Alexandra at 2.5

Alexandra bossing around her cousin Zachary.

I stopped writing monthly updates for Alexandra when she turned two, mostly because there’s only so many times you can say ‘yeah her routine is the same, she still has the same amount of teeth’ etc before it gets a bit boring! I mean, you might find these updates boring anyway, but I enjoy having them to read back on and maybe the kids will even read them one day too.

Alexandra is doing marvellously. I do regularly stop and think how lucky we have been with her – not in a whole ‘ah she never cries’ kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, she is a stubborn, bossy, wilful little creature and I have my fair share of battles with her every single day. But I feel like she sailed through the ‘big’ things in babyhood and early toddlerhood – the things like weaning and sleeping and stopping having bottles and dummies. So that’s what I mean when I said we lucked out.

We haven’t started potty training yet, which is the big thing a lot of people ask about once baby turns 2 (can I call her a baby anymore? Probably not, ah well). She’s showing little signs here and there and we have had a grand total of TWO wees on the potty. But honestly, I’d much rather wait and deal with nappies for a little while longer until she seems more eager to be out of them. I don’t really get why some people are so keen to potty train early – obviously, I’m not going to hold her back and I realise it’s a big step in their development, but actually pushing them to train as early as possible seems a bit bizarre especially as you still have to deal with disposing of the wee/poo and wiping and all that faff. If they took off their nappy one day and mastered using the proper toilet, wiping, flushing and washing their own hands on that same day, then maybe – but it still seems like a lot of hassle! Plus there’s the whole thing of being somewhere and them going ‘I need a wee’ and having to get to a toilet in about 2.4 seconds. I already do that myself but I probably have just a slightly better ability to hold in a wee than a 2 year old does!

Alexandra has pretty much dropped her daytime nap now, which coincided with her moving into the bigger bedroom and into a proper bed – as I could no longer contain her in the cot she’d just get up and come back downstairs if I tried to put her in bed in the afternoon. I did a lot of driving around to try and get her to nap but now I’m not actively trying to get her to nap anymore as it just seems to use up all our effort and patience! Sometimes she drops off in the car or the pram if we happen to be out but apart from that she goes to bed around 7.30 and seems to be getting better at not becoming a total nightmare to deal with in the few hours before that!

Her speech is the one thing which has really developed over the last six months – we have proper conversations with her now and it’s lovely. One of my favourite parts of the day is when we sit down and tell daddy what we’ve done when he comes home. Not least because sometimes she just absolutely makes it up – for example telling him her thumb was on fire, the fire engine came and then she went to the hospital and saw a doctor. Dylan’s looking at me like WTF and I’m like yeah I probably would have called you had that happened, don’t worry our kid has just become a complete liar!

Alex remains very strong-willed and independent which is something I love about her but it can also be slightly exasperating when you’re trying to get her to do something! I’ve found if she’s just having a strop about something, just ignoring her for a while can be quite effective. Recently she’s started saying she doesn’t like her dinner so I’ll just leave it on the table and let her get on with playing or whatever. About 80% of the time she’ll take ten minutes and then come to the table and start eating.

We’re having all the usual pushing, kicking, being mean, throwing herself on the ground wailing that you expect from a two year old – nothing that really worries me in any way but of course it’s frustrating to deal with at the time, especially with a nearly one year old needing your attention as well.

My favourite thing is now when I say love you Alexandra, she says ‘lub you mommy’. Cute.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

The Ten Stages Of A Toddler Tantrum

Moments before a mega tantrum.

If you’ve never experienced a toddler tantrum, then either you don’t own a toddler or you’re lying. Even the most angelic of small people can turn into the biggest wailing, flailing mess on earth occasionally. It’s just one of those parenting hurdles we all face. However, despite it being a complete losing battle to try and reason with a tantrumming toddler (side note: why is tantrumming not a word? And should it have one M or two?), I hereby share what I consider the ten stages of dealing with a toddler tantrum. A bit like the five stages of grief except no one judges you when you’re grieving.

