There’s nothing so wonderful as parenting toddlers. These little people are at a crossroads in their life; the crossroads between independence and autonomy, babyhood and childhood. They are curious, thoughtful and quick-thinking, and they can be made happy as easy as anything—and made miserable just as easily. Parenting a toddler is an adventure; an adventure that you are blessed to be a part of.
Parents of toddlers often find themselves watching families with older children jealously. When my child is that big, they think, we’ll have so much fun! Life will be easy again! It might be easy, but there’s one thing you should know—you are going to miss these toddler years and wish them back many, many times when they are over and done.
So take advantage of this time when you have it. Enjoy every minute, and don’t wish them away faster than they go already. Practice being thankful for the little things—your toddler’s sticky kisses, the way he holds your hand as you cross the parking lot, the scribble picture he presented to you as if it was some valuable piece of artwork.
Be thankful for the little things, and don’t forget the big picture. It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees, or forget the joy of parenting toddlers in the exhaustion of keeping them in line and keeping their messes cleaned up. Take time out of the busyness of life just to enjoy your toddler and delight in the wonderful person he is. If you make parenting your toddler your dream job, that’s exactly what it will be. Otherwise it might end up as no more than a stint on an exhausting treadmill.
Parenting tots will take everything you’ve got—and then some more. All your reserves of patience, all your reserves of love, all your energy and all your time. Come to terms with this, and remember that it is only for a season—and that it is a very special season.
How can you make parenting toddlers a success? My advice is to—
• Stay thankful. Take a little time out every day to jot down a few things you’re thankful for, and make them new each day. Thankfulness makes a huge difference in your mood, and a happy parent means a happy toddler.
• Love more than you thought you could. Don’t be afraid to love your child, and make sure that he knows how much you love him. Sometimes we think that our children must know how much we love them—just look at all the sacrifices we’re making! But it’s important we tell them to: love needs to be love in action and in word, not one or the other.
• Discipline consistently—I’ve got another page on this website where I discuss discipline in more detail, so I won’t go into it very much here. But consistent, loving discipline is an important part of successful toddler parenting. It’s something no toddler can do without.
• Spend quality time—focused on your toddler. Time that belongs just to you two, and where there are no phone, computer, or TV distractions. Read books to your toddler. Play with him with his toys. Let him help you with your housework. Let him tell you stories.
There’s one more aspect of toddler parenting that can’t be skipped. Be the person you want your child to become. You are your toddler’s biggest role model, and he’s looking at you for an example of how to behave. What you do speaks much louder than what you say.
So live the life. Let your beliefs and actions be consistent, and be the person you want your toddler’s hero to be. That doesn’t mean you need to hide your insecurities or uncertainties. Showing your child that you are human and fallible but that you’ll work hard to the right thing will be far more fruitful than trying to pull off a ‘superman-who-can-do-it-all’ show.
Remember, parenting toddlers is fun. Fun. Fun. Like, really fun. Don’t lose sight of that, whatever happens.