1. It’s okay to make a mess…and it’s okay to not clean that mess up straight away either! As a self-confessed clean freak (think Monica Gellar in Friends) I have been shocked by how much mess a toddler can actually create. She is in a room five seconds and there are literally toys everywhere. This has been hard to handle. I have to fight my instinct to tidy and just let her play. Messy place, in particular, is a struggle. I purchased a messy mat so that the rice, pasta, water etc would stay in one place…this was fairly naive of me! As I scrubbed at the yellow fingerprints on the carpet this morning and thought of all the fun we had I realised that it’s okay to relax my rules a little. No-one is going to judge me for having a slightly untidy house…and if they do then they are welcome to close the door shut behind them on the way out!
2. Being a mum doesn’t always mean you have to be the ‘scary’ grown-up
When I first became a mum I felt so odd when everyone kept referring to me as ‘mummy’ or as my daughter says now ‘mama’. It felt unnatural and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. However, I’ve discovered the joy of the toddler years is getting to just be a big kid again. Now I can watch ‘My Little Pony’ on tv and blame my daughter, I can build lego houses and spend whole mornings having tea parties! Who knew this parenting thing could be so much fun!
3. Conversely there are times when it’s actually okay to be a grown-up. I spent my twenties and early thirties shirking the bounds of adulthood only to find that I hadn’t anything to fear really. Sure it would be fun for a while to live without responsibilities and commitments but I’ve found security in those things too. It’s comforting to create your own little family unit and tuck yourself inside it on days when the outside world gets too tough. It’s your job to protect that unit and you find yourself strangely willing to fight tigers to make sure everyone you love is okay.
4. Always dance like your toddler is watching. I came up with this little gem as my daughter giggled helplessly watching mama dance to ‘Let it Go’ from ‘Frozen’. I had always felt the phrase ‘dance like no-one is watching’ was high on the cheese factor but I kinda get what they mean now. However, I want to dance like my toddler is watching, get that high when you hear those peals of laughter as if you are the world’s greatest comedian!
5. March to your own mama beat and everything will be fine. Don’t try to be like other mums, your child deserves to be parented by your own unique self. That’s not to say you should ignore all professional advice or blatantly throw the whole rule book out the window (hint: children actually do generally like some level of routine) but don’t let yourself be dictated to by parenting manuals or what Betty from up the road said she did when she had a young one. Be yourself. Your toddler will enjoy you just being you and hanging out with her. You don’t always have to be engaging in developmentally appropriate activities all day everyday. You can interact with your child however feels comfortable to you. And there’s more. It’s okay to sometimes let them play by themselves while you chill out with a magazine or chat to a friend. Children need their own space too. And boredom can be the best tool for seeding their imaginations!
So relax and remember there are no rules just snacks, stories and the occasional smelly sock or three!