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Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on what to expect raising a toddler with a newborn and even though we have a good five or so months left until baby number two arrive, I feel like most articles have been really focused on the newborn aspect of having two kids and not so much the toddler perspective, which makes sense but also has me freaking out. Before I completely lose you here, let me clarify, I know newborns are a lot of work but there the “I’m running on no sleep, throw them in a baby carrier and give them cuddles” type of work, not the toddler “please don’t jump off the stairs, why is your poop glittery, where are your pants” type of work. In my opinion so far as a parent, the toddler stage is a mixed bag of being in awe at their independence and rage eating you’re dinner as your kid throws theirs on the floor for the fifth night in a row. I thought I could use my two years of perspective to offer some advice to the new parents out there who haven’t hit the toddler stage yet, but are probably freaking out just as much as I am.
Keep Expectations Low.
It’s easy to see all these cute little toddlers sitting quietly and doing a nice color sorting activity, but please don’t be offended when your little human decides to stick half of the Popsicle sticks in their mouth and throw the other half in the air. All kids are different and toddlers especially can change with the weather, no matter what you do for fun activities, just let them do their thing, I promise there will be a time when they will do all the fun pintersty type activities, but if they’re more into eating the sensory bin than paying with it, that’s cool too. Have patience, these tiny humans have only been around for as little as a year and they are doing and learning so much everyday even without being a pro shape sorter or color identifying master.
Every time you leave the house bring at least three edible things you can throw at them at any given moment. If your toddler is anything like mine, they either eat you out of house and home, or they go on a hunger strike for three days and there is no knowing what kind of kid you’ll get when you wake up in the morning. I can’t tell you how many times I could’ve combated in the earlier toddler days just by having a handful of goldfish or yogurt raisins to hand to my little guy. Plus side, you never know when you’re going to start getting hangry on the road and need a quick pick me up as well. Snacks are the key to happiness.
Invest in a Cordless Vacuum.
From crumbs on the couch to sensory bin fails, my cordless vacuum has become my best friend in surviving toddlerdom. I could constantly be sweeping and lint rolling, but I decided to outsource my efforts (and back pain) to my Black and Decker bestie, and I am never going back. When we move the car seat into a different spot in the car I just bring out the cordless vac and get the six months worth of animal cracker crumbs out of my seat so that it’s habitable again. When I’m crunching cheerios into the floor after a breakfast gone air born, my cordless vacuum is a life saver. For the less than sixty dollars we spent on ours, I would buy it again in a heartbeat if that means I don’t have to spend my Friday night binge watching time lint rolling the couch cushions.
Cherish Nap Time.
This goes without saying but as little dude gets older, his naps become fewer and far between and on some days when he’s feeling real grown up, he just skips it all together. Guys, no one told me that toddlers did that, I just assumed all kids napped until age 6 when they stopped doing nap time at school. Naps are something that you’ll learn to work around, even if it means sitting in the driveway with a sleeping bubs for an extra thirty minutes because you know he needs the sleep but won’t transition well when you wake him up on his own. Let the kids nap, I know it can be really appealing to try and skip it all together for the sake of doing stuff, but trust me hell hath no fury like a toddler who hasn’t napped.
Less is More.
When it comes to toys for our little guy we try to stick to a minimalist approach, however he is very fortunate to have three sets of grandparents and a whole host of amazing family and friends so that isn’t always the case. If you find yourself up to your ears in matchbox cars and megablocks, I’m right there with you. We started doing a toy rotation where half of the toys go in the closet for however long it takes for me to remember to swap them again, and it seems to cut down on clean up time, and all the toys are actually getting used. If you can simplify and pair down, donating toys is always a great way to pass on the fun, or save them for the next if you plan on growing your family. Half the time my kiddo is playing with anything but his toys, so don’t feel guilty if you want to refrain from an overloading toy box.
Get a Cup That Doesn’t Leak.
The stress of a leaky sippy cup is unreal when you accidentally flood your bag for the day, have no fear there are plenty of awesome cups out there that don’t leak, we swear by the Parents Choice $0.98 plastic sippy cups at Wal-Mart, but we also adore our Contigo water bottle, because it has a handle that allows me to tie it to our backpack when we’re out and about so I don’t lose it. My other favorite thing about the Contigo bottle is that it holds 14 ounces, so often times on longer trips out I won’t need to refill Little Dude as much as with a standard 8 ounce cup.
Try Not to Cry When You Realize How Fast Time Goes.
This is me every single day lately, toddlers grow and learn so fast that some days it’s hard to imagine that just a few short years ago they were you’re eight pound nine ounce little bundle of love. I frequently will just stare at Little Dude once he’s asleep for a few extra minutes before leaving his room because it seems so surreal that he used to sleep next to me in his bassinet and need me every two hours, when now he sleeps for a solid twelve in his own big boy bedroom. Don’t even get me started on how my heart melts every time he says “Mama” and then follows it with Little Man Speak, that weird mash up of real words and toddler gibberish that makes sense to me. Toddlers become tiny humans nearly overnight, so cherish every single second of it and try not to cry when they grow up.
Survival is Inevitable.
When your toddler is stronger than your coffee and you feel like you guys just won’ts make it though the day, just realize that this too will pass, this amazing and terrifying part of your little ones life is just that, a part of life, and you will make it through this. Toddlers are terrifying yet amazing little humans that will eventually grow into your preschooler, then kindergartner, and beyond, so take the good with the bad and let the memories be made. We will survive!
So there you have it, the highlights of my toddler mom wisdom so far, I’ll be sure to update with any new tidbits that I figure out along the way, but we’re almost to two and so far we’re doing just fine. What would you say to parents of soon to be toddlers? Be sure to let me know in the comments!