This post has been inspired by The Real Reasons Being a Toddler is Hard and other recent (true) events.
My daughter makes a lot of her own decisions.
She is a 2 and four month old toddler.
But I’m not holding her to that. She doesn’t know how young she is. She knows that she simply “is.” My daughter is more than a toddler. She is a human being.
What drives a toddler’s decision making process? Nothing different than ours – wants and needs.
Toddlers may not have a lot of patience. Sometimes I don’t either. They may not understand reasoning. Well geeze, I think it’s hard to accept when the shoes I want really bad are too expensive!
I had no idea young children were so REAL until I loved and shared my life with one.
My daughter is so present, aware, curious, thoughtful and emotional.
It’s incredibly humbling to watch her live her little important daily life. Everything means so much. Each moment. I strive to be more like her.
Supporting Ella’s Choices
Ella decided when she wanted to use the potty. She decides what and when she wants to eat, and when to sleep (nap and nighttime).
These choices have not always been made on her own. I’ve definitely tried to impose my rules and regulations. I thought it was the “responsible parent” thing to do.
But it didn’t take me long to realize I am not the ultimate decider, Ella is.
I am simply here as a resource – to guide, nurture and support the choices she makes.
Why I’m glad I lost the nighttime battle
Let’s paint a pretty picture of bedtime, just for fun.
p.s. this is one of the biggest changes in attitude I made regarding Ella making her own choices. I’m grateful for the experience to learn how to parent my daughter better – it’s paid off for both of us.
The routine begins at 7:30. First we take a nice bath, complete with toys, songs and lavender oil. After bath, apply lotion (with more lavender oil). Pick out a bunch of books. Get snuggly in bed around 8:30 and read every book, sometimes twice. If you’re a breastfeeding mum like me, you nurse. And your child falls peacefully to sleep in a matter of minutes.
Unless of course, your child keeps nursing…
And nursing. And rolling around. Maybe even sitting up and talking to you. Before you know it, you get resentful, want to pull out your hair and have an anxiety attack when it’s 9:45 and your child is still. not. asleep. When he/she finally does drift off, you stumble into the living room/bedroom a complete emotional wreck. Why does it have to be so hard to put down your child to bed?!
I learned it doesn’t have to be so hard when I let Ella decide when she wanted to go to bed.
Children get tired. Really, eventually they do. And when they get tired, and they want (yes, want) to go to bed, they will fall asleep pretty darn fast.
Our nighttime routine went from what I just described to crawling into bed with a few books around 9:30 at night. I’m downstairs by 9:50.
But isn’t that giving up too much authority?
Eh, maybe it is. Who knows. There is no such thing as a parenting expert.
What I do know is, I can’t force my daughter to do anything. I can teach her how to act responsibly as possible in any given situation. I can model behavior and hope she catches on.
I’m here to back her up whenever she needs help, answer questions when she doesn’t know, and generally sit back in awe and simply watch her learn about life and about herself.
When it comes down to it, I like giving Ella the opportunity to make up her own mind. I can see how she feels about making decisions. She’s empowered. She’s confident. She’s human.