1. Ask consistently and LOUDLY for what you want. When my daughter, the joy and light of my life, wants something, she wants it now and will continue to ask for that toy, snack or whatever it is until she either gets it or I distract her with something else. Sometimes, if she doesn’t like my answer, she will find her dad and ask him for the same thing. Annoying, but how else do you get more crackers in life unless you ask for them?
2. Take pleasure in small, simple activities. I am amazed by the pleasure and sheer joy my child can get from simple activities like Play-Doh and picking up sticks in the yard. Isn’t Play-Doh boring for the third straight day in a row? Why are sticks so fascinating? While sometimes there seems to be no reasoning as to why my daughter wants to do a certain activity again and again and again, I cannot help but be astonished by the happiness she gets from it.
3. Take your time, and after that, take even more time if you need it. When we need to leave the house by a certain time, I build in an extra twenty or thirty minutes just to get shoes, coats, hats, gloves, and bags together because my daughter likes.to.take.her.time. Pet the cat, talk to her baby doll, get one shoe on, get her other baby doll, get one arm in her coat, use the bathroom one more time, get her other shoe on, play with the magnets on the refrigerator… Sometimes, taking our time is not an option, but most days we don’t have anywhere we have to be, so I’ve learned to slow down.
4. Sometimes having a meltdown is the best thing that can happen. It was one of those day; I was bone-deep tired. My daughter was cranky, uncooperative, and on a mission to destroy every room in our house and my husband called to say he was going to be late from work. By 10am, I knew I was going to lose it. I put my daughter in her high chair and for a few minutes had a quiet meltdown of my own in the bathroom. Crying, swearing, throwing tissues on the floor. You know what? It was just enough to get my frustration out.
5. Having a messy house does not make you a bad mother. For a long time, I would clean around my daughter as she played, hovering like a helicopter ready to swoop in at the first sign of a crumb. Don’t even get me started if we were having company over. Eventually, I realized there was no point. A crumb never killed anyone.
6. Life is not predictable or controllable. Today, my daughter woke up at 6:30am. The day before, it was 8:00am. Today she has to wear her pink sneakers, but yesterday she tossed them aside in a huff when I suggested she wear them. Life with a toddler, and with this particular toddler, is completely and utterly unpredictable.
7. Love fully and fiercely. My daughter loves to snuggle, to wrap her arms around me and cling to me like a monkey. Even times when it is really not convenient, like in the middle of making dinner or when I know it’s a stall tactic to avoid going to bed, it’s amazing to be loved so fully and so fiercely.