This is one blog post I feel very qualified to write. Four out of five of our boys have been troublesome toddlers.
After birth they have given us about enough time to work through the sleep-deprived newborn stage and then they start walking. A day later they start running.
Fast, curious, fiercely independent, unafraid, energetic, and trips to the ER mark these eventful days.
"Its too high" or "I might get hurt" are unheard of in our household.
Instead it is go, go, go...destruction...and more destruction.
As I write this, our carpets are covered with half a bottle of maple syrup. To add to the sticky, gooey carpets, a sharpie marker has decorated both couches, the coffee table, and the piano bench. The sharpie incident happened yesterday. Somehow the two year old also managed to cover himself and his brother's jeans while the older four boys were in the same room and no one happened to notice.
Every scratch, bruise, or stitch scar has a story to tell.
Every room in our home has a story to tell. The hallway upstairs has our dark black business stamp, stamped over the walls.
You can't leave anything laying around.
Why do anything normal?
Even decorative birds get their beaks knocked off, their tails sawn off, and their little legs duct taped together.
But, we have survived this stage (x4) and will continue trudge on and even smile!
Here are tips gathered from the past 11 years.
*Realize this stage is not bound to the age of two. It can hit from the moment they start walking and last for years. One of our boys stayed in this stage just over four years & three months and bang! It was over.
*Do what you need to do in order to survive. Buy those bungee chords and whatever else you need to keep the cupboard doors locked (no matter how ugly it looks).
*If you have little run-aways get latches, hooks, dead-bolts. It doesn't matter what you use but it is peace of mind.
*Use a playpen. Set one up in front of a window so they can see some action outside. Keep the playpen set up and use it until they learn how to jump out.
*Realize even if your children are spread apart in age, they may both be going through the stage at the same time because as I have said before, this stage is not bound to the two year old age.
*Do not buy beautiful, expensive furniture. It will just get wrecked.
*Decorate in rustic, vintage, or anything else that has the distressed look.
*Only keep one roll of toilet paper beside the toilet at a time. It is much easier to fish out one full roll rather than 6-8 rolls jammed into the toilet.
*Give other family members detailed and strict instructions on closing the bathroom door at all times.
*Be thankful that you do not have twins even though you hoped you would and maybe even prayed for twins while you were sick and pregnant- thinking that you could have one less pregnancy.
*Allow for a ride-on-toy in the house. This can occupy them for hours while they zoom around. It may be loud but you will always know where they are and they are not busy wrecking or making a mess.
*Be very disciplined with nap times. These children play hard and sleep hard. As much as possible be home during nap times so they can sleep in their own beds and have that down time, even if this means you giving up an outing. It will make for a happier child during supper time.
*When they have their naps, maybe you should lie down too or take that time for a cup of tea or read a chapter of a good book.
*Budget for a babysitter. Whether you use this time to do errands or go on a date night with your husband, a babysitter gives you a "recharge" time. It helps you realize that you are not going crazy - at least not all of the way.
*Be thankful for extended family. I have some wonderful aunts that "get it." They understand this stage & help put things in perspective. My mom helps find the humor in situations and that leads me to the next point.
*Laugh, even if you need to force yourself. You may feel like crying but instead try to laugh, even if it is a half hearted chuckle.
*Treasure your friendships. Be intentional with staying in touch with your friends. I especially appreciate the friends that have asked me what would suite our family more: visiting in our home, or us going to visit them in their home. These friends totally get it. There are just some of those times when going out is a real treat, but other times you realize your child knows his boundaries in his own home and will do much better in his own surroundings.
*These friends don't mind to have coffee with you while sitting on the stairs, blocking it so your little one can't climb up. These friends don't mind running to the bathroom making sure the bathroom door is closed. They don't mind hiding scissors, locking outside doors, and recruiting their older children to help look after the little ones.
*We do not do the food wars. If they do not eat what you have set out for a meal, they do not get anything to eat until the next meal. They will eat the next meal. And if not that one, then for sure the next one.
*Go to Bible Study. This time helps you refocus, gives opportunity for spiritual growth, & allows you to listen to the wisdom and advice of other women.
*Being curious, independent, imaginative, & persistent are all good character qualities; they just need to be channeled.
*These little trouble makers are charmers. With sparkles in their eyes, they have a real zest and zeal for life. There isn't an ounce of dullness in them and they make life exciting. No matter what they have done to make your day hairy, they can give the fiercest hugs and slather you with wet, slobbery kisses.
*Our son that was the hardest for me and stayed in this stage for years, is now a sweet, tender boy. He has a delightful, friendly character and is a happy little five year old. There is HOPE!
*Writing is therapeutic. Do you have any stories or tips on surviving these troublesome years that you would like to share?!