“All Those Days Washing All the Windows!” 9 Magic Tips for Long Days with Toddlers

I went to the eye doctor a couple months ago. I was a new patient, so they had me fill out some paperwork. At the bottom it asked me to list my hobbies, so I listed some of my favorite things to do: walking/jogging, reading, (aka “listening to audiobooks while playing mermaids and/or teddy bears with my girls”) writing, etc. I also included “momming,” which sparked some fun conversations with the ladies at the front desk, one who just found out she was pregnant! There’s such a fun and random camaraderie with fellow moms.

Let’s talk about “momming.” I actually found a definition online that I love: “Momming (momm-ing) v. 1. Tapping into the reserves of strength you never knew you had. 2. Juggling all the things. 3. Getting by on less sleep than you ever thought possible. 4. Making a costume, a story, a project, a home. 5. Wanting alone time, only to miss your kids as soon as you get your wish. 6. Educating yourself with parenting books, web sites and all the advice from friends and family, then throwing it out and going with your gut. 7. Understanding (and forgiving) your own parents for mistakes they made. 8. Striving to be the parent you always needed. 9. Wondering if you should be parenting “better” like French moms or German moms or Finnish moms or… 10. Wishing you could actually bottle their baby smell and commit to memory the feel of their little hand in yours. 11. Embracing extreme multi-tasking. 12. Preparing to one day let them go, even through you want to always hold them close. 13. Rewarding (except when it’s not, and that’s okay). 14. Hardest job in the world… and the greatest job in the world.” (strongasamother.blog).

I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying! (Okay, yes I am crying, obviously!) Motherhood has made everything full– my heart, my belly (mostly with crusts of PB&J and lots of Goldfish crackers), and my phone storage. Oh phone storage. Mine is constantly full, thanks to the thousands of photos on my phone of my babies that all pretty much look the same (but they are all so cute I can’t choose just one!). Am I the only one who is constantly deleting and redownloading apps to free up space to take just one more picture of my kids?? I’m a really sentimental person and I just want to capture every little detail about these cuties.

Anyway!! This is what I wanted to share: “momming” toddlers isn’t a walk in the park (although, a walk in the park actually can be very helpful!). I have a two-year-old and a one-year-old (she turns one this weekend and I AM NOT OKAY). They need lots of attention and it’s easy to find myself burned out or feeling/looking a bit ragged and faded. Everything is somehow sticky and they find a way to get yogurt on every surface in our home, even when I didn’t think we had yogurt? Although it can be exhausting, the magic of momming FAR outweights the exhaustion. Nothing is more magical than life with them. Nothing makes me laugh harder than the things they do or say.

The other day I was having a stressful moment realizing how messy our home was and how long my to-do list was getting… then I heard a little voice singing “When Will my Life Begin?” from Tangled. Except it was the “two-year-old remix” version, including my personal favorite line, “All those days, washing all the windows!” I don’t know if it was because I was really tired or what, but that broke through my grumpy and stressed disposition and made me chuckle. I put my worries aside and decided to sing and “wash windows” with my toddler. Moments like these are magic for me. Not just because they make everyone happy, but because they somehow seem to turn a bad day around! I just want to share a little list of magic that have helped our crazy days seem a bit more doable:

