Dear Toddler Mama,
First off, congrats! You made it this far! You survived babyhood! I’m throwing up all the ‘praise hands’ emojis for you.
I know people keep telling you to buckle your seat belt and get ready for a wild ride. They keep telling you your sweet baby is about to be gone and that a “terrible” and “trying” child has entered your life. That “real parenthood” starts now.
I know it makes you cringe and hold your breath when they say those things. I know your eyes get wide and the wheels in your head start spinning. I know a sense of self-doubt, dismay, and fear for the future sets in. But…let’s take a step back for a moment, okay?
Take a deep breath.
Close your eyes.
And ignore everything those people just told you.
There are perhaps a few truths to their statements, but if you have learned anything from babyhood, it’s to trust that your experience is your experience.
If you’re anything like me, babyhood was beautiful…but hard as hell. The list of reasons could go on and on. But you want to know the best part? You survived…and you learned a lot along the way.
Your greatest lesson was to trust your instinct. You learned to put away the books. You learned to step away from Google. And, you learned to ignore any unnecessary advice that didn’t resonate with you, your gut, your family, or you parenting style.
I want to assure you, even if you don’t believe me, you CAN do this.
You already survived what felt like the hardest thing you have ever done – newborn babies and post-partum depression. So, you too can survive toddlerhood.
Is it going to be messy? Yes.
Will it be painful at times? Absolutely.
Will you have to set boundaries and stay calm when all you want to do is loose your mind. Heck yes! But you CAN do this.
You are going to get to a point where you are in completely uncharted territory and you are going to panic. You’ll want an answer, a solution, a quick fix.
Two things to remember: one, there may not be a solution and even if there is, it may not be immediate. So be patient.
Two, your first response will be to grab all the parenting books. Remember, those are guides not instruction manuals. Trust your instinct. If it doesn’t feel right for you and your family, don’t do it. You are smarter than you think.
And you know what? You are going to have fun. This stage in your child’s life is pretty incredible. Challenging at times, yes, but truly, so much fun.
There will be times when it will be easy to get sucked into the negativity. When your child throws a fit for no logical reason or when he talks back or refuses to sleep.
Occasionally you should vent, because it’s healthy and normal, but try not to jump on the complain train. It won’t be easy, but that negative talk – you and your kids don’t need it.
This brings me to my next point – I give you permission to fail.
I give you permission to loose your temper occasionally, to yell when you didn’t mean to, to not know what the “right consequence” should be, to question whether you did the right thing.
But I also give you permission to forgive yourself, to apologize, and to use your mistakes as a teaching moment for yourself and your little one.
Don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry.
I give you permission to fail, and I also give you permission to start over.
A few last words.
Remember to be a leader in your household.
Your children are constantly watching you. Be their leader. Lead by example in kindness and love. Set healthy boundaries. Follow through on your word. You always have been a leader, so I have no doubt that this will be your greatest opportunity to lead.
Remember to love.
Love, love, love. Love your baby, love yourself, and love your partner. In all of your acts, do them with love.
So, my wonderfully strong and resilient mama, go forth into toddlerhood. I am behind you 100%. You can do this.