I have two boys. 5 and two years old. I am surviving terrible twos, and I have to admit that “twos” are the hardest years so far. I love the four-year-old age. They bring their amazing questions and perspective to life and make the world so much entertaining.
But handling a two-year-old? It is the most dreadful part of motherhood I think. Especially if you are a first-time mother who is in love with her baby and then reality suddenly sets in, and you are like,”What monster did I give birth to????”
I have a friend who has a third baby boy(about six months old) and she keeps looking at him and saying,” Oh my God, you are going to be a two-year-old one day!” I find it amusing when she says that but that is how every mother feels.
I love to take my kids outdoors and to the community parks. But in scorching weather here in Las Vegas, it is impossible to take them to parks. So we have indoor playgrounds. I feel sorry they have been home all day, and I should be doing something to keep them entertained, so I take them to these playgrounds. More often than not my two-year-old has played for 10 minutes and then asked for a snack that he is not allowed to take on any of the slides or structures.
It is so hard for him to handle this rule. He wants to eat and run around like at parks. At indoor playgrounds, he has to choose between a snack and playtime. He cannot wrap his head around it. I have stopped going to indoor playgrounds unless there is a party invitation.
There was a time when he kept throwing himself down on the ground crying at an indoor place. I was trying to tell him in vain that he has to choose between snack or the playground and on the side was giving the weirdest “I am trying people” smiles to individuals who were staring at me( a thing I don’t understand about parents and the indoor playground owners. Don’t they go through the same thing? Do they expect to be in a spa environment when it is an indoor playground full of kids which may have some two-year-olds to stare like that?)
There have been couple times now that I have signed up for mommy and me classes with him like cooking with children, music and movement class and hip hop class. More often than not, he has not wanted to be in the class environment on the first day. My older kid when he was two years old handled this so much better. But he would keep holding my pants and not move without me. It took him a while to get adjusted.
My younger kid doesn’t care to hold me or anything. He just either keeps running in circles or looks for food in my purse or wants to get the hell out of there. In his defense, he does try. He started loving the music and movement class and followed instructions, but he kept bringing his Thomas engine to the class (trust me I tried taking it from him before we entered the class but some battles are not to be fought) and then kids got into fights because all wanted to play with Thomas.
If you have wondered why people age by ten years when they become parents, it happens in this one or two year period of two and three-year-olds.
So In Midst Of This Hair Pulling, Head-Scratching Phase, How Do We Expect Ourselves To Be Calm?
I was not used to dealing with kids before I had my own. Of course, no one does. So how have I kept calm through these tough years? Trust me sometimes I have not. I have been angry; I have screamed, cried and thrown an adult tantrum myself. But through the mommy guilt of not wanting to be a screaming parent, I have learned to handle myself like an adult sometimes.
Here are eight things that have helped me get by:
- The most efficient solution is to hang out with other moms of two-year-olds and watch them handle their kids. Especially moms who believe in positive parenting or are seemingly very calm or the ones who like to read a lot of parenting books. Going through this tough period is hard but being with someone who understands your journey or is there with you in the same phase is the best solution you can give yourself. Sometimes looking at other kids throw tantrums makes you feel better about your kid. It puts you in a comfortable position. You feel you do much better. (Not as a judgmental person but sometimes looking at others makes you feel like grass is as green on your side as others). Sometimes it makes you feel horrible if you think you are not able to handle your kid, but you know that other kids do it too and no one is going to be judging you here.
- The other solution is to hang out with moms that have slightly older children than yours. They have new solutions in their mind that worked for them and they will give you excellent advice. It may not function for you, but you will have another support system that you feel like you can look up to.
- “Light Lene Ka” – (means take it lightly in mumbaiyya(from Mumbai) Hindi) – You can joke about your situation. Take pictures of your kid’s tantrums and write down silly reasons of why they had the tantrum. You might even start looking forward to the next outburst to share with everyone and find a new comedy routine in your hard life. Look at this blog that does that for entertainment.
- This is the single most important one for your sanity, and no it is not WINE. Stop expecting life to be smooth. The thing is, when we plan something for our kids, we imagine this fantastic moment in our life where we picture how amazing this day/event/time/moment is going to be for our children. We imagine the happy kids, the fun times, the kisses, the laughter. What we do not imagine and leave out conveniently is the tantrums that they might throw. If we start understanding at what point your kid is going to throw a tantrum (usually more often than not they have a pattern that if you pay attention can figure out), you can be better prepared for it. For example, if they throw tantrum because they are going to want to eat something, feed them too much before they enter the playground and don’t take any food with you. Or if they bring toys and create a hostile environment, forget toys at home and find a way to distract them that you know always works. Just be ready with 5 solutions if one does not work right away. Your fifth solution can be a coffee or a wine for yourself.
- Take his/her feelings into account and let him/her direct the activity – Take him to wherever you want to but let him decide what he wants to do there. If he is not ready to follow instructions, that is ok. Try to be patient and reinforce what you want to tell him. Two-year-olds are just trying to test their boundaries. Be prepared to walk away in the middle of the activity if their tantrum continues. Try again next time and see if it continues to bother them. Sometimes it is just something wrong at that moment. Sometimes they just hate that particular environment.
- Lots of hugs, cuddles and jumping around. All of these help with the stress-release hormone for you and your toddler and make both of you feel better.
- Deep exhaling when you feel rage. Instead of putting your kid in time-out, just go to the bathroom or another room and calm yourself down first. Once you are taken away from the situation for a moment, it gives you a minute to get back your lost control so you can handle the situation better.
- Sometimes nothing works. All you can do is wait for the tantrum out. My husband gifted me headphones for my birthday because I was tired of everyone screaming. I should remember to use them often.
Do you have a two-year-old or a threenager? How do you handle them? Please let me know in comments below.