Your toddler has just reached one year, what a milestone! That precious sweet smelling bundle of sunshine that once fit perfectly in your arms, head resting on your shoulder close enough that is was near impossible resisting kissing them over and over whilst they slept, has incredibly grown at an astronomical rate into a crawling/walking infant ready to explore the world.
As much as I thoroughly enjoyed having a newborn, I have to say, I really do love this age! I love watching my son learning to walk, gleaming with self pride whilst desperately concentrating on his intended destination. I love the determination he shows in all that he does. Things as simple as attempting to pick up a tiny object to fitting shapes into holes, despite the shapes then being launched in frustrated anger. I love the way he attempts to interact with other children by following them with flirtatious smiles. I love the way he puts his face directly in front of mine and babbles a load of very intentional yet complete jibberish. I love the way he toddles over to me just to give me a cuddle. He is utterly beautiful and I am so in love.
But…and this is a big ‘but’, looking after a toddler 24 hours a day is utterly exhausting and at times just down right depressing! It’s so easy to write about all the great things you love about your child when they are fast asleep looking angelic and adorable but the reality of it is that most of your days are filled with temper tantrums, moaning, groaning, nappy changes, preparing food, cooking food, subsequently cleaning said food up off he floor/walls/chairs, changing dirty clothes, building towers, playing peekaboo, acting like every animal you can think of whilst all the while trying desperately hard to do something worthwhile with your day.
I’ve read many a blog in the past trying to find tips to help me get through my days, but for me it was always easier said than done. So I have created my own list of more practical tips for surviving your day with a toddler.
Tip 1 – Embrace the Apps
Toddlers have this incredibly annoying habit of waking up ridiculously early despite the time you put them to bed and somehow (I’m still yet to figure this out) even earlier on those mornings that you had vehemently prayed for a good nights sleep. It’s also more than likely (unless your one of those lucky sods who’s kid sleeps all night) that you’ve had at least one unwanted night wake that left you tossing and turning long after your little one had fallen back to sleep.
So, if you are anything like me and need an extra 5 minutes (30 mins…hmm 40 mins) in bed in the morning then it will be in your interest to forget about the stigma, the judgmental comments of others that you can already hear playing games and taunting you in your head and surrender to modern technology. Give your child the iPad. Yes, I said it! ….don’t think, just do it! I promise you it will keep them focused and quiet and maybe, hopefully, they may even learn something from it.
Tip 2 – Tank Them Up
In order to survive even the first hour of the day it is imperative that you treat yourself to breakfast and a cup of tea/coffee/smoothie, whatever tickles your fancy. It’s also important to ensure your toddler eats a good portion of slow releasing carbs to get them through the morning until snack time/lunch. To do both of these is easier said than done. The trick is to have ready a range of foods to keep putting in front of them be it extra portions of cereal, strawberries, blueberries, banana and when they’ve finished that offer them grapes, raisins, apple. The smaller the better as that will bide you time to finish your tea whilst it’s still hot.
Tip 3 – Drag Yourself Out
This is probably the hardest of them all and one you’ve heard a million times before. But really…get out of the house! As nice as it is to still be in your pyjamas at 10am playing with racing cars, dolls, peppa pig characters, noisy trains and the like, I can assure you, you will be regretting it at 10.15am. You’ll realise the happy play session you thought was happening was really a ruse by your toddler. You’ll be filled with a very real yet false sense of security.
What they really had in mind for you was an ongoing and relentless exhibition of crazy rollings around on the floor interchanged with hitting and head banging whilst all the while wailing and screaming about God knows what. So, i reiterate, get out of the house! Do whatever it takes, put your clothes on over your pjs if you have to, but don’t waste time, get out before you lose the will to live.
Tip 4 – Tire Them Out
This one is pretty self explanatory. The more your toddler runs the higher the likelihood of them having a lovely peaceful long nap. The good thing is, at this age they can’t get anywhere that fast. So, all you have to do is pretend to chase them without having to actually do much. Happy days!
Tip 5 – Be a Slave To Naps/Don’t be a Slave to Naps
If you happen to have a great sleeper who easily nods off by themselves and gives you 2-3hrs rest, then get back home and make the most of it! However, you may be one of those unlucky sods, like me, whose toddler laughs in the face of sleep. Laughs that turn into wild howls and generally coupled with attempts to gauge your eyes out! My tip in this case is to make the most out of your afternoon. Go and do something fun and enjoyable for yourself! If your lucky, your toddler will sleep in the pram whilst you relax with a hot chocolate and caramel slice. Mmmm, yum!
Tip 6 – Playground Micro-Sleep Playgrounds are brilliant for idling the afternoon away. There’s nothing better than the mind-numbing feeling of pushing your toddler on a swing for 30minutes. This is your time to stop thinking about the million things you’ve got to do and save your voice! If your anything like me you’ll find your day is a constant stream of verbal diarrhoea. (It tends to escape willy nilly when you spend your entire day socialising with a child that doesn’t yet talk!)
Even better, enjoy a micro sleep whilst swinging yourself with your child safely sat on your lap. It’s a lovely feeling having your gorgeous toddler so close and feeling the warm breeze on your face.
Tip 7 – Throw them in the Bath When all else fails, there’s only one thing for it! Have trust that a warm bubble bath smelling of sweet lavender and toys galore will calm your little rug rat. Well long enough for you to check your Facebook and respond to your messages anyway. Unless your toddler has a major aversion to water, in which case, I can’t help you there. Sorry!
Surviving a day with a toddler is no easy feat. There will be ups and downs (possibly more downs) but even then you will watch over your sleeping beauties and remember all the great things about being a parent. You get to spend each and every day with your most cherished beautiful babies (they’ll always be our babies). You get to see them grow; learn something new for the first time; be there when they take their first steps; when they say their first words and be there when they need you the most. The most important thing I’ve learnt so far is to be happy! Forget all the crap, the cries, the mess, even the exhaustion – let it go, let it all go! Be happy… or at least be safe in the knowledge that tomorrow is a new day.