Whole Parenting Family

Living with a Toddler: 7 Quick Takes on Survival


Living with a toddler is like living with a hurricane. Hanging out with Kelly & crew to tell you how I’m semi-surviving having a tot again.

It’s my third time having a two and a half year old, and thank GOD because I know now it’s not permanent. They will, WILL, grow in their prefrontal cortexes and become semi-rational. SEMI. My favorite book for this stage (and all kids, really) is this one. It changed my expectations so I no longer freaked out about the tot not listening. Because they kinda can’t.



The hitting continues. Now he’ll warn you. I HIT YOU,  MAMA. or I NO LIKE YOU SO I BITE YOU! So at least there’s a head’s up. He also throws things with remarkable accuracy. Hard heavy things. At people’s heads.


Refusal to get dressed in that outfit.

This is a first for us. MonsterTot will not wear certain clothes on certain days. He eschews long sleevers unless they’re proclaimed “hockey jerseys” or “Joe Mauer Power Batting Shirts.” He also is wise to the fact that unless there’s a number on the back, it’s not actually a jersey.

I bought this sweater and told him it was a hockey jersey. It’s the only sweater he likes. I should buy a few more.




That food is YUCKY. No, it IS YUCKY. he says about his former favorites. All the time. Ellyn Sattler has a great guide on providing options and then letting the kid decide and starve if necessary. They won’t starve. Promise.

He could be worse in the food department (loves ethnic food, hates white crackers) but I just wish it were consistent. Me and every mom in America. (No, we’re aren’t Bringing Up Bebe so, no, he doesn’t eat Rochfort cheese.)


His Winter Coat.

This is even more dire than getting into certain outfits. The dreaded winter coat. He’ll wear the rain coat, no problem. But the winter coat (much less hats & more) is so so abysmally affronting to his dignity, it is a real battle.

I just make him wear it and put him outside. If he persists in gnawing and ripping it off his lifeless chest, he can come back in. And then repeat. Multiple times.


Naps & Sleep.

He’s still napping a solid 2+ hours an afternoon because I am stubborn and make my kids nap for an eternity (SweetPea still does at 4.5). He wants books, a million songs, and then for me to lay down on his brother’s lower bunk across the room from his crib.

Did I mention he’s still in a crib? And I LOVE that he is because then I know where he is. Eventually he’ll migrate to the lower bunk, but toddler jail for life!

I want two books, a quick rendition of Tantum Ergo, and then to say GOOD BYE SLEEP FOREVER. So we compromise. But sometimes he protests for a long long time. And then I check for a poop. And then tell him to go back to sleep.



Talking & Whining.

I love the burgeoning vocab! I loathe the whining, but am resigned that it’s also a form of communication (along with screaming, screeching, and wailing). I do my best to address the issue that is causing the distress, or at least acknowledge and be sympathetic. Often distraction or bait & switch is all that works. And I no longer get triggered by his incantations because I don’t expect anything less!


How’s living with your tot? What are your survival skills??



  1. Maureen on October 28, 2016 at 11:38 am

    YES to the toddler jail! People keep asking me when our 2 year old is going to get a big girl bed and I say that if she doesn’t try to climb out of it, then she can stay in her crib until college.

    • Natural Mama Nell on October 28, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      College. YES!!

  2. Cheech on October 28, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    For me it has been key to get my 2.5 year old adjusted to letting her brother and sisters do things for her. Because they are very willing, and I am not missing out on that no-strings kind of help! 😉 For awhile it was, “She won’t let me!” But I really encouraged (OK, made) them keep at it and now she is happy to have them help. Magical!

    • Natural Mama Nell on October 28, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      Love the older siblings!!

  3. Jenny @ Unremarkable Files on October 28, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    All of the above. I do love how branding things a certain way (“that’s not a sweater, that’s a jersey!”) works. With toddlers, marketing is everything.

    • Natural Mama Nell on October 28, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      Seriously–and they’re too young for the outside world to really market to them so it’s all up to us!!

  4. Dana on October 28, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Today my not quite 1.5 year old escaped her pack n play (aka crib because I’m cheap). I do not want to lose my toddler jail!! I have no idea what I’m going to do. So far the Internet has told me pack n plays have higher sides than cribs and I am at a loss for a solution (xinfinite cry face). Open to ideas from anyone on what to do with my very little but vey determined and acrobatic escape artist!!!

    • Natural Mama Nell on October 28, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      So brutal!!! So we ended up buying a crib that is high off the ground even on its lowest setting because our IKEA crib was so easily escaped from. The toddler never tries to get out because he can tell it is too high! But 18 month olds can’t reason as well as 2.5 year olds. … rough, sister!!!! I have no pearls of wisdom!

  5. Kristen on October 29, 2016 at 5:59 am

    Crib, naps, and sleep sack are my saving grace. We moved our oldest into a big girl bed at 2.75 since she was diagnosed with pneumonia a second time that winter and I wanted to check on her easier and I thought it was too soon. We own two cribs because I was not about to give up a safe place for the two year old when baby arrived. Our second is 2, still sleeps in a sleep sack (biggest size and she can’t get her foot up) and rarely even stands up in her crib. It actually took her forever to figure out she could stand in her crib. She’s a child who climbed on everything before she walked (still does) but hasn’t tried to climb out, yet. Crib until at least 3, hopefully. 😉 I love the food recommendation link. We do all those. It’s hard seeing our second child be “picky” compared to big sister but in reality she isn’t that bad compared to all her cousins. It’s all relative, right? Clothes, we give two options, otherside meltdown city. Asking our two year old to help us makes her just giddy. It’s hard letting her help but she loves it.

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 2, 2016 at 6:43 am

      All such great suggestions. #cribstilcollege

  6. Lynn on October 31, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Thank You so much for writing this. We are coming into our fourth toddler and it still seems so hard sometimes. You made me laugh and encouraged me in my daily work. Thank you and keep up the good writing. You never know who is going to read your posts.

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 2, 2016 at 6:43 am

      Hugs, sister!! It’s hard!

  7. Dorothy on November 1, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Hahaha…TODDLERS. How is it possible for a child to be SOO cute one moment and then so NOT cute the next? I have yet to have a toddler boy though. My son is only 5 months, we’ll see how he compares to his big sis!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 2, 2016 at 6:51 am

      Hahah they are insane!

  8. Margie on November 9, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Thank you for posting this! It resonated so much with me. We are in our first experience with toddler-dom, and I’m starting to think that 2.5 onward is REALLY when the “terrible twos” occur. In fact, I think there’s likely something to the focus these days on “threenagers,” because I feel like 2.5 is when that must start?? Also, we have an 8 month old…so yeah, feeling all the feels here! It gives me great hope to know that you’re on your 3rd toddler with a baby on the way. I am an attorney and work also, albeit for a very flexible public sector employer, but still…my confessions and prayers these days are ALL about anger and patience 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 17, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      I hear you so loud & clear, sister!!!

  9. Emily on April 29, 2017 at 7:48 am

    Thank you so much for writing this! I really enjoyed and appreciated it – especially the part about hitting Mummy! That has been freaking me out. Also, on the marketing – I have passed a few things off as ‘cake’ and so far it has worked (although of course Master Two shouldn’t know what cake is!)! Thanks again xx