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How to Survive the Toddler Years

boy with brown hair and a white tank top and a girl with brown pigtails and a pink flower hair tie
Oh, the toddler years

So I can officially say I have two toddlers. Not one toddler and a baby, like I used to think, but two rambunctious, loud, over-the-top toddlers. They are my world. I absolutely love them and want to squeeze their chubby little cheeks, but sometimes I also just want to pull my hair out and throw my own tantrum on the floor, right alongside them.

So what do I do to survive? Well, most of the time I have to tell myself to stop and just breathe. And sometimes I have to tell my son, who is 3, to do the same. But along with that, I have to remember that my toddlers are still young, testing their boundaries, and not fully understanding when they do something that "isn't good."

I also have to remember that my kids each have their own personalities. My son is very hyper, hates to nap (with me, but he will with the nanny) because he's afraid he'll miss out on the fun, and is obsessed with animals and all of the LOUD sounds that come along with being one. He's also the older of the two at 3 years old.

My daughter, on the other hand, is also hyper, but not to the level of my son. She loves to listen to music and dance, hug her bunny stuffed animal, and try to play animals with my son (when he lets her). She also loves to say the word "thank you." My son - not so much on his own. Now don't get me wrong, he is extremely sweet. He is just on to the next play thing before he even thinks to say thank you. So yes, we're working on it.

But that's the thing, we as parents always feel like we have to work on things with our children. And we do, but we also have to remember that they are kids. Now that doesn't mean I am going to let him run all over the place, throw items, hit or scream. But it does mean that I'll understand a tantrum is usually because he's tired and can't verbalize it, so I'm not going to get frustrated. Instead, I choose to remain calm and address the underlying issue as opposed to just the behavior happening "here and now."

I will say that is the biggest thing that has helped me - CHOOSING to be calm. Just like toddlers, we as people like to feel in control and like we're making choices. So if I can choose to be calm and address the situation in front of me, whether it's screaming for a popsicle before dinner, an accident while potty training, or fighting over toys, it makes addressing the issues with my toddlers much better. They act up a lot of the time because they want attention or a reaction. Once I learned to stop giving in and giving them the reaction they were seeking (really my son), it has helped to turn the dynamic around. That's not to say he doesn't act up, it just means that it doesn't get my blood pressure going like it used to.

But that's not to say that I don't lose my cool every once in a while; but I know that I have the choice to handle the situation in a calmer way and that it leads to more peace for myself, my husband, my kids, and my poor dog (he bears the brunt of my kids wanting to play). Just remember to breathe or SIGH. SIGH = SIT IN GOD'S HANDS. Sometimes that's all we need to try to make it through these tough years. And wine or a martini never hurt either.

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