It’s time to say goodbye to needless arguments, unrealistic expectations, and some of that mom guilt
The new year may be a time of resolutions, but guess who doesn’t have time for that? Toddler parents. Toddler parents don’t have time for lots of things, like showers or grown-up TV or reading something that isn’t Goodnight, Moon. Forget vows to eat healthier—a meal means cheesy puffs and kid leftovers. Exercise is dragging a screaming kid out of Target, tucking them under an arm, and running like a linebacker (you know, circuit training). A day out? Library storytime. Date night? The grocery store. We have time for New Year’s resolutions like we have time to clean up another puddle of barf. Of course, we will clean up more barf—it’s inevitable—and maybe we should treat the start of a new year the same way. Maybe it’s time to have a plan and make it happen.
After all, toddlers live to assert independence, usually in socially inappropriate ways, and it can feel like we spend much of our lives struggling against it—fighting the ridiculous outfits and the mess and then feeling guilty about it all. So we’re not going to ask you to pile even more onto your plate. If you want some calm, here are a few things you can shed from your life. It’s time for a change, toddler parents. Here goes nothing.
1. Give up all the arguments that don’t matter
Your kid wants to wear their princess dress to bed or rock a fireman costume at the grocery store. They dress themselves in clashing plaid and stripes with a unicorn headband. Generally, we shut it down. You can’t wear your dress-up clothes for bed. Fireman outfits are for play. Let’s put on some clothes that match before we head out.
Newsflash: No one cares what your toddler wears. Those carefully curated outfits? Almost no one notices them. But all these no’s add up to an overwhelming tally for your tot, who inevitably hears “no” all day because, well, they’re a toddler who tries to do wild things. So next time you’re attempting to stuff your kid in a sweater and she’s screaming for an Elsa dress, remember: There is nothing cuter than a kid in a costume. When I let my toddler wear his dress-up clothes to the mall, everyone smiles. That’s a wonderful stormtrooper costume, they’ll say, and my son beams. Some things are not worth your time. Are they warm? Are the clothes only mildly stained? Then you’re already ahead in the world, so don’t argue.
2. Give up worrying about what needs to get done
We know you have dishes and laundry and dinner to plan, and you’re sketching it all out in your head while your kid flings books off the shelf. You’re always worried about what comes next, too busy to enjoy what’s right in front of you. I know because I’m you, and it’s brutal. Now take a deep breath. Life will get done, and in the end, you won’t remember those dishes. You’ll remember the epic fort you built with your kid or the time you spent cuddling on the couch with a stack of books. We weighed the options: Household chores or fun with kids? Kids won every time.
3. Give up being on your phone all the time
Social media is a great escape. We all love to cruise Insta and watch TikToks of people dancing. Everyone’s addicted to Candy Crush, and when you’re sort of bored, you can always shop on Amazon. And hey, you can do all those things into the wee hours of the night. But sometimes a little person wants your attention and, sure, you can maroon them on the couch with some form of digital entertainment, but we’d bet a lot of the time you don’t actually want to. We’re just completely addicted to our phones, and you know that little metal box is responsible for a whole lot of mom guilt, too. So resist the urge when you can, because these years are quick and blah blah blah—but seriously, they are. You’ll turn around and have a teenager. Then they’ll ignore you for whatever newfangled social media trend hits the interwebs. Oh, the irony.
4. Give up the notion of a clean house
Stop worrying and stop cleaning so much. Your mother doesn’t live here—who are you trying to impress? (New motto: If you need to impress them, they aren’t worth impressing.) As long as your house hasn’t sunken into squalor, no one cares what it looks like. Your only priority is to keep you and your littles healthy and happy. Make sure you’re all fed and clean and enriched. And make sure your kids know how much you love them. Stressing about having a perfect house is not only futile, but it’s bad for your health, so ditch it. Just leave the pile of laundry. It’ll get folded eventually.
5. Give up the urge to take things personally
Toddlers are jerks. They’re sweet, too, but their favorite word is “no,” and sometimes, their favorite position is lying facedown and banging their tiny fists on the floor. When your kid threatens to deafen everyone at storytime, hits you for asking them to eat dinner, or chucks your lovingly crafted cookies on the floor and grins about it, take a deep breath. This is not about you. This is about a need for independence. It’s about your child growing up and becoming who they are. It’s really tempting to feel rejected. After all, you’re the one getting punched, both literally and figuratively. A few short months ago, your baby was a squishy little muffin intent on nothing but cuddles and milk. Now they’re flinging toys because you won’t turn on Sesame Street. They still love you, and toddlers have no concept of respect. Instead of shouting or restraining them, remove them from the situation and walk away—tantrums often dry up without an audience.
In other words, listen to Elsa and let. it. go. The weight of these expectations and arguments is crushing, and that’s the last thing you need in your life. You’re responsible for a tiny, growing person and (most of the time) it’s much more fun to focus on them than chores and reels and proper attire. So let the crayons fall where they may because life is short and toddlerhood is shorter. There’s your New Year’s resolution: Let go of what doesn’t matter—for your kid’s sake and yours. Remember that most of the stuff that worries you falls into the “doesn’t matter” category. This season, give it up. You’ll be happy you did.
Make sure to capture all the cutest moments of your kiddo taking on the world in a Marshall costume—and share them with your family and friends near and far—with the Tinybeans app. The secure platform puts parents in total control of who sees and interacts with photos and videos of their kids.