We all know that having a toddler is bloody hard work. They tantrum at the drop of a hat, they are seriously stubborn with all their newfound independence and self-awareness, anything you feed them often disgusts them, they don’t listen, and they have some sort of death wish (if the amount of accidents they have is anything to go by).
It’s therefore easy to only see the difficult and downright teeth-clenching FFS stressfulness of it all, but as well as being one of the most trying ages, the toddler years really are one of the very best stages of early childhood.
So for those days where they lose it at the shops, roll around in mud at the park, throw their dinner across the room, break your favorite ornament, or just generally drive you to tears, here’s my list of the 10 best things about the crazy, manic little people we call toddlers.
1. Their unique little language
I absolutely love hearing toddlers develop their own unique little language. Things that start out as repetitive noises are soon recognized words within your family; no one else would have a clue, but you get straight away that “ow” means bowl. The current favorite word in our house that is just so damn cute is “ig piggeww” which is obvs Iggle Piggle.
Not only is a toddler’s developing speech seriously cute and often hilarious, it also makes life that little bit easier. Instead of having to guess what they want ― dummy? sippy cup? food? cuddle? ― before you both give up through frustration, their new-found babble coupled with their over enthusiastic pointing means you can actually begin communicating with each other, and that’s a pretty special thing.
2. ALL the cuddles
There is nothing quite like having your toddler run over to you and give you a massive cuddle for absolutely no reason other than they love you. Toddlers are bursting with the extremes of emotion, hence all the tantrums, and when they feel something they show it so you know all of those impromptu cuddles are 100 percent because they have just thought “I love her” and they want you to know, what could be better than that!
Soak in all of those jam- and biscuit-covered cuddles, because if you have a son they are a rare occurrence by the preschool stage and pretty much as easy to find as a pink unicorn by the age of five.
3. Their developing imaginations
Only a few months ago they were mastering crawling, now they are bringing you endless cups of pretend tea and “mmm nom nom” plastic food, that’s amazing. I love watching as my boys learn they can make up games and create their own entertainment and seeing the look of satisfaction on their faces when they bring me another imaginary piece of cake.
4. Their open mouthed kisses
Just like their endless cuddles you can’t beat the little “mwah” noise they make as they lean in for a slobbery, snotty open mouthed kiss. If it was any other child you would reach for a tissue or swerve for the cheek but coming from your own child this gooey declaration of how much they love you turns even the crappiest day into a good one again.
5. Their emerging personalities
Between the ages of two and three-ish children really start to develop and hone their unique personalities and watching them discover who they are and what makes them tick is wonderful and also hilarious.
The toddler stage is probably the first time your child will genuinely make you belly laugh through their crazy and wild behavior. I’m not talking about the laughter you did when they used to fall asleep in their food, I mean full on think you might wet yourself laughter as you watch them dance around to the paw patrol theme tune with a lego box on their head, whilst wearing a police man jacket, pirate trousers and chewing a biscuit before bursting out laughing and throwing themselves on the floor. Toddlers are mental and I love it.
6. Being able to do things with them
After months of having a small baby who was content with a rattle and then a few more months of having a crawling/cursing baby who you had to watch like a hawk it’s lovely to finally be able to start doing things with your newly independent and capable child.
Whatever the activity whether its watching them amble across the park and successfully master the slide, seeing them shoot past you on a trike, finally being able to let them roam free at soft play or attempting to paint with them even if it does mainly go all over them and the floor, your baby has bloomed into a toddler and got genuinely fun and that’s epic.
7. The way they mimic adults and siblings
Whilst they are busy discovering who they are toddlers are also learning a huge amount on a daily basis and one way they learn is through mimicking the adults and older siblings around them. My boys do everything their older brother does and I mean everything. If my eldest touches the hedge when we are walking then the twins have to, if he walks on some pebbles the twins have to, if he plays with a certain toy the twins have to.
This can obviously cause major problems for brotherly relations not to mention annoyance for mummy and daddy but watching them grab their play hoovers to copy me or attempt to do lego like their hero, their brother, I realize just how much they are learning and just how much we shape who they are. Watching your toddler learn and develop in front of your eyes is such a privilege.
8. Their freedom
Before they discover embarrassment or nervousness and before they really understand consequence children are completely free. Terrifying for us parents but what a fantastic way to learn and to express yourself with no fear. Toddlers live on instinct and impulse which makes trying to control them a handful as we all know but it means ever one of their actions is a representation of exactly how they are feeling at that moment. There is no second guessing them, no confusion and in that sense this is actually one of the most transparent stages of childhood. How lovely would it be to be a toddler for a day.
9. Their inquisitiveness
This is where it all begins, give it a couple of years and you are into the world of one million questions per day, but before you have to become Google you can enjoy watching your toddler marvel over the sky and the way birds fly, how bubbles disappear in their hands, the way daddies voice comes out of your phone, how paint feels in their toes, the way music makes them want to dance and how “choc choc” makes them hyper. You get to see on a daily basis how they try and try and try again to do something they haven’t yet mastered, how they have to look behind every door and in every cupboard, how they touch everything they can reach and the way they smell and taste things to decide what they are.
It can be annoying at times when they are rooting your pots and pans out of the cupboard for the tenth time or they are eating mud but everything they do is teaching them something new about their world and their place in it. This is a truly amazing time for them and for you as you witness them grow as a person and learn through the experiences you give to them.
10. Their love
A toddler’s love is transparent, free flowing and overwhelming. They haven’t yet reached the age where they think kissing you is embarrassing and they show you all the time how much they love you. After months spent adoring your tiny baby who could only give you a smile having the boisterous love of a toddler is enough to make any parent ready to pop with love.
Although they are a handful toddlers really are amazing and as hard as it is sometimes to see the good through the stress there is so much good to see.