Anyone who’s ever had a baby knows that those toddler days can be some of the most difficult. They’re learning every day and trying so desperately to understand this huge world around them. This toddler/threenager stage is both my most and least favorite so far. I’ll be the first to tell you that there are some really great days but man are there some hard ones too…and when I say hard I mean REALLY REALLY DANG HARD DAYS, especially for us stay at home mamas. The last two weeks have been especially rough behaviorally with Monroe and I have called David and my mom both crying for advice more times than I probably want to admit. I am far from the perfect mom, but these are just some of the things that’s been working for me to get us both through the day happier and with less stress.
1. Separate yourself from each other
As much as I am completely obsessed with my kids, sometimes (especially after a stressful morning/afternoon) we just need a break from each other. Monroe doesn’t nap anymore so instead I have tried to implement at least an hour a day of quiet time in her room. I dim the lights and she can watch a movie on her iPad or quietly play with her toys. I try to plan this quiet time around the baby’s nap so I can have some uninterrupted time to myself to read my devotional, get some housework done, do my makeup or even just sit down for a minute. Getting even just a few minutes to myself each day has helped me re-focus my day and be more loving and forgiving when bad behavior happens.
2. Get outside
This can be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood or as extravagant as heading out to your local park, sometimes all you both need is some fresh air and a change in scenery. I try to get outside for a walk at least one a day if it’s not raining. We also love to draw on our front walkway with chalk. This gets her creative juices flowing and usually keeps her entertained for at least 20 minutes.
This one seems all too simple, but I know when we’re having one of those really bad days, I often let the enemy sneak in and keep me from focusing in on God. Instead of stopping to pray for guidance, I all to often act quickly out of frustration. The power of prayer is so real and every time I think to stop and talk with God, not only does my attitude shift but I think it’s such a great teaching moment for Monroe too.
4. Invest in a time out chair
We’ve tried time outs to her room, time outs on the stairs, time outs on the couch and none of them have worked efficiently for us. She would wiggle around and continue to test me throughout her entire 3 minutes. Getting a time out chair and a physical timer was so helpful. She knows when she’s gone a little too far exactly where she needs to be and stay until her timer goes off, then she’s to immediately come look me in the eyes and apologize specifically for what she’s done. Having her be specific in her apology helps her learn what she’s done wrong and hopefully one day it will stick…although I assure you today is not that day.
5. Go to Target
I don’t know about you, but Target always makes me feel better. I can strap the sassy threenager into the shopping cart, get a coffee, and stroll up and down every single aisle if I want to. I don’t even have to buy anything but just getting out of the house for a bit and going somewhere you want to go will help clear your head for the rest of the day.
6. Call your husband, you mom, your best friend, anyone
Sometimes all I need is to call someone and cry it out for a minute so I can calm down. Talking to a 3 year old all day is exhausting and sometimes I just need to talk to another adult. After I’ve had my full vent session and cried it out, whoever I’ve called almost always gives me some sort of suggestion that I haven’t thought of or tried that day. Most of what I’m giving you now were suggested to me during one of our rough days. Most of the time it’s just the reminder I need to switch my focus and continue pushing for a better day.
7. Try to plan one fun new activity per day
Most days after lunch, we do some sort of activity or craft. It doesn’t have to be huge or dramatic, just something new to break up the monotony of the day. Some things we like to do are color with crayons, sculpt with play dough, draw with chalk, make popcorn and watch a movie, do a face mask, paint our nails, finger paint, make cookies, make and play with kinetic sand, create colorful light catchers, or make bracelets and necklaces. If you have a Five Below store in your area, check out their craft kit section. They have so many craft kit options, coloring books, and so many different things all $5 or less to grab your kiddos attention and switch up your fun activity every day. This is a time Monroe looks forward to every day and it’s also a great motivator for good behavior during the first half of the day!
8. Get someone to come watch the kids and go get a mani
If it gets so bad that you just can’t handle it anymore and you’re lucky enough to live near family or have babysitters available during the day, call them up. Listen to me mama, you are not a failure for wanting and needing a few hours to yourself. If anything, you’re doing your kids a favor by getting a new face in the house for a bit. I know sometimes Monroe is just so sick of seeing and hearing from me all day that anyone other than mommy is just what she needs to listen and have a better attitude. I promise when you return, not only will you feel better but your babes will be so much more receptive after missing you for a bit.
9. TV/screen time
Sometimes you just have to put on their favorite tv show or hand them the iPad and call it a day. While I don’t let her consistently watch show after show or mindlessly play on her iPad all day, there are times that I just have to give in and let her have some screen time. If watching an episode of Mickey Mouse or playing her Doc McStuffins game keeps her stationary for a bit and calms her down then sometimes, for my own sanity, thats just what I’ve got to do.
10. Just play with them
The housework and chores can wait, they’re only this little once and when they’re grown you’re going to miss these times…yes, even the hard ones. I know sometimes I’m so focused on what needs to be done around the house, that I forget to sit down and just have fun with my kids. I think often her lashing out or disobeying is just a plea for my attention and instead of being quick to call her down I need to assess the situation slowly. Yes, sometimes her behavior issues are just her being a 3 year old, or being tired (like right now as I type this. HA!) but I know that sometimes she just wants my attention. She wants me to get in the floor and play with her, tickle her, fly her on my legs like an airplane, play with her makeup and baby dolls and snuggle with her. So don’t get too focused on all that needs to be done and let their childhood pass you by. These are some of the most fun times with your babies, so do just that…HAVE FUN with them.
I hope some of these tips that have helped me will help you. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the bad behavior and call it a bad day. Don’t do that, mama. Try everything you can to turn your bad day around.
What are some things you do to de-stress on those rough days? I’m always looking for new suggestions and would love to know what helps in your house!