  1. The “Magic 10 Minutes” Have you heard of this magic before?? For some kids, it might be longer than 10 minutes, but essentially the idea is that you put down all distractions (leave your phone in the other room, don’t do any housework, etc.) and focus 100% on your kid for at least 10 minutes. This means you are down on the floor being the blue princess (not the pink one, heaven for bid!! That one is your kid’s.) or doing another activity of their choice. But you aren’t just doing it halfway. You are making eye contact. You are a full participant giving 110% to whatever you are doing. Once I do this, my kids are all of a sudden much happier and nicer. 🙂 Sometimes I sneak away after a while so they get some independent play. Sometimes I gotta finish the story to make sure the princesses successfully take care of their pet giraffes. (Not going to lie though, I can only “go to sleep and wake up again” so many times.)
  2. Assess what you need. For me, this is waking up before my kids, getting a quick workout in, reading or listening to the scriptures, and getting ready (even if it’s just a dash of foundation and some eyebrows). As weird as it sounds, the days I wear mascara are my best days. I don’t know why that is… I guess I feel more put together? Whatever you need to feel good, do it! Or try to do it! If you don’t do those things, don’t beat yourself up and plan to try again tomorrow. I feel like when I’ve taken care of myself I can better take care of my babies. (You can’t only exhale… you NEED to inhale! Am I right, Brene Brown???) Another thing that helps a lot of moms is to have a job and/or hobby outside of your kids. *Enter: this blog!* I have an awesome sister-in-law who recently started a part-time job, and it has totally filled a huge need for her! Maybe take an evening to write down things you love to do (besides parent your kids) and think how you can incorporate those things in your life better! More on this to come in a future post!
  3. Get out of the house in the morning! Okay this one has been huge for us. I usually like to plan something each morning before or after my youngest’s first nap. This forces us to all put pants on haha. Getting out of the house is so good for all of us. It’s more work, obviously, but I always feel like it breaks up the day and starts us out on a happy note. Check to see if your city offers any classes for kids, because that has been our saving grace! We will also go shopping, schedule playdates, go to the park, etc.
  4. Have a schedule. This one is a hard one for me. I’m not good at doing this consistently, but when I do, I see a big difference! Kids LOVE schedules. They don’t have to be strict hour-by-hour schedules. We usually do something like: breakfast, nap, go out to do something, lunch, nap/play card games or crafts (I hate crafts so much, but I try to do them with my oldest when I can.), play with toys, screen time/dinner prep….and then the rest of the evening is kind of “whatever” for us.
  5. MOVE! Bonus points if it’s outside!! The days we go for a walk (and I let my oldest walk or ride her bike) = MAGIC! Everyone is happier! Something about the fresh air and the movement that heals people. If it’s cold outside, we totally recommend any and all “freeze dance” or “the floor is lava” videos on YouTube! You’re welcome.
  6. Write down the magic moments! I’ve totally let journaling slide, but I text myself funny things, or little miracles God puts in our day. This helps so much, especially when I can look back on them at night and count my blessings. Something about writing it down in words that really make those memories stick. It’s crazy how fast I forget happy memories, so I’m glad I have them somewhere!
  7. Pray with your kids at the end of the day (or throughout the day!). Our oldest has been really cute and aware of prayer lately. She’s still learning about her Heavenly Father, but when she prays I know He is listening. The Spirit fills our home and I can’t be frustrated when I hear her pray, “thank you to Mommy!” On the other hand, when I’m the one praying, I can’t help but pour out my heart in gratitude for this girls and how happy they make me.
  8. Go on a date! Okay. I didn’t realize how important this was until recently. OH MY GOODNESS. Just, do it. You need this. As wonderful and amazing as your toddlers are, you need to feel pretty and fun with your significant other without the kids! Totally worth paying a babysitter!
  9. Kick mom guilt in the face! I served a mission for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and it was a life-changing experience. I’ll never forget what my first companion (someone who taught me about how to be a missionary) would always say: “Kick Satan in the face!!” Whenever I would get discouraged or when people we were teaching about Christ had hard times, that’s the advice she would always give. So, I want to invite YOU to kick mom guilt in the face! It’s unnecessary and a waste of precious energy! You’re doing your best and as long as you love your kids, it will all be okay!

Am I a parenting specialist? Absolutely not. Am I making it up as I go? You better believe it! I’ve been reminded by so many people– my mom, my sister, random women at the park, nice old ladies at church, just to name a few– how fast time goes and how special this time is with my littles. I feel that. I always hear “the days are long, but the years are short,” and I feel that too. Each little day is very imperfect, but as long as I try my best to be happy, I find that I can really enjoy each day a bit fuller and with more intention.

Before I know it, my toddler will sing “all those days watching from the window,” and I will probably cry a bit. But, I will be so glad I was there for the window washing while it lasted.

Feel free to add any thoughts in the comments! Do your kids sing any lyrics just a little bit wrong?

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