Read an Excerpt
When I launched MommaSaid.net, my website for beleaguered moms who could really use a laugh, I had just survived the toddler years, but I was still reeling from the sleepless nights, potty-training setbacks, and toys and household items stuffed into the oddest nooks and crannies. I was relieved to find that other moms also felt as though the toddler years were a lot like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride: harrowing, yet often amusing, and always full of surprises.
Through the years, the MommaSaid community has generously shared war stories, tips, advice, and commiseration when it comes to those pint-size people we call toddlers, one- to three-year-old children who act a lot like little drunks: overly affectionate one minute, belligerent and incoherent the next, as they stumble toward the door.
Though it's been a few years since I was the mom of toddlers—with two of them under the same roof—it all came back to me when I watched my nephew, a toddler who is rarely still for more than a moment, do something none of the other kids in the family had tried: he picked up an ornately painted ceramic egg—the oh-so-fragile one from Germany—while we grown-ups all held our breath. 'Ball,' he announced. My sister-in-law tried to get to him, but Blam! He dropped it on the ground. He looked over the tiny pieces on the floor and said, 'Broke ball.'
And then it hit me: that's exactly the sort of thing that no one tells you about the toddler years, let alone what to do about it. I knew it was time to put together the kind of back-fence advice for surviving the toddler years that I've included on MommaSaid into one easy-to-read guidebook.
Here, I'll give you the big picture on parenting toddlers in a way that you haven't seen before. Throughout the book, MommaSaid's readers provide their own mom-tested tips that will prove handy when you're staring down a temper tantrum or trying to get your toddler to nap. It's like we're meeting at the proverbial back fence and, mom-to-mom, going through all the things that keep us up at night when it comes to toddlers, from tots who scale safety gates to that hideous shrieking noise your two-year-old has taken a liking to.
You might have a different experience with certain aspects of raising toddlers, and you'll no doubt have your own advice to give to friends who have toddlers now or whose babies are about to reach that first birthday, when so many changes begin. You're no doubt finding out that's when much of what a mom has already learned gets thrown out the window, likely along with a shoe and a sippy cup. (Go check. I'll wait.)
Whether every word is eye-opening or simply a reassuring pat on the back, remember one very important thing while you're parenting toddlers: you're not the only one going through it, no matter how lonely it feels at times. Whenever you need a pick-me-up, flip through this guide or drop by MommaSaid.net for laughs and validation. You know, just as soon as you dig your computer's mouse out of the toy box. (Go check. I'll wait.)
Been There, Done That
It was the scariest Halloween party I'd ever been to, but I was the only one who was frightened. I was wrangling my one-year-old, who had a poopy diaper trapped in a dragon costume with no snaps, in a public bathroom with no changing table. Outside the bathroom and across a stuffy room filled with children hopped up on Smarties, my unsupervised two-and-a-half-year-old, in a hard hat and overalls, was reaching for a plate of cupcakes smothered in chocolate icing. I realized then, I've got two toddlers now. One toddler had been tough enough, but two would surely kill me. Or so I thought.
Sweat poured down my back as I struggled to get my fidgety one-year-old out of his costume and onto the paper towels I had spread out on the grimy bathroom floor. I kept checking on my two-and-a-half-year-old, who was shoving his fingers into each and every cupcake, which had been placed at eye-level by some foolish mother who obviously had just one (freakishly inactive) kid to oversee.
By the time I cleaned up the poopy mess and rediapered and redressed my dragon, my little Bob the Builder was covered in chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles. So I hoisted my one-year-old up and carried him on my hip like a log, waded through the sea of children, grabbed my older toddler's wrist, and dragged him into the bathroom. While I was busy wiping the chocolatey mess off his hands, face, and hard hat, my younger toddler drifted away. Two minutes later, I found him playing in the toilet. I wondered aloud, 'Does this party have an open bar?'
By the time we left the mothers' group-sponsored 'fun-filled' Halloween party, I had silver glitter glue all over my brand-new olive-colored pants, a squirmy twenty-five-pound kid under one arm, two (still wet) painted pumpkins under the other, and a cranky kid who didn't like being corralled—by my feet—throughout the parking lot. When we got home, nap time was long over, even though no one had napped, and Trick or Treaters were already arriving at my door.
That was the day that I discovered that my baby wasn't a baby anymore—and that I probably wouldn't sit down for two more years at least. Soon I'd find out that whenever I took my toddlers to a playground, one would run in one direction and the other would run the opposite way, as though they repelled each other like two negatively charged magnets in fifth-grade science class. Meanwhile, I would run around in circles, trying to keep them from tumbling head-over-butt down the slide or from throwing my car keys down a drainage ditch while fiendishly giggling in my direction like a bad guy in a Batman movie or John Malkovich.
If you have a toddler, you know what I mean. When she was a baby, your kid, with her odd hours and inability to communicate that there's an irritating wood chip in her sock, certainly presented challenges. But your toddler? Well, she's something altogether different. Something that walks, talks, and relocates the bookmark you had placed in your novel last night to someplace you'd never think to look. Something small, but quick, especially in a crowded mall. Something that wants a hot dog and wants it right now! Something Momma never warned you about.
By the time you're speculating how to diffuse a full-out, knock-down display of Terrible Twos in the lobby at the local movie theater on a crowded holiday weekend, you're knee-deep in the toddler years, and all the sudden mood changes, sticky door handles, and 'Get down from there!' frustrations that go with them. And boy, could you use a little help. I'll help you figure out how to handle them.
©2009. Jen Singer. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Stop Second-Guessing Yourself--The Toddler Years. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442