Do you ever judge yourself, like I was a really _____ and _____ mom today. You know, mad libs parents edition? [this sounds like a great idea if they haven’t already done this] My frequent blanks range from impatient, angry, loving, generous, and usually end in tired, mom. We have a range of emotions on a daily basis, whether it’s at work with adults or at home with your family. We’re able to (sometimes) manage those emotions and work through them in the moment. Our kids, however, can’t be expected to navigate their feelings the way we do. This is something I tend to forget in the moment when I’m losing my cool.
Something that has helped me through the various toddler phases are real life experiences from my girlfriends and articles or programs, like Big Little Feelings. It’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one trying to read the nature of a 3 year old, everyone experiences the crazy, and everyone loses it from time to time.
There is no magical way to create situations where your little ones patiently wait for you and follow all the rules, but here are a couple real life stories and hacks that may help you buy more time and sanity in the long run, all while raising little humans! [drinking game: sip every time she says “little”]
Keeping them in check
Real life story, I had to run into Target to get gifts for my best friend’s kids who I haven’t seen in ages. I had my kids with me, so what was I going to do? If I take my children in I’ll walk out 1) broke or 2) with kids who think I’m the worst mom for not getting them things. [I usually walk out of Target broke and I don’t have kids so this sounds like a lose/lose to me] I ended up taking the risk… some of you are thinking, damn, she’s brave, and others are thinking I’m a real dummy. Well, I was a dummy.
The more they saw, the more they NEEDED that toy. I kept it very clear that they would not be getting anything, and braced myself for the tantrums. I stayed strong and committed, and they had mini meltdowns, but I let it happen. I stuck to my decision and kept them in check, letting them know who was boss. I’ve not been brave enough to take them back into Target but carried through this same stance in other situations and they have started to bother me less each time.
Toddlers are easily distracted [I once distracted your son with an empty smart water bottle… he was occupied for at least 30 min], they will also get over things pretty quickly, but they most importantly understand their boundaries if you show them what they are often and consistently.
Hide the truth
Something I’ve taken advantage of is the yes/no/yes sandwich from Big Little Feelings. It wasn’t easy in the beginning but I’ve really gotten the hang of it. If they are complaining or pushing for something that is a no, they don’t want to hear that and you don’t want to deal with the reaction. What better way to handle it than to hide it. [building their childhood on a foundation of LIES?!] Start and end with a positive statement related to a yes, we can do that but throw that big fat NO in the middle.
For example, ‘Yes we can color today, I’m excited to do it with you! We can’t do it right now because I’m folding laundry. But, we can get ready to color as soon as I’m done!’ If you’re really adventurous, give them a job. Every little helper loves a specific job meant for them. Hand them a few clean towels and tell them to fold… it will buy you time for sure.
What are some techniques you use to help yourself and your little ones understand that everything isn’t the end of the world? Share them with us, I’m ready to try them!