My little man hit the 18-month milestone this past May, and in the blink of an eye, we were entering uncharted territory. It didn’t take me long to realize that this age was like the preteen years of childhood – not a baby anymore but not quite a toddler. He was developing his own little personality complete with giggles, oohs and aahs, ‘tudes, mean mugs and temper tantrums. He couldn’t clearly communicate yet so finger pointing and “eh eh eh” were a way of life, which is enough to drive any parent cray cray. And don’t even get me started on the rottenness, which I’m certain he inherited from his daddy.
Now don’t get me wrong, this age is full of positive attributes, too – from endless bear hugs and slobbery kisses to their never-ending sense of wonder, and those proud parents feels you get every time they learn something new.
I’m almost two months into this crazy phase but know it won’t last forever (please send help when we have a twonager on our hands), so I’ve been making a mental list of things I’ve learned for when our second born hits 18 months. But like most mamas out there, I suffer from mom brain, so it’s probably best if I get these thoughts down on paper now (more like on computer, but you know what I mean):
- Don’t waste your money on super fancy toys. Kitchen utensils are just as shiny, and they’ll want to play with anything and everything but their toys.
- Do have conversations with them, even if you can’t understand a darn thing they’re saying. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you become fluent in gibberish.
- Don’t even think about going out to eat and not ordering a kids’ drink for your little, even if it’s just water. Cups with straws are life.
- Do let them try new foods, even if it’s something that totally disgusts you. The best combo in our house so far? Strawberries dipped in french onion chip dip… I’ll just leave that as a little food for thought for ya.
- Don’t start bad habits with your little, like letting them eat dinner on the couch. You’ll regret it tomorrow.
- Do let them help out around the house. They may seem too small, but they like feeling included. My little man’s favorite things to do are help daddy sweep and fill up his fur brother’s food bowl.
- Don’t disclose the place where you hide all of your favorite snacks. They’ll be gone the next time you want to grab a bite on-the-go.
- Do realize that the bigger they get, the higher they can reach. Seems like a no brainer, but what was once safe on the kitchen counter is safe no more.
- Don’t assume any trip to the store will ever be the same again. Even if you come armed with snacks and other distractions, you’ll end up with things in your cart you never intended to buy.
- Do take them on fun adventures, like to the zoo, children’s museum or a sporting event. You’ll never forget the look of pure joy and excitement on their face, even if they’re not old enough to remember the outing.
- Don’t underestimate the art of bargaining. Toddler Negotiations 101 should be on the list of required childbirth classes.
- Do start teaching them the difference between right and wrong, early and often. It’ll start sinking in quicker than you think.
- Don’t lose your voice (or sanity) from repeating the same thing over and over and over again. It’s not worth it this early on in their toddler years.
- Do know that your little is always listening and watching (child = sponge).
- Don’t ever think you’re too old and/or have more important things to do than sitting on the floor and playing with them. Those stuffed animals aren’t going to dance themselves.
- Do read them a story every night, even if you’re exhausted after a long day and want to skip right to bedtime. Before you know it, they’ll be the ones reading the books to you.
- Don’t be afraid to let them get a little dirty. Puddles are meant to be jumped in and guacamole tastes 10x better when you’re covered in it from head to toe.
- Do cherish these days, as long as they might be or as frustrated as you might get. They’re only this sweet age for oh so long.
Next up, 24 Dos and Don’ts for a Mama of a 24-Month-Old coming in early 2019. And yes, I’ll probably have a few more wrinkles and some new gray hairs by then, but also all of the priceless memories to go along with them.