  1. Prepare: It’s like being trapped in a zoo enclosure with a hungry lion. You can see exactly what’s going to happen. You can’t run (apparently leaving your child at the park and making off as fast as you can in the opposite direction isn’t acceptable). So you have to make something else seem like a tastier treat than you, whether that’s an actual tasty treat (‘here, have some sweets, chocolate, crisps, ten Fruit Shoots, ANYTHING that will stop you crying’) or the lure of something fun like shouting at ducks or shouting at mommy to push you higher on the swing.
  2. Accept your fate and start silently apologising to other people at the park using only your eyes. Try to convey a deep sense of sorrow while also reassuring that you usually don’t stand for this kind of thing.
  3. Bargain: hissing ‘please don’t start making a scene, I’ll let you skip your nap and then stay up til 10pm if you just stop crying’ has been proven to work on a toddler beginning a tantrum approximately zero times ever, but it’s still worth a try right?
  4. Ignore: it’s fine, I’m just strolling through the park with a howling toddler and it’s all completely dandy, I’m not about to cry myself and then spend the rest of the day wondering what I did to deserve such a devil child. In fact, they’re shouting so quietly I can barely hear them.
  5. Plead: ‘whyyyyyy are you doing this? Please just stop. Please.’ This would have a better success rate if they could actually hear you over the sound of their intense wailing.
  6. Lose your shit: luckily, they’re crying so hard by this point they have no idea what you’ve just hissed under your breath. Extra points if you threaten to leave them on the steps of a nearby church. Unfortunately, no extra points if you actually go through with that threat.
  7. Ignore: this might seem like the same as stage four but it’s not. By now you’re so fuming that you’ve given up pretending you’re enjoying a lovely walk and admiring the trees, instead you walk at a pace akin to Mo Farah in the last stretch of the Olympics and silently fume about how awful toddlers are.
  8.  Praise other child: ‘Aren’t you such a good boy? You can come to the park EVERY DAY because you don’t cry!’ This step is partly to see if toddler will realise what they’re potentially missing out on by trying to ruin your life every time you step outside your front door, and partly to point out to passing strangers that you’re in partial control and one of your children isn’t acting like it’s the end of the world.
  9. Offer snacks: you may have done this earlier in the process, but now you’ve got their attention by essentially telling their sibling how amazing they are, a snack might just be the tipping point back to normality.
  10. Peppa: when you’ve exhausted all other options, it’s time to fall back on the person who taught them how to be a brat in the first place. Switch on an episode, hand them the phone and watch the tears dry quicker than you can say ‘muddy puddles’.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Early Terrible Twos

Pretending to be a nice girl!

Pretending to be a nice girl!

The tantrums have hit our house. They’ve been lingering under the surface for a while now but we can’t deny it any longer. We’ve developed from a little bit of whinging when things don’t go her way to full on, throwing herself to the ground, sobbing and whaling.

She’s 14 months, how did this happen already? I was all set to get to her ‘terrible twos’ birthday next August before I had to endure sympathetic looks off strangers as my usually golden girl screams in my face. I’d hoped we’d get somewhere near the ‘being able to reason with Alex’ phase before this all started. Clearly I was totally naïve. I’m now expecting a potential brief period of sweetness and light at some point before she goes to school followed by a long descent into the stroppy teenage years before she emerges at some point in 2035 as a nice grown up human being you can actually have a conversation with.

Don’t get me wrong, for most of the day she’s an absolute delight and I couldn’t ask for a better child but now when she gets tired it’s like dealing with a completely different child. Sometimes it’s because she’s hungry or because you’ve asked her not to do something she was intent on doing. Other times I can’t even figure out what she’s so worked up about.

I’m hoping the early onset tantrums means we’ll be done with them quicker but a large part of me thinks that’s entirely unrealistic and it’s more probable that they’re here to stay for quite a while.

Wish me luck!

Harriet and Alexandra x