Let me make something perfectly clear–I am no parenting expert. I’ve had my fair share of 2:00 breakdowns (my emotional collapse when the kids refuse to nap). I’ll sheepishly admit that I sometimes swing through the McDonald’s drive-thru when I haven’t had time to go grocery shopping, the kids are whiny, and it’s only 4:30 pm. And I’m proud to proclaim that I bribe, barter, and scheme all day, every day, in order to make my kids do what I want.
Currently my kids are 4, 3, and 10 months old. And though I’m sure that my parenting could use more patience, energy, and creativity, I do believe that my husband and I have gotten a few things right so far. So I’ve composed a short list of toddler rearing tips:
- Establish an early bedtime: As soon as our kids were able to get into a bedtime routine, we started putting them to bed around 7-7:30 pm. Granted, my husband doesn’t get to see them for much longer than an hour during the work week, but this early bedtime ritual provides us with something so important: time together. It may take some time to adjust your toddler’s bedtime and wake time, however the few quiet evening hours with your spouse, or even just to yourself, are worth the early wakeup calls.
- Get rid of the big loud toys: I have recently donated a truckload of big loud toys. As my two older kids grew bigger, I started sneaking the annoying toys down to the basement, a few at a time. And do you know what? They didn’t even notice! Those jumbo-sized toys, that your lovely sister bought for Christmas, can be graciously exchanged for a new outfit or a box of Legos. You don’t want a living room full of flashing lights and repeating musical sounds. Donate or exchange those monstrosities for quiet toys that encourage creative independent play. Trust me, your clutter-free living room will thank you.
- Put him in underwear: My oldest daughter was a breeze to potty train. She started going on the little potty around 18 months and was totally potty trained by the time she was two. My son had no interest in it until he was two and a half. When he finally decided he could go on the potty, he had accident after accident in his pull-ups. Finally, I had one of those fits of insanity where I found myself yelling, “Stop pooping in your pull-up! Why can’t you just go on the potty?” And then I made up my mind. No. More. Pull-ups. I put him in underwear during the day, and he stayed as dry as a bone. Again, I’m not saying that I have all the right tricks here, but it worked for my stubborn boy and me.
Overall, I still have a lot to learn, but my biggest tip of all is one that my husband repeats day in and day out to our kids and me: Team work makes the dream work. You have to be on the same team as your spouse, your in-laws, and your kids’ teachers. We all want the best for those precious angels and we’re all just doing the best that we can.
“Before I married, I had three theories about raising children and no children. Now, I have three children and no theories.” ~John Wilmot
~Think on These Things~