When I'm faced with a challenge with my son, I try to relate his experience to one that I might have. Imagine you were in the middle of a brilliant book and then someone picked you up, plonked you in bed and demanded that you to sleep. It would be infuriating. Hence why I try to sympathise with my son's intense reactions to transitions. We are currently waiting for a diagnosis of autism; children with autism often struggle with moving from one task to another. Of course he could be suffering from another common condition 'being a toddler' so I think the tips I use could help any parent.
Add an hour. I like to plan my day the night before. Not only does this keep me focused but it means I look forward to the day ahead. When planning I estimate how long each task or activity should reasonably take and then I add an hour. I call this hour the black hole of toddlerdom. You see the more anxious you are to get something done within a specific amount of time the more your toddler will feel the need to run round naked with Playdoh up their nose. Giving yourself a bit of leeway helps to hold off a mummy meltdown and means if you're lucky there's time for another cup of tea.
Give them a cue. A day is a year in toddler time. Anyone who has seen the look of surprise on a toddlers face when they return to nursery after only a weekend off will understand the need to give our little ones a clue as to what's coming next. I try to get Roscoes shoes on a little while before we leave the house so that he starts to associate the action with leaving soon (Disclaimer - this does not work but A for effort right).
Overlap. Bedtime has always been a pressure point in our house and I can understand - one minute we're laughing and playing and rowing our boat all over the shop and the next I've stuck him in a dark prison like the evil cow that I am. In order to keep the transition smooth I try and overlap our activities during the wind down routine. After his bath we go upstairs and play in the bedroom, then we read stories in the bedroom, then I read to Roscoe with him in the cot, then he can 'read' to himself for a few minutes before I turn out the light. I call it stealth bedtime and it's a real fist pump moment when he falls for it.
Don't sweat the small stuff. In the world of parenting it's so important that you separate the needs from the wants as quickly as possible. If your wee one has a day without socks, it's unlikely any long term harm will be done. Call me slack but I try and conserve my energy for the big things for example aggressive or dangerous behaviour and let go of the less significant issues. My husband and I even had a discussion that made clear what our dealbreakers are (his is not supporting Aston Villa). Yes my son occasionally gets one over on me but sometimes you have to lose a battle in order to win the war.
Do you have any tips for creating smooth transitions with toddlers?
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