Well, here we go again. My youngest is just days away from turning 3 and panic is beginning to set in. I’ve experienced this (um, magical?) age once already and I have recently seen glimpses of what’s to come. Again. *Sigh*
If you have survived the terrifying 3’s with your child(ren) you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. If your child is under three, well, consider yourself forewarned. I had no idea there was something worse than the terrible 2’s until I was complaining about how challenging that age was to moms of older children. They pretty much said, “Oh honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Wait ’til you see what 3 has in store for you.” And they were right. So very, very, right. Three makes two look like a walk in the park.
So in preparation for what’s to come, I’ve compiled five reminders that just might help keep our sanity (mostly) in tact!
1. As frustrated as we might feel parenting a 3-year-old, it must be pretty frustrating to BE a 3-year-old. What they really want is to be independent. They want to be able to make their own decisions and do things for themselves. Think about how you might feel if you constantly being told what to do and when to do it. Of course we moms want to foster their independence but there are still things they aren’t able to do, and choices they cannot yet make, on their own. Thus a power struggle ensues. Keeping your cool can be incredibly challenging but I find that being mindful of WHY they’re acting out, instead of WHAT they’re doing can really help ease some of the frustrations.
2. With great struggle, comes great humor. Sometimes you can’t help but laugh at the insanity of a 3 year old’s meltdown over things like, well, not reading their mind. Sorry kid, you asked for a PB&J sandwich for lunch. How could I possibly know you’d change your mind AS SOON AS I MADE IT and now want ham & cheese instead? Sometimes the humor comes from watching your child come down the stairs in the most heinous outfit while wearing a huge “I got dressed myself and look like a million bucks” grin on their face. My advice – find the funny! It can make all the difference between laughing it off and losing your sh*t.
3. Our children love us deeply. Even when they say things like, “I don’t like you anymore” or “You’re a bad mommy,” they don’t mean it. It’s not easy, but try your best not to take it to heart. Give them a little space to cool down and I guarantee they’ll be telling you they love you or looking for snuggles before you know it.
4. Celebrate the little victories. For example, if your child got dressed ALL BY THEMSELVES take it as a win no matter how ridiculous they may look! Seriously, is it that important that they leave the house in clothes that match? For the most part, as long as my girls are wearing clothes that are weather-appropriate I’m cool with it. My daughter is proud of herself, we’ve avoided an argument, and she isn’t leaving the house naked. High fives all around!
5. It won’t last forever. Promise. As difficult as it might be to imagine missing this…all of this…you will. One day. Perhaps years from now, but you will.
Deep breaths, Godspeed and good luck!