In case any new mamas out there need some clarification on the subject, let me start by saying one thing… The terrible twos are REAL, ladies!
They’re not a myth. They’re not an urban legend. No, they’re as real as the dark circles under your eyes. But unfortunately for us moms out there, they’re not going to appear any less frightening with a little overnight serum and concealer.
My son turned two last November, and at the beginning of his birthday month, it was like someone flipped a switch – a very dark and mischievous switch – that turned my sweet baby boy into a holy terror 99% of the time. We had just become accustomed to his ways after he hit the big 18-month-old mark earlier in the year – which was a learning curve in and of itself – and then BAM, we were in uncharted territory yet again. I’m beginning to realize that’s basically the definition of parenthood.
And while they aren’t called the terrible twos for nothing, it’s also such a fun stage – full of learning, discovery, a curious sense of wonder and pure bliss. In between tantrums and the whining (ugh, the whining!), I’m in constant awe of my son’s development at this age. From learning new words and starting new routines (I mean, who doesn’t have cheese and Teddy Grahams for breakfast every morning?) to hosting some pretty awesome dance parties featuring Baby Shark, there’s not a day that goes by he doesn’t bring a smile to my face.
We’re only a couple of months into life with a 2-year-old, but the list of toddler dos and don’ts is growing by the minute in my motherhood survival repertoire.
- Don’t ever underestimate the power of a nap – for both your toddler and yourself.
- Do let your toddler try new things, even if you know they won’t like them. And just fyi, coffee is not my son’s drink of choice, but he learned that the hard way.
- Don’t get too attached to any of your home decor – and if you are, put it in an unreachable place (if that even exists). My son – 3, our living room lamp – 0…
- Do follow your mother’s intuition. You’ve been at this gig for two years now, and you know your child better than anyone else.
- Don’t start a movie you don’t want to end up watching on repeat, all day every day… I’m talking to you, Alvin, Simon and Theodore.
- Do soak in all of the snuggles you can. They’re fleeting fast.
- Don’t let your supply of Magic Erasers run low. All moms of toddlers should buy stock in these.
- Do let them pick out their clothes when the occasion calls for it. Their individuality will start to shine through.
- But on that note, don’t expect your child’s socks to ever match their outfit again…
- Do let them have some “me time.” My son likes to go in his room and play on his own every now and then, and it’s good for him and for me.
- Don’t attempt bath time without your bathing suit and raincoat on. I speak from experience on this one.
- Do know that the table isn’t just the dinner table anymore… It’s also the negotiation table. Three more bites of dinner for another swig of sweet tea is a regular compromise in our household.
- Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to embarrass you in public. This may very well be their best skill to date.
- Do put your phone down every now and then to just watch your child – watch them learn, watch then laugh, watch them love. Just watch.
- Don’t forget to stop at the store on your way home from work to pick up more of your child’s favorite snack. Hell hath no fury like a toddler in a house with empty cupboards.
- Do try to maintain your composure or, at the very least, your sanity through the fits and tantrums. Just remember, “this too shall pass.”
- Don’t take out your frustrations on your significant other; they’re just as frustrated as you are. And it’ll only make the times tougher.
- Do let your toddler help out with the tasks around the house, even if it takes twice as long. They’ll feel accomplished and beam with pride, which will, in turn, make you melt.
- Don’t leave your car keys in an easy-to-get spot… No further explanation needed.
- Do discipline your child to help them learn from right and wrong in whatever way you and your partner are comfortable with.
- Don’t lock yourself in the bathroom to hide from your child… Lock yourself in the bedroom instead so you can at least take a cat nap.
- Do carve out one-on-one time with your toddler each and every day – no matter whether it’s singing a silly song in the car or reading an extra story at bedtime.
- Don’t let this age and phase break your spirit. I hear the threenage years are a doozy, too.
- Do embrace the terrible twos. They’re only this little for oh so long.
I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list as the year passes, but in the meantime, enjoy these words of wisdom (more like battle scars) from one toddler mama to another.