My daughter has never been “easy.” She’s always been a good sleeper (with a major hiccup during the toddler bed transition) and a great eater. But she has never wanted to just stay at the house and play with her toys or watch TV. She wants places to go and people to see!
One of her favorite things to do was go to the grocery store. From the time she was only a few months old, she’d look up from her carrier or her seat in the cart and smile at anyone who looked at her. Once she learned to say “hi,” she’d shout it at anyone who ventured down the same aisle as us. Grocery shopping was easy-peasey! Then, around the time she was 18 months old, things really started taking a turn. She’d arch her back while in the cart, grab things off the shelf and generally make grocery shopping a dangerous and exhausting task. I remember thinking, “What is happening here?”
Little did I know what I was in for.
The battles over getting dressed, falling to the ground during tantrums EVERY TIME we went into ANY store (seriously), escaping from highchairs/cribs/locked bedroom doors (yes, she can unlock a door AND break off those child-proof handle covers) became a daily occurrence.
It was draining, and I was at a loss.
Did she need to go to a behavioral therapist? Was this due to her eating gluten, red dye #4 or drinking cows milk? Was I doomed to lose every ounce of my sanity? For me, the answer was no (except that last one; that’s still a possibility). I’m not an expert on any of these issues, including parenting, but looking back, here are the small things that got me through the worst of it.
Rely on your Partner
During most of the terrible twos, my husband has been a stay-at-home dad. I don’t know how he did it, but he’s got some huge good karma built up from the patience he exhibited. Many evenings, I tried to take the parenting helm, so my husband could decompress a little,. And on weekends, we were in it together.
When I would throw my hands up in defeat at getting pants on my daughter, my husband stepped in. When we were dealing with a one-toddler food fight at a restaurant and I loudly declared that we would never have more children, my husband told me to go refill my water glass or wait in the car so I could calm myself down. Having my husband as the father of my daughter is one of my biggest blessings, hands down. When I hit my limit, I know he will step in, and I do the same for him.
Revel in the REALLY Little Things
There were weeks where every day was so hard with my daughter.
The teeny, tiny good things were what got me through. Things as small as my daughter eating all of her mac-and-cheese in one sitting without declaring war. Sleeping in 10 minutes later than usual one morning. Getting into her carseat with the dreaded back-arch just once during the entire week. Occasionally, I got a sweet little hand on my cheek, a slobbery kiss or even a “Luh you, mama.”
In those moments, tell yourself, “That was an easy three minutes of my life.” Soak it up! You gotta take what you can get, sista’. The terrible twos won’t last forever.
Give Yourself “You” Time
Okay, I know. This one is kind of hard, especially if you have more than one kid, but this was a big one for me.
Occasionally, after my daughter would go to sleep for the night, I would go out to spend time with a friend. During her nap time on weekends, I’d go out shopping for a couple hours. Since I work full time and husband stays at home, I usually feel like my daughter needs to be asleep for me to go out and truly enjoy myself, guilt-free, but do what works for you! We are also very fortunate to live near family. Turns out grandparents actually enjoy watching their grandchildren, especially if you don’t ask too often and make it sound like your child isn’t a Tasmanian devil when you call to ask.
What little things helped you get through the terrible twos? How long did they last for your child(ren)?