Fierce, sassy and full of unending joy, our children are a lifeline to who we are as much as we are to them. That being said, life with a toddler is not always an easy ride. Arguing with a miniature version of yourself before the day has even begun is not usually a good omen.
You may feel like a seasoned pro in the face of a toddler tantrum, but when routines become broken, how do we fix it?
Obviously, parenting is never going to be a one size fits all. So, from mother to mother, here’s how I’ve overcome some of mum life’s greatest challenges:
Children love routine. Constant and expected, consistency helps us to establish good boundaries with our babes. When we fall out of a pattern, it can have an incredible impact on our children. But, just because something is broken, doesn’t mean it can’t be restored.
I am not a morning person, and I am beginning to think that my girl has inherited this too. Now a preschooler, the days of being leisurely in the mornings is no longer an option. When the alarm goes off, my instinct is to hit snooze repeatedly. So is hers. When that alarm goes off, it is a call to action. Use it! Regain the positivity you need to get you and your babe through the day!
Routine starts and ends with you. Your child can only follow your lead. So, lead well.
Start the day well
Time waits for no-one. Before taking the parenthood leap, rushing around the house to get showered, teeth brushed, deodorant on was never a problem. Now, you are responsible for another. Allowing enough time for your morning rituals will reduce stress later on.
Getting your child to brush their teeth in the morning and before bed will encourage good dental hygiene, and develop their understanding of why it’s essential. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day. So make it count. Fresh breath and reducing tooth decay now will set your child up for life. Sounds simple right?
To get your little one on board with brushing their teeth may need a bit of creativity from you. With so many brushes on the market, first you have to grab your child’s attention. Flashing lights, timers and electric toothbrushes have made toothbrushing so much easier in our house. Giving my girl a choice has given her ownership over her toothbrushing, and she is more compliant than ever to keep her teeth in check!
What better way to feel connected as a family than to eat together? It’s the perfect time of day to share stories, talk and learn from each other. What’s more, you get up to three opportunities in the day!
From the moment your little one is born, they look to you. Their whole understanding of the world is shaped by how you interact with it and with them. Eating together is another one of these pivotal learning experiences. Not only are you building a family culture, but you are also demonstrating your relationship with food and with your family.
Sometimes the world can feel overwhelming and so much bigger than we can handle. Now think about how your child feels! Having moments throughout the day where your babe can feel connected and secure will help them feel more grounded.
So snuggle up and share a story together. Not only is your child developing their language and communication skills, but they are exploring concepts. Engaging your child in fiction and non-fiction stories will help broaden their understanding of the world. You are also encouraging a lifetime love of reading in the process!
Making the time to chat with your child from the moment they are born to adulthood will encourage healthy relationships. If they feel like they can share the most meaningful part of their day with you, think of how that will affect their future. So be an open book, and let your child share in your day too.
Make bathtime fun again
Imagine a world of water, bubbles and brightly coloured toys. Bathtime is where I know my little one goes into another place. She interacts with her toys and transforms the bath into a deep-sea dive, dinosaur planet and sometimes reenacts the plot from Frozen.
Bathtime is her space to let loose. It is also where her body physically reacts to the warm water to prepare her for sleep. Our bodies do this wonderful thing when they suddenly cool down. Our primal instincts take over, and our minds begin to wind down for the rest of the night.
I never realised how much of a feature caffeine would become in my life until my little one came into the world. At four years old, she still struggles to sleep throughout the night. As you can imagine, this has taken its toll on my mental wellbeing. Zooming away from that picture, attachment issues are the real deal for most parents.
Psychologist John Bowlby describes attachment as a bi-product of evolution. Children are born with an innate desire to form attachments with their caregivers. Which ultimately makes sense when you think of how your babe is literally attached to you in the womb. This invisible umbilical cord is seemingly never really cut!
Even with a calming bath, a bedtime story and ambient lighting, my girl needs to know that I am there. That feeling of security and comfort is the only thing that roots her in sleep. I thanked my lucky stars when my aunty brought her a weighted blanket. The gentle weight of it feels like a warm hug throughout the night, and she has never slept better. Neither have I!
Using the blanket has helped her to fall asleep quicker and sleep for longer stretches of time.
Mum life does define us. In a world of societal pressures and stigmas, nothing can prepare you for what life with a child looks like. However you build routine into your day, you know your child and how they tick. You’ve got this Mama!