The terrible twos are utterly brutal.
Just when you thought your child was entering those golden years when your family life would look like something from an Enid Blyton book illustration, your kid whacks you in the face then spends an hour screaming because of their socks.
The newborn days are hard, I really don’t want to downplay that at all, but the trouble with the terrible twos is that you are now expected to get up and be an adult every single day.
During the newborn days there’s a good excuse to just spend all day in your PJs after a nightmare night. Now you’re expected to go to work, keep the house in order and brave going out in public with a child who behaves like they’re on acid.
My youngest is in the grip of this stage and I am on the verge of losing it on a daily basis. She cries in public, thrashes in my arms when I try to carry her away, throws herself to the ground and kicks out her legs, and screeches “no” at a volume and pitch that hurt my ears.
If you are wondering that your child is at this stage, or worried whether your kid is normal, read on for the terrible truths about the terrible twos.
1. It starts earlier than age two
I would like to report whoever named them the “terrible twos” to the Advertising Standards Agency, because it’s the most misleading term ever.
The terrible twos started way before my girls’ second birthdays. In fact my youngest isn’t even two yet and she’s been driving us up the wall for the last six months.
If your kid is displaying the behaviour as described above at age one onwards, then I’m afraid it’s the terrible twos. Maybe we need to rename it? Something catchy like, “the terrible fucking nightmare that seems to never end”.
2. Going out is like playing Russian roulette
Will they behave, or will they kick off within two minutes? You never can tell and that is the scariest bit about having a child in the terrible twos.
Even going out the supermarket to pick up milk can turn into an ordeal that leaves you reaching for the sauvignon when you get home.
Meeting people for a meal out is the riskiest business of all. There’s nothing enjoyable about shovelling food in your mouth as quickly as possible while your child demands to be picked up and then immediately put down again all while screaming the place down.
3. It pushes your patience to the limit
Do you remember that time before you had kids when you swore you would never be “that mum” screaming at her kids in the supermarket car park? Yeah, me too. What a joke that was!
4. Attempting to reason with them is futile
Kids learn a lot of new words between the age of one and two. However the trouble is that while they may understand what you are saying, that doesn’t mean they are inclined to do what you ask.
Asking a toddler to “please be good” while out is utter madness. Your best bet is bribery, however this only gives five minutes of respite so don’t use up all of your bribes in one go.
5. Other people can be dicks about it
The dirty looks in shops, the judgemental comments, the “helpful” advice. All of these things make it a million times worse.
I don’t understand what is so difficult to understand about this to other people. We can try our best to encourage good, quiet behaviour in our kids, however telling a two-year-old what to do is likely to be as successful as telling the sky not to be blue. It is what it bloody is.
You cannot influence your child’s behaviour in a way that avoids the terrible twos. And yet people cannot help but give those filthy looks in shops or make remarks about how dreadful the noise is.
What these people fail to realise is that they were this fucking annoying when they were two, just as we all were.
A mum of a child in the grip of the terrible twos needs you to be sympathetic, make no negative remarks, only provide advice when it’s specifically asked for and supply wine as required.
6. Some days are horrendous
The worst days are when your kid objects to absolutely everything from the word go. You can’t even get them dressed without a fight.
These days are long and hard to handle. It is mentally and physically exhausting – especially when you have other kids and commitments that you’re trying to juggle too.
Remember that it sucks for so many other mums too. You are not alone.
7. Some days you won’t like your kid
You won’t stop loving your kid, but you will mutter four-letter words under your breath a lot. You may even think they are a bit of an arsehole at times. That’s OK. Really, you are not a bad mum for disliking something that won’t stop kicking you in the boob.
8. Sometimes it’s quite funny
Even though it can be annoying when your kid is kicking off, actually it’s sometimes hilarious because of the reasons behind it.
My daughter kicked off for well over an hour once because I wouldn’t let her rip open all of my tampons and sanitary towels she had found in the bathroom.
My young nephew cried when my brother wouldn’t buy him condoms from a public restroom dispenser machine.
My youngest is currently in a constant fury over her clothes. She tries to take them all off and then put them back on again, but she can’t quite do it. The epic tantrums that have ensued are unbelievable given they’re over a pair of trousers.
9. You haven’t done ANYTHING wrong
You may think you have got this parenting lark completely wrong. You may conclude the tantrums, repeated use of the word “no” and hitting is all your fault. You are wrong.
This is a phase so common that you only need to Google it or search for it in Mumsnet chat threads and you will find thousands of mamas wondering exactly the same things as you.
Is it my fault?
Have I not given my toddler enough attention?
Is nursery making them this angry?
Am I not making sure they get enough sleep?
Have I been feeding them too much sugar?
The answer to all of the above is no. Your kid is in the grip of a phase that all kids go through. Remember it’s a phase (a bloody long one, but a phase) and that it will not last forever.