How to: Handle stress when your toddler doesn’t have an OFF button

I honestly don’t know if there is anyway to actually accomplish this… Can a mom even be stress-free?

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My son is 1 1/2, and he is the light of my life. He’s my truest love, my best friend, my motivation, my joy, my everything. By being my everything, that also means that he’s my button-pusher, my mess-maker, my things-breaker, my headache-inducer, my reason for worry, and my stress-accumulator.

I worry about things that will likely never happen. For instance, I think: What if I’m out with him and some creep came up and grabbed him? Or, what if I am pumping gas with him still in the car and somebody jumps in and takes off in my car while he’s still inside? Or, what if someone goes into his daycare and takes him? I’ve got to say, I am pretty unstoppable in all of these imagined scenarios. I mean, I am some kind of parkour expert with reflexes so fast that I could dodge a bullet… Obviously I’m probably overly optimistic in my abilities, but I can’t help from thinking all sorts of really awful scenarios. It drives me crazy.

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I don’t have as much patience as I’d like with him. I keep telling myself, “He’s not even 2… He is learning… He isn’t intentionally trying to get on my nerves… He isn’t trying to make a mess…” Blah blah blah… I know that this stage in a child’s life there will be messes, and tantrums, and he isn’t going to listen to my commands very often. I wish I didn’t get frustrated with him, but I do sometimes. In turn that makes me feel guilty, which brings on a lot of other emotions.

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The house is always scattered with toys. Sometimes I go too long in between cleaning the floors. Sometimes I sit on our snot/drool infused couch and just hate how I let things go at times. Our glass entertainment center is artfully decorated with the tiny hand prints of my wide-eyed child who gets too close to the T.V., and I hate that I can’t keep up with the housework.

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He is so curious about things that he literally does not stop moving. He runs and climbs on everything. He always wants the things he’s not supposed to have. He goes faster than his little body is coordinated to go, and he falls a lot. He bumps his head on tables, walls, chairs, the floor, toys, the fridge, doors, everything. I want to be the kind of mom that lets him learn at his own pace, and I don’t want to hold him back on discovering things, but I hate watching him get hurt. I want to be able to stop it from happening, but I can’t keep up with him. I hate that I don’t have the energy to give him sometimes.

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I sometimes get upset when I see my SO not paying attention to our son. I know he loves him, and would do anything for him, and I know he loves watching him learn and grow (just like I do). But I feel as though we moms have to pay attention even more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll look over and there is our son, not even 3 feet away from my man, getting into something he shouldn’t, or climbing on something he shouldn’t, or putting something in his mouth that he shouldn’t, and my perfect soulmate of a man is just standing there looking at his phone, or watching T.V., or even trying to talk to me. I feel like I look away for 10 seconds to get something done, assured that this man of mine will be prompt in taking action with our son if need be, and I still end up taking things away from him, or swooping something out of his mouth, or grabbing him off of the furniture. I love my man to death, and I’m not trying to make it sound like he’s not ever aware. He definitely deserves recognition for all that he does, but you moms know what I’m talking about. It’s stressful because we need to get things done, and we want to feel confident leaving you with this little Tasmanian Devil, knowing they won’t drink the chemicals under the sink, or wrap themselves in the cords of the blinds, or jump to their death from the back of the couch. Damn it men! We need your help!

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Then there are those days when my son is just not having it… Rough. We all have those days, but as adults, it’s easier to cope with the hatred of the day and wearing pants and getting out of bed. Our little ones don’t know how to express their crankiness other than outbursts. The never-ending whining, or yelling, or even a full bout of pathetic tantrums. Seriously, just get off the floor and go take a nap. These days seem so long. Our headaches are out of control, and we don’t want to do it anymore.

My son has 100 books, and there’s only one that he wants me to read. Twenty times in a row… And I do it. I can recite it word for word, and he laughs in the same places every time as if it’s the first time he’s heard it, but I still read it. How can you turn away such an enthusiastic little boy full of wonder and excitement?

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I am beyond lucky to be his Mommy, and most days I don’t feel like I deserve him. There really isn’t a “How to” in parenting. It’s more of a “Just do” kind of thing. The worry will never go away, and the stress will never be gone forever. My only advice is to drink coffee in the morning, wine in the evening, and just enjoy the disaster that is your life as much as you can.

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Enjoy it while your little one pulls every chewed-up bite of food out of his mouth and smushes it into the table. Enjoy them bringing every single toy from their playroom and littering the house with them, which we then have to seek out each and every night so he can do it all again the next day. Enjoy the times he wants to give you a kiss, so you undoubtedly oblige, knowing that the snot on his face is going to be on yours (because you can’t deny your child a kiss to wipe their face first, or they won’t want one after that). Just hope it doesn’t get in your mouth. Enjoy the times you change a poopy diaper and your little, smiley, mini-human flops their body around before the wipe is complete and feces is literally everywhere after that. (Just look at that mischievous face people!)

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Being a parent is stressful. Period. There are going to be good times, and there are going to be tough times. But if you try to stop and enjoy your child for the little person they are, some of the tough times might be a bit more tolerable. Because let’s face it, there is no other kind of love than the kind a parent has for their child.

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We are honored with being the people they look up to and learn from. The people they can count on. The people they feel safe with. The beginning stages of life while they are learning your basic skills (walking, eating with utensils, using a toilet, etc.) are going to be messy… Very messy… It’s not as though we didn’t expect it, but it can sometimes be more than a little frustrating. We just have to remember that our babies will learn at their own pace, and we can either yell at them or enjoy the adventure.

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2 thoughts on “How to: Handle stress when your toddler doesn’t have an OFF button

  1. Very awesome. Yep! You’ll feel like that for a long time. Travis used to jump off the swings when they were highest in the air and land with a thump laughing! I freaked every time.

    Liked by 1 person

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