Having toddlers and well-ordered days might seem at times like mixing oil and water — an impossible task. Oh sometimes if you stir hard enough it appears like the oil is mixing in with the water, but when you stop, the oil naturally separates to the top. Having toddlers can be that way too. Little children can create chaos on top of a well-intentioned, well-ordered day. But does it have to be such a struggle? Is it really an impossible feat?
I can’t remember a time in my married life when I haven’t had young children. I have my older set, 13yr. old daughter, 11 yr. old son, and 9 year old daughter. Then I have my younger set, 4.5 yr. old daughter, 3 year old daughter and 10mo. old daughter (yes, that’s not a current picture—I’m working on that—lol.) I’ve learned a few things over the years and have come to appreciate and love being a mom of toddlers.
Being a mom of a toddler means we must…
“Absorb the chaos, create calm, and provide hope”
Dr. Eugene B. Habecker @ Christian Leadership Alliance
I first heard this quote from a Christian referee. He talked about how his job in the middle of possible volatile sport interactions was not to join the chaos, but to dissipate it, make peace with both sides, and provide a resolution. I think this quote is a good job- description for mothers of young children too.
Absorb the chaos.
I’ve been told many times, “Oh, you must have your hands full,” or “Just wait until the terrible 2’s hit.” In our society, toddlers are expected to be chaos-makers. They are known to mess up our routine, our idea of a clean house, our quiet-time. I believe though, when God spoke the world into being, He took chaos and created order. Since little children are created in His image, I know the “chaos” label is not an inherent character quality.
As moms, when our young child has a melt-down, creates huge messes – create chaos – we must absorb it, not join in or make it worse. How could we make the situation worse? Well, if you are like me, when my child decides to explore her surroundings, practice opening and closing lids and then dumps a whole container of flour all over herself and the floor, my natural tendency is to speak harshly and be highly annoyed. This doesn’t make the situation calm when I react like that. It usually makes it worse. I’ve found that I cannot absorb chaos in my own strength. I’m constantly asking God for help—that He’d help me see the root cause of what’s going on with my child and how to best help him/her. I’m learning with His help to react calmly and even treasure some of these memorable challenges. I try to identify (if possible) the reason for the chaos:
1. Was the chaos caused by lack of sleep?
2. Was the chaos caused by what was eaten? (i.e. too much sugar, allergic reaction)
3. Was the chaos a cry for attention?
4. Was the chaos just their way of trying to be independent?
5. Was the chaos deliberate – an act of disobedience?
6. Was the chaos a way to cope with feelings of being overwhelmed or afraid?
7. Was the chaos because I neglected to do what needed to be done that day? (i.e. stick to the schedule, get off the computer, play with my child etc.)
When I have an idea why my child might have acted/reacted the way they did, I can work on ways to help both of us have better success at a well-ordered day. Of course, there are still those times where I say to myself, “What were you thinking!” 🙂
I am not a very strict scheduler. You might say that I tend to go with the flow of the rhythm of our day more often than following the clock. One way to help create calm for my toddlers is to establish daily routines. Young children like to know what to expect. Least you think I’m some sort of super mom, I’ll let you in on a secret— I struggle with keeping schedules. I’m a mom of young kids which requires me to be flexible. I finally embraced the fact that for me, time schedules don’t work at this stage of my life. Instead, I focus on developing routines—which in return end up functioning like a general schedule. Click to see my family’s chore chart and routine, but here’s the basic flow to the first part of my toddlers’ day:
1. Wake up.
– Get dressed.
– Make bed.
2. All eat breakfast together.
– Family Bible time.
3. Help with morning chores.
4. Do some educational activities w/ Mom
5. Free-play (Specific choices of activities and toys are available. This is not a free-for-all.)
When we follow our routines, my toddlers are more likely to have a good day. When I find that I’m lax on implementing them, I’ve increased the likelihood of chaos occurring.
My kids are a blessing. I want my young children to know they are not a hindrance, a pain, or something to deal with until they get older. They have value now. How I relate to them is going to have an effect on how they view their Heavenly Father. I want to take this precious time in their life when they have such a love of learning to instill the reason of hope in their lives— Jesus. So what I’ve learned is that a well-ordered day with a toddler is possible, but it usually has little to do with my toddler and everything to do with me.