It's now just me and Tiny at home during the week. It's very quiet, but still very busy in it's own way... not in the: three voices shouting louder and louder over each other to be heard, six little hands pulling at my jumper and trousers legs, or endless head counting when we are out and about; it's more intensely focussed, there are more in-jokes and quiet exchanges. I have the privilege of having Tiny at home alone during the week, I don't mean that we don't miss the bigger boys - of course we do! I mean that I am able to give him complete focus for most of his waking day, five days a week. To me, it feels like an honour to be able to spend that much quality time with a child.
How I love the toddler years! Don't get me wrong, they are not without their challenges, but I love how rapidly the grow and develop, both physically and cognitively. They are ever changing, and ever adapting and adopting new skills and abilities, and it is a fascinating period of development in their character and personality too! The reason that many people don't enjoy the toddler years is due to the infamous tantrums and meltdowns, however with a little understanding of psychology and some good old fashioned practise in re-framing, I truly believe that we can see past this and allow for our children's immature brains and support THEM through these challenging times.
Toddlers are masters of mindfulness, they are truly focussed and fully immersed in the present moment. Their brains are growing and developing every second of the day, synapses are strengthening and being pruned at a rate of knots as their experiences literally shape their brains. As many things that a toddler attempts to accomplish are not easy, and require huge amounts of effort and focus, they suffer many little stresses over the course of each day. These stresses all add up and as cortisol (the stress hormone) levels rise, the pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that is responsible for higher cognitive function such as rationale and reasoning) is bypassed and the toddler is plunged into their limbic system (the area of the brain that is responsible for emotions and drives). It's all natural and developmentally normal - our brains don't fully develop until adulthood! So please, don't take tantrums personally, they are not an effort to manipulate you or to spite you, but make sure you take time to decompress after a particularly difficult day, if you can. Your wellbeing matters, and caring for a toddler can be as brutal as it is rewarding.
These are some key areas of development that toddlers typically go through:
Gross Motor Skills
Fine Motor Skills
I shall be doing a series of blog posts covering activities that you can do at home, with your toddler using stuff that you already have around the house. First up will be Gross Motor Skills, I look forward to getting stuck in and sharing my final journey into toddlerhood!