list, I was so pleased with the attention my singing and dancing received from my adoring infant. Now I get, “Please don’t sing.” Okay, I’ll just bob my head. “Can you please don’t dance with your head?” I’ll consider it a success that she said please.
- Kind of related, some of my most hilarious jokes are wasted on my kid. I’m dropping gems all over the place and she doesn’t even know!
- I have learned to let her ‘do it herself’ as much as possible. Clothes, buckling, getting food and drink, turning off the TV, using my chapstick. Getting in the car seat is the longest two minutes of my day. She wants so much to be in charge, so as long as it’s safe and we have an extra half hour, I let her.
- I am learning so much about patience, mainly during tantrums, fits, and sassing bouts. If I can hold it together, things always go more smoothly. She can’t help an outburst, I can. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.
- A practical tip – use a timer! Toddlers don’t like to stop the fun, but if it’s really time to move on to the next activity, sometimes a timer helps. Or I will say, “Once more down the slide, and then it’s time to leave.” When she knows what to expect, it can make an exit easier.
- I have learned that I don’t want another kid. I always thought I wanted two, but our family feels complete. That was difficult to accept at first, but I know it’s what is right for our family and it’s OKAY!
- I previously pointed out how caring for your own baby is way different than caring for other babies. I will double down on that one. I lasted one quarter in the church nursery before asking to switch to the preschool room. We’ll talk when you’re potty trained, other kids.
- I love toddlers and preschoolers! I love, love, love their little minds and jokes and silliness. They are completely un-self-conscious. Their joy is so pure and visible. You should see the dance my daughter does when she gets a bite of a donut. We all feel that way about donuts, but adults tend to play it cool. I’m jealous of her freedom of spirit. If we could only keep some of that into adulthood!
- I mentioned sleep a lot in my last post. Our strict sleep schedule has been mostly a blessing but sometimes a curse. It began in response to the crazy colic no sleeping months. We frequently choose to miss activities for naps and bedtime. It’s hard for my daughter to nap in any conditions besides what she is used to. She is well trained but at the expense of spontaneity and flexibility. That type of schedule wouldn’t be an option if we had another child or a different lifestyle, but I’m glad to know she is getting the rest she needs for her health and my mental health.
- I still buy almost everything for our daughter second hand. We really don’t spend much money at all on her clothes or toys. This gives us more money for experiences, which I find much more valuable, especially as a working mom of a toddler. Our time together is so precious.
- With great personality comes great opinions and willpower. I love that my daughter knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it. It’s not fun when it’s the opposite of what I want, though. I try to be generous when I can because I don’t want that strong spirit to be extinguished.
- I have deep feelings! Since having a child, I feel a lot more in tune with my sensitive side. I cry at things or have to avoid things that wouldn’t have affected me five years ago. It’s pretty cool! Pass the tissue!
- Adventures are so much more fun when I see them through her eyes! A baseball game, a train ride, even a simple grocery trip can become a whole new experience with a toddler in tow. I laugh so hard at all her comments and observations when we walk through Target.
- I use something I read in a Cynthia Tobias book frequently. It seems simple but just ask yourself, ‘Does it matter?’ Does it REALLY matter that her clothes don’t match? No. Does it REALLY matter when she uses up the baby wipes while helping mama clean? No. If I don’t draw a line in the sand, we don’t have to butt heads when she immediately tests it. Things like respect and courtesy do matter and will always be enforced. Save the drama for the important stuff!
- I’m realizing more than ever how much my own parents influenced my parenting. That’s a whole separate blog post.
- What works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you and vice versa. Obviously. Always. Be cool to each other.
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