It was only a few months ago that your child was a teeny baby causing you grief at all hours of the night.
Now you have a toddler on your hands, and while the nights are, hopefully, not quite so long, the days are relentless.
Now I don’t want to be drawn into a competition about which age is the toughest. The fact is that with the passing of every birthday you just swap old problems for new ones.
But there’s no doubt that dealing with a toddler can be tricky – kind of like dealing with a very small rampaging criminal that can’t do you any physical harm but can make your day messy. Very, very messy.
Here are the key pieces of knowledge to arm yourself with. You have been warned!
Perhaps the most irritating trait of toddlers is the tantrum. They strike without warning, they are generally over ridiculous things, they can go on for hours and your toddler gives zero s**ts about where they are when they kick off.
Toddlers can throw their toys, literally, out of the pram over trivial matters such as being handed only two breadsticks when they wanted three. Their tantrums can continue for hours over issues such as being annoyed their face is wet with tears. FYI, telling them to just stop crying doesn’t work.
The key to handling the toddler tantrum is to accept that sometimes you just have to ride it out. Snacks can diffuse the situation in the early moments, or a big distraction can help too.
This is where you need packs of stickers and colouring books stored away to suddenly fling at your child when they start complaining that they don’t like orange carrots.
Top tip: Try to drown out the screaming with happy thoughts about anything else. Like wine.
2. Potty training
Eventually you will have to think about ditching the nappies. Apparently secondary school teachers frown on having to deal with that sort of thing.
Accept that for some time your home will smell of wee, and every other thing to come out of your mouth will be “do you need a wee?”.
Short of covering everything in your home with cling film, there’s not much you can do to stop the mess.
Top tip: Buy more pairs of trousers.
3. Stubborn streaks
No-one can dig in their heels quite like a toddler who doesn’t want anything but ice cream, or one who doesn’t want to go to bed.
Thanks to all of that hard work you’ve done on developing their language, they are exceptionally good at arguing. Bet you’re regretting reading up on phonics now!
Top tip: Repeat after me: “I am the grown-up, what I say goes.” If you say it 10 times you may actually kid yourself into believing it.
In the not-too-distant future your child will drop their nap.
It is normal to grieve at this time, the loss is hard to bear.
There are no words of comfort at this time, as that two-hour break in the afternoon was the only thing keeping you sane.
Top tip: Accept that chaos now reigns in all hours of the day, and always get the telly on after lunchtime.
5. Meal times
Your toddler may go from being the child who would eat an entire punnet of strawberries in one sitting to refusing to eat anything that isn’t beige overnight.
Fish fingers, chips, nuggets and beans might become the order of the day for a while.
Top tip: You could deep fry vegetables in a desperate bid to get them to eat their five-a-day. Alternatively you could just accept that all peas will be flung on the floor in disgust for a while. Phases pass.
6. Going out
You’ve experienced the awkwardness of breastfeeding in public as you attempt to wrestle a screaming baby onto your exposed boobs. Then there was the crying, the flatulence, the stench of a freshly filled nappy and the worry about staying out too late in the day in case it led to a danger nap on the way home.
Taking toddlers out is similar, but they like to run around and climb on chairs, they don’t like to wait for their food and they like to practice screaming.
Top tip: Bring enough snacks to feed an elephant.
7. Soft play
Babies like going to cute little baby groups where you sing nursery rhymes and let them try to catch bubbles.
Toddlers like to hurl themselves off of the top level of soft play. While it’s called soft play because it’s meant to be safe, the truth is your child will find a way of making it dangerous.
Top tip: Avoid at all costs.
8. Muddy puddles
Peppa Pig has a lot to answer for. No matter whether they have wellies on or sandals, waterproof trousers on or their best dress, your toddler will make a beeline for the deepest puddle they can find.
Apparently when you, their parent, tells them what to do, they don’t want to do it. But when a bratty pig from the TV tells them jumping in muddy puddles is the best thing ever, they snap to it.
Top tip: Never forget the wellies. Ever.
I hope these top tips will help your survive the toddler years. Do you have any survival tips? I would love to hear them!
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