I won’t lie I knew having 2 kids under 2 would be a challenge but I didn’t think it would get harder as they got older. Oh was I wrong. I have learned a lot this last year so I wanted to share my parenting tips for raising two toddlers.
When my youngest was an infant I was tandem nursing and it was summer. We would just spend most of our days outside and burning energy. Now they are 3 and 1.5 years old it is winter and we are all struggling.
Related post: What I learned in a year of tandem nursing
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8 Parenting Tips for Raising Two Toddlers
Whether you are a parent of 2 young children or are planning on having your kids close in age these parenting tips are going to help you transition a bit smoother and with less stress.
Oh the level of stress. We have had such a hard year from a rough year in the garden to a helicopter ride and PICU stay. But none of that has been as stressful as two toddlers.
This may sound silly but snacks have been my saving grace. If you are leaving the house make sure you have snacks and lots of them! You can never have too many, shoot you may just want to keep a box of snacks in the car.
Use snacks when grocery shopping, at the park, when out to eat before the food comes. I don’t know about your kids but my 1 year old is never as hungry as she is while waiting for food!
I do like to try to keep the snacks healthy so we do bananas, whole apples (keeps them occupied for an hour), granola bars, dry Cheerios, apple chips, and I’ll sometimes spoil them with a veggie and fruit pouch!
This might be my favorite parenting tip! The day isn’t going to always go how you want it to and that may be hard thing to hear, but it is the truth.
Today my 3 year old cried because her pants were on right and then I put her shoes on the right feet. WHAAAAAAT
Needless to say today didn’t go smoothly we didn’t do the things I wanted to do and I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to get done. But I am here to say it is okay!!!!
Some days your job is just to cuddle, play and comfort your little ones especially when they are little and still learning how the world works. And this means you need to lower your expectations of the day.
Related post: Stop scheduling : the calmer house
3. Burn Energy
Make them move and not just run get some heavy work activities going. What are heavy work activities? They are activities that make the joints work against each other.
Heavy work activities examples
- pushing a basket
- walking like different animals
- climbing on the couch cushions (our favorite)
- pulling clothes out of the dryer
- picking up sticks
Think about activities that would wear you out and have you ready for a nap!
Related Post: Housework your toddler can help with
Sitting and watching TV as easy as that can be some days (and we have those days) leads to children who just want to sit and burn off no energy. There is nothing wrong with having lazy days and sometimes those days are needed but I can attest that on those days my kids have the worst attitude!
They just want to keep watching TV and get mad when I shut it off or mad when I won’t turn on what they want and the drama is stressful. Then come bedtime no one is tired!
Related Post: Some times as a SAHM you just need to snuggle
4. Challenge them
On top of doing those heavy work activities you need to keep their brains working. Learning starts right away and working the brain can be just as tiring as working other muscles.
Don’t feel like you need to go all out just doing some simple fine motor work can spark creativity and get those neurons firing.
Our favorite fine motor skills are Play Doh and putting pipe cleaners through anything! Think strainer, beads, or poke holes in some lids.
Keeping them busy keeps them out of trouble! Or when daddy is home they just get in to everything and he says “well they were occupied and quite” haha until the next time doesn’t go as smoothly.
The time I am talking about I came home from a Dr. appointment to the kids scooping out dog food and putting it in to a metal mixing bowl and then the oldest would poor it back in to the dog food container. He said they had been busy at it for an hour!
Which is great and I’ll admit I let them do things that keep them quite and busy that will later end in disaster and me wondering why I let them do it. But I came home the following day after having my wisdom tooth pulled to baby gates up and dog food all over the dinning room floor.
Turns out the youngest was over just pouring it back and forth and just dumped the bowl on the floor! Sounds about right!
Keep the toddlers busy
Another fun way to challenge them is sensory bins. These keep them busy for quite a while (over an hour on a good day) and help them learn new things even though they just think it is play time.
Fake snow is currently our favorite and keeps them busy for hours at a time and the mess is easily cleaned up!
