Parenting can be stressful! We all know this and if we personally don’t know this then we probably know someone that has experienced it or is experiencing it at this very moment.
As much as this is a super fun stage in Isla’s toddler hood, it has also been the most challenging by far and I am sure it will continue to be. Every day she is testing her limits, seeing what she is capable of and changing her mind daily on things that she likes and doesn’t like. Right now our real blowouts and stressful moments all stem from a few things.
Clothing and Diaper changes. It’s all fun and games to her. She will sprint across the entire house, hide behind curtains and morph her body into shapes that are absolutely impossible to get an arm through a sleeve. To change a diaper I can usually get it off but a minute later her bare bum is running by me in a streak of white and I am left with a handful of bum cream and nowhere to put it. Her snowsuit has added another element of fun to the morning routine and let’s just say we get up 10 minutes earlier in order to make it to daycare on time. She could listen to the sound of her snow pants rubbing together while she is walking for hours and believe me, it does not hurry up the morning process. One trick I have learned is to make sure we are surrounded by books. Usually by the 8th book we have a winner and she is able to lie there relaxed for 2 minutes so I can do my thing. Worse comes to worse I give her my phone and she plays “Peek A Boo Barn” which works every single time.
Rooting through the fridge is one of her favourite past times. To her there is nothing better than sitting in front of a wide opened refrigerator sorting through all the food. Of course daddy is always pleased with this and loves the fact that the fridge will then not stay cold and that our electricity bill has probably gone up. Can you sense my sarcasm?! Our simple solution to this problem? A baby gate in the entry way to the kitchen. Genius! Out of sight out of mind right?! If for some reason she gets to the fridge before I can get the gate up, the meltdown only lasts for a second and usually involves giving her a yogurt to make her forget about her troubles!
Bedtime struggles are real and we are experiencing them in all its divine glory right now. Suddenly we went from a baby that would pick up her lovey and soother and pretty much guide me to her room so she could go to bed and would sleep all night long. Now we are in to big girl beds and whole new territory to deal with. She will not fall asleep on her own and she will not stay asleep. 3 or 4 times a night she is up and wanting to sleep with us. Gone are the days when we get a full 8 hours of sleep and back are the days of constant wake ups and crying for mommy through her baby gate which makes me feel like I have locked her up in jail! We continue to try lots of different strategies to get her to sleep. Later bedtime, a sound machine that puts stars on her ceiling, her favourite blankets but nothing seems to work. I can usually be found asleep in her bed with her or curled up on the floor beside her singing songs. Some nights she ends up in our bed taking all the covers and making it known that this is where she would prefer to sleep. Some nights we let it happen and some nights I curl up with her and sleep the night away with just the two of us in her little twin bed. It seems to keep her relaxed knowing I am there and for right now I am fine with that as long as it allows us all to get a little bit of rest.
What have I learned from all of this as a first time parent?! GO WITH THE FLOW! As someone who can be a little OCD and want everything perfect, I can tell you that it’s not possible, nor is it really fun or entertaining to be perfect. It also hinders the potential for memories to be created and made and to learn from mistakes. I have changed the way I think about things and it seems to make these stressful moments a lot more bearable. We wake up a bit earlier in the morning to allow for those moments when it takes forever to get her clothes on. I chase after her and make a fun game out of it. I have books on hand and I don’t feel like a terrible parent if I have to hand off my phone to her for a few minutes of stillness just to get her flipping sock on! Right now it works for us and she is happy and so are we with very little raised voices in the morning. Those extra few minutes in the morning also allow for the time I need to get the baby gate up in the kitchen so the fridge is now a thought of the past.
Bedtime is a learning process and I know it won’t be easy but instead of thinking about the lack of sleep I am getting, I am trying to think about all the positives like the extra snuggles Isla wants to give, how she wants to hold my hand as she falls asleep, how she asks me to “sing a song mommy” and how she cries out for me at night because you know what, one morning I will wake up and long for those moments with her. If she wants to sleep in our bed or if I have to sleep on the floor then I will do it and I will do it knowing that this is what she needs and what works for us right now. “Go with the flow” they say and that’s what we are trying to do!