As soon as you announce your pregnancy, people are quick to tell you how hard it is to be a parent, how little sleep you'll enjoy, and how overwhelming this new responsibility will be. However, babies are pretty easy when compared to the emotional warfare that is caring for a toddler. Small children are exhausting and the repetition of daily chores can make the happiest of partnerships falter. Little irritations build up until you end up having one of the fights every couple has when their kids are toddlers.
When your toddler is pushing you to the limit of your patience and making you want to open the window and scream into the wind, you're bound to start taking things out on your partner. Many toddlers also still exhibit some disordered sleeping patterns, so parents are often sleep deprived, too. Throw in career demands, household chores, and different or conflicting parenting styles, and it becomes easy to see why the toddler years are especially challenging for relationships.
I found the year between my son turning 1 and 2 to be the most difficult. He wasn't a baby anymore. Instead, he was mobile, could easily get into mischief, and was starting to become more defiant and independent. However, he didn't have the language skills to explain exactly what he wanted or why, which culminated into a shared frustration that laid the foundation for the following arguments. Sorry, honey.
The "It's Your Turn!" Fight
By the time your child reaches the toddler stage, you've probably changed a lot of diapers. Now that their daily offerings are a little more potent, parents often start to play the "pass the do-do duty" game.
If one parent feels like they change more than their fair share, arguments can start. The solution? Potty training. Then you can argue about that instead!
The "More TV Time? Really?" Fight
Screen time is a subject many parents argue over, so if you find yourself saying "Not more Paw Patrol!" hey, you're not alone.
There are times we all need to rely on a little technology to get us through the day, like if we are sick or traveling, but if you think your partner is treating the TV like a babysitter or letting your child watch inappropriate shows, a confrontation is imminent.
The "They Got That From You!" Fight
Whether it's an embarrassing phrase, a loud belch, or something repeated they shouldn't have heard, kids always seem to pick the most inopportune time to say something inappropriate (like in front of your boss or mother-in-law).
I'm British and, as a result, the comments my child has copied from me are immediately identifiable. Oops, my bad!
The "Why Are We Always Late?" Fight
You're forgiven for ever thinking once out of the baby stage, it's easier to organize your child (and yourself) to leave the house. It's totally understandable if you assumed you might actually get back to, you know, arriving on time for once.
But, surprise! Toddlers are even more destructive to ETA's than babies. Especially when they decide they really need the washroom as you have one foot out of the door, or when they insist on changing their entire outfit because their "sock is itchy." Sigh.
The "Ouch, LEGO!" Fight
Stepping barefoot on a piece of Lego is quite simply excruciating and can give way to a tirade of previously bottled up feelings. Encourage your little one to tidy them away to prevent parental outbursts.
The "Watch Your Language!" Fight
Before I had a child I was pretty critical and quick to judge parents when a child said a curse word. But who hasn't dropped the old "F" bomb in the wrong company, right?
Once you have children it's probably for the best that any and all adults watch their potty mouth, because your toddler might as well be a parrot.
The "I Can't Do Everything!" Fight
It's common for couples to argue over the distribution of labor and the balance of chores in the home. Whether both parents work outside the home, from home, or are stay-at-home parents, there will inevitably be some power struggles related to keeping the home clean, the kids fed, and the bills paid. It really is a balancing act.
Parenting is stressful and arguments are sometimes unavoidable. However, if we try to always remember we are on the same team, it can help to prevent all out war. Besides, sometimes the fight is worth it when you get to make up.