Despite popular belief, toddlers can be quite perceptive. Mine is quick to question subtle things I don’t expect him to notice, liking pointing out small changes in the room and spotting airplanes flying off in the distance. Sometimes, he even manages to tell me something about myself that I’ve either overlooked, or have attempted to ignore. While it’s possible that I could be reading into it, I think there are ways that your toddler can tell you that you deserve a break. Their vocabularies aren’t quite ready to put it in those exact words or clear-cut terms, of course, but the message is pretty obvious. Or, at least, it's kinda obvious if you squint really hard and read a whole lot into everything they do.
Of course, it’s possible that anytime my toddler’s willing to do something that requires, or even allows, me to simultaneously be horizontal on the couch, he’s not exactly doing it for my benefit. In toddler land, the world revolves around them and them alone. Then again, it’s also possible that he absolutely asks me to play another episode of Sesame Street so I can sit down, relax, and take a load off.
Then again, maybe I'm just projecting how much I really do need a break, and finding "hints" in my toddler's behavior because I so desperately need them. Whatever, don't judge. Motherhood is hard. Plus, my kid isn't responsive yet to the desperate whispers of, “Mama needs to sleep” that I utter at some ungodly hour of the morning when he’s awake for some absurd reason. Still, in other ways he shows me that, sometimes, he's aware of mom's needs, too.
They Play “Night Night” With You For A Full 30 Minutes, Complete With A Blanket And Pillow
To be clear, this game involves him tucking me in. I’m required to do nothing more than lay in place and respond accordingly when my 2-year-old son adjusts the blanket or says “night night.” Hands down, it’s the best game of all time.
They Offer You Their Own Snacks (Even Precious Cheese Slices)
It’s his subtle way of saying, “Here, mom. It looks like you need this more than I do. After all, after lunch I’m going to run around for three more hours and you’ll need all the energy you can get to keep up with me.”
They Willingly Climb Into Your Lap And Initiate Snuggles
I mean, these breaks rarely last longer than four seconds, but since they involve a cuddle it’s enough to get me through at least a few extra minutes of play time. Toddler snuggles, especially those offered by their own accord, are life-giving.
They Appear More Interested In Other Adults At Gatherings
On a related note, thank you to all members of my extended family and family friends, who took time to read my kiddo books during the holiday season. Thanks to you, I actually got to eat a few appetizers.
They Point Out Your Messy Hair, Stained Clothes, Or General Disheveled Appearance
Thanks, son. I was aware that half my ponytail is by my ear, just as I was aware of the peanut butter smudges on my jeans. However, I appreciate the reminder that I’ve not even had time to change clothes or brush my teeth today. Good thing you’re here, otherwise I might have forgotten.
They Sleep In
Perhaps you use the time to sleep in yourself. Or, perhaps you use it to lie awake and savor what it feels like to wake up slowly and not to the sound of someone calling your name or climbing into your bed and kicking your face.
They Actually Initative A Break From You
“What’s this?” you may ask yourself. “Is he really engaged in that train set as much as I think he is? Does that mean I can sit down a few feet away and not make choo-choo sounds so much my voice goes hoarse?” Yes, yes it does. Enjoy those minutes, you deserve it.
They Say, “Mom, You Look Tired. Want Me To Color By Myself And Do Some Other Enriching Activities For 45 Minutes While You Lay On The Couch And Flip Through The Magazine That’s Been Waiting For You For Weeks?”
Kidding, I'm only kidding. We all know those magazines actually sit there for months.