Welcome to the wonderful world of parenting a two-year-old! You’ve no doubt heard of the Terrible Twos, and I’m sorry to tell you they’re all too real. But don’t worry, many parents report the second year is as easy as (a non-Pinterest-inspired) cake! Unfortunately, you can’t completely let your guard down until after the Tremendously Trying Threes, which isn’t really what they’re called BUT THEY SHOULD BE. Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you’re in survival mode a lot of the time; you’re definitely not alone!
• Your toddler is learning about 50 new words per month, so issues stemming from them not being able to express themselves will gradually begin to subside (though their requests, demands and questions will increase exponentially). Resist the urge to correct their speech; it’s very common for toddlers to indiscriminately add an -ed for past tense (“goed” instead of “went”) and an -s for plural (“mans” instead of “men”), but the focus at this age is on building confidence and learning the art of conversation, not perfect grammar.
• Why? Why? WHY?!? There’s a reason toddlers have a reputation for abusing this word, which you’ll understand when you start hearing it come out of your little one’s mouth 847 times a day. Toddlers like to learn and they like getting a response from you, so get ready to Google why the sky is blue and why turtle shells are bumpy, because this phase won’t be over anytime soon.
• Don’t be alarmed, but your toddler is kind of gross and messy. Toddlers are all about learning, exploring and discovering. Translated, that means they’re learning what happens when they blow hard into their milk through a straw, exploring what it’s like to have their hands down their pants at all times, and discovering new places to wipe their boogers. There’s not much you can do other than stock up on paper towels and disinfecting wipes, and remind them a billion times to use a tissue. Stock up on BandAids while you’re at it, because toddlers are a bit clumsy until their coordination catches up with their ambition. Try to have patience with all the juice spills, germs, dropped toys and broken… everything.
• Let’s see, they’re gross, messy, clumsy… Did we mention rude? Okay, they’re not intentionally being rude, but toddlers lack a verbal filter and that means speaking exactly what’s on their minds, no matter who can hear them. Awkward and potentially embarrassing outbursts are going to happen, but you can reduce the impact by talking to your toddler about how everyone is different — in looks and behavior — and explaining that everyone needs to be treated with respect. At two your tot is ready for more in-depth lessons on manners beyond “please” and “thank you,” as they begin to understand more complex concepts like respecting the rights and feelings of others.
Scary Mommy tip: It isn’t all nose picking and painting on the walls with poop, but yes, your toddler will have plenty of hard days and tantrums. When you’re at your lowest, some little old lady will inevitably come up to you and remind you to “cherish every moment, because it goes by so quickly.” Right then, for an instant, you might be tempted to hand your toddler over and tell her to cherish this particular moment on your behalf, but (as much as it sort of annoys us to say it) she’s right. During those tough times, try to remember there will be parts you’ll miss later — yup, even the most annoying stuff. Hey, nobody said anything about raising toddlers was logical!