A few days ago, I was snuggled up in the corner of the couch with my warm cup of morning coffee, having a sentimental moment staring at my boys while they pushed their toy cars across the hardwood floor and analyzed the rolling of the wheels. “I have full-blown toddlers now. When did my little babies suddenly become toddlers?” I thought. As much as I would’ve liked to freeze time and bottle them up at that previous baby age forever, I am enjoying the toddlerhood season. Now, don’t get me wrong, this age presents several challenges that I am slowly discovering. The tantrums are passionate, toddler neophobia while eating is real, and my little guys are determined to be independent in several aspects of their life – even if it involves potential danger. In other words, I would be lying if I said some days aren’t challenging and full of anxiety. We, as mothers, all experience days of survival…especially during those tough toddler years. I say tough, but it has also been rewarding beyond belief. I have learned some valuable life lessons through raising toddlers, especially on those bad days. Below are a few of those special lessons:
- The simple details in life are often most meaningful. My boys get excited when they see their animal crackers being pulled out of the pantry for snack time. They love to chase our yellow lab around the house while she runs around squeaking her dog toy. The facial expressions they make when they are intently absorbed into a picture book shows how hard they are trying to soak in everything. Splashing water in the tub is the highlight of their day. It is always the smallest of details that I value the most in a toddler. They are so innocent and so full of fascination. It helps me put into perspective just how appreciated those simple details in life should be.
- It is okay to express emotions. Hear me out on this one. I know that as adults it would be socially unacceptable to toss ourselves on the floor and throw a full-blown tantrum in the middle of a grocery store because they are out of our favorite wine; however, it is okay to have a bad day. It is okay to share those emotions, good or bad. Our toddlers haven’t quite figured out how to properly show their emotions, but they are great at showing them. We know when our children are excited or frustrated. Being open about emotions as adults is a good thing. We should always feel okay sharing how we feel, regardless of what that emotion might be.
- Cuddles are essential. Did you know that a hug should last at least a total of twenty seconds in order to lower stress levels and increase your happiness? Well, I sure am thankful for my toddlers when they are in the cuddling mood! I immediately gain a smile on my face when one of my boys runs up to me for a hug or to cuddle. It is an instant mood booster. Valuable life lesson learned: hug more.
- We should laugh often: it’s contagious. I have twin boys and there are rare occasions throughout the day where I catch them laughing together. When one of my boys finds something funny, I find that my other little guy is laughing seconds later. He doesn’t know what is funny, but his brother is laughing – so he joins in. It never fails. Moral of the story: laughter is contagious, and we should laugh more. I spend a lot of my days taking life seriously because to me, raising toddlers is a serious job. It absolutely is, but it is important to reflect and find joys throughout the day that can make me laugh. I find that just observing my toddlers play and do silly things brings laughter. When both boys are cracking up, so am I. It truly is contagious.
- Love often and be forgiving. Toddlers are amazing at showing their love and easily forgiving others. I was at the park a few weeks back with my boys and they were running around with their toy cars. My little guy, Noah, walked right up to an older man sitting on a bench and handed him the toy car. The man rolled the car along the bench and made a “vroom” noise. Noah smiled and the man handed him his car back. I loved seeing the interaction because it shows how simple a toddler sees the world. They are loving, with no bias. Diaper changes with toddlers, on the other hand, are miserable. It involves a lot of toy bribery, restraining, and speed racing to the finish line. It never fails that one of my toddlers have their daily meltdown(s) after diaper changes. Forgiveness usually comes soon after. Next thing you know my toddler has nearly dried-up tears running down his face while he is handing me his favorite book to read to him. Life is short and there is value in forgiveness. Toddlers are great at this – and I appreciate their bounce-back attitude towards life.
Moral of the story: toddlers are remarkable. A challenging age? Without a single doubt. There is something to be said about toddler mannerisms and the simplicity of the way they see the world. I challenge you mama, especially on those more difficult days, to look for ways your toddler has shown you valuable life lessons. I guarantee you will think of a few within minutes. Keep mommin’ on because you got this.