The Toddler Years

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toddler yearsMy daughter Zoey has officially entered her ‘terrible twos’, although she’s only a hair over fifteen months. It started basically when she learned to crawl—not walk, mind you, it only intensified when she learned to walk. But when she started crawling—and got her first real taste of freedom in the form of mobility, she started going EVERYWHERE and getting into EVERYTHING.

See those kitchen cupboards? Yeah, your Tupperware isn’t safe anymore. Neither are your pots and pans. See the DVDs that were so carefully arranged on the bookshelf in the living room? Not anymore! The basket of folded laundry? Strewn all over the living room floor.

Like I said, it only intensified when she started to walk because with her ability to waddle around the house came her ability to throw a mad fit if she didn’t get to do what she wanted. And the stubbornness! We tell her no, she does it anyway. We tell her no again and try to redirect her (like all the baby books say to do) and she turns right around and does whatever she’s not supposed to be doing. She tries to race us to things she knows she’s not supposed to get into. She mocks us by laughing at our feeble first-time parent attempts to discipline her.

Is she evil? No. She’s just a fifteen-month old learning about the world around her and testing limits like a mad woman. And it’s driving us crazy.

Maybe you’re going through the same thing with your little hellion. Or maybe your child hasn’t reached the age of craziness yet and you think, ‘not my child’. Oh trust me, girlfriend, you’ll be here at some point. After a couple of hours of nonstop following your child around the house to make sure they don’t pull the dog’s tail or learn how to open the oven, you’ll be ready to crawl into the fetal position on the kitchen floor. When that happens, here’s a couple things I’ve found works for me to calm my nerves so I don’t pull my hair out:

  • Schedule daily ‘me time’. Greg and I have a deal—every morning he gets up with Zoey so that I can have about an hour to an hour and a half of time to myself. Usually, I use the time to blog or play on Facebook, but it’s not really about what I spend the time doing. It’s more about having that little bit of time each day to do something that interests me. I can’t stress enough the importance of a little ‘me time’.
  • Enjoy a glass of wine or a bubble bath after baby goes to bed. Indulge a little. You deserve it after spending the day picking up all the tissues that your baby pulled out of the box and threw all over the living room.
  • Ask for help. This is something that I have a hard time with because I’m just not wired this way, but it’s also something I’m trying to work on. For example, the other day Greg and I were both home sick and although Zoey usually spends the day at my mom’s house while we’re at work, I decided she could stay home with us since we’d both be there. But after she tried taking framed pictures off the wall behind our bed, unpacked her diaper bag and helped herself to a fruit cup in the kitchen, I called my mom and asked if she wanted a visitor for a while. It doesn’t make you a bad parent if you need to admit you need a break. It makes you human.
  • Most important of all: work together with your partner as a team. Greg and I tag team a lot  where Zoey is concerned. We work together to make sure neither of us gets to the point of insanity. If you’re single parenting that just means you’re entitled to TWO glasses of wine after baby goes to bed.

And remember that this too shall pass. Your toddler will get older and calm down a bit and you’ll find that you don’t have to chase her around all of the time. But for the time being, just take a deep breath and know that you’re not alone. Lots of parents out there are going through the same thing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stop my child from climbing up the shelves in our refrigerator.

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