We never really had a “theme” for either of our kids’ rooms—mostly because neither of them have ever had their own room. However, after my daughter turned 3 I caught her hammering a push pin into the wall with her toy hammer so she could hang up a photo of a tiger we took at the zoo. I realized that she was starting to want to express herself on her walls—who doesn’t?—but none of the mass-produced wall art at our local stores seemed to catch her attention. So we turned to some far less orthodox, but really fun, ways to decorate her side of the room.
Their Own Art
The tiger picture that started it all…and a heart she made in preschool.
Ok, I really forget why my daughter suddenly decided she needed wings. Not just any wings would do, either—they had to be bat wings. I reached under the bed for the plastic bin that serves as our very lame dress-up costume repository, only to discover that we had no wings at all. I’ll pick up a bunch of costumes at Goodwill for cheap after Halloween, I had thought but never actually followed through on. So instead we made some.
Are you in my exact same situation? Never fear! Whip up some animal wings at home really quickly, and you get the bonus of your child helping out, as well.
- Poster board
- Decorative materials
No one wants their child to grow up feeling insecure. We want them to feel like they own the world. Confident children are more likely to create and use opportunities available to them. So, how do we build confidence in toddlers?
How do I feel about myself? Well, it seems that no matter how much I exercise or how healthy I eat I haven’t lost weight. I should wear makeup more often. I am not a fan of my skin and I hate my nose.
Imagine how surprised my two year old would be if I told him all that. To him I’m beautiful. I know because he tells me daily. Now imagine how he would feel if I told him everything wrong with me. Best case scenario he would feel mommy is sad and try to comfort me.
Worst case scenario is a much darker road to go down. The person he thinks is beautiful and perfect as she is has flaws. These flaws, she says, makes her not pretty. How many flaws does he have? What does he need to change about himself to be cute? Did he get mommy’s nose? Mommy is always saying she hopes he didn’t get her nose! What if he did?
I mean, not to brag or anything, but my daughter used to eat everything.
And do I mean EVERYTHING. Pickles? Steak? Mango? Yes. She’d eat half a bag of steamed green beans for dinner. Her favorite food for the longest time was pickled ginger, something that even me with my Asian taste buds could only eat in tiny bites, but she scarfed it down by the spoonful. I was super proud of my amazing kid. Chicken nuggets and French fries never saw the inside of our kitchen.
And then one day—she didn’t eat everything. It was like the universe knew how smug I secretly felt about my Kid Who Ate Everything, and overnight turned her into the pickiest eater on earth. Mealtimes started becoming battles, and I didn’t want to be battling with my toddler over food.
Enter: The snack tray.
Toddlers are cute. When they do something funny I chuckle and all is right in the world. It doesn’t matter if it is messy. It doesn’t matter if it’s happened before. It doesn’t matter if it’s against the rules.
Unfortunately little ones are aware of this too. They get in trouble and their automatic response to this is to get us to laugh. They smile and laugh and try to hug you. It’s like they are saying, “Come on mommy! It’s much more fun to laugh than to reinforce the rules!”
The sad thing is they are right. It is more fun to just to last. Unfortunately, if you laugh you lose. You have to show little one when their actions are not acceptable. But how do you not laugh?
Ok, we live in the Pacific Northwest. There are a lot of rainy days, and granted, our area has an amazing amount of toddler-friendly gyms, museums, and other indoor play places we often take advantage of. But sometimes we (ok, I) don’t feel like loading up the kids and trekking out. Sometimes it feels nice to have an in-home day where we can all lounge around with no shoes and sometimes no pants on…but the kids still want to play with water, maybe even channel summertime a bit. And it’s easy to do this with ice cube boats, and even better, you may even have all the supplies to do this already!
- Bendy straws
- Small, freezable cups
Fill your small, freezable cups with water. Disposable plastic or paper cups should work—we had actually just made cupcakes and I still had all my silicone cupcake cups out, so we used those! Cram the bendy straw into place. I had to trim mine a bit to make it fit.
I defy stereotypes because I hate shoe shopping.
