Be afraid… be very afraid.
Earlier this month my daughter turned 3, which means I made it through my first year of toddlerhood. Barely.
I kid, I kid. Sure babies are soft and cuddly, but in a lot of ways it’s been more enjoyable to parent a toddler. Nothing compares to hearing your child say “I love you” and having your little one hug and kiss you back is amazing.
That being said, it’s not all butterflies and sunshine and I love yous. Dealing with a toddler is work. And just like there are things I wish I knew before I had a baby, there are even more things I wish I knew before my daughter became a toddler. Here are 10 that come to mind:
1. Babies smell delightful, but toddlers, not so much. Maybe it’s because it’s the summer, but there are days when my precious sweet daughter who I love very much comes home smelling so badly I literally have to force myself to hug and kiss her.
2. You will never enjoy a meal at the same table as your toddler. The operative word here is “enjoy.” Yes, you will eat. But the majority of the meals you’ll have with your toddler will be consumed by bribing and/or forcing him/her to eat. By the time you’ve managed to get your toddler to eat 3 string beans, your own food will be cold and mushy and your kid will be harassing you for the ice cream you just bribed him with. Call it the Toddler Diet.
3. Let go of all your inhibitions about gross bodily functions and habits. This one was especially hard for me. Because toddlers have no sense of what is appropriate and acceptable, be prepared to see your toddler picking his/her nose, farting loudly, pulling out wedgies… in public. I thought the world was coming to an end when I caught my daughter biting her toenails on a NYC bus, but then she asked me to scratch her butt… on the bus. All in a days work as mom to a toddler.
4. Say goodbye to all your favorite TV shows. Or invest in Tivo because you won’t be able to watch most of your grown-up shows in the presence of your toddler. I learned this the hard way while watching Basketball Wives when my daughter ever so sweetly said, “Mommy she said Bitch.” Yikes!
5. Potty training can definitely be hard, but facing the fact that your sweet baby is now a small person that talks back, hits and sometimes just plain annoys the hell out of you is so much harder. There is no way to prepare for this, but you should at least be aware those feelings of “Where did you come from? Who raised you?” are totally normal.
6. Learn and master the “Why” game. Apparently, if you can provide answers to 5 of your toddler’s “whys” he/she will stop asking. It’s worked for the most part with my daughter, but getting through 5 “whys”–especially when you’re on the phone or cooking dinner or occupied in some other way–is no easy feat.
7. Think you can put away your diaper bag once your kid is out of diapers? Think again. Toddlers require a seemingly endless supply of snacks and on-the-go entertainment so yes, you will probably still need to lug around a separate bag for all his/her stuff.
8. Nip bratty behavior in the bud immediately. Toddlers catch on remarkably fast, so if there’s any indication–i.e. you not correcting it–that they can use temper tantrums or poor behavior to get what they want, they will. Unless you want to be that mom with the toddler none of the other moms want their kid around because they’re afraid their children might get ideas, correct all signs of brattiness stat.
9. Be prepared to bargain. Once your toddler starts speaking, every simple request will somehow turn into a negotiation. “Sweetheart, please put that wrapper in the garbage.” “I’ll put it in the garbage if you get me some juice.” Huh? Who’s in charge here?
10. Lastly, while babies tend to outgrow things quickly, toddler destroy things quickly. Namely, their shoes. Considering how much time they still spend in a stroller, it’s amazing the damage a toddler can do to a nice pair of shoes. The solution? Buy cheap shoes.
Did I forget anything? And keep in mind, I’m only into my second year of toddlerhood, so if there’s more I should know, please leave your toddler parenting tips in the comments.
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