My daughter just turned three. She has grown from an adorable baby to an adorable little person. She uses real words when she talks, problem solves when her toys don’t work properly, uses the potty, and interacts well with people outside our immediate family. She has grown so much since her second birthday, and it just amazes me.
Anyway, I was reflecting on the past year both fondly and with relief, when I started to think about all the ways I had developed to cope with my two-year-old’s particular breed of personality. Then, I thought, “Why not share?” So, here are the tips and strategies that got my through the twos.
I make a schedule and I stick to it. Ariana is up at seven. Any errands/outings/playdates are done from ten until noon. Then, we have lunch and she takes a nap (or sits in her room quietly). Any afternoon activities happen after that. Dinner is between five and six. Then, she gets a bath, and goes to bed by seven-thirty.
Occasionaly, Ariana will whine about going down for a nap or going to bed. But, for the most part, all these transitions happen smoothly, because she doesn’t know any differently. She is only permitted to stay up late at Grandma’s house.
Toddlers love to help and feel important. It may make the job take longer, but I ask Ariana to help around the house as much as I can. She picks up her toys, buses her own plate and cup, helps with the laundry, and occasionally helps me cook. When we go out, I give jobs where I can. At the grocery store, she helps push the cart or carries a hand basket. I also ask the clerk to put one small item in a bag specifically for her to carry (usually a bag of chips or loaf of bread). As she gets bigger, so will her responsibilities, and she loves it.
Ariana does not like to wear clothes. At home, she mostly runs around in just underpants. I use this to my advantage. Messes from markers, watercolors, and tomato sauce aren’t a big deal when clothes aren’t involved. I only require clothes out of the house. Interestingly, Ariana rarely fights with me about what she wears when we go out. Maybe she sees clothes as a non-issue because I do.
Getting out of the House
Nothing breeds stress like cabin fever. Three years ago, I left teaching to be a mother full-time. I am so much busier now that I am “unemployed.” I have a calendar full of activities, errands, and appointments each week. Even though I have to record everything religiously to keep track of it all, I am thankful to have so much to do, because it gets Ariana and me out of the house almost every day. It doesn’t matter if we are going to the grocery store, the playground, the pharmacy, the library, or just to the mailbox. Any opportunity to change scenery is welcome.
Making Playtime Happen
In the summer, we go to the playground at eight in the morning, before it hits 90 degrees. In the winter, we bundle up in multiple layers and play in the early afternoon when it is warmest. On rainy days, we put on a rain jacket and rain boots and play or we turn on the radio and dance around the living room. On the days that are just too cold/hot/wet, we go to Monkey Joe’s and hit the bouncy houses.
Sometimes I just have to shrug my shoulders over my tantruming child and say, “It’s just not easy being two.” Then, I let the storm pass and start over.