Sensory bins are easy to put together with items you already have around the house:
Another way to keep then busy and from attacking each other is to craft! This can be entertaining depending on your kids. My youngest is notorious for eating craft supplies. Crayons, paint, glue, paper, and anything else you can imagine!
But that doesn’t stop us from trying and she does enjoy to do crafts, but she enjoys eating more! The 3 year old absolutely loves craft time though so it keeps her busy for a while.
We do some crafts every day so I have plenty of ideas and have some posts that will help you come up with some new things to do.
- cut and glue
- water color
- mix paint in bags to see what color it changes to
- glue and random items – Adella loves to glue cotton balls on to popsicle sticks
Seriously anything goes when you are 3! Especially if it is something new suddenly it is the coolest craft ever! Or as Adella says “the most fun I ever had.”
Blog post with crafts
I have a 6 week “course” of books paired with crafts that are perfect for toddlers and perfect to get those little minds correlating the stories in books to something outside of a book! This is the perfect way to start some early learning.
I can’t leave out the fun holiday crafts that make perfect DIY Christmas gifts for the grandparents. And then one or favorite craft supplies is pipe cleaners and I have a wonderful round up post full of fun pipe cleaner crafts from DIY toys to binoculars.
6. Cooking with toddlers
This is another great way to get their attention on to something productive while also making something. My 3 year old loves to cook and brag about what she made for weeks! And the 1 year old loves to help me mix and smell everything!
Teaching your toddler how to cook is such an important life skill that will carry with them for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t have to be difficult but it will be messy so just put that in your mind before you start!
Related Post: Sometimes you have to lower your expectations
If we could bake all day every day I can assure you we probably would. And when we are done cooking my girls loves to push the chair over to the sink and “wash” dishes. Or as I call it make a huge mess. But hey they are busy, playing together, and having fun!
7. Get out of the house
I am 100% guilty of taking a drive just so my girls will sleep. My youngest is crazy and when she is tired she becomes even more crazy. Unfortunately if you don’t catch her at the very right time she won’t go so sleep she either turns cranky or just nuts. And a car ride is just what she needs to sit and calm down.
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But I don’t just mean get out so they can sleep. You should also get outside for fresh air and running time. I don’t know where you live but it gets cold, windy, and snowy here in the winter so it can be hard to get out. We do take advantage of each and every 40 degree day we get.
Now if it is too cold we just go to the store or the Library for a reading. Well my 1 year old is nuts and taking her any where can be the biggest challenge of my life! So I’ll be honest I try to avoid the Library, taking her out to eat, and public places in which she needs to be calm cause that just isn’t her.
Don’t forget to check out a MOPS group and try to make some great mom friends while your kids get to play and you get a little time without them. But I will share making good mom friends and finding your tribe is hard!
Related Post: How to Survive going to the park alone with two kids
8. Be a fun mom
I know some days it is so hard to be and feel like a fun mom, but it can help you stay sane! Now before you say but crafting and sensory play does make you a fun mom I will say yes it does. And now I will say but there is more.
Get down on the ground, have a tickle fight, pretend to be animals, and play silly games with them. Or have a dance party. Doing these things not only burns off that energy, but it bond them with you. If you are like me and stay home it can be hard to see dad have all the fun, because when he gets home the kids and him play and the rules kinda go out the window.
But you can be a fun parent too and let go of those “someone might get hurt” feelings and just enjoy the moment. You won’t believe how much fun it can be to just be in the moment and not worrying about anything else around you.
On that note, but your dang phone down. Just take a day off from your phone and see how much more you get done, how much more fun you have with your kids and how much less stressed out you are!
I hope that this list of parenting tips helps you feel a bit more calm about how crazy life can be with 2 toddlers! Cause let me tell you if you think it won’t be crazy, it will be! And some days you will wondering what was I thinking and then as they give you hugs, goodnight kisses and kiss each other goodnight you are reminded oh yes that is why. Because no matter how out of control your day may feel those love feelings go no where!
How is life with toddlers treating you?