Get in a Toddler Frame of Mind
Hello <<First Name>>,
Welcome back to Toddler-land! 2018 is here and I want to wish a happy New Year to you. As rituals go, I am definitely not one to make resolutions because I rarely can keep them. But I do believe that a new year marks a beginning, an opportunity to start again. As such, I look at January as an ideal time to take a step back, reflect, and refresh your approach to parenting for the year ahead. How do you want to relate to and connect with your toddler? What do you hope to do differently? What moments can you enjoy more? What does your child need from you to get the best from you, and the best for themselves?
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY (and throughout the year ahead): Get into a toddler frame of mind. Let the following reflections guide you through the ups and downs of parenting as the year progresses.
2018 Reflection: Slow down. In this fast-paced world of news, social media, meals to prepare, bills to pay, juggling work, home life and play dates, parents feel pulled in many directions. Rushing through every day of the week doesn’t feel good. I can remember like it was yesterday when my then-toddler burst into tears and screamed at me one morning as we madly ran out the door, “You are always, always rushing me!” I took this as my cue to slow down.
Try This! Your toddlers live in the moment, in the ‘right now’. Instead of rushing them, take a deep exhale and give the ordinary moments a little more time. Allow ten extra minutes in the morning to put on coats and boots. Add a little more time in the grocery store for your toddler to linger over the cereal boxes. Do one less errand on the weekend. By slowing down just a little bit, you will feel less harried and your child will feel your presence more. This makes for happier (and more compliant!) toddlers.
2018 Reflection: Remember that small moments make a difference. As a busy parent, it’s easy to overlook the small and ordinary moments that happen every day, but these can be meaningful times to connect with your child. For example, one of my favorite small moment memories is from an afternoon I walked my two-year-old son to the playground, a mere block away. He noticed a line of ants and stopped. He squatted down, transfixed on watching them move. I tried to move him on, but with no success. I finally gave in and knelt down to get a closer look at the ants that captivated his attention. His eyes caught mine and a smile grew on his face. He squealed, “Ants, ants!” and threw his arms around my neck for a big hug. It was one small moment, yet an important one. Add up all of these small moments and your toddler feels loved, understood and connected.
Try This! Take the time for a few extra cuddles when your toddler is wrapped snuggly in his towel after bath. Let your little one dawdle on the way to the park and enjoy the stroll together, even if she stops to pick up every pebble she comes across. Invite your toddler to help prepare breakfast with you, even if this means a few eggshells in the pancake batter. Once you begin to slow down, you will feel the small moments more, and I can assure you, your child will, too.
2018 Reflection: Refresh your expectations. Your toddler won’t be a toddler forever. Sometimes we can forget just how little they are. If yours is bossing you around, pushing you away and negotiating like a teen; if your child acts mighty and screams or battles with you, remind yourself that your child is still very new to this world. When you remember this, the sudden throwing of food, pulling the dog’s tail, or looking you in the eye and saying ‘no!’ will seem age appropriate.
Try This! Remind yourself that your toddler is a small person who needs to know you will take care of them, no matter what. Remind them that, “You are my baby always, even as you get bigger.” Cuddles, snuggles, soothing and rocking as needed will help your child feel safe and secure to grow up, in time.
2018 Reflection: Connect with your partner. Finally, partnerships matter. Making time for you and your spouse or partner (or if you are a single parent, a good friend) is very important. You need regular support and connection to another adult to be the best you, and the best parent you can be. And marriages/partnerships need to be nurtured, too.
Try This! Ask your loved one how his or her day was or check in about an appointment or meeting they had. Better yet, make a dinner date to be together without the children. Let your significant other know you are thinking of them, and set a daily intention to stay connected or to reconnect when distance creeps in. This can be hard to do when your children are little, but it does get easier in time.
I’d love to hear on Facebook or Twitter if any of these ideas help you connect more with your toddler, and if you have some of your own. Wishing you a wonderful 2018!
For more toddler insight, visit HOW TODDLERS THRIVE and feel free to share what you've read here with other parents on the playground!