WT 139: Surviving the Chaos of the Toddler Years

Question 1: I’m a stay at home mom to three kids 3 & under...a 3.5 year old, a 20 month old, & a 3 month old. They all need so much from me, but it is hard to give everyone the attention they need & deserve. How do lovingly help the older ones understand whenever I have to nurse the baby or give more attention to her?

Karen's Answer: Honestly, just do the best you can, and it may take a LONG time before they “get it” but keep at it. You can say, “I need to go feed the baby, but when I get back we will read a book together, or do a puzzle.” (or whatever it is they like to do) Here is the deal, this is just part of life, learning to share. I know your 3.5 year old and 20 month old are little, but that is okay, they can learn to share. Last thing, give yourself some grace! Your hands are full! You may not meet every single need of every single child everyday, but if you get most of the needs met on a daily basis, that is really GOOD. Cut yourself some slack and celebrate ALL that you do instead of focusing on what you are not doing.

Question 2: Hello! I am a mother of a 14 month old boy. He is absolutely wonderful and the greatest blessing to my husband and I. However, recently he has begun screaming at the top of his lungs and crying...every single time my husband and I leave the room. We have a very open floor plan and he can see me when I am in the kitchen or the den from the living room that we have baby proofed and gated. I try so hard to get chores done around the house but I feel like I'm trapped in the living room ALL day, and it is really starting to wear on me! I pray daily for God to keep me calm and to be able to work through his tears, but he won't stop even if I let it go for 20-30 mins! How can I curb this behavior?

Karen's Answer: This behavior is very normal for a 14 month old, it is called separation anxiety and the best way to deal with it, is not to give into it.  Just tell him, “I’m right here, stop screaming.” I used to put mine in their crib if they didn’t stop screaming and shut the door. But, usually if you just keep doing your chores and every so often say, “I’m right here” that will help.  You can also get a timer and set it for 5 minutes and say, “mommy will be back when the buzzer goes off.” Then after 5 minutes come back. Slowly increase your time away until you can build up to 30 minutes. Make sure he can still see you though during your time “away”.  Make sense? Hope that helps! Start practicing Boundaries and don’t give in. Remember people, even young 14 month olds, don’t like boundaries, so they will probably push back, but that is okay.  Keep doing it! You will be happy in the long run.

Question 3: Can you recommend any resources for new parents on marriage and parenting? I have an 18 month old daughter, and even though it’s been a year and a half and we still struggle with this new parenting role and how it affects our relationship with one another and life in general.  We both get saddened by the loss of freedom for having a child, exhausted by the demands, and at times resentful for the shift in roles and responsibilities around the house and caring for our daughter.  Not to mention the temper tantrums are driving us crazy. I feel like it shouldn’t be this hard still, and yet it is. I want to be grateful and enjoy this time but it’s a whirlwind of emotions as I feel like I simultaneously love and hate parenting- is that normal? How can I change my perspective and stop being so selfish?

Karen's Answer: It is normal AND an adjustment.  I think you have to change your mindset from thinking it would be easy, to parenting is just hard! It is rewarding and at times fills  you with so much joy, but most days it is hard. Once you adjust your thinking and realize it is hard, then you buckle down and get to work! I would go through all the BOAW curriculums. I’d start with Mom Core, then Says Who 1 &2, I would do a daily devotional, to get your mind set for the day, and obviously I love Moments with God for Moms because it meets a mom everyday in her mothering journey. The temper tantrums will not stop on their own, you have to discipline those out of her. :) Hang in there! BOAW is here for you! 

Question 4: Meal times are a huge struggle in our home. We eat dinner together every night and have for the last five years but it’s still a battle. We have a 2 year old son, 4 year old twin boys, and a 5 year old daughter. Most nights before we even pray multiple children are complaining about what is being served. Then throughout the meal the twins love to be silly and try to get everyone to laugh. Eating takes forever and is accompanied by lots of whining and complaining. We try to shut down the misbehavior, make people leave table until they can act appropriately, etc. but it’s not working. I’m at my wits end, can you please give me some tips?!

Karen's Answer: It’s hard! Especially the ages of your children and with twins. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, so keep up the good work! My suggestion is every meal have at least one thing on the table you know your children like and will eat.  I would continue doing what you are doing and not give in. Tell them if they complain they can get up and not eat anything until morning. Try separating the twins and put a parent in between them. Consistency is the key with children.  Keep doing what you are doing and don’t give in.  Eventually they will get it. I promise!

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