To be fair, I have good reason. How many other 5-foot-4-inch tall people do you know have a US size 11 wide foot? Women AND men a good 6 or more inches taller than me often have smaller feet. I live in the Pacific Northwest so I suppose there’s the potential for some literal Bigfoot genes floating around somewhere. Anyway, it’s a pain finding shoes that fit and are comfortable, and even harder to find shoes that are also somewhat stylish (come on, I’m still in my 20s, I don’t need ten slightly different pairs of loafers!). Basically, I’ve hated shoe shopping since I was about 14 years old.
And then I had kids, and after they started walking, I suddenly found myself needing to go shoe shopping for them. No more cute little stretchy booties or soft-soled leather moccasins. And I was annoyed.
At first I tried to make it easy on myself and picked up kid’s shoes at consignment and thrift stores. I figured they’d just grow out of the shoes quickly, so why pay full price? Sometimes I do find good deals, but some mornings I wake up and the $1.99 Goodwill Stride Rites that fit my kid just fine yesterday are suddenly two sizes too small, and of course the size I now need isn’t to be found at any secondhand store in a 50 mile radius.
My daughter wore these size 5 shoes for about two weeks before she grew out of them. I saved them for my son, who never wore them because he went straight from a size 4 to a 6.5. Of course.
Recently, I flew across the country with two kids for the first time. My husband was with me, but our kids are three and one and often after 8 hours with them I feel a bit insane—and that’s when I have an entire city at my disposal in which to drag them around. Spending several consecutive hours smushed between them, trapped in a narrow metal tube with 150 other people sounded like a very special punishment for all the stupid things I’ve ever done in my entire life.
I was so freaked out about the entire trip that a couple of weeks before I sat down and wrote an item-by-item list of things to pack for every person in our family. It was color coded by person and which piece of luggage each item would be packed in and everything, and if you knew how incredibly unorganized I usually am (once I lost the baby monitor and eventually found it in the refrigerator, because DUH, where else would it have been?), you’d appreciate how much I was stressing out to the point where I’d do something like that. Then I hit up the dollar section of Target and threw whatever looked semi-interesting into my cart. Usually I like quality toys, often wood, and carefully budget for them, and don’t (often) bribe my kids with junk food, but this time I strapped them into the front of the cart and shoved Icees into their hands to distract them from seeing the sheer amount of crap I was tossing in the basket. I am sure every other parent in the store was glaring judgmental daggers at me.
How is it that when you travel, you always feel like you’re bringing way too much and not enough at the same time?
Children can do and say some crazy things sometimes. It’s part of their charm. Sometimes the things they say and do make us have to stop and question our priorities and points of views. If we are really lucky we can even change a few of our points of view to find the joy in life that comes so naturally to the small ones in our lives.
Be Excited About Life
An apple is worthy of a jump up and down celebration in my child’s point of view. So are new pajamas, taking the trash out, and watching a favorite television show. We are talking about uncontrolled bouncing shouts of joy. If we all celebrated the little things like a two year old the world would be a happier place. The opposite, however, does not apply. We would all be very unhappy if we all had toddler like meltdowns instead.
After about six months of trying to convince my son to use the potty, and cleaning up the aftermath, we have found a few potty training hacks we agree on (because when your toddler isn’t cooperating with potty training it feels like herding cats to a toilet) that have turned the tide in our potty war and resulted in a truce.
Hand Held Entertainment
I don’t let my children play with my Kindle Fire as a rule. This has resulted in making it one of the most coveted items for my children to play with. I can see their little wheels turning over how to play with it without getting in trouble. There is one way mommy will share her toy. On the potty. If my child is on the potty, he has five to ten glorious minutes on the Kindle. If he has a stubborn bowel movement, he gets more time. To get his hands on the Kindle he will even tell me when he has to go.
I set a fifteen minute timer on my microwave to make sure I hold up my part of potty training. My part would be to ask regularly if he needs to go. I have a seven month old, work from home, and do house work. Naturally I am going to forget. Setting a timer, however, makes me remember. I just have to make sure to drop everything and ask otherwise I’ll get sidetracked and forget all over again.