It’s twelve-thirty in the afternoon, and I am finally drinking my morning cup of coffee. It’s cold. There is a load of laundry waiting to be switched, a sink full of dishes waiting to be washed, and my two-year-old just ran in begging for my attention.
This is my life now.
Sometimes it feels like I spend the day cleaning up the house, only to have my toddler follow behind me and undo it all. Sometimes I wish I could just get through a task without a toddler saying, “Mom, look at this” or “Mom, help me!” Or needing me to kiss a boo-boo or help with using the potty or . . . the list goes on. The attention span of a two-year-old little boy, even with a TV, is quite small. And it can be challenging to find distractions for him while I try to do my housework.
Parenting, for me, is a constant learning curve.
I knew it would be. I expected it from the beginning. But still, I am often surprised at the kinds of things I am learning and how I grow and change through my interactions with my son David.
It is always a learning curve to figure out what he is capable of at this age and what expectations are reasonable. At an early age we started encouraging him to help clean up. If he can make the messes, we figured, he can clean them up. And that saves us some trouble. He does pretty well now when we tell him he needs to put away his toys. Or sometimes he just stuffs them all on his bed or under a table. At least the room looks cleaner, right?
David loves to be a helper.
He loves being called “Mommy’s big helper.” He loves assisting with tasks around the house. Sweeping, dusting or mopping.
Sure, it takes twice as long to finish the task, but the learning opportunity is worth it.
I remember awhile back having a moment of revelation. I realized it is so easy for me to be annoyed by David always wanting to be around me, always interfering or wanting to be part of what I am doing. Often my natural instinct is to send him away so I can finish what I am doing.
It behooves me to slow down and include him, using the moment to encourage him and teach him valuable skills.
Sure, it can be hard to have patience with a toddler who is always tagging along. But it is a blessing to teach them life skills, even at two years old. They are not too young to learn.
It has also been a learning process for me to realize I can, and should, make intentional time to enjoy with my toddler.
For example, we have started having “coffee time” in the mornings (or sometimes the afternoons.) He gets chocolate milk. I get my coffee. And we sit together at the table. I will listen to his chatter. Sometimes we will enjoy some music together. I will get to see him come alive listening to tunes I have loved and now get to share with him.
This is a moment that would be so easy to miss. It is so easy for me to think he is too young to participate, or too young for me to enjoy hanging out with. He’s not.
As I am realizing this more and more, my days have become more enjoyable. It is no longer me just trying to get stuff done with a toddler tagging along. It is me being intentional and looking for teachable moments. And moments I can treasure with my son. At the end of the day I usually have not accomplished as much as I’d hoped, and parenting a toddler wears me out. But I am satisfied.