Dear 100 Hour Board,
Do you have any parenting advice/life hacks/favorite books/products/jokes for parents of toddlers? We're entering a new phase of parenthood, and I like to pretend like I'm prepared.
The concept of quiet time has saved our sanity on more than one occasion. Ever since Twist stopped napping altogether, we've made sure he has about an hour a day to play quietly in his room by himself. It helps a lot with his mood and gives us a bit of time to ourselves as well. Try it out and see what you think!
Do what works for you. There are so many good ways to parent, you just have to figure out what way works best for you and for your child. It's lots of trial and error, but you'll find a good groove (eventually). Oh, and don't spend all day at home if you can help it. Getting out of the house always makes my days go by faster.
I'll leave you with a few of my favorite books to read with toddlers, if you haven't already discovered them: Press Here by Hervé Tullet, Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, and Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep! by Todd Tarpley.
I think I'm the only one chiming in that doesn't have a kid so just take my suggestions with a grain of salt. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a consistent schedule. Your days will go by so much smoother if there are routines in place so your child will know what to expect. Along the same lines: consistency. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and follow through.
Here are some of my favorite kid bands. They will make you go only a little crazy. As for books, The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak, anything by Mo Willems or David Wiesner, The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat, and The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.
I have a very challenging daughter. She pushes boundaries, challenges authority, stubbornly refuses to get help when she needs it, and is generally oppositional to me and my wife. In general, independence is a quality that I value in people and hope for in my children, but the degree to which she pushes is actually bad for her and I'm banging my head against the wall most days with her.
What really gets at me though? People who think that 5 seconds of observation plus whatever experience they have qualify them to give unsolicited advice. Everyone seems to know how to fix this and it really irks me. We're doing our best here and we think long and hard about how to treat her, praise her, and discipline her in ways that will teach her proper behavior. When what we've planned doesn't work, we try something else. We ask our trusted friends and family members. We look for advice online and in books. What we don't do, though, is trust random people at church to correctly diagnose and solve problems without our request.
So this is my advice to you: Do not pretend that you know what you're doing. Do not let any person make you believe that they know what they're doing. Do what seems right and adapt when it turns out (as it inevitably will sometimes) that your decision wasn't right. I really think you can't screw this up as long as you're doing that.
The Man with a Mustache
I've gotten a lot from How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7 and my 3yo really responds to some of those tactics. The book Growing Up Brave has given us some good ideas for understanding and assisting with big toddler fears. How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success has given me confidence and a break from the stress of what it can be like to raise children in Silicon Valley.
These books are also good at emphasizing my other biggest lesson from my limited parenting experience, which is: every kid is different, so try different things, give things a little bit of a chance to work before ditching something and moving to the next thing, and don't worry if every single thing doesn't sound like it will be Your Thing.
P.S. Pray a lot! Listen a lot! Read Celeste Davis' article, How to Pray in a Way God Can Answer, on LDS.org!
The other other biggest lesson is to HIRE PEOPLE when and where you need, as you can, without shame. Babysitters, during the day or in the evening and not just for dates. Mother's helpers to come play with the kids while you sleep or clean or read or literally anything at home. House cleaners, whether it's regular or just the kitchen or once a year or one time ever. If you can afford it, it is sometimes worth sacrificing a fun purchase to buy some sanity. Swaps with other moms are also awesome, but sometimes it's nice not to feel like you owe somebody some return service if you are legit going crazy.
Buy your kid a tape measure key chain. I get them at the hardware store and hand them out like candy to other parents of toddlers, because it's the perfect toy. A compact metal ribbon! How fun! Kids love seeing how far they'll stretch, letting them retract, reading the numbers on them, and measuring odd objects. I keep a full-sized tape measure in my purse, which is also fun (if a bit noisier than the miniature ones) because you can bend them at odd angles and make shapes without them going limp.