Toddlers Times Two
Got toddlers? Then you know that these little people, while only 2 or 3 years old, are thoroughly convinced they rule the roost. That's the bad news. The good news -- you're not alone! There are many common challenges parents encounter while raising multiple toddlers. A little mental preparation goes a long way toward long-term sanity. Here’s what to expect.
1. It Will Be a Very Noisy Time
Two- and 3-year-olds are notorious for having an opinion on nearly everything. They are also prone to needing to express those opinions – loudly – at each and every opportunity. That in itself makes for a potentially deafening environment much of the time. However, put two, three or more toddlers with opinions in a room together, and you'll quickly find value in construction-grade earplugs.
Additionally, toddlers don't merely express their opinions; they need to be sure you've heard them. They don't really care whether or not you agree, but they do require an indication that you're listening. Until they receive that acknowledgement, they will continue to repeat the same comment or question over and over (and over) until you respond — and then possibly a few more times even after you've acknowledged them. Be prepared to make the words, "uh-huh," "OK" and "yes" staples of your vocabulary.
2. The Art of Childproofing Will Be Taken to a Whole New Level
Toddlers love to explore. Multiple toddlers tend to take the concepts of exploration and adventure a few steps further and— trust me — they will get into things you never imagined they would (or could).
Multiple toddlers barely speak your language, but they have a way of communicating with one another to strategize a way of reaching the tallest spot in the house or opening anything with a certified childproofing mechanism. In fact, most childproofing mechanisms don't work for too terribly long with multiples. These days, if I need an outlet cover or a door knob cover removed, I just call on one of my boys. The lesson: If it gets too quiet in the house and you know they are not asleep, be very concerned.
3. Potty Training Requires Utmost Patience
Most parents dread the potty training process. In fact, I've known many a mom who has claimed that, in the end, the person who really needed to be potty trained was she, not her child. The reason for this is that when you are in a store and your child announces — just as you are ready to enter the check-out line with an entire cart full of purchases — that he needs to go potty, it's sometimes easier just to say, "It's OK, honey; you have a Pull-Up on."
Regardless of the training program you use, it's a safe bet that your multiples won't take to using the watering hole at precisely the same moment or in precisely the same manner. Sounds frighteningly familiar to the sleep training routine you went through when they were 6 months old, doesn't it? I can almost guarantee that, for awhile, once you get child No. 1 out of the restroom, having ascertained to the best of your ability that child No. 2 does not have to go (and even possibly after convincing her to try anyway), child No. 2 will announce that she now has to go — right now — or else.
Patience is the key when potty training multiples. It may not even be worth it to form a strategy for this task because when and where they use the potty is one of the few functions over which children have complete control. It's also a good idea to keep a training potty in your car for emergencies. The answer to "Can you wait three minutes until we get home?" is typically going to be "No."
4. They Are Finicky, and They'll Switch on a Dime
Know that the minute you produce the apple juice your 2-year-old has requested, he'll decide he wants orange juice — and will accept nothing less. The issue when you're raising more than one toddler at the same time is that the instant Katie decides her apple juice isn't going to work, Kelly will insist that hers isn't going to work either. Same goes for shirt, pant and shoe selection.
You must determine when you will draw the line on the constant need for modifications and know that the point at which you choose to draw the line can change at any time given how much sleep you had the night before or how many times you've had to go through the change routine already that day. I usually try to make it quite clear up front that there is time and opportunity for one choice per meal, outing or movie watching session.
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