With the exception of the time I burst into tears after my daughter threw a temper tantrum in the middle of our local grocery store and 2 little old ladies gave me a, “children should be seen and not heard” look, I did not find The Terrible Twos to be that terrible. Okay, that’s a lie. There were other times I wanted to open a bottle of wine up at 9 am. It’s just that, in comparison to the nightmare that was teaching my daughter how to fall asleep without 3+ hours of me nursing, rocking, swaying, and bouncing her, only for her to wake up 45 minutes later so we could start again, the Twos felt like a walk in the park to me.
But The Trying Threes have been a totally different story.
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I don’t know if it’s because I’ve finally been able to suppress most of my memories of the first, sleep-deprived year of my daughter’s life, or that my tolerance for booze has gotten uncomfortably high, but there are days when I simply cannot wait to get this child into bed so I can have a break.
And that’s fine.
We all reach our breaking point every now and then.
But I refuse to be the kind of mother who spends her entire day counting the minutes until bedtime.
Who wants to live like that?
So I’ve been trying out some new tactics over here, and while things are far from perfect, I feel like we have more good days than bad.
(Which has done wonders for my liver.)
And since I know there are other moms (and dads!) out there who are struggling through the same things I am, I decided to share my top 10 tips to help YOU survive The Trying Threes.
1. DON’T MAKE YOUR KIDS BEG FOR YOUR ATTENTION
A dear friend of mine spends 50% of her waking time on the phone – whether she’s talking to someone, checking her Facebook feed, or playing games on it – and every single time she calls me, her daughter interrupts our conversation so many times that my friend inevitably screams at her, sends her to her room, and then spends the next 5 minutes ranting and raving about how misbehaved the poor child is.
And every time this happens, I refrain from pointing out the obvious: all she wants is some undivided attention from her mother.
But you know what?
When the tables are turned and my daughter refuses to give me “just 10 more minutes!” so I can respond to an email, finish off a blog post, or watch make-up tutorials on YouTube, I often fail to realize the reason she starts acting out is because I’m doing exactly what my friend does.
And since none of that stuff needs to be done THIS MINUTE, I’m trying really hard to make my daughter’s needs my number 1 priority during the day, and I’m amazed at what a difference it has made.
You should try it!
2. AVOID TANTRUM TRIGGERS
For a while, I felt like my daughter was having temper tantrums left, right, and center, but when I sat down and really THOUGHT about the things that set her off, I was amazed when I realized there is only one trigger: stores with toys.
I’m not kidding.
This kid loves grocery shopping, lets me try on clothes at the mall, and humors our afternoon walks to Starbucks so I can get my iced coffee fix, but the moment I try to remove her from Toys R Us, Walmart, Target, or Chapters (the Canadian equivalent of Barnes and Noble), she completely flips out and I inevitably have to carry her kicking and screaming to the car (only to spend the next 5 minutes arguing with her while she refuses to let me buckle her into her car seat).
So, unless we are going specifically to buy something for her, I am doing my best to avoid these stores until she’s a bit older and I can reason with her.
3. HAVE SOME FUN!
I was poking around on Pinterest a few months ago, and I read a quote by Grace Filled Imperfection that completely changed my life:
“BE THE MOM YOU WANT THEM TO REMEMBER.”
It really made me stop and think, and whenever my daughter is pulling at my legs while I’m trying to get stuff done around the house these days, I try to remind myself that the laundry/cooking/cleaning can wait, that she’s not going to be little for long, and that her childhood memories are up to me.
And if all she remembers is trying to get me to pay attention and play with her while I shoo her away so I can check my email, then I haven’t done a very good job…
4. ALWAYS KEEP SNACKS HANDY
Have you ever noticed it’s really hard to concentrate when you’re hungry?
Well, I have news for you, my friends: your kids find it just as hard to concentrate and feel just as irritable as you do when they’re hungry. The only problem is, they often lack the ability to communicate this to you until it’s too late.
So do yourself a favor and keep snacks in your purse so you have something to tie BOTH of you over when you’re running errands dangerously close to lunch.
5. MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
We all know kids have a tendency to act up more when they’re tired, but have you ever noticed that the amount of sleep you get at night impacts your ability to tolerate your child when she threatens to throw herself on the floor when you won’t buy her that Mickey Mouse DVD she spotted close to the checkout counter at the grocery store.
Try hitting the sack 30 minutes early tonight, and I bet you’ll notice a difference tomorrow.
6. GRAB SOME TIME ALONE
My husband works REALLY long hours, and we don’t have any family to lean on, which means I bear the brunt of all of the parenting stuff.
And that’s cool.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But after 3 years, I have finally learned the importance of grabbing some time alone, even if it’s just to drive to the pharmacy to buy a box of tampons. It might not sound like much, but it does wonders in helping me clear my head, especially after a grueling day with The Trying Threes.
7. HIT THE GYM
I recently started back at the gym 3 mornings a week after a 5-month hiatus, and I am amazed at how much better I’ve been feeling. Not only do I have more energy to keep up with The Tasmanian Devil, but I find I am more patient and less high strung than I normally am, which goes a long way when I’m dealing with an opinionated 3-year-old all day. Also? It feels amazing to do something that’s 100% for me.
8. DON’T FORGET YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR
Regardless of how wonderful your kids are, and how amazing you are as a mother, there are going to be days when your kids say or do something that makes you want to scream.
And if you’re lucky enough, it will happen when you’re in the middle of a crowded mall, or when your in-laws are visiting.
But if you try to see the humor in all of the ridiculous stuff that happens to us as parents after you’ve calmed down, you’ll be much better off. And at least you’ll have something to talk about with the other moms at preschool drop-off the following morning, right?
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