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My sweet, easy, always-smiling baby guy recently got
the memo on the two's and morphed, seemingly overnight, into a full on go-home-you're-drunk
Toddler Menace. It's been… challenging. On the one hand, his demands seem
random and nonsensical. On the other, he's clearly making lots of sense of the big world around him and discovering his own
place within it as a person with preferences and feelings all his own.
still mostly wonderfully smiley and
sweet, but sometimes his preferences and feelings are… shall we say… strong, and he flips his two-year-old sh*t.
When that happens, my response generally falls into one of
A) Rolling With It
(pick your battles, right?) ,
B) Calling It (sometimes
you have to step in)
everything, holding little man close and telling him yes, life can be hard but
he is so loved and he will get the hang of it.
Read on for 10 of our recent random toddler problems and the
solution that's worked best for each.
Otto insists on bringing fruit to bed each night. Apples, oranges, that kind of thing. He also changes his mind
some 10 to 20 times each evening before finally settling on which fruit he
prefers. This process is not only time consuming, it also bruises our fruit (he often drops it on the way to the bedroom) but
I've gone with Solution A: Some kids have a blankie, Otto has avocado. Who am I
to judge? I like to use opportunities in which I don't have to step in to
instead step back and allow my kids to take some ownership over those choices
they can make for themselves. I think it also helps them, in turn, accept my
interventions when I do need to step in and make decisions for them.
2. "I do it myself!"
Like most toddlers, Otto likes to do things himself whenever
he can. The thing is, he's still little, and sometimes he just literally… can't.
Recently, we were trying to get out the door and he really, really wanted to
put his own rainboots on. He tried, unsuccessfully and with mounting
frustration for a good 20 minutes, refusing any offers of help. I finally had to go with Solution B ("Let's
put the boots away and wear some sneakers, dude."), which of course he
didn't love. The following day, in a carefully chosen moment of calm, I showed
him how to step right into his rainboots; he was thrilled, and he can do it all
by himself from now on.
3. "MOMMY DOES IT. NO NOT OTTO NOT DADDY ONLY MOMMY
This one comes up a lot and is always totally random. Who
puts Otto's fork on the table, who's reading the book, who's pouring paint for
a project… If it's an easy enough "fix" we'll shrug, go with Solution
A and move on but sometimes it's a Solution B because yelling at the people who
are pouring your paint never got anyone anywhere. (If he takes issue with this
Solution C is a perfect follow-up.)
Wardrobe changes, all day everyday. Sweaters on, sweaters off. Socks on, socks off.
4. Diaper drama
I have to hand it to Otto. He toilet trained himself before
he even turned two. We still use diapers at night, though, and sometimes he
insists on wearing one during the day. I don't know why. This is definitely a Solution A, though. I trust
that most of my kids' big "milestones" are things they'll do on their
own, when they're ready, and that there's no need for parental expectations
leading to mutual frustration around them. Otto will let the diaper go when
he's ready. That's one thing I don't need to stress myself—or him—out
5. 3 A.M.
Otto's been a star sleeper from the get-go. So on the rare night when he wakes up at 3 A.M. and wants all manner
of activity, entertainment or beverage service (he has a water bottle by the
bed but that's where I draw the line,) the answer is no. It's sleep time.
Shhhh. Solution B. Goodnight.
6. Mad/Sad About Everything
This is a solution C. It's hard being human. (Note that this also usually only lasts for about five to ten minutes and invariably ends in an impromptu face-down nap.)
7. He wants his brother's toothbrush
My kids are really good about sharing, older bro in
particular. But toothbrushes just aren't one of those things they can swap
around. What does Otto want more than anything in the world, then? Of
course. Kaspar's toothbrush. It is
pretty awesome; it talks like Darth Vader and lights up. But so is Otto's
light-up Hello Kitty toothbrush. That he chose. And his Storm Trooper one that
was originally Kaspar's but that he stole ("I be vewy caweful!") and
put in his mouth. So now we're at a firm Solution B. Kaspar's toothbrush is out
of Otto's reach, off-limits, not for sharing. Sorry, dude.
8. Body temperature probs.
Wardrobe changes, all day everyday. Sweaters on, sweaters
off. Socks on, socks off. Otto's not quite able to dress himself yet, so this interrupts whatever I'm doing constantly. If I try to divert
his attention to something else Otto says "I cold. I COLD! FWEEZING!"
I generally go with Solution A. I want to show that I trust Otto's body-status
feedback, even if I know it's total bull. (He's not cold, y'all.) Maybe he just
needs to feel cozy. In any case, I do what I can.
The kid gets in these moods when he must be held. If I'm in the middle of making dinner and the clock
is ticking toward bedtime (aka meltdown o'clock), I have to ask him to wait
(Solution B). If I'm able to stop what I'm doing or multitask, the
Ergo back-carry is my bestie (Solution A), while I remind myself
that he's craving connection and he won't want me to hold him forever.
10. "I get down!"
The opposite of number 9, of course. As soon as I need to
hold Otto (or sit him in a grocery cart or whatever) he wants to get down
and walk around. Again, I try to oblige and we have some epically slow grocery
trips, let me tell ya. But if it's unsafe, he just has to deal. Pro tip: I have
found that heading off these situations works better than trying to navigate
them in the moment. For example, I bought a wagon with two seats that face each
other. My boys LOVE riding in it, never suspecting that it's
basically the equivalent of a double stroller, keeping them contained when I need them that way.
There are more where this list came from—endless
variations on toddler tantrum t riggers—but this pretty much covers the
basics. What kind of toddler probs are you facing these days, and what
solutions do you have on stand-by?