Every night after I put the kids in bed I release a great, big sigh of relief as I look forward to a few hours to myself. Perhaps this is why I stay up way too late and start my days even more tired than I need to be. But I digress. . .
Where was I? Oh right. Tired.
I know you understand. Most days we don’t ever sit down. Ever. Pacing back and forth between the kitchen and living room where we cook meals, clean up, change diapers and TV channels (yeah, I’m not proud but I do a lot of that these days). We kiss boo boos and wipe snotty noses and if you are in the toddler stage like me, we pull our climbing monkey off of something every other minute.
I wanted to attack this week head on. I truly carried a deep desire within myself to give this Monday a good butt-kicking. But Monday kicked my butt before I even got out of bed (I blame The Hunger Games trilogy. Can.not.put.it.down. Almost done though). You can always tell a day is going to be rough by how your kids greet you in the morning.
“Mommy! It’s morning!” means it just might be a good day.
“Mooommmy!!!!! What are we going to do today?” means someone might be a tad difficult to deal with.
“I don’t want that for breakfast. Why can’t I have ice cream?!” means you should probably just go back to bed.
With my toddler (almost 13 months), it’s not as obvious since he’s not yet able to talk. But being the clingy little dude that he is, I can pretty much tell immediately what kind of day we are going to have. Lately, most mornings are met with whines and a little foot stomping dance that would be cute if it didn’t mean he wanted to be picked up, right now! and never put down.
So despite the fact that I woke up ready to kick some Monday tail, I was very quickly deflated. I knew it was going to be a tough day and my mood was proof. I try to read the Bible or a devotional every day at breakfast. This morning I was led to a verse in Psalm that I love. It was such a good reminder for me today.
“My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
I carried this word with me today and although I didn’t defeat the day, I was driven to ask God what he would say to me and to you about how to thrive during this tough season. I’d forgotten how hard the toddler stage is. Between 12-24 months, little ones need constant attention and guidance. I believe he spoke to me – giving me three keys to walking through this time with grace and joy. Although I accepted these instructions as a guide for the exhausting, not-a-moment-to-sit-down toddler season, I know this truth will speak to all moms and caregivers.
3 Keys to Thriving the Toddler Stage
1. Practice Patience. The key word here being ‘practice.’ Patience is a fruit of the spirit in our lives but it must be learned and rehearsed. I’m a huge believer in the idea of mind over matter. If I could just get it in my mind to react with patience and grace, we would all be better for it (that is, my kids and I). Chasing a toddler requires much focus and patience. I suppose this season of motherhood is God’s way of giving us ‘practice.’
2. Lavish Love. I find with both my toddler and my 4 year old, the more I lavish love, the less they fuss. It’s that simple. Emotional deposits into their account mean less withdrawals from mine. Sometimes (I hate to admit) I’m so busy or tired or distracted I fail to do this, but I am learning to stop and randomly kiss my sweet girl or grab my little boy and swing him around. . .all.day.long. A little goes a long way when it comes to lavish love.
3. Pursue Peace. Go after it. That’s right. Hunt it down and capture it for your home. For me, this means turning everything off for a while and just sitting in quiet, reading books. It also means that as soon as I hit publish on this post I am going to attack the toy bins in my living room. My kids don’t play with half the stuff in there. Why is it taking over my space? Peace isn’t only about one or two senses. All of our senses contribute to (or prevent) the peace in our life. What do we hear, see, smell, taste and touch that could be simplified in our life? Where is there excess that we can remove for ourselves and our children? Pursue peace.
These keys are a goal. An attainable goal. But when our flesh and our heart fail, he is our strength and our portion forever. . .ready with everything we need to get up and start all over tomorrow.
What about you moms? How have you learned to handle tough toddler days?