For those of you who have up-and-coming toddlers, I figured I’d share some of the day-to-day things that Jellybean and I are doing lately. For those of you who have older toddlers, I would respectfully like to ask for advice on dealing with the ‘I’m a stubborn toddler learning that what I want to do and what my mom wants me to do are sometimes two different things, so I’m going to take my sweet bippy time when she asks me to do something’ phase.
The first thing that Jenny is doing more of is ‘chores’. Also called, ‘helping around the house’, ‘earning her keep’, or ‘making everything take 8 million times as long to accomplish’. The upside to this is that it often distracts her from making a new, high-pitched whining noise that has developed recently; she LOVES to help. Also, she usually claps for herself when she’s done, which is hilarious. And I guess it’s teaching her some valuable skills or life lessons or something, whatever. The downside, as mentioned, is that I’m usually tired and grumpy and just want to get. Stuff. DONE., and having a little helper results in either a few extra steps, a few extra minutes, or a whole lot more patience (or more commonly, all three).
Here’s what she really likes to do, in order of preference;
- Put the little soap tab thingie in the little door in the dishwasher. If you buy the stuff that pours, and you’re going to have a toddler around any time soon, switch now. This is her very favoritest thing in the whole world, and it makes her feel like a total big shot. One caveat – she did eat one or two in the beginning, and I still have to keep an eye on her to make sure she’s not pocketing one as a snack to barf up later. But it’s very cute, she gets it out after carefully selecting the exact perfect one, sets it in a very particular position in its little home, closes the little door, and then closes the big dishwasher door. And then claps for herself while spinning in a circle screaming ‘Yah yah yah!’
- Put wet laundry into the dryer. This is a good one because she use to be a little afraid of the washer and dryer, so it’s nice that they all get along now. I especially like to have her help with her stuff since, hey, might as well get her use to it before she goes off to college. She’s good with any little items, like socks or her shirts or washcloths, and she’s very funny about making sure everything is nicely tucked in there.
- Close doors. Just make sure to remind them to WATCH YOUR FINGERS!!!! Otherwise this isn’t as much fun.
- Get the mail. It’s nice to get outside and get some fresh air, even briefly, and I hoist her up to the mailbox and let her pull it out and drop it all over the ground. Then we go back inside and sort it, and read through the catalogs and talk about stuff. I feel like it helps with language exposure (how else would she learn the word ‘gauchos’?), and it’s a nice quiet bonding activity when she first gets home before I start dinner. I read something that taking a few minutes like this helps avoid the screaming and meltdowns when the food prep starts, and it does seem to work sometimes.
- Clean up toys. I need to be better about this, mostly so that I can help her learn to pick her crap up but also because then I won’t sigh so much when I look at how messy my house is. I bought two huge tubs with rope handles at BJ’s, $7 for both, and toys get pitched in there. It’s easier and way less time-consuming than the prettier and more organized little colored-buckets-shelf thing. She’s also really good about putting away her crayons, but not so much the fridge magnets all over the kitchen floor.
Ok, now the advice time.
Here’s my issue – I don’t want to be a counter. You know what I mean; the person who says, ‘If you don’t blah blah blah (clean up your toys/come put on your shoes/stop putting that candy cane in your nose/get out of the bathtub this freaking second) by the count of three, I’m going to count to three all over again and then still won’t do anything’. Counters make me crazy. Admittedly, there are some people who count who then actually do something, but they are few and far between. I vowed I would never be a counter, but it’s REALLY hard not to do! So there’s Jenny, la la la la la, looking over her shoulder at me and smiling as I sit getting madder by the second with a clean diaper in my outstretched hands waiting for her to meander over to me like a docile little lamb. She sings to herself, and plays with her toys, and wanders around some more, and I simmer. The first time I ask nicely, with a ‘please’. The second time there’s no please. The third time I use her full name and my angry voice, and then I have to go get her. I’m not interested in spanking, so what else is there to do to make this a ‘significant emotional event’ so that she learns she should listen to her mother? My mum says that even asking three times is too much for a toddler, that she should get one chance and then I should give her a little swat on the hand or something. Ugh. Yes, I’m happy that she’s independent and this is an important milestone, yippee. I don’t want her to jump in fear when she hears my voice, and I don’t want her to respond like a trained animal. I just want her to get her pudgy butt moving when I need her to. So what can I do?