After I put Olivia down last night, I sat and listened to her babble to herself and her dolly in her crib. She was talking and giggling and talking and giggling…and talking and giggling for almost an hour. I snuck back into her room, scooped her up, and sat in her rocking chair to savor some extra snuggles. As I held her, tears began to stream down my face. In the morning, my little baby would be a year and a half old. How have EIGHTEEN months already passed since she was born? What happened to my tiny six pound baby who used to lay so nicely on my chest? I smelled her hair. Stroked her soft face. These quiet and still moments are so far and few between these days. And, before I knew it, she was looking at me, wide eyed, and she started to laugh. Just laugh and laugh. And so we laughed. And without me saying it first, she said “Love you.” Needless to say, my heart melted into a puddle, and I squeezed her even more tightly. This little moment helped the teething problems, refusing to eat dinner, and overall crankiness of the evening fade away 🙂
Any parent knows that this phase of life is a great one. At eighteen months, your child is actually turning into a real human. Olivia can follow simple directions (when she wants to), shae talks to me, she can walk, and she is starting to be more independent. Olivia is starting to develop a true personality with lots of quirky traits. Butttt, with this new independence and sense of self comes a lot of opinions on how things should go, which can sometimes be hilarious and fun, and other times lead to tantrums and breakdowns. There is so much growth that is happening everyday. In this phase, I find myself with such a mix of emotions. Sometimes I need some alone time or a five minute breather from putting out fires. Other times, I am begging time to slow down and savoring any snuggles I can get in the day.
With all of these changes happening each day, I have really been trying to focus on Olivia’s development by encouraging her activity, developing her speech, and working hard to set boundaries. None of this is easy, but is seems that because of our focus on these areas on these areas, I have seen Olivia really start to flourish and understand the world around her.
She knows what she sees and what she wants, she can start to tell us these things, and she is starting to understand (and push) the limits on what she is allowed and NOT allowed to do.
Here is a summary of what we have been working on in these areas and some tools we have been using to help!
Activity: Olivia has A LOT of energy. I mean, this child is on 100 until she crashes for a nap or is down for the night. She is on a pretty solid schedule of waking at 6:30, napping at 12:30, and going to sleep around 7:30. But, anywhere in between those times, we can count on GO. She loves to (try to) run, climb, and play all day. We have been doing as much as we can to foster her love for activity and to keep her busy.
- Park. We go to the park quite often and really allow her to climb on whatever she wants, with supervision obviously. Olivia’s sense of confidence is something I want to encourage and protect, so I try not to tell her she isn’t capable, unless something is unsafe. When at the park, we let her take the lead and are there to offer a helping hand when necessary.
- Water Table. We also have a water table in our backyard. This is the one we have. We actually got ours at Aldi for only $30, so try checking out stores like this to see if you can snag a deal! This is a great activity that requires kids to use some coordination to stand and do something with their hands at the same time, They also practice some motor skills by scooping and pouring the water into different buckets and parts of the table. Plus, if your child is anything like our’s, they LOVE water! Olivia can’t get enough of it!
- Transition Back to Daycare. In this second half of summer we have also started Olivia’s transition back to daycare. She has been out of daycare and home with Brandon since April, so we wanted to make sure she was fully transitioned back before we both return to work. We are on day three and so far things are going well. I think that being with other kids is really good for her development, and so while it is difficult to be away from her sometimes, I know she is learning and growing while she is there.
Speech: We are blessed with a baby who has loved talking from the start. Ever since she discovered her voice, Olivia has babbled without end. Her newest obsessions are “singing” when there is music on, babbling complete sentences and conversations in her own language, and repeating the same words over and over. Her vocabulary has really taken off and it seems like she says a new word each day. While her early knack for talking may naturally just be a part of who she is, there are a few things I have been doing to try to help her continue to develop these skills.
- Read every day. I read with a lot of enthusiasm to get Olivia excited about the books. I’m talking British accents when we read Peppa Goes to London and making up dance moves to any book that has a rhyme. In addition, I ask her to point out certain things in the pictures and have her repeat words as we read together. These seem to help her remember the story and really get into it. Olivia gets fixated on books, so that we read them over and over again, which also helps her learn. Right now, her top three books are Olivia Helps with Christmas, Dinosaur Dance, and Corduroy, all of which I would recommend.
- Flashcards. We also have been using a few sets of flash cards to help her identify animals and objects and to START to identify colors and shapes. Our flash cards are similar to these, but I also recommend stopping by your local Dollar Tree because they have a GREAT selection! So far, everything is red 🙂 But, I like these as a tool because Olivia likes to hold the cards and they help to make learning feel like a game.
- Cocomelon. If you are a no screen time family, skip over this next section. While we don’t watch a lot of TV outside of some favorite movies, the one exception are Cocomelon videos on YouTube. These videos contain many songs about using manners, counting, eating vegetables, sharing, and much more. Basically, they show all of the ways you would like your child to act. I have already seen Olivia pick up some words from these videos and she identifies lots of things in them, such as all of the animal friends that appear throughout. So, if you are looking for a quiet time activity where your child is still earning and you can get something done (or sit for five minutes, let’s be real), then these are the videos for you!
Setting Boundaries: This is maybe not the best note to end on, but to be honest, all parents know that the toddler phase of life can sometimes be challenging! Often times this “Terrible Two” phase gets such a bad reputation; however, I am trying to think about it not as a “terrible” time, but rather as a time of immense growth, changes, and learning. It is natural for our toddlers to push the boundaries and explore, which can push us to our limits. Instead, we need to slow down, work through these challenges, and set boundaries. While as a teacher, I know that consistency is key in discipline I am no expert, so I have been relying on a couple of tools to help me.
- The Happiest Toddler on the Block. I am almost finished reading this book and it has been so helpful! When I first started reading, I was a bit skeptical of the toddler talk that it encouraged, but as I started to try some of the strategies, I became convinced they were helpful. I have started using simple language to set boundaries with Olivia and it is really working. We have also been implementing very short time outs as a punishment when Olivia is not listening, and we are finding this recommended strategy to be quite helpful. However, the book offers lots of other advice for how to encourage positive (green) behaviors and how to stop behaviors from escalating into situations that lead to meltdowns.
- Take a Break Tots. If you are not following this mama on Instagram or checking out her blog, run and do it NOW! She is a licensed counselor by training and is a children’s therapist. She has a lot of expert knowledge and happily shares it with her followers. I have tried some of her strategies and they have been very helpful with Olivia. She also does a great job explaining WHY our toddlers behave the ways they do, which I think is really important for parents to understand. In the middle of a meltdown, it is so easy to lose our patience and get frustrated, so I have been listening to her to try to understand why this is happening and keeping this at the back of my mind when I am working on discipline with Olivia.
I am so excited to be on this journey and feel truly blessed to be Olivia’s mama. I cannot wait to see all of the things that she learns in the near future and am looking forward to continuing to encourage her spirit, wellness, and education!
How is your toddler’s development going? Any advice or ideas to share about things that have worked for you? Would love to hear them in the comments below!Share This: