While I was in my last semester of my undergrad career, I was in complete and utter overload.
I had student teaching from 8-4, work from 4-8, another class after work, and creating lesson plans when I got home. Can you imagine how stressed I was?
I remember being so exhausted and literally living off of 5-hour energy shots. I remember counting down everyday until graduation. Although, this time in my life was beyond hectic, I’ll admit, it was sure rewarding.
So, why am I telling you this?
Because, I never EVER compared anything to that one crazy semester…
Until I had a child….
I remember preparing myself for everything to come when I was pregnant. I read baby books, I watched videos, I went to about 4 classes a week, I took infant CPR, I even had a nurse I talked to on a daily basis. I remember thinking “I got this”. I thought I had it all figured out.
Um… Yeah… Not so much. What I quickly realized is LIFE isn’t quite much like the books. Emma didn’t sleep… No literally.. She didn’t sleep EVER. She was considered a “high maintenance” baby from what I had researched. She wanted to nurse at everytime of the day. She was never satisfied. All the things the book told me not to do (like co-sleeping) went out the window. The only way she would sleep was on my chest. And I was desperate. And guess what, she still doesn’t sleep through the night at 18 months old.
So when people that don’t have kids tell me they are tired, I squint my eyes at them thinking “Try having a kid, then complain”. I have no sympathy for anyone who says they are tired. (Lol) Sorry.
The infant stage was a piece of cake compared to the toddler stage. At least, as an infant, Emma wasn’t getting into everything. Now, if I take one eye off of her for even a second, she’s already climbing on the couch or trying to eat a bug. There is NO break. Only a short maybe 30 minute nap for her, and that’s if I’m lucky.
With all that being said, here are some tips that I use on a daily basis. They get me through the day and keep me sane (for the most part).
- Keep them busy- find what they like to do and keep them busy. If they are entertained, they will be less likely to get into everything. Example, my toddler loves to go outside. She can be out there for hours. When we are having quiet time, she likes to read tangible books or books on her tablet.
- Let them make messes- I know, this is a hard one for me too. Imagine me putting my arm around you and letting you know it’ll be okay. It WILL. Let them play with their jello, or that unimportant stack of papers, or the mail you just put on the table. Just let them. Why? Because you can always clean up the mess. They are curious little beings. Their job in life right now is to explore. The more you’re open to letting it happen, the easier it will be for you to accept it. Now, that’s not to say that you can’t set limits. Do what you think is appropriate. Nobody knows your toddler better than you do.
- Engage with them- Most parents are so focused on being parents, that they forget the importance of engaging with their child. Explain everything to them. Tell them stories. Have a conversation. Walk outside and verbally label everything. Show them new ways they can play with their toys. At this age, toddlers just want your attention, so make sure you give it to them. Even if it’s just 30 minutes out of your day. Not only will this help their cognitive abilities, but it will let them know that you CARE. They will be less likely to “act out” if you’re engaging with them.
- Mommy time- DONT forget to take some time for yourself. There is nothing wrong with some alone time. Get out of the house, get your nails done, go see a movie. Walk around the block for all I care! I know it’s hard to leave your baby in the care of someone else, but mommy time is just as important. You need to relax and stay sane. That’ll alleviate some of the pressure and anxiety you are having. And, no.. A shower does not count. I already know what you’re thinking.
- Deep breath- When you get frustrated with your child, it’s hard not to lose it. Especially if you are sleep deprived. Best thing to do is take a step back and take a deep breath. Try not to get frustrated. Remember, they are little busy bodies just trying to explore the world around them. They can’t help what they feel or do. Don’t get angry if they don’t listen to you. TEACH them right and wrong. Educate them instead of scolding them. In the long run, they will be more understanding.
- Just Do It- “Yeah, all this information is great but I’m just so overwhelmed with how much I have to keep up with. How do you do it?” The answer is simple…. Just don’t think about. Don’t think about cleaning up the mess your daughter just made with her spaghetti. Dont think about cleaning up the explosive poopy accident your son just had in his diaper. Just DO IT. I’m a firm believer in “mind over matter” and it really does work. The more you think about it, the more you dwell on it. And no good thing comes from dwelling. Eventually you’ll just be on autopilot when it comes to mommy duties. It HAS to be done. Just DO IT.
Im no expert on parenting but I do take things one day at a time, and sometimes that’s the only thing you can do.
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Being a mom is definitely harder than getting a college degree. However, instead of counting down the days, I’m making the days count. 😉
I wouldn’t change it for the world.
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