A Mother’s Take on Toddlerhood (While In The Thick of It)

As of writing this post, our boys are aged 2 months shy of 3 years old and 16 months. So, right smack in the middle of what Toddlerhood is. While each age comes with unique challenges, I think toddlerhood can sometimes get an especially bad rep. When you hear from other parents talking about their experience, I’ve heard toddler and teenage years can be some of the hardest years. Personally, I think toddlerhood is just very mis understood. Not in a bad way, it can be so hard for us to understand as it has been years since we went through it and we don’t remember it. I think this may have been one of the most important shifts in thinking when it comes to parenting.

***I’ve touched slightly on an outline of what I will be saying, which can be viewed HERE***

As parents when our kids are acting out, misbehaving, throwing temper tantrum after temper tantrum, it is very easy to become flustered. Happens to the best of us, and it is completely normal to just want to throw your hands in the air and walk away. AND sometimes that is the best thing to do. Sometimes that can be the key to diffusing whatever the situation is.  It can be easy to lose our patience as we ask for the toys to be picked up for the fourteenth time, or to not play with the food, or to not touch something. It can be so draining to feel like you are just repeating yourself with no action or apparent listening. I think this is why people say toddler hood is tough.

And it is.I am not disputing the fact that parenting one toddler, let alone two, or three is tough. It is draining. (Make sure that you take care of yourself during this time, otherwise everything I say after this point will not work)

BUT(gotta love those buts right?!)…

If we think it is hard on us as parents, think about how hard it is on our children. They are being thrust into a whole new level of mental development, they are growing physically, they are trying to figure out how to navigate the world that just seems to be getting bigger and scarier. They are trying to figure out what are boundary lines, what they can and can’t do. How to articulate their feelings, hell what they are feeling. They are working on developing better communication skills and most of the time are bursting with things to say, things to do, places to see, parents/grandparents/relatives/friends to remember. ALL AT THE AGE OF 2.

Can you blame them for getting frustrated with not being able to say something, or talk about something that they really want to tell you, but they just don’t have all the words? Can you blame them when all they want to do is find the toy that they hid from themselves in a game? Or try to put the train tracks together a certain way and it’s just not working?

Imagine feeling angry about something, not being able to understand first that you are feeling angry and then second how to tell someone what you are feeling angry about? That is frustrating. Then imagine, as you are getting frustrated and angry, you see your parent, loved one, person you look up to, start to get frustrated. It escalates quickly (and again, it happens to all of us from time to time, no doubt about it).

Our children get thrust into this world and it is our responsibility as parents to help them, to guide them, as they learn. We cannot do that if we don’t at least try to understand what they must be going through. What we see as well, he’s angry about x, y, or z, is not what they see. They just have all of these things building up inside with no way to let them out. We only know that because we’ve learned that as we’ve grown up.

So, before you talk about the terrible two’s or the threenagers, try and think about what your children are experiencing. Sure, parenting is hard work. It is tough and draining. BUT think about what it is like through your child’s eyes, without having all of the knowledge that we as parents (or adults) now have.

Making Your Marriage Your Priority

 

You hear it all the time “Take care of your marriage. Make time for your spouse. Your kids will grow up, they will move away and it will just be you and your spouse again”. I think it is probably the most common piece of advice expecting parents get. And in a way it is completely true. I mean, your kids will grow up and they will find their own lives. You will still be important to them, but as they grow they become more independent.

That’s important, but, also important to note, is that what your children see in your relationship with your spouse, their parent, is what they will view for themselves when that time comes. The interaction between you and your spouse is the first model to them of what a marriage or partnership looks like. And so, for both those reasons, it is important to focus on your relationship with your spouse.

But how do you do that? How do you make time for your spouse when it feels like your children have sucked time out of you (that sounds a lot worse than it really is, I promise)? Whether you work out of the house or are a Stay at Home Parent it is tough. Regardless of what you do, you are trying to meet the never ending needs of your children, being both the constant entertainer, teacher, mediator (if you have multiple children), protector, and guide. Your days are long (although the years are short) and when the day is over it can be so hard to want to stay up a little bit later and be present for someone else.

Taking time for your spouse is just as important as taking time for yourself. They say that you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself. Well you and your spouse can’t effectively parent and be married if you are not taking care of each other.

It doesn’t take long, a simple 5-10 minutes to just see how they are doing. To check in with them on how their day was. To remind them that they are doing a good job. To tell them that you are proud of them. To give them a little peck, or shoulder rub. These little gestures, little moments of contact goes so far into “keeping the spark alive”.

Don’t wait till your one night (keep reading for that), do it now. You don’t need grand gestures, flowers or chocolates. Most of the time you just need a moment. A moment of just you and your spouse where you only focus on each other. A moment can be all it takes from going to bed feeling like a disaster on all fronts to going to bed feeling on the same page as someone else.

Take a night, once a week. Stay up later, cuddle on the couch, make it a point on that night to put away all the distractions and just focus solely on each other. It doesn’t have to be a go out to dinner and a movie date night, it doesn’t have to even be a get a sitter night (keep reading though for that…), it just needs to be a night where you can be with each other. *You can read about our take on this HERE.

Take a night out, wherever fits into your own budget, get a sitter and go do something outside the house with your spouse. Whether that’s dinner, a concert, a hike, whatever, get out into the world. Remember what it was like to go on a date with your spouse. Take a couple of hours and remember what life was like before you had babies crying at your feet, or a toddler needing help going to the bathroom. Hold hands while you are walking, sit across from each other and have discussions without having to reprimand your children halfway through a sentence. I gauruntee you and your spouse come back to the house 100% refreshed and ready to tackle those moments. We are homebodies so we don’t always do date nights like this, but we are getting better about it.

Finally, look back through your photo albums. Walk down memory lane. Remember that first date? Remember your wedding day? Look back through the photos, you’ll be surprised how many little memories pop through your mind and remind you what that moment was like.

How do you and your spouse place your marriage first?