When I was expecting my first son, I was excited, but admittedly clueless about what I was getting into, so I signed up for a “Caring for your Newborn Class” at the hospital where I’d be delivering. As you may guess, they taught the basics of what to anticipate and how to navigate those precious first few months.
The class was helpful, I learned a lot, and would recommend a similar class to any mom. The only problem? No matter how frequently (or frantically) I search, I can't seem to find a comparable class that offers professional guidance for raising sassy toddlers.
As much of a missed opportunity as this seems like for the hospital, I can't help but imagine what the course material would be if this class were to actually exist. My guess is something like an opening lecture about buying sturdy toys that won’t break when they’re chewed on, thrown, or dropped time after time. This would be followed up with a breakout session on how to get your previously perfect eater to actually eat their vegetables, where moms would trade secrets like keeping Simply HEINZ Ketchup on hand, which is a trusty mealtime partner made with real and simple ingredients that kids will happily enjoy with nearly anything. The class would wrap up with a generous pour of wine and a toast to all the patient moms in the room, because we deserve it.
Though I was never offered a toddler class, I have been through the experience of raising two toddlers, and am happy that Romper and Simply HEINZ Ketchup have teamed up to share a bit of wisdom on how to make raising a feisty toddler a little bit easier. Here are a few of my most tried-and-true tips:
Master Their Hunger Patterns
If you think a feisty toddler is trouble, then a feisty hangry toddler is pretty much a tropical storm of terrible. Your toddler won’t always express their needs in the most communicative way, but if you can stick to a schedule and anticipate their needs, you’ll be better equipped to handle meltdowns. Think about things like keeping snacks in the car, making sure grandma's house is equipped to stream their favorite TV show, and keeping staples like the classic taste of Simply HEINZ Ketchup on hand. It's made with seven simple ingredients that I actually recognize (like red ripe tomatoes and cane sugar), and since I know my kids love the flavor, it's a trusty sidekick to get them through the meals they love — and help disguise the ones they may not.
Set Your Alarm, Even Though You’ll Almost Never Need It
If you’re anything like me, you know your toddler will wake you up well before the sun rises — and certainly well before you'd like to be awake. And trust me on this one: The first time you bank on them waking you up early will also be the first time they don't, and not having that alarm set as a backup is a stressful morning waiting to happen. Set your alarm anyway, and toddler mom life will go a lot smoother.
Keep A Potty In The Car
This might sound really strange, and probably like the last place you’d expect to find a spare bathroom. However, no matter how many times you ask your kids to try before you head out the door, inevitably your little one will have to go while you’re en route to your destination. Keeping a backup potty in the car prevents poorly-timed accidents and prepares you for every stop along the way.
Be Careful What You Say Now To Avoid Embarrassment Later
I always used to scoff when my mom warned me about little ears that were always listening. That is, until my toddler asked our neighbor if she was the lady that stopped sending Christmas cards to us, which my mom and I had been discussing the day before. Not realizing he'd absorbed that conversation, my face turned about as red as the Christmas card she was busy not sending. Learn from my mistakes and keep grown-up conversations away from toddler ears.
Pick Your Battles
If your little one doesn’t want to brush their teeth, it’s completely appropriate to lay down the law. Heck, wage a war if you have to. But if they want to wear a shirt that clashes slightly with the shorts they're in, nobody’s teeth are going to fall out. Let them win once in a while, and they’ll take you that much more seriously when you put your foot down about the important stuff.
Assume That Everything They Can Touch Or Climb, They Will
It’s practically science: If something is within toddler reach, or even within toddler-climb-on-chair-and-reach, they’re going to go for it. Store your breakables. Stash your treasures. Secure your prized possessions, both for their safety and your toddler’s. They’ll see the light of day again in a year (or eight) or so.
Plan A Play Date
It’s just as much for you as it is for your toddler. Downloading and venting with another parent in the same boat is one of the best kinds of therapy out there. While your kids are busy expending precious energy, you’ll be sighing in relief that you’re not alone and that your kid's behavior is, in fact, normal.
Embrace The Mood Swings
I know how crazy that sounds. Believe me, I do. But the fact is that toddlers are in a constant glass case of emotion, and sometimes they just don’t know how to deal. You staying calm will encourage them to do the same — and if they need a pep talk or an extra snuggle, go ahead and give it to them because these feisty toddler days fly by faster than you think.
This post is sponsored by Simply HEINZ Ketchup.