Well, it's official - my baby isn't a baby anymore. Charlie-May turned two yesterday and I'm having mixed feelings. To say this milestone is an easy one would be a lie. Last night I spent 5 hours in a rocking chair with what what now feels like a broken tail bone and very, very dark circles under my eyes. Raising a child is hard, plain and simple. In addition to the night wakings, our "terrible twos" have also included continuous button pushing, refusing to eat and starting every sentence with "no"
All joking aside, there are a lot of reasons why your child goes through this phase. To begin, the periodic night wakings around this age are often referred to as another sleep regression. This is in part due the fact that your child's brain is developing very quickly. In fact, you may have noticed that your child is reaching a lot of milestones lately which is a perfect indicator of this. Next, she may be getting her two year molars. These are said to be very painful and seem to take an extra long time to come in. Lastly, just like other sleep regressions, your child may be adjusting their sleep patterns. Try to avoid that mid-day nap if possible and see if he is able to fall asleep (and stay asleep) easier. Don't forget, this adjustment period takes some time (1-2 weeks) before you start to see more consistent results.
Countless parents before us can attest that this age also comes with a lot of attitude. Your child is shaping and moulding their personality which often comes with testing limits and pushing boundaries. If you have a chance, pick up the book "The Danish Way." It explains how some communities have completely omitted language such as "terrible twos" and replaced it with "the boundary stage." This idea that children aren't terrible but simply developing is a beautiful way to help you reframe your thinking - especially when you are having a particularily difficult day.
So, how do you survive the "boundary stage?" Here's my advice:
1) Stick to a schedule:
Children are creatures of habit - schedule naps, meals and play times as often as you can and stick to it. This will help cure boredom and keep you organized. Remember, always try to parent for the long term, which means setting boundaries and maintaining them. Trust me, that crotchety old lady staring at your screeming child on the grocery store floor was most likely in your shoes many moons ago - she's just forgotten what this phase is all about.
2) Keep them busy:
Try out that Early Learning Program in your town, let them run wild at the indoor playground and yes - set up that play date you've been avoiding. A tired body means a tired mind - and thats a great reciepe for sleep.
3) Cut them some slack:
Trust me, you're not all rainbows and butterflies every day of your life and nobody calls you terrible. Sometimes your child is just having a bad day and that's okay. Be respectful of the fact that they are tiny humans that aren't perfect, regardless of our expectations of them. Don't forget that the boundary stage are all signs of a healthy, developing child!