Posts Tagged ‘ kids and independence ’

“All the Toddlers Who are Independent Throw Your Hands Up at Me”

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

To-Do Before Baby B Numero Dos Arrives:

Pack hospital bag
Nap my face off
Move Harper out of the nursery
Channel Wendy Peffercorn and lotion and oil, oil and lotion the belly
Teach Harper the art of independence…

Um, maybe the last one isn’t exactly attainable in six weeks and truthfully, it’s probably a labor of parenting love but sometimes, I think I could kick it up a notch in the “fostering independence in our toddler” department.

Word on the street from more experienced mothers is that it’s easier to transition from one to two children if the first is relatively independent.

The thing is, she’s my first. I’m not exactly clear on when it’s realistic for her to do certain things on her own.

When I saw my friend’s 22-month-old change outfits seven times during the course of a morning play-date, my jaw fell to the floor. My daughter has never stripped a day in her life (a record I’d like to keep as a parent), but her playmate’s quick change ability made me think that the Harpinator is ready to master the art of changing her own clothes.

She’s coming into a fierce “I’ll do it myself” stage, which is helpful in fostering independence but as I stated, I’m not so sure what’s reasonable for someone of her miniature stature and age to do. I don’t mean to underestimate her, I’m just parenting from a place of “I’ve never done this before kid. Let’s just make it up as we go along. And yes, I’m still peeling your bananas, tszujing your hair, spooning a few mouthfuls of eggs into your open mouth, and squeezing the last morsels of GoGurt out of the tube for you because it never occurred to me not to. ”

Observing my friend’s daughter go to the bathroom was also a game changer. While helping Harper wash her hands, I saw this baby take herself to the bathroom, do her business, deposit it from her training toilet into the adult toilet, wash up, and continue on her way. What the miracle of miracles did I just witness?

Harper has never gone to the bathroom by herself. She’s always escorted by us, her loving but perhaps overly accommodating parentals. We help her with all the bathroom nitty gritty and then continue on our way.

This play-date turned revelation of independence really got me thinking.

I understand that the independence game with toddlers can be a tricky balance. Enter opinions, standoffs, and sometimes feeling like the ol’ house has turned into a nudest colony. But most days, I think I’d take a nudist colony instead of trying to wrestle a small cyclone into her clothes.

While I may be guilty of aiding and abetting a bit of first born child co-dependency, please don’t think this is my ultimate intention. I believe in independence in children. I just don’t really always know how to go about teaching it.

We do teach her to pick up after herself; she puts her clothes and shoes away, and she helps unload the dishwasher. She’s really a great little helper. We do chores together everyday. She’s earning her keep.

I guess I am looking to you oh wiser more experienced mothers, what are reasonable expectations for a 2.5 tiny human to do? What tasks would be most beneficial to have her master before the new baby arrives? Getting herself dressed? Solo bathroom trips? Mowing the lawn? Paying the bills?

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