Since T-bean’s latest stats from yesterday's 18-month doctor visit put him squarely in the “toddler” category (28.5 lbs, 33 inches tall!), it made me think about some of the parenting insights I've picked up during the past few months of dealing with an entirely different breed of child - the Toddler*. Of course, these only relate to my little man, so take and discount what you will.
- TV isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know, there’s probably many people out there who will completely disagree with this statement –and that’s ok. But I’ve found that after being active and playing hard all day with his friends at daycare (or with our neighborhood friends over the weekend) – T needs some downtime. I didn’t recognize this at first – and as he’s gotten older, he’s pushed back with a meltdown. So these days, when we get home at the end of the day, he climbs onto the couch and I turn on one of his favorite shows (I let him pick – usually Yo Gabba Gabba or Blue’s Clues) and he vegges out for a few minutes. Sometimes we sit together if he’s up for a snuggle – and sometimes he sits on the furthest end of the couch from me. But he sits, quietly. And he’s happy. And then he is content to get up, at his own pace and go to the stroller – because he’s had a few minutes to himself. And momma has decided a 24 minute episode isn’t going to kill him. Besides, this week, he picked up the word “Adios” - so he’s actually learning a little in the process.
- Saying good-bye to everything makes for a much easier transition. This might be a T-specific trait, but I’ve learned he is MUCH more willing to change-up his current activity if we say good-bye to it. It’s actually pretty cute. We say goodbye to EVERYTHING in sight, from the people (“Adios, daddy”) to the dog (“bye bye puppy, woof woof”) to our beverage of choice (“bye bye milk”). We even say good-bye to the TV characters we veg out with above (“bye bye Blue’s Clues”) with a wave and a blown kiss. I take it back, it’s not just pretty cute- it’s completely adorable. (As an aside to this, he also now tells me EXACTLY when he’s ready to leave wherever we are, by pointing to the door, waving, saying “bye bye” and making a “vroom” sound to indicate he’s ready to get into the car….Transitioning? Yes…Polite? Not really.)
- Counting is key. Along the same lines as helping with transitions to routines - we count before doing many different things "We're going to count to 10 before getting out of the bath," "We're going to count to 5 and then it's time to have lunch," "I'm going to count to 10 before you can get out of the high chair." I kind-of sort-of picked up this idea from Happiest Toddler on the Block and made it work for us. And it really does.
- Pick your Battles. I have to remind myself of this every single day. I like being in control. I like things going according to the plans I’ve laid out in my head. I know that this goes out the window the minute you have a child. I just have to remind myself of it each and every day – especially as he gets more independent and has his own opinions on how things should be done. Is it that big of a deal that he really wants to climb into the stroller to be wheeled literally across the street to our neighbor's house for playtime? If he insists, that is one battle I can easily let him win.
- Don’t get attached to any one outfit or pair of shoes. Because it will get stained or lost. Just the other night on our walk, T managed to throw one of his Crocs out the side of his stroller. Despite re-walking the route, both the hubs and I driving the route, and a neighborhood message board post on the missing shoe – it seems to be gone forever. Kind of a pain, considering he has (had) 2 pairs of shoes that fit him at the moment and we’re not wearing pair #2 to the pool. But, such is life. At least he helps me feed my need for retail therapy, right?
- Smoothies rock. Everyone has been telling me this. I finally listened. Not sure what took me so long - but slurping that thick yummy goodness up through a straw results in quite a happy little man. I'll be using these from now on.
- Let him do things on his own time sometimes. There are times when I let him control the situation. He climbs into his highchair himself. He'll grab my hand and pull me along to something he wants me to see or do. I don't take him out of his crib until he's ready (and literally tells me he's ready) - which might mean he asks for one book after another after naptime for a good 20 minutes, laying back down with each one to "read" it. I'm all about rules and boundaries, but giving him some things that he can be in control of seems like it makes him feel like that always-aspirational Big Boy.
- Let him help. I'm fully taking advantage of the time that he loves to help me with chores while I can. He still Swiffs regularly for me. I give him wet paper towels to "mop" the floor. He puts laundry in the basket. He feeds the dog (he's not as helpful with the cats - he likes to steal their food at the moment). It takes a little longer than if I were to do it myself, but who cares. We high-five after each chore he helps with. I'm totally in the process of creating and training the most helpful future-husband in history. Toddler girls (and future daughter-in-law) rejoice. It rocks making a little boy helpful. (It just better last!)
I know my tips and tricks will change weekly - but so far, these are the things that seem to be working for me!
Helping mommy store out-of-season clothes
*Honestly, I think that despite the tantrums - this is the most fun age yet! Have I said that at every age? Probably...