Thanks for all the great comments from Part One. Raising toddlers is not an easy job and mainly I feel I have learned things through trial and error. Hopefully some of my failures will mean your success! And as always, I would like to state, that while I realize not everything I do will work for every family, I do believe that what I do will work for the majority of families.
1. Establish a schedule. Or a routine. Something that resembles a schedule or routine. I realize that not everyone is routine or schedule oriented. However, children are. They thrive on routine. Now I am not saying that you should schedule your days down to the minute, but having a general time for things like meals, snacks, naps and bedtimes helps your children remain seemingly normal during the day!!! I was at a MK appointment recently (at 7pm) and there was a 2yr old asleep on the floor. The mom informed me that he would sleep for a couple of hours and then wake up and be awake until 2 or 3am. Then he would sleep until 8am and take a random nap during the day and start the process all over again. This is not good! Children need sleep. For their brains. Seriously. Look it up if you don't believe me. Not to mention, but I can't imagine what his behavior is like during the day. My girls get ULTRA crazy and cranky during times when they are tired or hungry. In fact, if Molly cries during the day it is usually because I have missed a snack time. Want to see Isabelle go crazy? Just come over on a night when it is later than her bedtime and she is still awake. Routine and schedule are important. Make one and get your kids on board. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen and you and your kiddos will both benefit.
2. Don't be afraid to discipline. I am not going to go into detail on how I discipline my girls, but if you want to know some books that have helped shaped my parenting I would be happy to share! Here's the thing. You must have rules. Not everyone is going to have the same rules, but you must know what you will and will not tolerate and stick to it. You can't tell your kids one day not to stand on the coffee table and then the next day let them stand and jump on it and not say a word. That is confusing. Decide if you are going to make that a rule or not and then enforce it. Children need boundaries and the parent who lets them get away with everything is doing them a disservice. There are rules that as adults we must follow (called laws) and teaching your children how to obey authority early is easier than trying to do it when they are teenagers!
3. Work on learning something new every day. I am not saying that everyday your toddler will learn something amazing, but you should work on something everyday. At our house I am working with Isabelle on recognizing words and shapes. She is also learning to keep her hands to herself and off of her sister!!! With Molly we are learning new signs everyday and practicing colors. She is also practicing using utensils and putting together puzzles. You can work with your kids on any number of things, eating with utensils, drinking from a cup, colors, letters, shapes, sign language, animal noises, picking up toys, whatever. The point is, help them to be learning something. I realize for some moms this goes without saying. You are busy teaching your kids all day long, but for others I think this is important to mention. Don't trust Barney, or Yo Gabba Gabba, or Sesame Street or whatever TV show your kids watch to do all the teaching.
I realize that these tips may seem easy or like they should be assumed by all mothers, but they aren't. Remember that mom I mentioned earlier? I don't think she is trying to harm her child, I just don't think anyone ever told her how to be a good parent, or showed her how. I think that happens a lot of the time. People simply don't know what they should be doing. I hope my tips can help a few moms out there!
What tips do you have about schedules or discipline? What are you and your kiddos working on right now? I would love to hear!!