If you rattle around the parent internet for even a little bit, you’ll notice that toddlers have a bad rap.
“You think that baby is hard? Wait until the terrible twos!” says someone.
“Oh two is nothing” some other very… ahem… helpful… person will say “don’t you know that three is the new two?”
And everyone knows that you can’t take a toddler out to eat because they are just the worst.
Ok so full disclosure: at the time of this writing my oldest is only two and a half so it’s completely possible that I will be shown my comeuppance in six months (I also have a 5-month-old baby). That said, I think we’ve had our fair share of tantrums turned up to 11. I’ve definitely stood on the sidewalk next to a child who has gone rigid with rage and thrown themselves on the ground. I’ve had to give a toddler a bath against her will – the kind of bath where both adults are required and come out soaking wet. And even with all that, I would never say something like what’s written above.
Let’s be nice to (and honest with) new parents
When I say “it’s not nice” to tell new parents that it just gets harder, I also want to be clear that it’s not because we should keep this terrible secret to ourselves. I mean because it’s not actually true. Someone who does this either plain ole’ doesn’t remember how terrifying it is to be granted sole responsibility over a child for the first time or is just a jerk. Parents grow *with* their children. And the parents of toddlers who are obnoxious to new parents have simply forgotten how impossibly hard babies are.
Toddlers understand language
They can usually tell you what’s wrong. You know that time your baby screamed for 5 hours before you finally thought to take them to the doctor and found out they have a raging ear infection? That sure was fun! A couple months ago my daughter woke up and said “mama ear hurt.” Oh it killed the mystery and romance of trying to guess which underworld God the kid was possessed with, but I’ve never liked surprises anyway. Now, obviously toddlers have their moments: when they don’t hear a thing you’re saying, when they have no interest in using their words (see: rigid with rage), when they whine about cookies for hours on end, etc.. That said, if my daughter is howling for a cookie, I feel comfortable ignoring the hell out of her because I know she’s not going to die. When a baby screams like that, there’s no way to know if they’re just angry at the walls or if something is actually wrong. And with a toddler, there’s always a distraction! Under most circumstances you can say “time for lunch” and your kiddo will cheerfully run to their designated seat. Which brings us to…
Toddlers can walk
By 18 months typically developing children have taken their first steps and many are already quite mobile. This means you’re not constantly balancing them on your hip as you do EVERYTHING. Welcome to being able to stand up straight when you brush your teeth!
Toddlers eat real people food
You arrive at daycare having forgotten your toddler’s lunch on the train/in your driveway/in the fridge? Well that’s unfortunate, you’re going to have to go to Starbucks and get her a croissant and a banana. You forget your baby’s breast milk or the one formula you’ve used since his birth/he isn’t allergic to/the pediatrician prescribed? You are so majorly screwed! Cue trudging back home and taking the morning off work!
Toddlers sleep at least sometimes
Ok yes… even toddlers never sleep in, don’t understand proper behavior during daylight savings time or when crossing time zones, and totally get the stomach flu in the middle of the night. That said, as the parent of a baby who spent more than a month waking up… every… hour… to nurse… every… night… I can tell you that no deeper hell exists in this dimension. I swear, at one point that month all the color was sucked from the world and only shades of grey existed. In the mean time, my toddler daughter was rocking the zzz’s for a good 11 hours most nights.
To the parents of babies – it gets easier
So if you’re reading this and you have a newborn who is causing your brain to slowly leak out your ears, know that it won’t always be like this. It will get better when your baby will smile at you, it will get less stressful when your baby starts solids, and everything will be forgiven once he says “I love you” for the first time. So hang in there – it gets easier!
Our next recos: Advice to Myself the Second Time Around