Being a mom of toddlers can be both wonderful and challenging. These years can be filled with cuddles, smiles, and fun. However, part of these toddler years also include tantrums, changeable moods, diet, and sleep patterns. Moms of young children usually do not have much time for themselves for doing things that they once took for granted. Like any stage of childhood, the toddler years can be both a source of joy and stress for parents.
When I speak to moms with grown children, they all say the same thing. Enjoy these years; soon they will be going to college, getting married, and raising families of their own. I know that I need to remember this even as my two year old son spills a bottle of apple juice all over my freshly washed kitchen floor, or baby powder on the living room carpet. Here are some tips to make the toddler stage more manageable and enjoyable for everyone.
Have a daily routine, but be flexible. Young kids crave consistency, and it helps them to know what to expect from their daily schedule. This includes snack, meal times, and bed times. Up until a certain point nap time should be consistent, until the child starts to grow out of their nap time (usually around age 3). Though routine is good, it is important to be flexible.
Have realistic expectations of your children (based on age). At home while they are awake do not plan any major projects, make your focus them. I try to fit in dishes, and starting laundry in the morning while my daughter is eating breakfast and is in her high chair. In planning an outing, I always keep nap times and meal times in mind, and try to do them in the morning when my kids are well rested. I also do my best to be home before lunch.
Have realistic expectations of yourself. This is a stage of life where you need to plan things in nap sized pieces. I try to save bigger projects like folding and putting away laundry, cleaning, and baking for nap time. This week my big project has been sorting through kids clothes. I managed to finish two drawers each day.
Have fun, be spontaneous. It is so wonderful to sometimes just let go, especially after a particularly stressful day. So let go and have a dance party in living room, drop everything and go to the park, or just go outside to play.
Don’t forget the cuddle time. Remember your kids will not be small forever, so give your little ones lots of hugs and kisses. Snuggle up together and watch a movie, or read a book together.
Messes are part of the deal. Kids naturally will make messes. It’s part of their job description. If you came to my house right now you would see toys everywhere, and Cheerios on my kitchen floor. With four children we have had a few big messes in our house such as the baby powder or apple juice. My method of preventing big messes usually involves making sure that I try to not tackle complicated projects while my younger children are awake. If I need to do something, I will put my youngest daughter in her high chair and give her toys to play with. I know that if my two year old son communicates with me that he wants a refill in his cup I should probably listen. If I am not responsive to his request he will help himself to juice.
Take time out for yourself. Try to set aside some time during your day to spend on yourself even if it means getting up early. Read a book, watch a TV show, or have a cup of coffee. This is so important to give yourself some time to recharge your batteries. It will make you a better mom.
Even as I am in the midst of toddlerhood with my younger children (ages 1 and 3), I also have kids that are of school age. I can’t believe where the time has gone. It reminds me of my favorite song by Steven Curtis Chapman called Cinderella. It is about a father who is stressed from his day and his daughter wants to play, soon she wants to show him her prom dress, and in a blink he is dancing with her at her wedding. When my oldest daughter was a baby, my husband used to dance with her to this song, and now she is about to finish the first grade.
Despite the daily challenges we all face as moms of toddlers it is important to remember the Cheerios on the kitchen floor will still be there later. Give your little ones lots of love and attention, stories, and hugs. You will be glad you did!!!!!