When You’re Not Thriving In Motherhood- Surviving The Toddler Years

Hello my wonderful reader! I wrote this post a few months ago when I was right in the thick of Liano’s terrible one and a halfs, apparently that’s a thing (and I actually edited it a few times since I felt better). THANK GOD he has grown through that. Honestly, with this little guy, I’m only just now starting to be able to feel some relief. I started off in my pregnancy with severe depression, had sciatica during the pregnancy, pushed him out at over 10lbs with zero meds and left the birthing center an hour after giving birth. Once home, he cried ALLL THE TIME, never napped more than 5 minutes unless I was holding him, and had feeding issues. I didn’t have much help and felt alone a lot of the time. No wonder it’s been difficult to get through it. I mean it’s “only” been 2 and a half years since I’ve felt like I could take a breath. I’m just so thankful now that he’s getting older and I can finally go to the bathroom and eat like an almost normal person. But of course I love him to death, even if I did one time google “what to do if you hate being a mom”. Yeah that was a bad week. Luckily my bff lightened the mood because she thought it was hilarious when I told her. Anyways, if you have a toddler that drives you nuts, you are definitely not alone. According to that thing I googled, it’s more common than you’d think.

He’s hiding his cookie because he stole it from his sister. He clearly doesn’t realize I’m behind him lol.

My wittle papas, as I like to call him, is just over 18 months old. He’s totally adorable and I feel so blessed to have him. That being said, there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t feel completely overwhelmed by his toddlerdom. I get angry, frustrated, and depleted. I don’t even want to get into the details about what exactly it’s like to have a toddler because if you have one you know, and if you don’t have one yet, you’ll learn. Let’s just say that no phase that your child will go through will challenge you like the toddler stage will. If you thought the newborn stage was difficult, oh that was just training.

In this picture he had just splashed a yogurt drink all over me, right in the middle of taking some photos for this blog. Luckily I was in a good mood that day.

The truth is, I love being a mom, but the toddler years are just not a phase I thrive in. Even though I know these days are few and I should cherish them, I find myself dreaming about the days when he will wake up a happy, independent preschooler. I dream about the days I can put him down to sleep and he won’t wake the second I try to leave the room. I dream about the day I can say, “Go play” and he will find something that will distract him for hours. I dream about the day I can do things with him and not in-spite of him.

Sometimes self-care is just stopping in the middle of grocery shopping trip to eat pizza with this cranky lil one.

I won’t lie, I’ve definitely cried many, many times with this little guy. From his feeding issues when he was born, to now in his toddler stage, he’s tested me. Every day I have to find new ways to become a more patient mother, a mother who releases stress more easily, a mother who remembers that I don’t have to be perfect at everything- sometimes trying my best to be a good mom is enough. When I get frustrated that I can’t do ANYTHING besides sit on the floor while he climbs all over me, I remind myself that this is the most important work I’m doing today, a calm and present mother will impact him for the rest of his life- clean dishes will not. As they say, the days are long but the years are short. This is just a phase and will be over as quickly as it came. Someday my kids will grow up and I will have a clean, empty house where I will watch Netflix, and take bubble baths, and cook elaborate meals… and miss my kids.

Yes, you drive me crazy, but I still love you.

So dear readers, we can’t win them all. Sometimes we just aren’t naturals at certain aspects of motherhood. That doesn’t mean we won’t be rockstars in other aspects. At the end of the day, you do what you can and do it the best way you know how.

With that being said, here are the top 10 ways I’ve learned to survive the toddler years . And obviously even after 4 kids I’m not perfect at these, but hopefully they can help someone out there in some small way, even if it’s just letting you know you aren’t alone!

Toddler Survival Tips:

  1. Forget about chores for the day and order take out for dinner (btw Mcdonald’s counts as take out, I ain’t too good for fast food). Giving myself less responsibility for the day helps me to be more patient with my toddler.
  2. Do something nice for yourself every day, no matter how small. Whether that’s just giving yourself a compliment or making your favorite dinner, “filling your cup” gives you more energy that you can use to be an awesome mom. The other day I ran a hot bath and relaxed in there with a glass of wine. Halfway through my toddler got in with me and played with the faucet the whole time but hey, like I said, you do what you can.
  3. Be a kid with them. You’d be surprised how much stress you can take out by swinging on a swing or bouncing a ball
  4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. After 4 kids you learn that matching socks or perfectly cleaned rooms aren’t that big of a deal, especially if forgetting about it means you feel calm and happy around them.
  5. Allow yourself to miss out on events if you feel it will be too stressful to attend. It’s totally normal, and sometimes necessary for your peace of mind. I can’t tell you how many times I attended an event only to regret it because I was chasing after a crying baby the whole time. Just be wary of missing EVERY event. You might regret missing say a wedding or funeral. Everyone will understand if you leave early, and if they don’t then that’s their problem.
  6. Get outside. Toddlers get more tired when they play outside which results in longer naps, score!
  7. Give your child a “job”. If you’re washing dishes maybe they can put the tupperware in a drawer, or get them a small broom so they can sweep. Toddlers loooovvveee to help. Bonus, the more you raise a toddler and preschooler to help, the more likely they will do it as they get older! Just remember to compliment EVERYTHING they do lol.
  8. Toddlers aren’t too big for baby wearing. My mom always told me she swore by a hiking baby carrier that she would carry my brother and I in while she cleaned the house. I use the lillebaby carrier https://www.amazon.com/L%C3%8DLL%C3%89baby-COMPLETE-Airflow-SIX-Position-Ergonomic/dp/B00EA18OE4/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=lillebaby+carrier&qid=1599628081&sr=8-5
  9. Give them a sense of control. Look them in the eye and try to figure out what they are saying. Ask them questions. Giving them two choices is standard advice. For example: “Do you want water or apple juice?”. This helps them with their independence while not overwhelming them.
  10. Don’t try to stop a tantrum. Toddlers can’t understand much about why anything is the way it is. They feel frustrated often. It’s best to just let the tantrum run it’s course while making sure they are safe (not pounding their head into the ground as some are prone to do when upset). Once they’re done crying you can give them a hug and help them to self soothe. Don’t allow yourself to get angry with them (even though you may feel it inside), remember that their brains aren’t fully developed yet. Don’t worry, I’m not perfect at this either. It can be difficult, especially when you have things that need to get done. Give yourself extra time and plan with toddler tantrums in mind. For example, avoiding the toy isle when shopping to avoid a toddler meltdown is a good idea. Or have something on hand that can distract them. I like to plan things during nap time to avoid toddler tantrums. If my kid is asleep I can just put him in the baby carrier or stroller while I shop or have lunch with a friend. If I do need to deal with a tantrum and it gets to be too much, sometimes it’s best to return to the car or go home where they feel more secure.

Well loves if you can in any way relate to this post, I’m sending you all my love and uplifting vibes. We are in this together! Don’t forget to leave me a comment below!

Till next time, LC xoxo

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