The toddler battle - 5 ideas for how to have better days
Some days I truly feel like I’m winning the toddler battle. I have yelled a substantial amount less than the previous day, we’ve communicated like humans - not animals, and Brooklyn has randomly (and unprompted) told me “I love ya!”. Other days *sigh* I feel like I lost the battle oh so bad. Bedtime doesn’t come soon enough, and when it does and he is finally asleep - I sigh a big sigh of relief and think to myself ‘thank f**k today is over’. I’m 90% sure I’m not the only one that has these days, I’m pretty sure every parent has days like these. We’re almost four years into this parenthood thing and I’m by no means an expert, but I’m slowly but surely figuring out ways to make life just that little bit easier with that animal species we call ‘the toddler’. Funnily enough, when I sat down to write this… I was stumped! I’d been ‘yelly Mum’ that day, and wasn’t very inspired because I frankly felt like the worst Mum ever. But a quick brainstorm with some of my best Mum-of-toddler-friends had me back on track… and inspired me to have a better day tomorrow (easier said than done, right?). Enough rambling about my bad days. Here’s 5 of my favourite tips/ideas on how to have some better ones:
1. Make your toddler a lunchbox of food for the day.
How many times have you heard “I’m hungry”, “Can I have something to eat?”, “Is it morning tea time yet?” so far today? I don’t know about you, but my kid is ALWAYS HUNGRY. It actually drives me nuts the amount of times he asks for food during the day. There’s a reasonably simple solution, and that is to make them a lunchbox of food. You could do this in the morning, or if you’re super organised - you could do it the night before and pop it in the fridge overnight. That way the moment the little hungry rascal whips out “I’m h….” you can point to their lunchbox on the table! I encourage Brooklyn to choose two choices per meal (morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea) so that he doesn’t demolish the whole lunchbox at morning tea time.
This is a huge one. Toddlers are such smart little cookies - they know what they want, and sometimes they’re overly irrational if you try and convince them to do anything other than what they have set in their wee mind. Instead of arguing with them and going around in circles - because come on, no one can be bothered with that… try giving them two choices. For example - our most common one… “I don’t want a bath tonight”. Well there ain't no way he’s going to bed without a bath or a shower, yuck. SO instead of “Yes you are having a bath, don’t whinge about it just get in” *cue tears and stroppy tantrum*... try “Well you’re dirty from playing outside today so YOU can choose either a bath OR a shower, which one would you like to have?” 9 times out of 10 they’ll make their choice and look uber smug about, like they’ve won the battle… but they totally haven’t - you did.
3. Reward charts/routine charts.
I think these are an amazing tool from the age of about 3 years old. We’ve used multiple different charts for Brooklyn over the course of the last year or so and he has reacted so well to them. It’s a great visual tool for them to see progress, and I’m all for a little bribery - so having a reward at the end has always been a huge winner for us. We used a reward chart to toilet train Brooklyn, and we also used a reward chart to get him staying in his bed all night (he was waking up multiple times to come and sleep with us - ah no you don’t little mate!). Currently we’re using a routine chart to help Brooklyn become a little more independent in the mornings. It’s got some imagery that shows the ‘jobs’ he needs to do each morning eg. get dressed, make your bed, eat your breakfast, brush your teeth, etc. and he gets to cross off each job as it’s done. When he’s filled the week up he gets a treat - he always chooses a Kinder Surprise!
4. Tidy up before you get out the next toy/activity.
If I didn’t encourage this - my house would literally look like a bomb hit it by the end of the day. And while it’s easier said than done, sometimes - it really is a great thing to implement if you don’t already. Sometimes you’ll forget and hey, that’s fine - you’re human. But if you spot your messy little monkey moving onto a new activity… that’s where you interrupt with “Hey Brooklyn, if you want to play with playdoh, you’ll need to tidy the blocks up first”. Obviously not all kids are angels and 80% of the time you may need to add “Here, I’ll help you” or even an “I’ll race you!” to get it done. But pick your battles, if your toddler is feral and you know it isn’t going to end well for either of you - just let it slide and tidy it up yourself later ;)
5. One-on-one time.
Some kids may not need it - but speaking from experience… mine does. This may be a ‘first child’ thing, because he had three years of not sharing his parents, then suddenly had to share… so I’m not sure it applies to every child. But anyway... I can tell when he hasn’t had any special ‘Mummy & me’ time in a while - he starts acting up more than usual, being more sensitive, not being as kind to his sister, etc. He gets alone time every day when Marlo naps, but I mean more than that… an outing all by himself with me. I’m not talking a whole day, or even a couple of hours… whatever you can manage. Even just a trip to the supermarket without the other kid/s. It’s not something we do as often as I would like, but it’s something I’d like to work on. I was reminded of that last week when I took Brooklyn to the supermarket to grab a couple of things (usually Marlo is with us 24/7 but the husband was home so we left her with him). When I was getting him out of the car, he grabbed my hand and said “I love it when Marlo’s not here, Mummy”. It broke my heart a little bit. I know he doesn’t mean it in a ‘I don’t like it when she is here’ way… more in a ‘I love our special time that’s just you and I’ way. So, one-on-one time is on my ‘to do more often’ list!
I hope you have found these tips/ideas helpful! I’d love to know if you have anything to add, I’m always looking for new things to try with Brooklyn to encourage happier days together!
This article was written for Kidspot by Jordan Whittaker, who blogs at With The Whittakers.
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