If you do a quick Google search or walk into any bookstore, you will see a ridiculous amount of parenting advice. This advice is often contradictory because everyone knows there are a million different methods for getting your kid to sleep through the night. And you? Well, you’ve been doing it wrong.
That’s not reality. Reality is figuring out that your 8-week old with colic and acid reflux will only sleep in a swing that’s bumping the wall while listening to baby Mozart tunes. Bumping the wall? Yeah, that happened by accident when you were trying to vacuum around the swing. It hit the wall and miraculously, silence for the first time in 8 weeks. Then you spend the next three months listening to Mozart and bump, bump, bump as you try to drift off to sleep.
That’s reality. At the end of the day, no one else’s parenting advice will do the trick with every toddler, everywhere. So we toddler parents simply have to do our best to keep it together and make sure we aren’t raising giant a-holes along the way. Part of that battle is realizing that things aren’t going to go how you pictured them.
What’s Good for the Toddler Is Good for Everyone
This one has the power to make your life super awkward and difficult at the same time. If you’ve ever told your toddler something that “everyone” must do, don’t be surprised if said toddler makes sure everyone does it!
What in the world does that mean?
Imagine a super cute potty-training toddler girl. Her mom told her that wiping is necessary after using the bathroom. She takes it to the extreme and chases everyone that comes to their home and uses the bathroom with a wipe shouting, “I wipe butt! I wipe butt!” Yes, this really happened.
Toddlers Are All About Fair Treatment and Not Afraid to Let You Know
If you try to set certain rules for your toddler, such as don’t stand in the shopping cart, don’t jump off of the playground slide and other general things that will help keep you out of the emergency room, just wait until they see another toddler not following mommy’s rule. Their outside voice comes out to play, they point their finger, and they won’t to know why that kid can do it but they can’t.
It’s serious. Other parents start to look and you have to try to look calm and collected instead of mortified. You could turn and say that kid’s mom doesn’t care about safety, but that will only make the situation worse. Instead, the classic “he/she is not my child” seems to work (for now).
Toddlers Develop Preferences – Who Are You to Stand in Their Way?
So here’s the thing. If you try to do something special for your toddler one time and intend to not make it a regular occurrence, you will quickly find that’s not reality.
Example? Sprinkling some fun chocolate chips on yogurt, thinking it would make your toddlers happy. Win. Not doing it next time (and every time after that)? Pure chaos.
Or how about the toddler that will only eat certain foods in a certain chair, at a certain table. And maybe even only a during certain time of day. Or the cute blue-eyed three-year-old who will only eat with the blue fork and spoon because that’s his favorite color and why don’t you know this, mommy?
As a parent, you want to encourage individuality, of course, but your toddler will challenge you and take it to the extreme.
You Teach Your Children Not to Lie While Consistently Lying
Before you have kids or before your kids can talk, you may think you will never lie to your precious child. You know your mom and dad lied to you, and there has to be a better way.
Just wait until it’s 3 a.m. and your precious toddler won’t go to sleep unless you promise to sit right there, in that squeaky rocking chair all night. You might even lay it on thick with a quick “I promise” to seal the deal.
The second your kid falls asleep? Ninja-style to the door and fall into your own bed. What happens the next morning when your toddler wakes up and sees an empty chair (because, be honest, you know that toddlers don’t forget anything, ever)?
You will tell little Suzie some variation of this: “I sat there all night, just like I said I would. I only got up right before you woke up to use the bathroom/get a drink of water/insert any quick task here.”
If that one didn’t get you, wait until you’re eating your favorite food (the one you don’t get often) and your child asks for half. Don’t be surprised if “you won’t like this, it tastes like vegetables” escapes your lips.
These little fibs will show up in parenting in many different variations, perhaps to keep from hurting the toddler’s feelings or to keep them from hurting others. Or maybe it’s something simpler like getting a good night’s sleep or indulging in your favorite treat every so often.
These stories only scratch the surface of the reality of being a toddler parent. The best thing that you can do is pick your battles and realize that, at the end of the day, as long as everyone is safe, loved and (relatively) happy, you’re doing a good job.