Since the day I knew I conceived, stress has been a part and parcel of my life. The problem was that I was a highly punctual, disciplined lady, thanks to my parents. I could not tolerate being late. Everything was and still is planned for me – be it dinner menus or the upcoming weekend itinerary. And then there came the time of pregnancy.
Earlier, I was able to manage such whims and fancies. But after the baby, I became quite anxious how to manage my punctuality along with the baby. I realized at that time that no formal education comes handy while handling a baby. Parenting comes with experience, but with parenting comes the stress.
My friend once told me a simple thing but it was quite deep. She said, nowadays, parents bring up their daughters just like they do their sons. They make them independent while ensuring that they can earn and do all those things that sons do. However, in a race to become just like the boys, we girls forget how to become mothers. We get married and even work post wedding. Then we plan babies and things change. We have to strike a balance between everything thereafter. There is no looking back. And all this do result in stress.
Have you ever attended pre-natal classes? We are taught exercises, how to handle a baby, basic care and lots of things. However, the real deal comes when that cute little baby grows up to be a toddler. How to handle a toddler? It is an art by any means. The energy of a toddler is unending. It becomes difficult for a mother to handle the transformation of a baby to a toddler.
As compared to a baby, the eating and playing habits of a toddler are very different. The stress gets mounted and all some mothers resort to is screaming and shouting, including me at times. However, after a couple of months, I have come to understand the pattern. The moment I know that my toddler is going to lose her temper, I take precautionary measures. For instance, playing with her, talking to her and even just listening to her will help a lot. While this helps handle toddler meltdown, how to manage stress that comes with it.
Parenting is not that stressful as it is made to be. My mom-in-law gave me a golden rule – ‘Never to Compare’. Every parent is different when it comes to upbringing. I am not able to come to a mutual agreement even with my husband when it comes to parenting. Comparing different styles of upbringing and inculcating all the good things in our method only results in stress. What I am trying to say is that if you give your toddler milk only once a day and your friend advocates it twice a day, then please do not follow her blindly. Believe her only if she is a dietitian, health provider or a pediatrician. The diet plan of your kid will be or might be totally different from your friends’ kids. For instance, it takes me more than thirty minutes to make my girl drink milk whereas she will happily nibble some carrots. So, I do not force her to drink milk twice a day.
Now, I will give you some ideas that I learnt on how to spend your day with toddler and overcome sudden bouts of anxiety or stress.
Take Things Lightly
This was the first thing that I learnt. Things will not go as planned at times. If you promised your friend to meet at 5, your kid might decide to poop at the same time. Hence, I never flaunt my punctuality since the birth of my kiddo. Kids do not go by the actual clock, but they listen to their body clock – which is the best thing to do – which is something that we as adults have forgotten. Let your kid be herself. Let her do what she likes to do at that very moment. If you are not able to cook dinner today as your kid needed your attention, then dish up something real quick or try to survive on fruits that day.
Ask for Help
If you are like me, then asking for help would seem to you similar to asking for a diamond as a gift. I am brought up as an independent kid. My parents taught me never to rely on anyone else in this entire world. However, this thing backfired after my kiddo’s birth. If you do not ask for help, you might get in the middle of a muddle with minimal chances of getting out of it.
If you look around, you will come across many moms who are just like you. Parenting is never easy to anyone. Ask for ideas from moms of elder kids. Form a support group if possible. Discuss things with your parents. You never know how wise other parents are. Talking to them might enlighten you. However, do not judge people easily and also, do not follow their rules of parenting blindly. Analyze and then decide, what is best for you and your kid.
Rest is quite underrated thing when it comes to motherhood. Yes, you need to finish off that very important task while the toddler is asleep. However, you even need to catch on some sleep too. The better you sleep, the more are the chances of you coping with stress. And when you are up and about, the energy gets passed on to the toddler who feels happy and secure as well. I enjoy sleeping close to my toddler. I begin with watching her sleep and I doze off automatically.
Learn to Let it Go
This is required in so many things. Your toddler does not throw tantrums usually; however, that day when the guests arrived, she started screaming on the top of her voice. There is no reason for you to feel guilty. Every kid is different. Some kids do not feel secure in the presence of others. Instead of screaming back on your kid or scolding her, hug her and ask her the reason of screaming.
When the kids commit mistakes, we scold them. Yes, they require scolding but after a nudge or two, hug the toddler and tell her the reason of scolding. She will better understand it and probably, will not repeat the mistake. If someone comments on the dressing sense of your kid or her habits, please do not take it personally. If you think it is good for you, accept it and if you think that comment does not add value to your life, let it go. This is the best thing I have learnt. Maximum amount of stress results from taking things personally.
Take a Break
Amid all the hullaballoo, I prefer to take a break and sit down for some time. My toddler comes and hugs me. Her hug relieves me of all the confusion and stress that I am going through. It is the best thing in the world for me.
Dancing on peppy numbers will help you let go of all the stress. Involve your kids and dance like there is no tomorrow. I draw the curtains and start dancing with my kiddo. We do all kind of funny stuff while dancing – making expressions, singing along and even jumping. It helps me cool down and get a breath of fresh air.
Ask your toddler that whether she would like to take a walk with you. Hold her hand and take a walk in the garden, sit on a bench or near a tree, talk to the toddler and notice the difference. All the bad thoughts will vanish and you will get new ideas. Walking is quite therapeutic. You can even walk on the terrace or even at your home. Just start walking and the route will automatically appear for you.
You might be wary of all the mess that the toddler creates while you cook. Kids are very receptive. Make use of this and ask them to help you in cooking. I love cooking and when my kid asks me several questions related to cooking, I am happy to answer them. Just like walking, cooking is therapeutic. How adding ingredients to a simple dish transforms it completely! Fresh aroma of spices and different sounds you hear in kitchen – it is lovely, isn’t it!
Yes, I understand that parenting is all about multi-tasking. But believe me, take a day off from the routine multi-tasking rule and focus on single tasking that day. At the end of the day, you will be more satisfied than ever. You will even be able to pay attention to the toddler amid all the tasks that you need to complete in a day.
Meditation does not mean doing complex things. Even deep breathing and focusing on the good things of life is a kind of meditation. Smelling the flowers and getting lost in the thoughts of almighty that created them is just like meditation for me. Before losing your temper on a toddler who is never going to understand the reason for you to be angry, count to ten or take some deep breaths. This will prevent you from boiling over.
Small Things, Big Joy
Laugh with your toddler on silly things. Paint your nose and make funny faces. Sing a nursery rhyme. Play along with them – slide or swing as they do. Do all those things that make you happy. Instead of making life a sort of to-do list, get out. Let life happen to you, instead of making it happen.
If you think that your toddler is the reason for the stress in your life, then the secret is that she or he is even the solution to the same. They might make your life stressful, but it is they who enjoy life to the fullest.
When you find something that does not meet your expectations, think from the point of view of a toddler and you will never ever lose your cool. But in the end, however much I preach, I know it is very difficult to bring up a toddler like a flower – naturally. Even while writing this post, I lost my cool once. Know that every mom is different and I know that you are the best one for your toddler. You are doing well as a parent. Make your toddler smile and you smile as well!