Sweet Amy is starting us off on the "Advice to the New Toddler Mommy" blog series this week! Amy and I have been blog friends for years now - I did a blog design for her when her Libbi was born, and the rest is history! I love following her journey as a mommy to 2 (almost 3!) girls.
i'm sure it's no secret that our days are pretty full, but i have to say, so are our hearts!
when leslie asked me to write a guest post during emma ramey's birthday week, my first thought was, "NO way is that baby turning a year old already!!!" after i recovered from that shock, my next thought was to make sure that leslie actually meant to email ME and not someone else much more qualified to give her some advice-ha!
my husband, jeffrey, and i have successfully (i hope!) made it through the toddler years with one baby, we're deep in throes of toddler-dom with another, and before we even have time to blink, we'll add another to the mix. whew! that makes me tired just thinking about it! :-)
i am by no means an expert on parenting, motherhood, or even toddlers. believe me when i say that i learn something new every single day. while i may not have any expert advice to offer, i do have some real-life experiences that i can share. our days are nothing if not full of "real-life" ha! ;-)
so in honor of emma ramey's grand arrival into toddlerhood, i have a few pieces of encouragement to share with her momma:
expect the unexpected.
just when you think you have those little angels figured out, they go and change things up on you. my sweet little laney screamed like she was being tortured every single sunday when we dropped her off in the church nursery. for 20 months. as pitiful as it was, we had gotten used to it. we knew she was fine and that she always quit crying within minutes. we had the "peel the hysterical baby from your waist" routine down to a science. and then? one day, she just stopped. nothing changed - same class, same teachers, same church. without any warning, after 20 months, laney decided she'd walk into her classroom like a human being instead of a screeching monkey.
don't give up until you figure out what works for your toddler and for you! (and it usually takes more than one try).
we've all heard the well-meaning, unsolicited, yet sometimes not at all helpful, advice from others. and by now you've probably figured out that just because it works for your mom's co-worker's niece's little girl doesn't mean it's going to fly with yours. the older your babies get, the more their personalities start to shine. my girls are VERY different from each other. their personalities are complete opposites. what works for one does not work for the other. laney is very affectionate. if it's moving, she'll kiss it. when she's accomplished something or completed a task, a hug is just the cherry on top for her. libbi, on the other hand, would much rather give a high-five than a hug-ha! when she has had a great day or made a good choice, she thrives under words of affirmation. she loves to hear that we're proud of her and that we think she's doing a great job.
you can't control your toddler's actions, but you can manage your reactions.
the toddler meltdown is almost inevitable. there are some days when the weeping and gnashing of teeth is out of control at our house. especially with two highly emotional girls - the drama is never ending. i can't imagine what the teenage years will be like! :)
as much as i would love to think that i can make these tantrums stop, i'm learning that i can't. no matter how much i beg, plead, bribe, or will her to behave - there is going to come a time that she will choose to do the opposite. i'm (still!) learning that i can't control my toddler's actions, but i can control my reactions to her behavior. when she's losing her mind, i can maintain my sanity and my cool - i don't have to lose mine right along with her. i'm finding that the calmer i remain, the less effect her fits have on my mood and the overall mood of our household.
always err on the side of grace.
toddlers are little people. they're learning how to behave in a big, big world. when i think about the amount of information that is thrown at my one-year-old on a daily basis - learn to interact appropriately, play with others, share your toys, nap on time, eat using utensils, have your diaper changed, don't make a mess, clean up your toys, say this, say that, etc, etc, etc - i'm amazed that she's able to function - ha! i'm pretty sure that i would be overwhelmed to the point of having a meltdown....oh, wait. hmm...maybe that's why she loses it sometimes. it's amazing to watch our little babies learn and explore the world that they live in, but we must remember to extend grace, because after all - they ARE still learning.
pray. pray. and pray some more.
i pray every day for my girls. i pray over them and i pray for them. i pray for their health, their safety, and their protection. but i don't just pray for my children, i pray for myself, too. i can't do this mothering gig on my own. it is only by the grace of God that i make it through some days. i pray that i will be the mother they need and that He will equip me with all i need to begin laying a firm foundation in my toddlers so that as they grow, they can stand firm in what they have been taught. i pray that no matter how many mistakes i make (Lord knows, it's A LOT!) my children will know that they are loved by their momma and daddy. but even more than that, they are loved with an everlasting love by their heavenly Father.
thank you leslie for allowing me to guest post today and share my heart. i hope emma ramey has a wonderful birthday and this upcoming year is filled with blessings and love. what a lucky little girl she is to have a momma like you!
You can see Amy's blog here. Thanks so much for the great advice, Amy!