Is toddler parenting getting you down? This can be a very stressful time for many parents. You want so much to be a good parent, a happy, loving parent with a happy, well-behaved toddler; but reality is so different. The toddler doesn’t behave, and it’s hard to be happy with constant tantrums and a house in tantrums.
Other pages on this website have discussions of toddler discipline and other toddler parenting advice, but what I’d like to look at here is just one basic key to happy, successful parenting. And that is—a happy family.
Toddler parenting takes a lot out of you, and sometimes you might be in danger of switching to ‘survival mode’ and focus on getting your toddler to behave, do the right thing, and stay moderately clean and healthy without looking at the big picture or giving any time and thought to the family. But then you’re in a endless cycle: the more the concept of family gets left out and forgotten, the worse the toddler gets, and the worse he gets, the less anyone wants to spend time as a family.
But there’s good news, and that is—you can break out of the cycle. While not neglecting our toddler, you can work on giving yourself a bit of a respite and getting a bit of time as a family—or as a couple.
• Cut Down on Outings
• Evenings are Family Times
• Me Time When He’s in Bed
• Date Nights for the Parents
Look at your weekly planner and see what activities you can give up. Often toddlers get misbehaved when there’s just too much going on—and that often tends to coincide with the times when mom and dad are pretty tired out, too. Cutting down on superfluous outings and just doing the bare minimum means your child has more down time to relax and go back to his sunny, cheerful self. It also means mom and dad are less tired, which makes it easier to deal with whatever behavioral problems still come up.
Try to schedule your days so there’s nothing in the evenings—nothing but plain old-fashioned relaxing; preferably all in the living room together. This is the perfect wind-down after a busy day, and the togetherness of it is something your child will grow to look forward to.
Schedule your days so there’s nothing in the evenings—and then work to get your child in the habit of early bedtime, after an hour or so of wind-down family time. Toddlers need a lot of sleep, and your child should be getting at least twelve hours of sleep at night. That early bedtime also gives you a necessary and regularly scheduled break from your toddler, so you can relax, enjoy the adult company of his other parent, or perhaps soak in a bubble bath.
Me-time when the toddler is in bed can help immensely, but you should also schedule real dates in which a babysitter comes to hold down the fort while the toddler’s parents go out and relive their pre-baby days. Budget a certain amount in your regular budget for these date nights, and make sure you’ve factored in the cost of the babysitter. If your marriage is in shambles, your toddler will be a basket case. A strong marriage means a happy toddler.
Don’t put off these four steps—start incorporating them in your family life today. Toddler parenting will suddenly get much easier, and you’ll thank yourself.