Your toddler follows you around like crazy and you can’t even get time for yourself. What can you do?
Most first time moms, by the time they get pregnant, don’t know that they are saying goodbye to those sweet moments of me time. When we give birth to our first baby, we are focused on caring for the newborn and excited about the motherhood journey that we rarely get to pause and think to have time for ourselves. As your baby grows, toddler years come and then, guess what? Here comes the phase of the CLINGY TODDLER.
How to Cope with a Clingy Toddler
Seek to Understand
Your toddler has reasons why he or she wants to always be beside you. Toddlers usually get clingy because of growth spurts or developmental milestones. At times, they have a need that they can’t fully express. Your toddler may be just seeking for attention and needs to be cuddled. Understand the situation from your toddler’s point of view to refresh your perspective.
Read parenting books like The Whole Brain Child by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson to educate yourself on how to handle tantrums and outbursts you seem to have no control of. Don’t have the book yet? Here’s a helpful summary from The Montessori Notebook to give you an idea of the insights explained in the book.
Some moms have learned how to cope with a clingy toddler by babywearing! Their baby or toddler is literally with them in everything they do at home, except maybe at times where they need to go to the toilet (or not!). Explore many ways to carry your baby. For older toddlers, the back carry is best as it gives more support to the mom and helps her carry out her chores easier. Make sure to only do activities that are safe. Do not cook or handle anything sharp/hot while you’re babywearing your toddler.
Introduce Independent Activities
Some toddlers just need to be guided into an activity that they will have fun doing and won’t notice that you’ve slowly gone on to work by his/her side on other things. Activities like painting, drawing, playing with textures and solving a puzzle can keep their attention for a while. Give them small goals or tasks to accomplish and tell your toddler you’re proud of them for completing the task. It makes them feel good to make mommy proud and will gladly do the same activity over and over again. Get to know your toddler and study what interests them. Activities that interest them and make them curious can keep them focused.
Ask for Help
Sometimes us moms just need a break to re-energize. We all want a little time for ourselves too but with the roles we have as a mom and a wife, most of the time our me time is the first one to be compromised. Talk to your husband about the importance of taking a break (for your sanity!) and work out a schedule for taking care of your toddler.
If husband is busy or your schedules don’t sync, ask for help from a relative or hire a yaya. In Filipino households, lolos and lolas are eager to babysit their apos and would be happy to help. Talk to your parents or in-laws and see if you can work out an babysitting arrangement that will give you time to do your own tasks for a couple of hours each week. This will give you a much needed break from your clingy toddler.
Manage Your Emotions and Talk It Out
Resist the urge to snap at your toddler. Do your best to manage your anger and frustration. Yes, you may be exhausted, but your toddler won’t understand why you’re yelling if he or she just wants to be with you. Talk to your toddler and reach a compromise. If your toddler wants to play, say yes but tell him or her after playing, mommy needs to do something important. You will be surprised that toddlers can understand the situation too, especially if you talk to him or her gently and lovingly.
If you’re overwhelmed, remind yourself that this phase doesn’t last for long. Our babies grow up so fast and before we know it, they will seek to spend more time with friends and do activities outside the home. Treasure each moment that your child wants to spend time with you. Each of these moments are a blessing to us.